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The following lecture was delivered during a Hillsdale College seminar. Hillsdale College is distinguished by its commitment to Liberal Arts, Western Culture and the American Heritage of Freedom. For over 150 years, it has refused federal funding and has admitted students regardless of race, sex or origin or of government mandates. If you would like more information about tapes or about Hillsdale College call toll free 1-800-437-2268. Many in this room know Victor Hanson from Hillsdale College Cruises or from visiting campus when he teaches at Hillsdale, each fall as visiting distinguished fellow; others of course will know him from his terrific writings on farming, classics, immigration and war. He received his BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, professor emeritus at California University, Fresno and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. In addition to UC Fresno Victor was also taught at Stanford and in 2003 and 2004 he was the visiting Shifrin Chair of Military History at the US Naval Academy. In addition to his weekly column for National Review Online he has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, Claremont Review of Books and add on infinitum. He has written or edited 16 books of which I will mention about a few, The Soul of Battle in 1999, Carnage and Culture in 2001, Mexifornia A State of Becoming in 2003. And most recently A War Like No Other, how the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War. This afternoon we have assigned in the perplexing topic Iran and nuclear proliferation. Please welcome Dr. Victor Davis Hanson. I don't know quite how to follow (Dinesh), he is a colleague at Hoover with me and I had developed a great respect for his writings and consider my friend although we disagree, I guess my problem is that I know that the traditional conservative Muslims are offended by Britney Spears. But they are no more offended then I am by polygamy and Sharia law and I don't go over and blow them up. And I know that people in the Middle East who believe in honor killing pose I think a greater threat to me than my neighbor who swears that atrocious "Brokeback Mountain" is a great movie. So I think that the idea of "Americanness" transcends ideology in this case. We are in dark times right now, reminds me what happened to Lincoln in the summer of 1864, remember that that great year since Gettysburg and Vicksburg had long been relegated with the recesses as a memory and he was faced in with cold harbor in the wilderness. And it wasn't that he wasn't going to be elected that people probably he should not be nominated. And then William Tecumseh Sherman took Atlanta on September 2nd, Sherman went down the Shenandoah Valley and suddenly you couldn't find anybody who was not for Lincoln. Same thing was, Churchill was president aren't remembers, it wasn't just the uncured, wasn't the failure of the anti-submarine campaign and the real threat that England would be cutoff and starve by the complete failure of strategic bombing in 1942. But even worse things that ill adventuring Greece, the necessity of destroying the Allied French fleet, the terrible and catastrophic surrender at Singapore. The unexpected loss of Tuvaq, so much that Churchill was faced with a rid of censure in July 1942. We could go on to remember dark times in the recent history of the west, remember Trumen, it wasn't just all over the choice and people thought that this man was incompetent 25% approval rating were told and he left office disgraced. And now we are confronted with not just chaos in Iran, but dangerous chaos. We have a president in control over a third largest oil producing and exporting nation in the world, who believes that when he talks to the UN people cant blink for 30 minutes. And he also believes that for consultation he can go to (Owell)ph and listen to the voice of an Imam. And out of that nonsense Mr. Ahmadinejad has assured us that he wants to wipeout Israel, not once but but he said it's 6 times and the United States. And he wants to develop a nuclear device, a bomb this is a man who has 200 years of fossil fuels that would met Iran's domestic energy needs. Most recently if you peruse Iranian newspapers, translations of such were told that the Iranians approve of kidnapping Americans soldiers in Iraq that they are producing extremely lethal weaponry that can nullify the defenses of an armored Humvee or an Abrams tank that threaten to shut the Strait of Hormuz and they threaten to force or coerce gulf Sheikdoms into curtailing oil production. The question is what do we do about it and we've had and I think (Dinesh) as ably outlined the reaction of the left in the United States, it's almost been a shrillness it makes us quite perplexed. As I understand the party line in the democratic congress is almost as if Bush and Ahmadinejad are doppelgangers, they are dual manikins of the same extremist views. Almost as if we were told remember Sharon and Arafat just alike as if the constitutionally elected democratic leader was same as thug and a terrorist, if we just got rid of both of them, we'd have peace. That was nonsense then and its nonsense now with Mr. Bush and Mr. Ahmadinejad. If you look at the latest news week article a secret history of Iran by Michael Hurst it's in this issue. I think I counted 8 unanimous senior sources not identified assure us that Bush is leading us to war and I could go on and on. What then are some of the things that we all all agree about with this danger posted by theocratic Iran in the age of nuclear proliferation. I think there are 3 things that almost everybody agrees with. Bombing Iran right now to take out its nuclear infrastructure might not be sufficient to stop it and it's probably a bad idea. It's a bad choice and there is a worst choice and that is letting Iran have the bomb. And there is a third thing that we all agree on and that is that if we don't make the Iranians think they maybe bombed, they most surely will get the bomb. Why wouldn't we want them to have the bomb and people argue will look at Pakistan, it's not through on to the Clinton Administration. Well Pakistan has a one billion population, India next door that provides deterrence. In the case of Iran if it is a nuclear regional power in the Middle East it will be at least for a while able to coerce blackmail, the sheikdoms to lower oil production that can still control the access to half the worlds oil and there is simply nobody in the region around it to say much about it and I haven't even mentioned its threats to wipeout the only stable democracy Israel in the Middle East. What should we do then? What can we possibly do when you are faced with these bad and worst choices at the time the United States is deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq with the President that has any where between 35% and 40% approval ratings. I think we have to look at Iran and President Ahmadinejad as a hard boiled egg with a very thin shell. And rather than look for one answer, we should envision tapping the hard boiled egg every where we can until the fissures increase and the shell cracks. And what might these six or seven things we could do in this short window of opportunity that we have before the next, what it is 18 months, 2 years the Germans say 5, the Europeans say 10 years before it becomes nuclear. No one knows and no one wants to say in the age of distrust of intelligence. I think the first one of course is not to take the military option of the table but rather we should beef up the military option and speak less about it, carry a much bigger stick and be much quieter. So when we deploy two carrier groups in the Persian Golf and maybe a third in the Mediterranean, we both have to be very quiet about it because Mr. Ahmadinejad and the Iranians know very well that one thing the United States does very well, very well are aerial assaults. And that we maybe bogged down in Iraq and the American people may have no more stomach for ground troops. But our air force and navy forces have not even been utilized and they could very quickly if they wanted to provide a devastating response to Iran. In fact we've already seen some mileage out of that threat in recent, in the last five or six days recent efforts on the part of Iran to torn down their weapon. That didn't come from engagement, that didn't come from talking, that didn't come from the UN it came from the presence of American military forces in a slight suspicion on the part of the Iranian that George Bush might be a little bit on hinged and with a 25% to 35% to 40% approval rating rather than thinking that his hands were tied, that his hands were free with nothing left to lose. That's important and we have to keep that up it seems to me. Second we do not want to make any assurances as to the Iranians that we have any influence or whatsoever with Israel. Remember what the Iranians have done, they put their head in the noose by redefining the whole idea of the Holocaust and of the existence of Israel they had a Holocaust denial symposium with every crack part in the world that came out of the corners and the fishers of our dark memories, they met in Tehran. They promised to wipeout Israel and they turned the idea of Israel upside down. Remember it was supposed to be a sanctuary for those who had been slaughtered in Europe. Almost half the worlds surviving Jewry was told that they had their own country they would never never have to worry about lining up in the gas chambers again. And suddenly Mr. _____ and then Mr. Ahmadinejad come back and say wait a minute this is gift to the radical Islamic mind because it's now a one bomb state. We could hit them all in one bomb and no Israeli Prime Minister, 60 years after the Holocaust can stand in office and tell the Israeli public that a) radical Islamic theocracy threaten to wipeout Israel and b) took steps to ensure that that threat could be reified with nuclear weapons. So we have to keep communicating that to the Iranians that we don't know what the Israelis will do, they don't know what they will do but if they keep talking and that they keep proliferating is a good chance that we can imagine what that would be. Three, talk a lot about democracy but of course we don't envision democracy as plebiscites. We are trying as we did in Iraq to have the whole array of constitutional and consensual government. Protection for minority rights, economic reforms, sanctity of private property, some encouragement of the middle class, some basic idea of human rights all of this was entailed in our efforts to redraw the Iraqi constitution as same as in true in Afghanistan and rather than we cannot, therefore we should strengthen it. So that if if there is really a mythical, if that mythical Iranian movement exists then its going to be be everyday reminded that there are constitutional mechanisms at work in nearby Afghanistan and nearby Kurdistan on the boarder in Iraq, in Lebanon. And the more that we can put pressure on Iran, the less they will be putting pressure on us to undermine Iraq. We think that we are being destabilized by the Iranians and we are but we could destabilize them as well as by this effort to promote constitutional values. Four, none of us know what's going on in Iran, we are told ad nauseam that there is this large group of Iranian youth, it's perhaps the most favorable group of constituents America has overseas. It sort of supports Bernard Lewis' dictum that the more a government in the Middle East hates us, the more its people like us. And we are told that under no circumstances are we to alienate these. It's a great bit of disagreement, many in the Pentagon say that they may not like the theocracy but they are more Persian than anti Islamic and they will be quite happy to see Iran have increased stature in the region. Others say, well if you take the Iranian nuclear facilities out analogous to the Falkland situation where we, were the Britain destroyed all of the pretense of the Argentine dictatorship, it has humiliated the eyes of its on people who were just weeks earlier said we are all Argentines now, we want them out be in his back suddenly we had a democratic revolution. So we don't really know the nature of this dissident group, we don't know what its reaction would be to a military strike. But all we can agree on is we must encourage it. Here is where the liberal European and American left should be on our side, because after all we are told that there is female novelist, there is gay activist, there is liberals and Iran, excuse me that want the help and this should be a concentrated move on the part of the United States to encourage these people and to point out consistently how illiberal Iran is. I am not naive and I am not suggesting that either that and itself would work but it's another fisher and addition to an, to keeping our options open militarily and not pressuring Israel one way or the other that would make a Iran vulnerable. A fourth is to get the Europeans onboard. Now I know that some of you are going say, well we tried that the EU3 was a complete failure. And it wasn't for that reason it had some modest success, because the Europeans are starting to realize that the recent acquisition of North Korean missile technology puts Frankfort in the same boat as Tel Aviv. And they are going to be, they are going to be set were the specter of having a 7th century theocracy willing to blackmail or house a sophisticated country like Germany or France. Ultimately that, I think that will be untenable to the Europeans. Remember the European Union is the largest trading partner today with around; it's developing the largest natural gas fuel in the world, $10 billion in Iran. It provides sophisticated machine tools and technology that even the Indians and the Chinese and the Russians cannot provide to the Iranians. And only recently with their much heralded multilateral approach the EU3 under Britain and Germany and France who were told that this was the antithesis of of unilateral preemptive American cowboys and Bush, why is he let it play its course, it failed. And now the Europeans for the first time this month are starting to impose sanctions. And if we could get them onboard and if they could increase that not because they like us but because it's in their own self interest. Then I think that would also be another fisher on this thin shelled egg that we want to tapping. Fourth United Nations, well, United Nations has never stopped a war, they only been involved in two in its history. In Timor and Korea and only in Korea it's remembered because of the Chinese boycott. So the United Nations has no power to stop, start and prevent wars. But it has enormous prestige in the constituency that the Iranians frequent and that is the third world. And, that the UN and it has now for the first time issued very salt water down resolution denying some key elements to the Iranian nuclear programing. If we could continue down that track it too develops fissure, a propaganda fissure. It has no future of any utility of efficacy in stopping the program but it has enormous value and pealing off at more allies from this Iranian cause. I think it's also important and this is the key issue, it is oil. At $60, $65 a barrel, there is about $500 billion petrol money floating on accounted for in the Middle East. And that explains why, explains by the way why we have all of our problems seem to be concentrated recently on people like Ugo Chavez, The Iranian Theocracy, Vladimir Putin, some times the Saudi royal family all people who have petrodollar wealth. But otherwise have not done anything to achieve the economic prosperity which they currently enjoy through money's that have been transferred for to them by places that have created economic achievement such as Europe, India, China and the United States and Japan. And so what we want to do is to try to curtail that. At $60 a barrel the Iranians can supply shoulder fired missiles, they can supply RPG's, they can acquire nuclear technology pretty much as they want. At $30 a barrel they cannot. Half of their gross national product is based on oil revenues that are coming in, their own domestic consumption is increasing, they are subsidizing their own food and gasoline and they are running chronic budget deficits. At $30 a barrel something has to give and the Iranian people who have been rather docile now in their opposition to that regime was start increasingly resenting money's that are seen going to Hamas and has below and not to their own gasoline and food subsidies. Something will have to give. The question is how do we lower that price? I think all of us are free market advocates; we are very reluctant about imposing gasoline tax. But I think we need to understand this is a national security issue, that if we were to stop the importation 2 or 3 million barrels alone in the United States but that would have a decisive affect on a very fragile oil market and we would start to see oil almost immediately go down to $40 a barrel and that would start to strangle the Iranian regime. What we have in other words is the element of a grand bargain in the United States, where we cannot opt any one particular solution, but adopt the entire ray, well its ethanol or diverse fuels, I am not confident that that's the solution but it might have a couple of 100,000 barrels that would not be imported in the United States. We could gasify coal, we could increase the fleet mileage standards, we could try to go back and increase our reliance on nuclear power on the grid hoping that some of our transportation needs could be met with small electric cars. We could keep investing in, we can knew all of these things as well drilling anwar and on our coast says in the side nothing was funnier for me, not longer to speak up in the hills of Santa Barbara to very afluent audience, who made it very clear that they did not want any drilling off the Santa Barbara Coast and I pointed out to the audience that although there were no Tahoes or Ucons in the parking lot. They sure was a lot of Volvo and Lexus SUVs there. And so it seems to me that there is a lot of solutions we could do to lower that price of oil. Let me just recap, everybody talks about the bad and worst choices facing us, nobody wants to bomb right now given Bush's approval ratings, the American people want not to be more in the Middle East but to be less in it. Nobody wants Iran to get the bomb because unlike Saudi Arabia or Russia or China or any of these other wild card regimes we have this sinking suspicion that this regime might use it. That its not subject to the conventional and classical laws of deterrence, in other words, we had the suspicion that there are people in a Iran who believe that once in for all a Persian Shiite strain of Islam can recapture age old honor and prestige long denied by being the people and the sec were finally willing to end the scientist entity. And would be willing as the Iranians themselves have pointed out to lose several million people which they feel they could afford with the assurance that Israel would be gone. So we don't want that to happen and we know again that if we talk about restricting president Bush's ability to strike militarily when we feel the bomb is ready to become usable then we are going to ensure that it does. And so rather than get trapped in that either or in the next 18 to 2 years I don't see any intelligence agency estimates Israeli, European, Russian or American suggest that it will have a bomb within 2 years. We have a brief window and we need to start tapping, tapping, tapping encourage Iraq to stabilize, spend or do not get all Iraq. Encourage the Afghans, encourage the Lebanese, encourage the Kurds, talk about consensual government as much as we can. Subsidize dissidence, lower the price of oil, work with the EU, work with the UN, bring even another carrier group, do not say anything to Israel that might suggest to the Iranians that they won't strike and out of that sort of labyrinth approaches, we hope that we can lower the and derail this nuclear problem, are we hopeful about any of these by themselves will work, none of them by themselves will work. In the aggregate will they, actually there was a 50-50 chance if we keep tapping and tapping harder now. Let me just finish and I like to hear questions on the matter of the Iran by reminding everybody that just because there is a bad choice and a worst choice, the bad choice of hitting Iran and a worst choice of letting them get the bomb does mean that there isn't any choice. And at these other avenues don't work, I think everybody in the room will agree with President Bush that he will go out of the office not with Iran having a bomb. So the way to look at the problem is simply that we will hit it and we will take it out unless we can do these other thing, so the more we can do these other things, the more pressure we could put on and more rapidly we can achieve those goals. And again oil restriction is I think the best way of doing it then the less likely I guess we will have to do the one option that nobody wants and everybody understands secretly we will have to be done if there is no other alternative. Let me just finish on the wider question of Islamic radicalism fundamentalism, the war in Iraq and how this involves or stature in Iran. We are now 5 years from 9/11 and we are in the fourth year in the very unpopular war in Iran. But what we don't realize in our year of discontent, there are some positive things. Nobody talks anymore that Pakistan's nuclear enterprise has been exposed for all the problems with Hamas has, there is no more Hamas military wing, nobody believes that any more. We've seen Hamas for what it is and the people in Hamas now are exposed and the people in the West Bank have voted and now we have the willing situation, I think healthy were Hamas is coming to us to beg us for more handouts. This is a hated United States; they wanted nothing to do with. These were some of the contradictions of plebiscites if not the beginnings of a constitutional framework. Libya, all places has recognized as Mr. Kadhafi said he didn't want to end up like Mr. Hussein and they had a larger weapons of mass destruction program than Iraq did. Nobody says well we got this, a Libyan told me 6 months ago, I don't understand you Americans. He said you went looking for what weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and you didn't find them in the span of fortune and you don't have to spend anything, we have more than they did. And that's been an unintentional positive result as well, so there had been ripples, nobody though 5 years ago that Syria would ever be out of Lebanon they are. And we should remember also how Syria got in Lebanon. Syria got in Lebanon because in the Gulf war under the old policy of realism that is we sort of deal with the world only as it is more rubble, less trouble, we are in a jam. We were told that to get a coalition and the first Gulf war we had to get the Syrians on board to get the Syrians onboard they wanted free hand in Lebanon. That's no longer valid anymore. And of course we don't have a 9 or 11; this is the 5th year we have in hand. So there are positive things. One last thing to be remembered is about the criticism of the current policy. Criticism of the current policy I find is predicated on one constant, whatever Bush is for most people seeing now to be against and I will just leave you with a starlting irony. I recently reread books on the first gulf war. And these were by authors of best selling books in the second gulf war. Tom Ricks, the author of Fiasco, Trainor and Gordon the author of Cobra II. Tom, Rick Atkinson the pulitzer price winner who has written a number of stinging up eds about the current Iraqi war, Bob Woodward. All of these have written about both the first war and the second war. If you go back and read the first gulf war, there is a theme that emerged in the unhappy years of the no fly zones, in 1990. Remember 12 years of no fly zones, $20 billion, Saddam is still in power. Hillary Clinton and Bill in the White House warning us that Saddam should be taken out. 1998 resolution to that effect and what what were those officers who were criticizing us now saying then and here is what I could think of fair correlation that it would be. 1991 George Bush senior was a captive to a coalition that hampered his range of movement; he mortgaged our range of option to the Saudis and the Syrians and others. He shipped down the Japanese and looked at wars money making enterprise and tried to make a profit of. He called for a resurrection, excuse me a will revolt of Shia and Kurds and then when they took him at his words let them be slaughtered. We were cynical and despite the worst part of real politic, by cozying up to the House of Saud and the restoring the Kuwaiti dynasty. We had no idealism and we trusted the Pentagon that always over inflates the needs for troops and sent over half a million troops when our 100,000 would have been find. And we didn't listen to one person and he is the hero Rick Rick Atkinson's crusade, the General Wars by Michael Gordon and General Trainor, we didn't listen to one voice in the wilderness and that was Paul Wolfowitz. If you fast forward 10 years you will see the exact opposite, the Shia incurred can be trust these people were not ready for democracy rather than under, over applying the threat of the Iranians which we maybe mistake in the first, now we underestimated the real danger of their pose, cant trust the pentagon, they don't know how many troops since they sent too little, we should have got our allies to contribute more money, the coalition should have been larger and we should never have listened to Paul Wolfowitz. I think we need to keep that context in mind when we look at Iran and we are in a situation in the west now that we have a utopian mentality that if we and the United States are not perfect then we are not good. And we do the best we can and in the care of Iran keep this in mind. There is a bad choice. There is a worst choice. We did not create the Iranian theocracy. We don't want to bomb it. We are trying to do all of these other avenues, these tappings on this thin egg. All of them can be caricatured . None of them alone will bring our salvation, but we were trying to do something before we reach Armageddon, which is only about two years away.