WASHINGTON -- This week, while the masters of America's mainstream media were probing the carnage perpetrated by a deranged, lone gunman in Blacksburg, Va., Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Israel, discounting the threat posed by an irrational government intent on acquiring nuclear weapons. Neither act makes any sense.
In the aftermath of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, schoolmates, faculty members and law enforcement officials pointed to the gunman's pattern of unbalanced behavior, menacing anger and self-destructive writings. Numerous reports cited rules and privacy laws that barred authorities from acting to thwart the massacre of 32 innocents. Like the killings at Columbine eight years ago this week, and with the same clarity of 20/20 hindsight, "experts" concur that the killing could have been prevented had action been taken months or even years ago. It's a lesson that should be applied to our dealings with the irrational, threatening, self-destructive regime in Tehran.
On April 18, as the potentates of the press were discovering stories of courage and compassion at Virginia Tech, Gates, standing beside his Israeli counterpart, Amir Peretz, declared that they had decided to "deal with the Iranian nuclear problem through diplomacy, which appears to be working." He went on to note that the international community is "united" in this approach. This sounds eerily like urging deeply disturbed, homicidal students to seek counseling and talk about their problems in lieu of more stringent measures that might deter them from committing mass murder.
Unfortunately, the homicidal Islamic radicals running Iran are arming themselves with weapons far more lethal than handguns, and the mass murder they plan to perpetrate will kill millions. And yet, if the advice being proffered by Messrs. Gates and Peretz is followed, we will continue to ignore all the warning signs and "talk" with Iran until it is too late.
The killers at Columbine and Virginia Tech repeatedly denied that they were potentially destructive to themselves or others -- until they acted. They hid their weapons and their intentions while plotting mayhem. That's the same pattern of behavior that the Ayatollahs in Tehran have followed.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.