Bayefsky: Focus, People

When you cast your ballot this election, make no mistake: you are voting for or against a nuclear holocaust.

A life-or-death election.

By Anne Bayefsky
National Review Online

Since the time of Hitler, civilization has never been so close to the brink of total catastrophe. This American election will decide whether civilization as we know it will survive. As much as economic questions are currently front and center, with blame to go all round, this is not an election primarily about corporate greed, or individuals living beyond their means, or government neglect of economic oversight. Nor is it about whether we should have gone into Iraq where, like it or not, American boots on the ground have begun to create an emerging democracy. This election is about whether there will be a nuclear holocaust.

Alarmist? I sure hope so. Isn’t it about time that we got to the point about the stakes in this election? How many more pundits do we have to watch talking about the minutae — a candidate’s look, an accent, a stumble, a slogan? We have four weeks to talk about the thing that matters most: a nuclear-armed Iran, and which candidate will prevent it.

The question that must be put point-blank to both presidential and vice-presidential candidates is: “Will you authorize the use of force in time to stop Iran from acquiring the capacity to make nuclear weapons — yes or no?”

Wouldn’t your beliefs for and against abortion fade if you thought nobody would be born into a world fit for living things? Wouldn’t your worries about health care pale if you thought the mutilation, cancer, and death of millions upon millions, sure to follow nuclear war, would occur in your lifetime? Wouldn’t your concerns about affording a college education fade if you thought your children will have the grim task of fighting a war of horrifying devastation instead of going to school?

Wake up. There is a genocidal maniac on the verge of reaching the point of no return in his ability to make a nuclear weapon. A fanatic with the stated ambition to murder five million Jews living in Israel — to start. A villain who has already funded and armed a terrorist war against the Jewish state that in 2006 forced one-third of Israel’s population to live underground for almost a month. In other words, an individual who is ready, willing, and able to give the nuclear trigger to a terrorist group — to terrorists who cannot be bargained with because they prefer their death to your freedom. As for the suggestion that the Mullahs are more powerful and nicer guys, the millions brutalized and subjugated in Iran tell a different story.

I don’t know why it is possible after the Holocaust, to have such widespread denial of man’s capacity for evil. Nor do I understand why Ahmadinejad’s virulent anti-semitism and call for the destruction of Israel are dismissed as irrelevant factoids when calculating the Iranian threat. Time has a story about “experts” who believe that Iran seeks an atomic bomb not because they have any interest in using it or passing it to others who will, but to deter, to ensure its security. According to Thomas Fringar, chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council: “Iran’s biggest strategic concern is obtaining security assurances and accords,” and it is the United States “which the Iranians consider a mortal threat.” These “experts” have it exactly backwards. If Iran were really driven by such security concerns, these concerns could be alleviated without spending a nickel — by stopping its nuclear-weapons campaign and its funding of terrorists.

No amount of ignorance, stupidity, or wishful thinking will change the reality that there are people who are prepared to kill you and your family for no good reason at all. Not because of poverty, or envy, or discrimination or because of anything you’ve done. But because they hate you — whether you live in Jerusalem, Washington, London, or Paris. They hate everything you stand for — liberty, tolerance, equality. And their minds are made up. Closed — period — to the entreaties of naïve foreign diplomats or would-be presidents and vice presidents.

During the vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden denied the undeniable fact that Senator Obama said he would sit down with the Iranian President without preconditions: “Barack Obama, he did not say ‘sit down with Ahmadinejad.’” Perhaps he should read Barack’s website: “The Obama-Biden Plan: Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.”

So let’s look at the differences between the presidential tickets on what to do about the nuclear weapons ambitions of a would-be mass murderer.

On the one side:

Vice-Presidential Debate

DEBATE MODERATOR: “Let’s move to Iran and Pakistan….Senator Biden. What’s the greater threat, a nuclear Iran or an unstable Afghanistan?”

SENATOR BIDEN: “…I always am focused…I have been focusing on for a long time, along with Barack, on Pakistan….Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be very, very destabilizing…[T]hey are not close to getting a nuclear weapon that’s able to be deployed.”…

SENATOR BIDEN: [on Iran] “Our friends and allies have been saying, Gwen, “Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk.”…And if we don’t…what makes you think the allies are going to sit with us?”

Ask yourself: does preventing a nuclear holocaust involve winning a popularity contest?

First Presidential Debate

Senator Obama [on preventing a nuclear Iran]: “Now here’s what we need to do. We do need tougher sanctions. I do not agree…that we’re going to be able to execute the kind of sanctions we need without some cooperation with…Russia and China…[W]e are also going to have to…engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain.”

News flash: Russia and China have told us to take a hike on tough sanctions, Barack. Any other ideas?

Obama Website:

If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation.

“If” it continues? Anybody in Iran trembling?

And on the other side:

Vice-Presidential Debate

DEBATE MODERATOR: “Governor, nuclear Pakistan, unstable Pakistan, nuclear Iran? Which is the greater threat?”

GOVERNOR PALIN: “An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran is so extremely dangerous to consider. They cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons period.”

First Presidential Debate

Senator McCain: “If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region…[W]e cannot [allow] a second Holocaust. …Have no doubt about the ultimate result of them acquiring nuclear weapons…What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand that if without preconditions you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a “stinking corpse,” and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments. This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous. And so we just have a fundamental difference of opinion.”

Barack Obama isn’t just inexperienced. It isn’t naiveté that drives him. I take him at his word. He and his vice-presidential candidate believe in “talk, talk, talk” regardless of the hourglass or the stakes or the intentions of the person across the table. No amount of learning on the job is going to change their way of thinking. Approving the use of force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a Rubicon they will not cross — before civilization as we know it comes to an end.

So when you cast your ballot this election, make no mistake: you are voting for or against a nuclear holocaust. Not because Barack Obama wants such a horror, but because he will not prevent it. He will still be talking when the point of no return in Iran’s nuclear program is reached. And the balance of power in the world will — with terrible consequences — have changed forever.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and at Touro College. She is also editor of

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