If ever there was a time when "see, I told you so" was warranted, it is now as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported last week that Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon.
That so many in the State Department over several administrations could deceive themselves into believing claims by the Iranians that their intentions are nothing but peaceful and their sole objective is to develop more sources of electricity for their country reminds me of the Munich Agreement of 1938. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Adolf Hitler, thought they had an agreement concerning Czechoslovakia, shook hands on it, and then watched stupefied as Hitler boldly seized the country, en route to Poland, plunging Europe into greater turmoil.
What flummoxed Chamberlain, and modern-day apologists for evil, is their refusal to accept that dictators do not live by Western standards or think as we do. The U.S. State Department seems to believe dictators act the way they do because they have been deprived of things the West enjoys and that giving them what we think they need would cause them to act rationally. The corollary to that false premise is that if Western sanctions deprive them of what we consider "the good life," they will be more likely to comply with our demands.
When Iran lies, the State Department believes their lies; when Iran tells the truth, say, about wishing to wipe Israel off the map, State doesn't believe them.
On a visit to Washington Tuesday, Israeli Cabinet Minister Uzi Landau told me, "No sanction can convince the Iranians. The only time Iran became serious (about Western threats) was in 2003 when the U.S. went into Iraq."
That's when Iran appeared to some to have suspended its nuclear program, fearing the U.S. might bomb or invade their country. Secret intelligence provided to the IAEA strongly suggests Iran continued its push for nuclear weapons.
Breaking news: Islamists lie!
What about the "land for peace" formula that has been the accepted doctrine of so many U.S. administrations? Does Mr. Landau think that formula is still valid? Not surprisingly, he does not, nor does he believe it ever was a workable formula. "The root cause of the conflict in the region," he says, "is the total refusal by Palestinians and Arab states to accept a Jewish state of any size."
How could anyone credibly argue with him, given the statements to that affect by the Palestinian leadership and some Muslim and Arab political leaders throughout the region?
Israel once again is virtually alone in dealing with the threats it faces. Uzi Landau says, "Israel isn't the problem. The Western world is the problem (for Islamists). The radicals are focusing not just on Israel, but the world."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama were caught with their microphones still on after a news conference at the G-20 meeting in Cannes, France. According to the website Arret Sur Images, Mr. Sarkozy said about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "I can't look at him anymore, he's a liar," to which Obama reportedly replied, "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day." That's not exactly a confidence builder for Israel and the West that these two leaders understand where the real threat is coming from.
Daniel Pipes understands. In National Review Online, Mr. Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, writes, "Islamism is the third totalitarian ideology following fascism and communism."
The question now is will the rest of the world develop a strategy for destroying (not containing, because it will not be contained) Islamism as it did fascism and communism? The IAEA report requires even more urgency in pursuit of this objective, but remarks in Cannes by Presidents Sarkozy and Obama are not a reason for optimism that they understand what will be necessary to confront and defeat this third totalitarian ideology.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.