Mona Charen

"Israel believes this threat is existential," explained a clearly dubious former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Richard Murphy. Well, how could they think that? (And by the way, all former ambassadors, especially those who served in Saudi Arabia and now serve as advisers to Saudi banks, should be taken with a large grain of salt.) Could it be because the nation of Iran has announced its intention to wipe Israel off the map and is hurtling toward building nuclear weapons? Could it be because Iran's agent, Hizbollah, welcomes "World War III"; is pledged to the destruction of Israel; and is raining missiles down on Israeli cities and towns?

The New York Times editorial page, showcasing its almost unbroken record of obtuseness, demanded that the international community enforce a ceasefire as soon as possible, arguing that a "wider war" would benefit only "Iran, Syria, and the armed Islamic radical groups that they support throughout the region."

The exact opposite is true. If a premature ceasefire were imposed, the parties named by the Times would be the clear winners. Only if Israel is able to punish Hizbollah severely will those aggressors be thwarted. A ceasefire stops the guns for a week. A victory can stop them for years. One really does wonder sometimes what the New York Times editorial writers would do if someone punched them in the nose. Actually, it's not that hard to guess. They'd wonder what they had done to deserve it and would decline to contribute to the "cycle of violence."

Let's review. The United States and its allies gave Iran a deadline to respond to an ultimatum regarding its nuclear program. (Actually, the ultimatum was called an "incentives package." It contained a list of goodies -- rewards -- the world would bestow on Iran if it agreed to abandon its nuclear ambitions.) If Iran refused to comply, the U.S., Great Britain and France were prepared to apply sanctions -- though Russia and China were reluctant. The deadline for a response was July.

Just then, Iran launched its proxy war against Israel through Hizbollah. Not only does this take nuclear talks off the front page, it potentially complicates the U.S. position in Iraq. Hizbollah notoriously makes war on Israeli and Lebanese civilians simultaneously. It shoots its rockets into Israeli cities and farms from patios and school playgrounds in Lebanon. Israeli retaliation is bound to kill innocent civilians, who are then paraded on television to generate world condemnation of Israel. Iran is no doubt hoping that pictures of bleeding Lebanese Shiites will embitter Iraqi Shiites against the United States. Evil? Yes. But not stupid.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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