No other Christians have more reason to be concerned about Israel than do we Mormons because of the additional prophecies we’ve been given and how the Jewish future and ours will be intertwined.
With that in mind, how could the strongest nation in the world – the base for the restored gospel – look like a bunch of Keystone Kops in its attempts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions? Our setbacks at every one of several stages makes one wonder whether the Lord is intentionally allowing the mob that will surround Jerusalem to have nukes.
First we hoped that Iranian scientists wouldn’t have the skills to master the intricacies of nuclear weaponry. My goodness, the Soviet Union couldn’t build a decent flush toilet in the late 1940s, but their scientists mastered nuclear weapons within three years after the U.S. test at Alamogordo, New Mexico. How can Iran be less capable? We now know that their scientists have mastered most of the necessary processes, and probably have better toilets to boot. So much for that hope.
Next we relied on sales embargoes and export controls to keep highly technical nuclear components and materials from reaching Iran. But just as Pakistan was able to obtain critical components for its bombs in violation of United States’ export controls,(1) can anyone doubt that Iran has been able to buy and smuggle whatever it needs from European countries whose export controls are weaker than ours?
Then came bluster – bi-partisan, no less.
Former President George W. Bush: “[Iran] has declared they want to have a nuclear weapon. … That’s unacceptable to the United States, and it’s unacceptable to the world.”(2)
Former Vice President Dick Cheney: “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”(3)
Current Vice President Joe Biden: “… the United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, period.”(4)
Bush had his chance and muffed it. As Bret Stephens writes in the current issue of Commentary: “President Bush warned that the transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences of such action.’ Yet when Pyongyang was exposed in 2007 as having made precisely that kind of transfer to Syria, it paid no price (other than the loss, at Israel’s hands, of its investment). On the contrary, thanks to a bit of diplomatic gamesmanship, North Korea was soon rewarded by the Bush administration by being removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.”
Why shouldn’t Iran feel they can get the same treatment?
As for Biden’s threat, so much for the word period bringing the issue to finality. The military option remains on the table, we are told, but with troops in two Middle Eastern countries, it’s not likely the American public would tolerate a deployment in a third even if Obama were so inclined, which he most assuredly is not.
With little apparent taste for pre-emptive military action, we tried to play nice. In the last 18 months, we have witnessed the president-as-penitent apology tour and the can’t-we-all-get-along outstretched hand. Is it working? I’m afraid that every thugocracy in the world, even more than their assessment of Bush’s accommodation of North Korea, watched Obama’s bowing and scraping navete and said to themselves, “We can roll this guy; he won’t do anything.”
All along the way, from hope to bluster to playing nice, we have talked – seriously talked, mind you – about sanctions. Dick Cheney warned, “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences.”(5) Strong words, but not much evidence to point to. Perhaps he meant that the U.N. would consult the thesaurus for stronger words.
Most recently, the UN Security Council on June 9 imposed additional sanctions on Iran (6) that at best can be labeled tepid – lots of mouth, few teeth – while 12 days earlier it sanctimoniously voted for an anti-Israel resolution under the guise of a “nuclear-free Middle East that singles out Israel that has both angered and deeply worried the Jewish state,”(7) and which this time had the unprecedented backing of the United States.
As an Israeli citizen wrote me after my last Meridian article, “Believe me, we keenly feel the withdrawal of official US support and all of the ramifications.”
Though we have tried many things, it now appears that America and its allies will not prevent an avowed enemy of Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Our ruling elites do not have the collective will to make things happen even though 87 senators and 307 representatives recently signed a letter encouraging President Obama to support Israel. So that leaves us with containment, aka resignation.
But, hey, containment worked with the Commies, why not with the Khomeinis?
I’ll tell you why. The Bolsheviks did not believe in life after death; this life, in their minds, was all there is and they wanted above all else to stay alive. Therefore, the threat of mutually assured destruction worked.
Not so with the mullahs in Iran. One faction so firmly believes in a certain type of life after death that they would welcome martyrdom by vaporization, especially if it triggers the return of the Twelfth Imam. That horde, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his fanatical followers, revels in the belief that being poofed in the fight against the infidel will lead to a glorious hereafter, as if dealing with 70 squabbling virgins would be a piece of cake.
Containment by deterrence only works if the enemy treasures this life, not one to come.
Though traditional deterrence will not work with Iran, we may yet avoid nuclear war in the Middle East, but the reasons are not pretty.
Consider this scenario: Tehran announces that it has smuggled nuclear devices into two un-named American cities and will set them off if the United States helps Israel. What would you do if you were President of the United States? Call their bluff and give aid to Israel anyway, or sit on the sidelines?
Put another way, do you realistically believe the U.S. would risk losing a Cleveland or a Dallas for a little nation that leaders in both parties have increasingly come to dislike and presidential advisers have referred to in the crudest of terms?
The bottom line is that Iran’s nukes will deter us from helping Israel, but our nukes will not deter them from attacking it.
The End Game
Israel may go it alone and launch military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities – Saudi Arabia has already given it a wink and a nod to use northern Saudi air space to do so. But Israel should know that the fix is in, the end game is already programmed.
Before the Millennium, Jerusalem will be under siege for 42 months (which may be a symbolic number and not necessarily 3.5 years), two prophets will preach in that city until 3-1/2 days before the Savior’s foot cleaves the Mount of Olives to deliver an escape path, and so substantial will be the battle that it will take the victors seven years to burn the armaments of the defeated – you know the scriptures.(8) The prophecies of this massive battle in such a small area are made more plausible if one understands that the siege forces will be backed by the threat of nukes against those who might otherwise be inclined to help Israel.
As I mentioned in last week’s column (Click here to read it) about the shadow of Gideon, Jerusalem’s Jews will be brought to the point where only the Messiah can save them.
Will we get from here to that blessed event without Iran using its nukes? Who knows?
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Gary Lawrence welcomes comments at [email protected]
3 Speech given to Washington Institute for Near East Studies, Washington, D.C., October 21, 2007.
5 Ibid. Speech, October 2007
7 Agence France-Presse, May 30, 2010
8 Revelation 11,13,16; Ezekiel 38-39; Zechariah 12-14, D&C 29, 45, 77; etc.