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Picture the classic “missionary” scene: in a far corner of the jungle, the Western missionary proudly teaching the basics of civilization to a crowd of smiling, heretofore “un-reached” natives. Add one element: a full-grown lion in the back of the hut on a secure leash.

One day the lion breaks loose. The missionaries hold a quick crisis meeting to decide whether to call an all-out alert – in World War II they called it “condition red” – women and children hustled to safety and all men fully armed, or – and it’s a rather interesting “or” – whether they could relax, because the lion had overheard enough lessons in basic civilization to render him docile and not dangerous!

Absurd? Absolutely. And it’s precisely where we are today regarding Iran.

Pearl Harbor was abrupt. Sept. 11 was abrupt. This one was so slow-motion it was downright boring. We were assured Iran had abandoned its quest for the nuclear bomb in 2003. Those of us with conservative leanings were cheering Hillary Clinton in 2008 in her argument with Sen. Barack Obama over whether or not America should hold talks with Iran without pre-conditions. Hillary said no. We agreed, not that we would have voted for her anyhow had she become the Democratic candidate. Obama adamantly won the applause of those with empty heads and overflowing hearts by proclaiming his willingness to talk to anybody, anywhere, any time, with no pre-conditions. “Unclench your fist,” Obama railed out to the dictators of the world, “and we will shake your hand!” If naiveté were a disease, Obama could be diagnosed as terminal without removing his shirt.

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And now the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency tells us, “Oops! Iran is, indeed, at work on nuclear warheads and, in fact, never stopped.” It’s enjoyable to be in position to say, “I told you so!” But how much time do we have to enjoy saying it between the U.N.’s ugly “surprise” and the mushroom cloud?

Those dwindling few who still say Obama’s diplomacy might work and the world can live with a nuclear Iran have never even used their best argument. In 1960 another country was about to get the nuclear bomb. It worried us terribly. The country was France! France was considered too “irresponsible” to have the bomb. The “France” reminder might have given the candle of Obama’s clique another 15 seconds of flame. No more. We were wrong about France. We’re right about Iran. Anybody who’s not scared silly is ignorant or on drugs. Or maybe they just don’t know about the “Twelfth Imam”!

Different religions offer different “incentives.” In the Jewish Seder celebrating the holiday of Passover, the children around the dinner table run around looking for the “afikomen,” the piece of matzo, unleavened bread, hidden by the leader. Whoever finds it gets a reward. The Greek Orthodox religion features a chilling ritual in which young men dive into the Hudson River in January to find and retrieve a ceremonial cross that’s been thrown into the water. The finder is like a Greek Orthodox Super Bowl-winning quarterback until the following year.

Islam raises the incentives a little. We all know about the 72 virgins awaiting jihadi martyrs in paradise. And we know how powerful that attraction is for virgin-loving Islamic suicide bombers. It’s time now to learn about the Twelfth Imam. The Shiites, who dominate Iran, believe that Allah hid Muhammad al-Mahdi as the Twelfth Imam until the end of time. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly affirmed his allegiance to a group within Iranian Shiism that believes humans, by creating chaos, can “invite” the Twelfth Imam back. And whosoever creates the chaos that brings down the Twelfth Imam becomes the biggest dog in Islam’s entire meat house. Whom do you trust – French President Charles de Gaulle or Ahmadinejad?

I still have a T-shirt I bought in Israel just days before Desert Storm in 1991 that says, “Don’t worry, America. Israel is behind you!” Many true words are spoken through false teeth. The Obama administration is suffering the denigration it deserves worldwide. We made the Soviet Union blink in 1962. After World War II and the Cold War, who among us could ever imagine a pusillanimous, effete, cowardly, duplicitous, lying-and-denying American administration that says zero in the face of its abject failure to nullify Iran’s nukes and looks to tiny-but-tough Israel to do its obligatory demolition?

Hollywood gave the world a pretty good definition of American morality for a long time through the “Western.” Remember? The good guy never shot first. The bad guy always shot first. Then the good guy drew and shot and won.

Sorry, Hollywood. In a nuclear world, the good guy can no longer wait for the “high-ground” luxury of shooting last. An earlier America would have ended this Iran threat with Tehran’s first excessive centrifuge. Hundreds of millions of us, disgusted with this American administration, are waiting for Israel to tell Obama, “Yes, we can!”

The lion does not sleep tonight.

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