Moral equivalence and a cindery future, or pre-emption?

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Apr 20, 2006 12:05 AM

In geopolitics, the raising up of an ersatz moral equivalence induces inaction that invites defeat.

We currently hear these arguments from equivalence:

- Iran may be developing nuclear weapons, but we abide other South Asian countries possessing them - e.g., India and Pakistan.

- Iran voices grievances against the West, but given the West's miserable record in the Middle East, many of those grievances are justified.

- Iran says it intends to rub Israel off the map, but Israel is the fundamental cause of Middle Eastern conflict.

So let us accept Iranian nuclearization and work through diplomacy to settle whatever grievances Iran may have.

As in few other periods before, events of the past 10 days have conspired to draw a picture of the future for an inactive, unresponsive West in a morally equivalent hour.

On April 12, jurors weighing the fate of Zacarias Moussaoui heard segments from the flight recorder of United Flight 93. On 9/11, jihadists hijacked the plane and intended to fly it into the Capitol. As passengers stormed the cockpit, the jihadists turned the plane upside down and at 560 mph augured it into the Pennsylvania countryside. The recorder discloses sounds of heroism, anguish, desperation, grisly murderers at work, lives expiring and - to the end - macabre testimonies to the greatness of Allah.

Gripping, even overwhelming, as that testimony from the dead may have been, Moussaoui himself overmatched it. He said he was supposed to hijack a plane on 9/11 and fly it into the White House.

Other choice Moussaoui courtroom utterances:

"God curse America" and - crooned to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." - "Burn in the U.S.A."

"God bless Osama bin Laden."

On accepting a suicide mission from Osama: "It was my pleasure."

On his feelings upon hearing witnesses testify about their pain and grief from losing loved ones on 9/11: "It made my day. . . . We want to inflict pain on your country."

In response to testimony from a witness who crawled to safety in the Pentagon: "It was pathetic. I was sorry that he survived."

"Burn all the Pentagon next time."

In response to a question whether he is "crazy": "Thank God I am not." And: Suicide bombing missions are "not crazy but based on Islam."

In response to whether, even if locked in a maximum-security prison, he would try to kill Americans: "Any time, anywhere."

In response to whether, if given a chance to fly a plane into a building occupied by Americans, he would do it as soon as tomorrow: "Today."

On executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh: "The greatest American."

On Israel and the U.S.: "For me, the Jewish state of Palestine is a missing star in the American flag. You are the head of the snake for me. If I want to destroy the Jewish state of Palestine, I have to destroy you."

On whether he has any regrets: "There is no regret for justice."

Enter, on April 11, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. In Mashad (meaning "place of martyrdom") - to Shiites, Iran's holiest place because it is the site of the 9th Century poisoning of Iman Reza - Ahmadinejad announced Iran has developed bomb-grade uranium. With now a cascade of 164 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, Iran intends to link 54,000 centrifuges - 3,000 by year's end.

A 1979 photograph almost certainly depicts Ahmadinejad as one of the Iranian "students" who held 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, ultimately for 444 days. He learned then America would do nothing in response to outrageous action. He knows now the U.S. and the West are unlikely to take out his nuclear program in its early stages. So call this Ahmadinejad's Hostage Crisis II as he prepares for Heaven knows what while holding America and the West hostage to precisely the moral equivalence that induces inaction.

And what does Ahmadinejad have in mind? He evidently regards himself as sent to Earth to salvage Islam - to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Shiites' version of the Messiah. Iran long has funded Hezbollah, the jihadist terror group in Lebanon now in possession of an estimated 14,000 missiles for firing at Israel; Iran has moved Revolutionary Guards into positions reinforcing Hezbollah along the Lebanese border with Israel.

Iran is in the business of something more than pistachios and Persian rugs. It also is funding the Hamas jihadists recently voted into power by the Palestinians. And for what it's worth, let this datum not be lost: biblical prophecy holds that Armageddon - which Osama, Ahmadinejad, Moussaoui and the 9/11hijackers, et al, seem so intently to want - will be fought in northern Israel's Valley of Megido.

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From the Flight 93 cockpit recorder, Moussaoui, and Ahmadinejad we have testimony of the most chilling, compelling sort. Evil defined. And the case for our moral equivalence is a fatuous non-starter. Three years of diplomacy by the Bush administration - preceded by two decades of it - have brought us to this profoundly troubling moment. The question at hand: Pre-emption against Iran, or inaction - and an incinerated future for us all?