Finally someone said it. Now we must do something about it.

In his major speech in Israel, Vice President Joe Biden was refreshingly direct and straightforward: "The United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, period."

Even the "period" was important, for it eliminates wiggle room. There are no mushy "but" or "however" caveats.

Assuming Biden was not wandering off the White House reservation, he has rescued a policy that was drifting toward disaster. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton caused enormous confusion and concern about whether the United States was ready to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

Both talked tough previously, but had gone soft in their endless engagement efforts. They kept the world guessing about our bottom line, especially after Clinton suggested we were getting ready to live with Iranian nukes.

As I discovered on my recent trip to Israel, such talk led many Israelis to fear the United States had thrown in the towel. The result was a heightened expectation Israel would undertake a military strike of its own.

"What is happening is that Obama is forcing Israel to take action by not doing anything to stop Iran," one top political insider told me. It was a sentiment shared across the Israeli political spectrum, which is otherwise splintered.

Whether Biden changed the dynamics depends on what we do next. Our movement toward modest sanctions seems half-hearted, and there is no reason to think China will agree to those.

Even then, it's not likely any sanctions will stop the mad mullahs' march to Armageddon.

Biden, to his credit, spoke directly to those fears and the stakes. After declaring the U.S. intentions to stop Iran from getting nukes, he said: "I know that for Israel, there is no greater existential strategic threat. Trust me, we get that."

He went on to acknowledge that a nuclear Iran "is also a threat to the security -- short-term, mid-term and long-term -- [of] the United States of America" and would start a nuclear arms race in the Mideast.

All those statements are accepted as fact by nearly every major country in the world, and yet, by its behavior, the White House looked to be ducking them. Even French President Nicolas Sarkozy felt the need to scold Obama that his dreams of a nuclear-free world were daffy if we weren't going to confront Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Of course, it's easy for the French and our Arab allies to talk tough, knowing that the solution, if it involves the use of force, will come mostly from America. But such are the burdens of the world's lone superpower, whether we like it or not.

The rocky part of Biden's trip was about whether Israel and the Palestinians will start serious talks, especially after Israel embarrassed him with a plan to build 1,600 new homes in disputed East Jerusalem.

Biden was understandably livid, but he goes too far in continuing to link the Palestinian issue to Iran. The link buys into the radical Muslim claim that U.S. and Israeli policies are the root cause of Islamic terrorism and that if those policies were changed, terrorists would drop their weapons and pick up plowshares.

If only Iran and the terrorists were so rational. In truth, they are madmen bent on destruction.
They don't want a seat at the table. They want to blow up the table, and us with it. We forget that at our peril.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.

Fox News is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.