The triptych of glowering unemployment, rising commodity prices (what people actually use) and the prenaturally unappealing GOP frontrunner may soon be replaced as the lead issues on the nightly news. Iran, with its vast spaces and unruly populace, is developing a nuclear capacity easily transmutable to weaponry.
Simply put, this could replace the Mayan calendar as precursor of world destruction. Iran is dominated by Islam for its religion and poverty for its socio-economic paradigm. In submission to God the Islamist is allowed to dominate all other cultures without regard to race, religion or worldview.
There are two phases of Koran, the Moslem Holy Book. One is largely written in Medina during the nascent period of Islamic development. These are the (mostly) peaceful sections, allowing for some co-existence. Historically, Islamists play by the Medina portions until they reach some form of parity with their neighbors.
Then, after parity is achieved, the Islamist can shift seamlessly to the Meccan portions of the Holy Book. These sections include jihad, destruction of the infidel and various other items like forced conversion or death.
Recently, American servicemen were put in harm's way for negligently burning a copy of a portion of the Holy Book. Global commentators decry this act of negligence for which several American soldiers have been killed by Islamists. The outcry over the accidental burning of the Koran is much louder than that over the murders of ten American medical relief workers in nearby Afghanistan two years ago. Their crime? The executioners believed they might be carrying copies of the Holy Bible with them on their medical relief work.
We are not playing globally from the same play book. It is little wonder that nations as diverse as France, the UK and China fear what might happen if the Iranian Islamists were able to produce weapons of mass destruction.
Tomorrow, at about noon, the Belgian firm SWIFT will take the unprecedented step of denying Iranian banks the ability to safely, privately, send payments and receive funds from the various global financial institutions that do business with them. The Iranian bank codes will simply disappear. Iran will be shut off from easily doing business with the world.
Naturally, there are other ways to transact business but they are slower, less secure and much less certain. This sanction from a banking institution marks Iran as a rogue national entity dangerous to its neighbors and to the world. The result of SWIFT's actions are uncertain, because not all Iranian banks are subject to these sanctions (only the largest and most important). As noted above, there are other ways to do business with the world if the world wishes to do business with you.
However, the primary reason one might note for the uncertain result of these actions is this; no one has ever tried them before. We can be certain Israel and the United States will be blamed for the Belgians actions to support the European Union. The hope among various world governments that Iranians may tire of their anti-Semitic, totalitarian government is not a hope about which I find myself sanguine. Impoverished, poorly educated people with an antiquated religion satisfied by race hatred may not be able to make a distinction between the world outside, as opposed to viscerally detested parts of that world outside its borders.
Which is, of course, why weapons of mass destruction must not become readily available to rogue nations. The idea of the Obama administration to practice sanctions against the Iranians until they cease enriching uranium now faces its stiffest test. If the Belgian SWIFT's unprecedented actions against Iranian interests serve only to stiffen the resolve of the people who live in their palaces, all of whom will continue to eat while the populace starves, then the efficacy of sanctions cannot be trusted.
Remember how the West practiced sanctions against Iraq for decades while they languished under the late Sadam Hussein. Mr. Hussein, it is said, did not try to develop WMDs because he felt the UN might eventually allow military action against Iraq if he did. Eventually, a messianic American administration took up arms against Iraq despite the sanctions. Hussein was removed, tried and eventually hanged. No WMDs were ever found.
The clear trail of history here for the Iranian president is this; might may not make right but it protects your neck. There is little reason to believe economic sanctions will work in the near future. It is in the near future that sanctions must work. The SWIFT action will go a long way to showing us just how feeble, or potent, sanctions may be.
We cannot afford to wait for Mr. Obama to clearly study every facet of the Iranian issue and then wait for someone to force his hand. He fiddled while Wall Street purloined. The result has been financial ruin for many and business as usual for the elite.
Mr. Obama must act. He must act in concert with the world but he must act. Of this, I have little doubt. That is, Mr. Obama must act, deliberately, but with dispatch.
Given his record, I just don't know if he is up to the task.
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.