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U.S. Talks Iraq but Thinks Iran

June 18, 2002|RANAN R. LURIE

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are talking about Iraq, but they're contemplating Iran. It may eventually be written in the annals of contemporary history that the ultimate clever deception by the United States was concentrating the warnings on Baghdad while the intended target was Tehran.

The chroniclers will describe Osama bin Laden and the few thousand fanatics he gathered in Al Qaeda as horrible terrorists who managed to attract the attention of the world for a short time.

They will describe Saddam Hussein as a megalomaniac and glory hunter who wanted to be remembered as the hero of the Arab world who stared down Washington.

But the historical records will emphasize the massive, well- organized, state-subsidized terror that stemmed from and flourished in Iran. That country, history will record, was overtaken by a religion that incorporated itself into a so-called legitimate state for one strategic purpose: the Islamization of the world as the endgame.

Iran is the personification of Islam, equipped with a navy and an army, which is developing what would be, in effect, the Islamic bomb. This nuclear missile will be ready within two to three years at most.

Iran will have no moral dilemma about using weapons of mass destruction against infidels once it has such devices. It certainly will be comfortable using such a tool for blackmail. Indirectly, of course.

Iran is much stronger than Iraq, and its religious fanaticism cements its mission to eliminate nonbelievers wherever they are. You can read nowadays open analysis by military pundits in the Iranian press debating whether two Hiroshima-size bombs would be more than enough to destroy Israel, or whether one would be sufficient, thus allowing the second one to be saved for bigger and better things, say Philadelphia.

Iran--a terror organization with a country, a flag and embassies all over the world--can use its diplomatic pouches to deliver whatever it sees fit: intelligence information for terrorist attacks or even small containers of the appropriate germs produced in laboratories 38 miles southeast of Tehran.

It is inconceivable that we'll attack Iraq, succeed, destroy its unconventional laboratories and arsenal, come home for a ticker-tape parade on Wilshire Boulevard and go to the beaches--while Iran is still there. Imagine a brain surgeon penetrating the skull of a patient who has two malignant tumors and yet extracting only one of them. Logic says that, as long as you are in that skull, the same incision should serve for the removal of the second tumor.

The application here would be that once 250,000 U.S. and British troops mass to strike in that festering part of the world, they would hit in two quick blows at Iraq and Iran. I believe that's the reason for the delay in striking Iraq.

The White House and the Pentagon have the responsibility of planning the big picture. Remember the two bulls, a father and son, walking pleasantly down the meadow and seeing ahead of them a group of attractive cows? The excited young bull requests permission from the father bull to run and make love to one of them. Walk, and make love to all of them, answers dad with a grin, reflecting common sense.

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Ranan R. Lurie is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and a syndicated columnist and political cartoonist.

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