The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

September 26, 2012

No Chamberlain decision, please


Bob Harper

TARBORO — With the rapid development of nuclear weapons in Iran, the U.S. and the free world has to make a decision and it has to be made more kicking the can down the road.  If Iran is allowed to achieve its goal of becoming a nuclear weapons power the possibilities of a devastating war becomes much greater.

The administration has said they're going to do something about it, but what and when?  No, I don't think we should telegraph just what we're going to do and when, but my fear is that it just might be too little and too late.

If one reads and understands history they would be aware that in 1936 Adolf Hitler marched into the Rhineland, violating the Versailles treaty and the rules of the League of Nations.

Hitler's army was fairly weak, at this time, and he could have been easily stopped by the French and British. But, instead the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made a deal with Hitler, giving him what he effect, "Peace at any price" or as Chamberlain said, "Peace in our time."

Of course the rest is history.  World War II was started and millions of lives were lost, including over 400,000 American lives.  What does this have to do with the situation in Iran and the Middle East?  It has to do with our learning from history and recognizing that history tends to repeat itself.

 What happens when Iran produces nuclear weapons?  Some have responded that they're not suicidal so they wouldn't dare use them.  Perhaps, but Hitler was suicidal, as was Tojo.  Maybe a more important issue would be if Iran decides to give these nuclear weapons to rogue nations of the world who would be happy to receive them and much more likely to use them.

It's no wonder that the citizens and leadership in Israel are extremely concerned with the developments that threaten their nation. Israel has long been one of America's closest allies, but now with the mild reaction that our administration has responded with, by seeming to accept the rapid development of nuclear weapons by Iran to be okay, then naturally, Israel is baffled.  What next?  What can we do?  Who are our true friends? These are the questions that Israel has to be asking all of us?

To give us a clearer understanding of how the Israelis must feel maybe we should pretend for a moment that Canada and Mexico are heavily armed nations with very strong military means and they both hate us and constantly proclaim that, "The U.S. has no right to exist and should be annihilated."

Let's further imagine that one of these countries is about to obtain nuclear power.  Would we be concerned?  Or What?  I think we'd be frantic if one of our supposedly best friends and strongest nations in the world reacted as if nothing much was happening, and that we shouldn't worry.

In my opinion we should react, in conjunction with Israel, and take out this nuclear development facility in Iran immediately.  "Oh no," some might respond.  "That'll start a war."  Yeah, it might, but I think not.  I doubt seriously that Iran would want to face the military might of Israel, the U.S. and Great Britain.

However, if we fail to act at all, what then?  Iran will have nuclear weapons and the entire world will be in great danger.  Other rogue nations will receive access to these weapons also and some madman dictator will use them in some manner.  Maybe not, but the real risk is entirely too dangerous to ignore.

A nuclear weapon doesn't have to be a hydrogen bomb; it can be an atomic bomb like was used in 1945 when the U.S. bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroying both cities and killing almost 250,000 people.  Another scary thing, my research shows than an atomic bomb now only has to be the size of a large refrigerator and most of its ingredients can be bought here in the private sector, others can be smuggled in.

In 1995, Timothy McVeigh put 5,000 pounds of TNT inside a Ryder truck in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people (19 children).  It wouldn't be that difficult to repeat this type of thing with an atomic bomb.

What am I trying to do, scare the hades out of everybody?  Nope, I'm just hoping that the administration will take the Iranian nuclear threat seriously and not make a Neville Chamberlain type decision and just kick the can down the road.

 We really need to remember that when Chamberlain made such a decision it led Hitler to build up his military to the point where World War II took the lives of millions of innocent people.

(Bob Harper is a Tarboro resident who writes a column of general interest.)