Victor Davis Hanson

We all know the Iranian M.O. — nuclear proliferation, Holocaust denial, threats to wipe out Israel, vicious anti-Western rhetoric, lavish sponsorship of terrorists at work attacking Israel and destabilizing Lebanon.

If that were not enough, we now learn that Iran has been sending agents into Iraq to destroy the fledgling democracy and supplying sophisticated roadside bombs to blow up Americans.

Lunatic state-run media keep boasting that Iran will kidnap American soldiers, shut down the Straits of Hormuz, send out global jihadists and raise the price of oil.

Most international observers agree on two things about this loony theocracy that promises to take the world down with it: We should not yet bomb Iran, and it should not get the bomb. Yet the former forbearance could well ensure the latter reality.

What, then, should the United States do other than keep offering meaningless platitudes about "dialogue" and "talking"?

Imagine that Iran is a hardboiled egg with a thin shell. We should tap it lightly wherever we can — until tiny fissures join and shatter the shell.

We can begin to do this by pushing international accords and doggedly ratcheting up the weak United Nations sanctions. Even if they don't do much to Iran in any significant way, the resolutions seem to enrage Ahmadinejad. And when he rages at the United Nations, he only loses further support, especially in the Third World.

We should start another fissure by prodding the European Union, presently Iran's chief trading partner, to be more vocal and resolute in pressuring Iran. The so-called EU3 — Britain, France and Germany — failed completely to stop Iran's nuclear proliferation. But out of that setback came a growing realization among Europeans that a nuclear-tipped missile from theocratic Iran could soon hit Europe just as easily as it could Israel. Now Europeans should adopt a complete trade embargo to prevent Iranian access to precision machinery and high technology otherwise unobtainable from mischievous Russia and China.

Americans should continue to support Iranian dissidents. We need not encourage dissidents to go into the street, where they could be shot. Instead we can offer them media help and access to the West. Americans can highlight the plight of women, minorities and liberals in Iran — just the groups that so appeal to the elite Western left.

And we should announce in advance that we don't want any bases in Iran, that we don't want its oil, and that we won't send American infantry there. That would preempt the tired charges of imperialism and colonialism.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.