- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2014

The West formally surrendered to Iran on Monday, when the United States and the European Union suspended trade and other sanctions against Tehran, and opened the tap to release $4.2 billion in Iranian oil revenues frozen in foreign banks. Iran can now use the money to build the bomb the mullahs intend to use to intimidate and control the Middle East.

“The iceberg of sanctions against Iran is melting,” the director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced on Tehran television. He sounded very pleased, and well he should be. Iran made a few empty promises in return for the lifting of the sanctions, and knows it can take the money now and run. There’s nobody to call the mullahs to account. Once lifted, sanctions will never be imposed again. That would require courage, grit and high resolve. Has anyone seen any of that lately in the West?

Hassan Rouhani, the new president of Iran, is off to Davos, where presidents, prime ministers, bankers, economists, business moguls and the usual Hollywood stars and celebrity hangers-on will spend the week in the Swiss Alps conferring, consulting, eating, drinking, getting manicures and pedicures, taking the waters, even if it has to be melted snow, admiring each other (and their own selves most of all), meditating, talking (lots of talking) and listening to seminars on how to be happy.

They won’t even have to listen closely, because at the conclusion of each seminar the moderator gives them “takeways,” which are neither pizzas nor Gen. Tso’s chicken, but miniaturized “summations.”

Mr. Rouhani is the new man in the club, having shot his way in under the prospect of fire and brimstone. The mullahs have given him leave to talk of tranquility and peace in Davos. Secretary of State John Kerry has been in another Alpine retreat, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been processing peace for Syria. It was his idea to invite the Iranians to Davos. Mr. Kerry, a keen windsurfer at his second (or third) home in France, can sail in over the peaks from Montreux to Davos, which beats a long and tedious five-hour ride on a crowded bus.

Mr. Rouhani and his colleagues have been saying decidedly unpeaceful things at home since they agreed to suspend, but not dismantle, their nuclear-weapons program. They’re painting it as a surrender by the West, the capitulation to Islam. One of the generals boasted that the West gave up because it couldn’t defeat Iran. These are taken as idle boasts in London and Paris and Washington, where there is little understanding of belief and conviction, however sordid and malignant radical conviction and belief may be. A little hot buttered rum before the fireplace at Davos will dissolve hostility. Besides, no beheading knives are allowed at Davos.

If Iran breaks the deal with the West, as President Obama keeps reassuring the skeptics, he’ll hitch up his pants, roll up his sleeves and no more Mr. Nice Guy. But there’s another scenario that nobody in the West wants to think about.

Olli Heinonen, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran is only “two or three weeks away” from producing enough highly enriched uranium to produce a bomb on the day it breaks the deal. The top Iranian negotiator boasted last week in a fit of braggadocio that it could break the deal and resume enriching uranium to the workable levels within a day.

Or maybe it’s not braggadocio at all. What is clear is that the captains of the West are weary of the struggle. They want to believe the lion is ready to lie down with the lamb without thinking of the lamb as dinner.

Some, like Barack Obama, want to get on with transforming the United States into the docile welfare state of community-activist dreams. The mullahs have measured Mr. Obama and concluded that he’s a talker, not a fighter, and he’ll only want to make a speech if challenged by reality. The mullahs have concluded that the American government will do anything to avoid a challenge. Mr. Obama, despite his boast that he would never accept an Iranian bomb, has accepted the reality of a nuclear Iran.

Talk is cheap, and nobody does it better than the mullahs and their minions. Nobody talks more than Barack Obama, who has never learned the difference between talk and action. But put another log on the fire, order another rum, and we’ll think about something else.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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