‘It Was the Best of Times, it Was the Worst of Times’

By Dr. William Harvey, M.D.
America’s Right

Fourth of July. The holiday weekend. Beautiful weather. Down at The Shore. Baseball games. Tennis. Cookouts. Fireworks. This must be heaven . . . all, it seems, is right with the world.

Well, not exactly. This year, in 2009, things couldn’t be more different. In Iraq, we’re watching National Sovereignty Day, as American troops “withdraw” into nearby enclaves, out of sight but not “out of mind” and certainly not out of harm’s way. In Afghanistan, our troops are definitely in harm’s way, with a “surge”–a plan deemed by the media to be destined for failure under Republican control but somehow brilliant now with Democrats at the helm–against the Taliban underway. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Middle East, our president and State Department, aligning with Europe, Russia and the United Nations, are emphasizing that a lasting peace requires Israel to, as a pre-condition, cease all further settlement activity, even though the understanding with the previous administration was different. The Democrats’ premier think-tank, the Center for American Progress, a significant source for Obama’s Middle East thinking, is going even further, proposing a more or less permanent independent administration of all of Jerusalem. The Israeli government has already rejected the settlement proposal and the Israeli media is less than impressed with the Jerusalem proposal.

In Iran, where one might argue a military coup occurred during the last election just a few weeks ago, we quietly repeat the same line as the Iranian government: that it’s an internal matter and up to the Iranian public to deal with their election process . . . and their current rulers. After all, perhaps now isn’t the best time for America to comment on how elections should be run “by the book,” with candidates qualified to hold the office and voters legally entitled to vote in the jurisdiction in which they cast their ballot, right?

Still, all in all, it’s a peaceful weekend, very much like Honolulu must have felt that first weekend in December, 1941. There is an air of expectancy, tenseness — the Middle East is approaching a tipping point and the only questions are who will be involved and how bad the ride will be once it starts.

The New York Times has a fascinating lead article, while the Washington Post has an equally fascinating editorial. The Times announces the selection of Yukia Amano as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Commission starting in December 2009. The prior head (since 1996), the Egyptian-born lawyer Mohamed El Baradei, had irritated the United States in 2002 by placing the IAEA in the pivotal position of exclusive negotiator with Iran over its disclosures regarding nuclear development and its intentions. However, to be fair, IAEA has the legal authority–granted by the UN and by multiple treaties involving nuclear safety and non-proliferation–and the obligation to handle such discussions with member states. On the other hand, a post-9/11 United States has along with the European Union become sensitive to the risk posed by a state with the history of terrorist activity that Iran has. Accordingly, there have been independent negotiations by the IAEA on Iranian compliance with treaty obligations for disclosure and for inspection and parallel negotiations (with the EU to this point, although the Obama administration may increase U.S. involvement in the future) regarding Iran’s intentions regarding peaceful and military development of nuclear power.

Just as with Iran, El Baradei was felt by many to be uninterested in pursuing the details of the nuclear ambitions of Syria. After all, once the Israelis, acting unilaterally (and loudly condemned publicly but quietly thanked privately by the world community), put a significant delay in Syria’s program by bombing a research facility thought to house a nuclear reactor, the IAEA conducted only a half-hearted investigation of whether that facility was involved in weapons research.

The chronology of Iran’s development of nuclear power is fascinating but very convoluted. The two best sources of information can be found in the Nuclear Threat Initiatives (NTI) archives and, for basics, at Wikipedia. The United States was Iran’s first partner in developing nuclear reactors for power production in 1956, under Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace’ Program. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, U.S. involvement terminated. Since then, Iran’s partners have included (at different times) Germany, Argentina, France, the Russian Federation, China and the IAEA itself. The U.S. has often been involved in convincing Iran’s partners to terminate the partnership at critical points in development. Iranian reactor facilities were bombed by the Iraqis in 1984-88 during the Iran-Iraq War.

The Israelis now find themselves in a significant strategic dilemma. Their primary Western ally, the United States, is clearly embarking on a path towards greater understanding and alignment with the Islamic world. As part of that policy, the durability of the philosophy, foreign policy and support provided by the last 12 U.S. presidents is being called into question. In some ways, this is a position Israel has been in many times, in many of the mid-East wars and one she bears, albeit reluctantly — except for the Sinai Campaign of 1956, Israel has always gone into battle alone against a multinational foe.

Now, however, if the multi-lateral interminable “negotiations” over nuclear development with Iran continue, while the Iranian program continues apace, Israel will be the primary target facing a nuclear-armed implacable foe in the not too distant future, or have to repeat the pre-emptive strike approach, either to buy time for future allies to understand the stakes or to develop what it will need to create a true anti-Iranian defense.

The U.S. and the USSR spent four decades in a Cold War, relying on mutually assured destruction as the deterrent for use of nuclear weapons. Can mutually assured destruction work when one party is an active proponent or martyrdom . . . or has no hesitation to turn weapons of mass destruction over to “state-sponsored” stateless organizations? As Sean Connery said in Finding Forrester: “Not exactly a soup question now, is it?”

John Bolton, the outspoken former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, provides the details and makes the case far better than I could, so I urge you to read the Washington Post editorial. As you know, Bolton’s politics are anathema to some; if you’d like to read an opposing view, or if you want the most in-depth unclassified analysis (probably better than what the CIA could produce today) of what anyone contemplating military action would face, see Abdullah Toukan’s 114 page “Study on a Possible Israeli Strike on Iran’s Nuclear Development Facilities.” Just be warned: the objective discussion of capabilities, both for Israel and Iran, makes for terrifying reading when the implications of either conventional or nuclear attack (and retaliation) become clear.

When placed in context with the de facto military coup in Iran and the election of a new IAEA head, the nuclear picture in the Middle East could become much hotter much faster than anyone would like.

A nuclear-armed Iran is in no one’s best interest. The only question is how to solve the problem. Iran shows no interest in changing its course; if anything, once the government has crushed the opposition remonstrations (whether through intimidation or through violence), the pace of development is likely to accelerate. Perhaps we should let history be our guide — and this time, not let Israel bear the burden alone, but join a multilateral coalition to safeguard all the Western cultural states (as well as many Islamic-oriented states) from the greatest threat to our existence.

As we learned this week, Saddam Hussein’s greatest fear was Iran; he was prepared to create an alliance with us to defend himself against Iran. Iraq also understands that a great deal of the sectarian violence it has seen has had its origin in Iran. As Edward R Murrow said many times, from a much simpler, if not less deadly, war zone: “Good night, and good luck.”

It is my hope that, despite this, each and every one of you were able to have a great holiday weekend — and that you were one of many Americans to remember what Independence Day is all about.

William Harvey is a physician with extensive experience in drug research and development. He began as an academic researcher but has been a pharmaceutical executive in the global development arena for almost two decades. His current position involves the strategic use of comparative effectiveness research to speed drug development and to educate healthcare stakeholders: government, payors, prescribers, and patients. He lives in the greater Philadelphia area.



  1. John Feeny says:

    I think all of us need to take a step back and look at the larger, post-WWII picture, and then look at some of the defining characteristics
    of our modern American 'liberals', who are about everything except freedom. Much of the reading that I'm doing is leading me to consider a much more important and very disturbing truth.

  2. THIS HOLE IS DARK says:

    We need to force Manboob Alliwantisablowjob into a spider hole also.

  3. Gail B says:

    Israel, I think, is going to attack Iran because of its nuclear program. Iran says that Israel will face serious consequences if Israel attacks. Is this going to end in another world war?

    What bothers me, too, is that the U.S. government changes policy with each new president's agenda. We are going to be left out in the cold, because no one will want to be a friend to a country that can't be relied upon for support down the line.

    And, it worries me that Islamic terrorists are moving into the U.S., very possibly with the purpose of bringing death and destruction to the citizens. Does Obama care? Not that I can tell. Maybe these are the people who will make up his Citizen Army!

    Why can we not have a government that does what the people want done? Why can't we trust our own government officials? Why do we have thugs and tax cheats filling the cabinet? Why won't our president show that he is at the least ELIGIBLE to sleep in the White House? I don't even know what his REAL NAME is or what NATIONALITY he is! That's dangerous, folks.

    Dr. Harvey, you write brilliantly, and I feel better knowing that you are on our side at America's Right. You worked your rosterium off (not a medical term) to get your piece written for us, and we thank you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Harvey:

    Your article demonstrates why our country should be following the advice of one George Washington:

    "The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith:–Here let us stop.
    It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world."

    Jefferson felt the same.

    America has SO deviated from this belief, that our foreign policy looks MUCH more like the imperialist England that we fought against than our early America!

    We CANNOT sustain the effort to try to turn every foreign nation into a democracy. There is more to Israel's effort than meets the eye…and they have successfully co-opted America's military to serve their endgame.

    I am NOT anti-Semitic…I am a Christian who has always been taught to support Israel. But I don't think Washington or Jefferson would think well of America meddling in a centuries-long battle that has roots far deeper than "democracy vs tyrrany."

    VIRTUALLY ALL of the central banks that control the world's economy have their roots in the Rothschild financial dynasty. The Rothschild's are "fasle Jews" or Zionists, if you will take a careful look at their bloodline.

    America must NOT play the role of "policing the world"…it will bankrupt us and create fissures that are not reparable.

    Lisa in TX


    George Washington was before intercontinental ballistic missiles. Other than that, I agree with George.

  6. Rix says:

    Vladimir Lenin could have been a tyrant and a terrorist but he was undoubtedly a wise political leader. He referred to liberals as "useful idiots" over a hundred years ago – and the definition hasn't changed since.

  7. JasonZ says:

    Thanks you again, all, for wonderful comments. I think if George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were alive today, their strategy would be the same — "keep out of entangling alliances" and focus on our own issues — but I agree with George Slept Here, that in the time when ICMBs can be launched from 3,000 miles away and when jihadi-bent terrorists are trying to come here, we do have to look beyond our borders to protect our country and ourselves. Knowing what they felt and said then, what do we think they would have felt and said today that would be consistent with their principles? That should be our guiding light …


    William Harvey, MD

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