Thursday, June 08, 2006

This needs to be done to Iran


June 7, 2006 -- Twenty-five years ago today, a squadron of Israeli-owned, U.S.-built F-15 Eagles and F-16 Falcons swooped down on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, just a dozen miles from Baghdad.
Just 80 seconds later, the reactor lay in ruins - as did, for the moment, Saddam Hussein's dream of a nuclear arsenal to threaten Israel and dominate the Mideast.
The world, led by the Reagan administration, harshly condemned the attack. But history has proven the far-sightedness of this unilateral, pre-emptive act of self-defense. Without it, the 1991 Gulf War would have been a much more difficult affair for U.S. troops. At the time of Desert Storm, in fact, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney sent a note to the commander of the Osirak raid, thanking him for having "made our job easier."
Israel had other concerns back in '81: "Under no circumstances will we allow an enemy to develop against our people weapons of mass destruction," said then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Begin also noted that the raid came almost exactly five years after Israel's dramatic rescue of hostages held by terrorists at Uganda's Entebbe Airport.
Both operations provided the world with important lessons in the virtues of unilateral action, even in the face of world opposition. It's a lesson, sad to say, that few seem to remember.
Iran is now threatening to assemble its own nuclear arsenal. Yet Europe balks at Washington's insistence on confronting Tehran over this, preferring instead to appease the mullahs with economic enticements and diplomatic niceties.
On Iraq, President Bush's determination to remove Saddam from power, finishing the job his father left undone, was met from the outset by opposition, both here and abroad. For all the difficulties in Baghdad, the fact remains that Iraqis are glad to be free of Saddam - a fact they've shown by their repeated participation in national elections.
Yet instead of having their efforts bolstered by world support, the administration, its allies and the nascent Iraqi government find themselves under mounting pressure to abandon Iraq to the terrorist insurgency, which hopes to restore a government of murder and mayhem.
Meanwhile, the terrorist Taliban government may have been removed from Afghanistan, thanks to decisive U.S.-led military action, but Islamists have seized control of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia - allowing them to offer the terrorists a new safe haven.
Somalia, of course, is the place that Washington abandoned after the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident, in which 18 U.S. soldiers were killed, their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks with his eye on America's record of retreat in places like Somalia and (a decade earlier) Beirut. He believed Americans had no stomach for a fight and were overly sensitive to world opinion - and so could be struck with impunity.
Until the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, his notions were understandable.
But the threat, though diminished, has not disappeared. Nor will it, absent decisive and far-sighted action like that Israel undertook a quarter-century ago - willing to risk world condemnation, knowing full well that, in the long run, history would prove its wisdom.

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