If we were to look at the world as a chessboard, and the Persians after all invented chess and are very good at it, and if we were to think of Iran as a chess master and look at its various pieces, I think we might characterize its nuclear weapons program as its queen, its most lethal and most valued piece.
Other pieces on the board under the control of the chess masters in Tehran are Syria, which might rise to the level of a rook, since it is in fact a nation state, and various pawns: Hizbullah, Muqtada al-Sadr, Hamas and the others.
As one piece gets put into jeopardy, perhaps Muqtada al-Sadr a bit today, it’s played conservatively, then others are moved forward, such as Hizbullah last summer, which was part of an effort to protect the queen. I am convinced that we cannot effectively deal with these individual chess pieces.
Thus, negotiating with Syria over the Golan Heights or with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over some political solution that someday will be possible with the Palestinians is today, in my judgment, fanciful. Nor do I believe that the current Sunni concern over the Shiite nuclear weapons program in Iran will lead to some sort of covert Saudi, Egyptian, American, Israeli modus vivendi to protect ourselves together against the Shi’a.
At this point it is important to understand the meaning of the events of 1979. This was the key year of the modern explosion in fanaticism in this part of the world and produced an intense increase of Saudi Wahabi fanaticism, as expressed in the madrasas of the Middle East and Pakistan as well as in the sermons and mosques in the United States.
Little boys are being taught to dream of being suicide bombers in both Pakistani madrasas and in the West Bank with Wahabi oil money, and that money is a huge part of our problem.
I believe that although the Wahabis, al-Qaeda, and the Mullah’s regime in Tehran are often lethally competitive with one another, they are capable of unification. Those who say that these movements will never work together because of their ideology are precisely as correct as those who in the 1930s said that the communists and the Nazis would never work together. They didn’t, until they did.
We need to take seriously what people like Ahmadinejad and others say to their own followers. Hitler meant it when he said he wanted to exterminate the Jews. It was all spelled out in Mein Kampf. They are not lying; they are stating their true objectives.
Secondly, we need clarity. When we are accused of being “Islam-phoebes” I think it’s fair to say “no, we are not, but we are “theocrat-phoebes’”. We should not let our sense of fairness lead to creeping Shari'a. It is beginning in Europe and even a bit here in the United States among the Muslim communities.
Thirdly, all people need to obey the law. You do not get, in Michigan, to be a taxi driver and turn down blind people with seeing eyes dogs as passengers because dogs are allegedly “unclean."
We should not tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons capability. John McCain has it right: The worst situation we can imagine in that part of the world is the need to use force against Iran in order to stop it from having nuclear weapons, except for one other possibility, and that one other possibility is letting them have nuclear weapons.
In addition, if we are required to use force, we should use it decisively. Not some surgical strike on one, two or three facilities, but rather one that destroys the power of the Mullah regime. It is a shame that Israel did not and the United States did not help and participate in moving against Syria last summer when Hizbullah presented the opportunity. We should not pass up the opportunity to act decisively if we are forced to use force.
We also need to decisively move away from the use of oil. New developments in batteries and in genetic engineering of bio-catalysts are making that entirely feasible now. This would dry out the well from which our enemies are drinking and deprive them off the resources used to undermine the free world.
Finally, we must not forget who we are. We as Jews, Christians and others are heirs to a rule of law tradition rooted in Judaism that is even more fundamental than democracy.
This identity is expressed in Thomas Jefferson's sentence, which circles your head as you stand in front of his statue in Washington DC: “I have sworn on the alter of the all mighty God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man”.
James Woolsey, former CIA director, is visiting Israel as guest of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and participated in its session presenting a New Conflict Paradigm for the Middle East in the Herzliya Conference