Afghanistan and Sudan, under Islamist regimes, were basket cases. Despite the comparisons with Nazi Germany, Iran is unable to build modern fighters or warships and has an economy one-twentieth that of the United States, at best. While we lack the troops to invade Iran, three times the size of Iraq, the U.S. Air Force and Navy could, in weeks, smash Iran's capacity to make war, blockade it and reduce its population to destitution. Should Iran develop a nuclear weapon and use it on us or on Israel, it would invite annihilation.
As a threat, Iran is not remotely in the same league with the Soviet Union of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, or Mao's China, or Nazi Germany, or Imperial Japan, or even Mussolini's Italy.
And why would Tehran, which has not launched a war since the revolution in 1979, start a war with an America with 10,000 nuclear weapons? If the Iranians are so suicidal, why have they not committed suicide in 30 years by attacking us or Israel?
What makes war with Iran folly is that an all-out war could lead to a break-up of that country, with Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis going their separate ways, creating fertile enclaves for al-Qaida recruitment and training.
Yet, while talking common sense, Gen. Powell himself reverted to cliche. "America could not survive without immigration."
But this is nonsense. From 1789 to 1845, we had almost no immigration, before the Irish came. Did we not survive? From 1925 to 1965, we had almost no immigration. Yet, we conquered the Great Depression, won World World II, became the greatest power on earth and ended those four decades with an Era of Good Feeling under Ike and JFK unlike any we had known before.
Was the America of the 1940s and 1950s in which Colin Powell grew up in danger of not surviving for lack of immigration?
In our time, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Czechoslovakia have split apart. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia have broken up into two dozen nations. Terrorism had nothing to do with it. Tribalism had everything to do with it.
Race, ethnicity and religion are the fault lines along which nations like Iraq are coming apart. If America ends, it will not be the work of an Osama bin Laden. As Abraham Lincoln said, it will be by our own hand, it will be by suicide.