Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 13, 2006, Herald Journal

We need some better options


A terrorist has a gun pointed at an innocent Israeli’s head. The terrorist tells the Israeli, and you, that the gun is loaded, and he will kill the Israeli. What do you do next?

Iran is making the same kind of threat to Israel, except with nuclear weapons. A columnist from the New York Times, David Brooks, said Jan. 29 we have four choices, all bad, for how we will react to Iran’s threat of arming itself with nuclear weapons.

I will adapt and simplify his four choices for the international community to a one-on-one situation, so they fit into this space.

A. Preemption. In this choice, we kill the terrorist, probably with a sharpshooter, before he has a chance to pull the trigger and turn the gun on us.

B. Economic Sanctions. In this choice we tell the terrorist if he doesn’t drop his loaded weapon we will withhold all his future paychecks until he does.

C. Reform. In this choice, we wait for the terrorist’s more sensible, educated and reasonable friends to come and talk him into dropping his loaded weapon.

D. Silent fate. In this choice, we stay quiet and “wait and see” what will happen, because maybe the gun isn’t loaded and the terrorist is bluffing. We can’t take the terrorist’s gun away from him, because we have guns too, and that isn’t fair. The Israeli might not be innocent and the terrorist might not be a terrorist. We can’t be sure of anything.

Preemption seems to be the best of four poor choices, although all four options put the planet at risk for a nuclear war.

Right now, this country is divided almost 50/50 on the war in Iraq. Brooks is predicting a four-way split over Iran by 2008. Conservative Republicans will want preemption. The Democrats will be split between economic sanctions and a “wait and see” attitude, he said.

Brooks thinks President Bush is opting for reform. He is waiting for the Iranian elite, the educated Iranians who travel and conduct international business, to react against the mullahs’ radical talk and get Iran to shut down its nuclear weapons program.

Which of the four bad options do you prefer?

I hope someone can come up with a fifth option before Iran pulls the trigger. I don’t like these.

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