Do you remember back a few months when it was reported that the
CIA had determined that Iran was probably 10 years away from being able to
develop a nuclear bomb? It was in all the papers, and it made almost
everyone feel much relieved. It certainly put those hothead alarmists and
warmongers in our places. We had been citing Israel's assertion that by the
spring of 2006, Iran could have the bomb.
My, how time flies. This week, El Baradei, the chairman of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Israel's assessment to
the British liberal newspaper, The Independent, and stated that if Teheran
indeed resumed its uranium enrichment in other plants, as threatened, it
will take Iran only "a few months to produce a nuclear bomb."
Keep in mind, ElBaradei is not some wild bomb thrower (so to
speak). He is the same diplomat who the Bush administration recently, and
unsuccessfully, tried to block from being re-appointed chairman of the IAEA
because he was insufficiently assertive and too inclined to understate the
danger of nuclear development in Muslim countries.
Despite ElBaradei's brief lapse into forthright candor, he is
still a true diplomat in the worst sense of the word. After agreeing that
Iran's nuclear bomb was only months away, he went on to explain that, on the
other hand, any attempt to resolve the crisis by non-diplomatic means would
"open a Pandora's box, there would be efforts to isolate Iran; Iran would
retaliate; and at the end of the day you have to go back to the negotiating
table to find the solution."
Meanwhile, for those of you with unnaturally long political
memories, you may recall all the way back 10 months to January 2005, when
President Bush stated in his State of the Union address that Iran would not
be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon. It was a flat assertion, with no
qualifiers ("The Iranian regime must give up its uranium enrichment program
and any plutonium reprocessing").
And he went further. He concluded his peroration with the
inspiring words: "And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for
your own liberty, America stands with you." That statement was taken in the
press around the world, and especially on Iranian websites, as a call for
regime change in Iran.
Unfortunately, a few months later, the people of Iran elected by
a large majority Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a radical Islamist and a
suspected leader of the gang who took and tormented our diplomats in Teheran
Mr. Ahmadinejad is not a cuddly figure. He has threatened to
restart Iran's nuclear program and sneered at American warnings against
such action. He was undiplomatic enough to tauntingly assert that we don't
have enough troops to stop him (apparently, he forgot about our Air Force. I
hope we haven't). He also proclaimed his objective to wipe Israel off the
map and called any Muslim against such a project a bad Muslim.
Which brings us to Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act One, Scene Five,
line 189 (Hamlet's last soliloquy of Act One): "The time is out of joint. O
cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right!"
To recapitulate Act one, Scene five: The ghost of Hamlet's
father demands that Hamlet "revenge his foul and most unnatural murder."
Hamlet, just as Bush in the State of the Union quickly responds:
"Haste me to know't, that I with wings as swift as meditation or the
thoughts of love, may sweep to my revenge."
Then, Hamlet's father's ghost informs him that his murderer is
Hamlet's uncle, the new king: "the serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown."
Which leads Hamlet to doubt and fear and cursing that he was
ever born "to set it right."
Now does George Bush sit, fretting in the White House that soon,
dreadfully soon, he will have to act to reclaim his honor and his bold words
that Iran shall not possess the bomb? Is he agonizing over whether the world
will be better off with a nuclear or non-nuclear Iran? Does he know it must
be de-nuclearized but curse, Hamlet-like, that it is his job to do it?
Perhaps. But I suspect that W is not "Hamlet," a tragedy; but
resolute, "Henry V," a history, as he said to his troops before battle:
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Be copy now to men of
grosser blood. And teach them how to war For there is none of you so mean
and base That hath not noble luster in your eyes. I see you stand like
greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start.
The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry
"G-d for Harry, England and Saint George."
Or we could follow El Baradei's advise and negotiate with a
hell-bent for leather fanatically lead nuclear Iran, even as we have been
unsuccessfully negotiating with a still non-nuclear Iran. It might work.
On the other hand, you could ask the ghost of Neville
Chamberlain how that worked out for him in 1939.