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Appease Iran?

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In a German editorial last year, Mathias Dapfner, CEO of the huge German publisher Axel Springer AG, wrote a scathing attack in Die Walt, Germany's largest daily paper, against Europe's failure to grasp the extent of the Islamic threat.

He noted that Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag that "Europe — your family name is appeasement" because it is so true. Looking at history, he reminds us how "appeasement" costs millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives, as England and France tried the "comfortable" diplomatic tack to negotiate away the problem with a ruthless dictator who only used agreements to further his objectives.

How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic fundamentalists in the Netherlands, the Middle East and elsewhere today? Believe it or not, the response is to suggest there should be a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany that will somehow spare Germany from the wrath of the Islamic fanatics. Incredible!

With our ability to communicate, why can't Europe and a good part of the population in the United States understand that there is an Islamic fundamentalist movement under way directed toward Western civilization's utter destruction?

It is a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be brought under control by "tolerance" and "accommodations." Such gestures only spur them on, and are taken as a sign of weakness.

Here in the United States, we have some responsible leaders who actually recognize what Iran is doing throughout the Middle East and freely admit that what Iran, Syria and the proxy Hezbollah group did in its attempt to take over Lebanon was an outrage. This most recent aggression occurred on the eve of President Bush's trip to Israel and was obviously planned to show not only the weakness of his efforts to prevent such acts but total disdain for his Mideast peace efforts.

Nonetheless, some of these same leaders believe we need to offer the rogue regime in Tehran more incentives to make it act responsibly. This even though we have solid evidence Iran continues to wage war against the United States by fueling violence in Iraq through support of proxies. These leaders dismiss Iran's continued training and arming of the special militia groups with the most effective Iranian weapons, including the lethal roadside bomb called "explosively formed projectile" (EFP) that has caused so many American fatalities. We should now reward Iran for killing thousands of Americans dating from Beirut in 1983 to the current Iraq conflict. Nor does it matter that Iran has directed assassination operations in Iraq against officials who oppose Iran, according to Army Col. H.R. McMaster.

As pointed out by Ehud Yaari in the Jerusalem Report, Iran has developed a sophisticated deterrence strategy using proxies. Some think that will prevent our attacking Iran. It needs to be pointed out that this so-called sophisticated deterrence strategy only exists because we and our allies have failed to act. Those who believe Iran can be deterred from using nuclear weapons fail to grasp the point that it will not be Iran that uses the weapon but its proxies.

With the continued legislative action by the U.S. Congress and the call by two Democratic candidates for president to withdraw our forces from Iraq, why should Iran negotiate? With Iran awash in petrodollars, it can continue to ignore United Nations sanctions (albeit limited), plus other economic sanctions and travel restrictions.

It would be very statesmanlike if this conflict could be resolved diplomatically, economically and politically. Iran's leaders have spurned all incentives to date. But our capitulation is not an acceptable price. In order for Iran to change direction, there must be a direct threat to the survival of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regime.

Further, we should recognize they will only negotiate to "buy" time. Their fundamentalist objectives will not change. The key to defeating the broader Islamic fundamentalist threat is winning in Iraq. If the price for winning in Iraq is regime change in Iran, better now before they acquire the ultimate weapon.

James Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

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