EDITORIAL: Iran talks tough, Obama just talks

Tehran has an open road to become a nuclear power

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When it comes to war fighting, the United States is second-rate and always has been, according to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “The United States has never entered a serious war, and has never been victorious,” Iran’s president said on Tuesday. Threatened strikes against Iran’s outlaw nuclear program do not impress him, and if President Obama’s speech Thursday at the United Nations is any indication, the mullahs have nothing to worry about.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments came during a charmless offensive prior to his own remarks before the U.N. General Assembly. In a series of interviews and press gatherings, he said America had never experienced “real” war, “not in Vietnam, nor in Afghanistan, nor even World War II.” While this seems nonsensical - especially considering that the Second World War was the most devastating war in human history and as “real” as it gets - Mr. Ahmadinejad’s point may have been that these wars were waged almost completely abroad and didn’t rage across the American homeland.

“The United States doesn’t understand what war looks like,” he continued. “War is just not bombing someplace. When a war starts, it knows no limits.” The implied threat is clear: If the United States takes military action against Iran, even a limited strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, Tehran’s response will be unlimited, even reaching America’s shores. Despite his hot rhetoric, he feels this exercise in deterrence is unnecessary. “Do you think anyone will attack Iran to begin with?” he asked. “I really don’t think so.”

Mr. Obama made clear in his address to the U.N. General Assembly that he doesn’t think so either. Mr. Obama said, “The door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it.” He reiterated that in 2009, he “offered the Islamic Republic of Iran an extended hand,” and said that if Tehran failed to meet its responsibilities under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, “Iran must be held accountable.” He declared that “actions have consequences” and that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which passed in June, proved “international law is not an empty promise.”

The new sanctions resolution is an empty gesture, however. Iran has gone much further toward achieving capability with weapons of mass destruction than Iraq had when the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 in 2002, which promised “serious consequences” should Saddam Hussein’s regime not comply with the will of the international community. Then, consequences meant forcible regime change. Now, with Iran having achieved the capability to construct nuclear weapons - something Saddam never came close to - the U.S. response amounts to waiting by the door, hoping Iran will knock.

Mr. Ahmadinejad effectively slammed the door shut by saying in his own address to the General Assembly that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were an inside job designed to give the United States an excuse to deploy troops around the globe and ensure Israel’s survival. The Iranian leader’s tough talk contrasts sharply with Mr. Obama’s weak preaching. Of course, Iran’s leader can afford to make threats because he knows that no war is coming. Consequences aren’t what they used to be.

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