Iran war talk: Can we stop playing Hitler whack-a-mole?
You know: It's the rule that says the United States must go to war with a country or risk loosing another Hitler on the world.
In 2003, of course, it was the "Iraq rule." Remember how George W. Bush and other administration officials and conservatives justified the invasion of Iraq by comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler?
Although, to be fair, Bush was just following in the tracks of his father, who also invoked the Hitler comparison in deciding to oust Hussein from Kuwait in the 1990 Persian Gulf War.
If I didn't know better, I'd say too many U.S. policymakers have seen "The Boys From Brazil" and assumed it was a documentary.
Today's Hitler, though, is -- take your pick -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the mullahs who rule Iran. And they want Iran to be a nuclear power. And they must be stopped. And the U.S., of course, must do the stopping. And all options must be on the table, including military action.
Who says so?
Well, except for Ron Paul, every Republican running for president, for starters. Here's Mitt Romney:
"If we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon," Romney stated unequivocally. "And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."
But this is a bipartisan stance, it appears. As The Times quoted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta on Sunday:
"Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No," Panetta said. "But we know that they're trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that's what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, 'Do not develop a nuclear weapon.' That's a red line for us."
"I think they need to know that ... if they take that step, that they're going to get stopped," Panetta said, adding that he was not taking any options off the table.
Gosh, fellows, maybe you could all take a break from the Xbox and Call of Duty for a bit? You know, get out for some fresh air?
Because honestly, I think the American people are just a bit tired of playing Hitler whack-a-mole.
And this is starting to give me 2003 deja vu: Everyone knows the Iranians are building a bomb, just like everyone knew Saddam Hussein was pursuing a bomb.
Except he wasn't.
And even if the Iranians are, what makes everyone so sure they'd use it?
Ah, you say, just check what Ahmadinejad has said.
OK. Check what Romney just said. Check what Panetta just said. Does that mean we're automatically going to war?
If we went to war every time someone said something bellicose, we'd be going to war a lot -- uh, I mean a lot more.
We didn't want the Soviet Union to get the bomb, but it did. We didn't want China to get the bomb, but it did. Ditto North Korea. And Pakistan.
Each time, some argued -- as some, especially Israel, argue now about Iran -- that it would be Armageddon if the bad guys got the bomb.
Well, the United States has lived for more than 60 years with thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at it.
It's no picnic, but we're still here.
Plus, sanctions against Iran are starting to take their toll. They might work. At any rate, they don't cost nearly as much as a military action.
So why don't we give the war talk a rest. Hitler, after all, is dead.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: A U.S. sailor in a safety boat observes a boarding team from the U.S. guided-missile destroyer Kidd after Iranian fishermen were rescued from pirates in the Arabian Sea. Credit: U.S. Navy