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The countdown to Armageddon

Armstrong Williams | 10/6/2009, 11:21 a.m.

The wild card in all of this is Israel. If upcoming peace talks between the U.S. and Tehran are unsuccessful, Israel will almost certainly declare war on Iran. Stage one would involve air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, since many of these facilities are underground, it is possible that Israel would be unable to completely disable Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. In response, Iran will launch short-range missiles from Lebanon. At which point, Israel will have to decide whether to wipe Iran off the map will a full-fledged nuclear attack.

The clearest way to avoid this scenario might be for Obama to set a hard timetable for Iran to abandon its program. However appealing the idea of diplomatic talks, the reality is that Iran views the U.S. as an evil empire. Making concessions to the U.S. would be tantamount to political suicide for Ahmadinejad. He would lose all credibility in the Muslim world. This is why Obama must make it clear that he will not allow Iran to buy time through talks. The more time we give Iran, the more successful it will be at hiding underground enrichment facilities and securing its nuclear program. Diplomacy must be imbued with the credible threat of force. The U.S. must declare that it will employ devastating force to prevent a nuclear Iran.

The U.S. should provide Israel with the “bunker-busting” bombs necessary to destroy Iran’s underground enrichment facilities. At the same time, the U.S. must lead an international coalition to combat Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. That coalition must not only impose economic sanctions, it must focus military and intelligence efforts in the region, including the sale of anti-ballistic missiles to Gulf states. Finally, the U.S. must publicly proclaim that it will support Israel’s right to protect itself through preemptive attacks.

In short, the U.S. must make it clear that Tehran’s nuclear brinkmanship threatens not just Ahmadinejad’s political survival, but also the survival of the Iranian republic. Taking a hard stand will be unpopular. It will take an immense commitment at a time where U.S. military resources are already severely depleted. But treating Iran with kid gloves will only precipitate Iran’s march toward nuclear capacity — and World War III.

Armstrong Williams is a political commentator and the host of the nightly XM Satellite Radio program “The Armstrong Williams Show.”