There was so much baloney in President Obama’s State of the Union speech that it was hard to find the beef. But there it was, buried toward the bottom of his remarks. Finally and forcefully, he chose a big stage to make a clear statement on Iran.
“Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal,” Obama said to great applause. Whew.
It’s a relief for several reasons. Although other aides recently sounded hawkish, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton once talked about what America would do “after” Iran got the bomb. History teaches that weakness begets aggression, and mixed signals are a form of weakness. Presidential clarity was essential if only so Iran would not blunder into a conflict it didn’t expect.
But the president’s direct warning, including the vow to use military force if necessary, was mostly intended to reassure antsy allies.
It came not a moment too soon. Escalating tensions give the feel that the issue is coming to a head very quickly.
As the US and Europe ramp up sanctions on Iranian oil, the mad mullahs are responding by threatening more violence. They vowed to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for Gulf oil shipments. And in recent days, Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, told a cheering crowd of Muslims from 70 countries that “the Zionists and the Great Satan will soon be defeated.”
Most telling, Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, again is blocking inspectors from the United Nations. If they have nothing to hide, why do they keep hiding it?
In fact, nobody believes them, and their scam to stall for time explains why a low-level war already is under way, with cyberattacks on Iranian facilities and assassinations of some scientists.
Most speculation fingers Israel, which Iran has threatened to wipe off the map. The beleaguered Jewish state can’t be blamed for protecting itself against an existential threat, especially as Iran is arming its terror proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Leon Panetta, secretary of defense, said he believes Israel will launch a military attack on Iran within months. The only surprise is that the attack hasn’t happened already, in part because America had seemed so wishy-washy about its resolve.
But Israel is not alone in wanting to block the bomb. Like the raft of suspects in “Murder on the Orient Express,” numerous nations also have a motive.
The king of Saudi Arabia once urged the US to “cut off the head off the snake” by launching military attacks, and, more recently, a Saudi prince warned his country would seek its own nukes if Iran got them. Other Arab states, fearing Iran more than Israel, have said similar things.
Obama wasted three years in trying to engage Iran and arranging sanctions that didn’t stop the nuclear program, but he finally seems to have realized that a credible threat of military force is necessary.
If nothing else, he is following the wisdom of the ancient Roman saying that “if you want peace, prepare for war.”
Here’s hoping he gets peace. But there will be none in the world if Iran ever gets the bomb.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.