Iran’s war to remove Israel from the Middle East has begun. In writing “Atomic Iran,” I argued that a new World War began on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini prepared to leave Paris to return to Tehran. This week, that World War has entered a shooting phase. If we count the Cold War as World War III, we are forced to declare that this Iran-driven terrorist war to destroy Israel and the U.S. is World War IV.

Apparently, Iran has given its surrogate terrorist organizations, Hezbollah and Hamas, operational orders to launch rocket attacks on Israel, in part to create enough chaos that the diversion would take international pressure off Iran. Now that Israel has decided to return fire, the Jewish state has no alternative but to win.

Predictably, Iran said no to the latest U.N. “deal” brokered by the Bush administration. Instead, Iran decided to continue enriching uranium, after having delayed as long as possible responding to the incentive package deal offered by the 5-plus-1 (the permanent Security Council members plus Germany).

Iran knows that no serious sanctions will ever emerge from the Security Council, not as long as Russia and China remain permanent Security Council members. Last year, Russia sold Iran a $1 billion TOR-M1 mobile missile defense system that Iran plans to deploy around their nuclear installations. China has also concluded a $600 billion oil and natural gas deal with Iran that should make Iran the leading supplier of oil and natural gas to China for decades to come.

Meanwhile, below the radar of public awareness in the U.S., Russia and China have moved to make their Shanghai Compact a mutual defense pact, not just an economic trading agreement. At the end of last year, Russia and China held unprecedented joint military exercises, something that in the 1960s would have been unimaginable for the then rivals and adversaries. Last month, Iran’s Ahmadinejad traveled to Shanghai to join Russia and China in their most recent round of Shanghai Compact discussions.

For the past two years, Israeli officials have been pleading with Washington to build a world coalition that would contain Iran’s nuclear program diplomatically. Reluctantly, Israel now has no choice but to realize that the Bush administration’s decision to allow the EU-3 (France, Germany and England) and the International Atomic Energy Agency to lead the negotiations has been a complete failure.

The Bush administration “Roadmap to Peace” has been a tragic failure. Washington pushed Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and his successor, Prime Minister Olmert, to give back valuable land in the hope that “final boundaries” could be drawn and protected. That the roadmap envisions a partition of Jerusalem should not give solace to Israel, even if the plan were to include building a new Jewish temple on the Temple Mount next to the Mosque of the Golden Dome. The land was given only to see rocket attacks in return.

Condoleezza Rice shows inexperience, if not incompetence, in the Middle East. Shockingly, the State Department under her direction continues to resist any hint that regime change in Iran should be Bush administration policy. At the last minute, the State Department sadly intervened to kill the recent attempt of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., to get a firm resolution on Iran passed by the Senate. This, too, was observed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

John Bolton is the right man to be our ambassador to the U.N. But even John Bolton can accomplish little when the Bush administration from the top continues to believe negotiations and sanctions are the path to follow. President Bush had Colin Powell basically thumb his nose at the U.N. prior to the 2003 Iraq war, but the president displays no ambition to have a similar performance played out a second time. The U.N. for decades has been a one-sided affair, with the Palestinians receiving blind support while the U.N. scorns and condemns Israel.

The United States and Israel have no doubt that Iran is proceeding with a nuclear weapons program. The Eros-B satellite Israel has positioned in an orbit that circles over Iran is the best spy satellite in the sky. What Israel has observed is the systematic delivery into Natanz of centrifuge parts that can be assembled underground, advancing Tehran’s goal to have 3,000 of the most sophisticated centrifuges in the world operational, enriching weapons-grade uranium right now.

Ahmadinejad believes that the world is at a historic moment when Israel might just be destroyed, fulfilling one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s last yet unfulfilled predictions. Khomeini’s other outstanding prediction is that the United States, too, will fall, in large part because we have supported Israel with such determination. When Hamas gained control of the Palestinian authority through a democratic election, Iran had the last laugh, showing the world that President Bush was wrong – democratic elections alone do not assure a moderate outcome. Now, with Hamas in control of the Palestinian Authority, there is no strategy Israel can pursue that will lead to permanent peace – except capitulation and annihilation.

Israel knows that this time the fight is “for keeps.” When the Jews left Europe at the end of World War II, those fortunate few who escaped Hitler’s death machine swore “never again.” Unfortunately, Israel has had to come to the recognition that the world has largely abandoned the Jewish state to defend itself.

When I concluded “Atomic Iran” two years ago, I predicted the “Samson Option” would be the final act in the drama with Iran. Today, I continue to see that outcome looming.

I pray that the end game in the Middle East will not involve a worldwide nuclear conflict pitting the U.S. against Russia and China. Yet I fear we may have to face that possibility all too soon. The only certainty in this unstable scenario is that Israel has decided it is now time to go to war, regardless what anyone in the world thinks, including President Bush.

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“Atomic Iran”

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