Cliff May

Among the lessons to be learned from the meltdown on Wall Street: Change is not always for the better. And even institutions that appear big, strong and permanent can collapse in a New York minute.

Such lessons are especially germane this week, as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pays another visit to U.N. headquarters in Manhattan. Most Americans know he is despicable, and that he speaks for the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. Most are aware that his regime has facilitated the killing of American troops in Iraq, violates the most basic human rights at home, and is developing nuclear weapons to project power abroad. But the conventional wisdom holds that while Iran may represent an existential threat to Israel, America is not in imminent peril.

How confident can we be of that? Is it not possible that Iran, should it acquire nuclear weapons, would follow the precedent established by al-Qaeda and attack the "Great Satan" first -- leaving the "Little Satan" for later?

Ahmadinjad's genocidal threats against Israel have been well-publicized. But from time to time he also likes to remind his followers that "a world without America attainable."

Hassan Abbassi, another senior Iranian official, has outlined how that goal might be reached. "We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization and for the uprooting of the Americans and the English," he has said. "The global infidel front is a front against Allah and the Muslims, and we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front, by means of our suicide operations and by means of our missiles."

In recent days, Iran's military has been testing those missiles, launching them from ships in the Caspian Sea. Could they be developing the skills needed to target an American city? Or could they be preparing an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack against as many cities and towns as possible? Such an attack would require launching a missile with a nuclear warhead from a ship off America's shores. Detonation at high altitude over the center of the country would produce a devastating shock wave - one that would destroy America's communication and transportation infrastructure, everything electronic and/or computerized.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.