- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2010

Iran is on the march. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has once again defied the West - and President Obama - in his quest to acquire nuclear weapons. The Persian fascist strongman is now months away from arming his Shi’ite revolutionary regime with the means to destroy Israel and blackmail the West.

This week, Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil, which enables Tehran to park some of its low-enriched uranium stockpile in a third country in exchange for 20 percent enriched uranium to go to a medical research reactor. The deal is very similar to the one offered by the Obama administration in October.

Yet, there is one crucial difference: Because Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment capacities, it still will have enough of a stockpile to build a bomb. In other words, the nuclear deal gives Tehran the diplomatic cover needed to pretend it is cooperating with the international community while nonetheless pursuing its nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has outmaneuvered Mr. Obama once again. The Persian Nazi dictator has outfoxed - and outmuscled - the transnational leftist dove. He has successfully divided world opinion on Iran’s nuclear program. Rather then becoming more diplomatically isolated, Iran is beginning to peel away traditional American allies such as Turkey and Brazil. Mr. Obama’s policy of diplomatic engagement has failed - miserably.

In response, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing for another round of United Nations sanctions against Iran. The administration boasts that China and Russia are on board. The problem, however, is that the sanctions are mostly symbolic - a show of great power unity against Tehran’s drive for the bomb. They lack the teeth to dissuade the Iranian mullahs from pursuing their nuclear program. This is the triumph of symbolism over substance.

For the past 16 months, Mr. Obama’s foreign policy has been based on nuclear diplomacy. Unlike the so-called “unilateralist cowboy” former President George W. Bush, Mr. Obama vowed to bring about world peace through diplomatic multilateralism. The Obama adminstration promised that the use of “soft power” - negotiations and economic pressure - would bring Iran to heel.

Hence, Mr. Obama downplayed America’s support for the Iranian pro-democracy movement that challenged last year’s fraudulent elections. He refuses to condemn Tehran’s Islamist police state. He has left his extended hand open despite constant rebukes - and even public derision - by Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mr. Obama has sacrificed human rights and democracy promotion at the altar of appeasement.

The result is a resurgent Iran. Mr. Obama’s diplomatic gambit is leading to a geopolitical disaster. In the past 16 months, Iran has tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium. It has purchased key nuclear components, such as trigger mechanisms for a bomb. It has achieved the self-sufficient capacity to develop nuclear missile systems. It is building more underground nuclear facilities. It has tightened its grip over Hamas and Hezbollah. It has turned southern Lebanon into a mini-Hezbollah statelet. It has made Syria a political vassal. It is aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is carving out a sphere of influence in Iraq. It is forging an anti-American alliance with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. In short, the vacuum of U.S. power in the Middle East is being filled by Tehran’s expansionist Islamic radicalism.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is the Hitler of our time. The Persian Nazi tyrant is a revolutionary Shi’ite who seeks to erect a world Muslim empire. His self-professed goal is to help usher the coming of the Muslim messiah, the so-called “Hidden Imam,” who will only arrive when the earth is consumed in “a great ball of fire.” That fire is nuclear Armageddon. For Mr. Ahmadinejad, Iran must acquire the bomb in order to guarantee the final Muslim victory over the infidels.

This is why he has vowed to “wipe Israel off the map.” It is also why he calls for the destruction of the West - especially, its champion, America. Mr. Ahmadinejad is not a traditional Persian imperialist, nor is he an old-fashioned Middle Eastern dictator. He is an apocalyptic madman, who wants to spread Shariah law upon “the rotting corpses” of Jews and Christians. His regime poses a mortal threat to the world.

Mr. Obama has bungled his greatest foreign policy challenge since assuming office. The time for diplomacy has passed. Only military action can stop Mr. Ahmadinejad now.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the daily host of the “Kuhner Show” on WTNT 570-AM from 5 until 7 p.m.