On the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer last night, Commentary Magazine editor-at-large Norman Podhoretz, who is also a foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani, repeated his claim that there is “only one terrible choice” left with Iran, which is to “bomb” their “facilities” and “retard” their nuclear program.
When Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria asserted that deterrence was a viable option, Podhoretz repeatedly accused him of “an irresponsible complacency” that “is comparable to the denial in the early ’30s of the intentions of Hitler”:
PODHORETZ: First, I want to say that I think the attitude expressed by Fareed Zakaria represents an irresponsible complacency that I think is comparable to the denial in the early ’30s of the intentions of Hitler that led to what Churchill called an unnecessary war involving millions and millions of deaths that might have been averted if the West had acted early enough. [...]
Let me respond to that. You know, similar arguments were made about Hitler in the early ’30s, and it appalls me that this kind of attitude can still prevail after what we should have learned from the words of despots.
After Zakaria suggested that “we do not need to launch a third unilateral invasion” to “contain the problem of Iran,” Podhoretz reacted incredulously, muttering “God help us if we follow that counsel.” Watch it:
Instead of resorting to “calling names” like Podhoretz, Zakaria responded to the substance of his argument, pointing out that “the idea that” Iran is “not going to be deterred by Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons, including a second strike capacity on submarines, is just fantasy.”
Zakaria then noted that “in the early 1980s, Norman Podhoretz and the neoconservatives” made similarly alarmist claims that proved to be completely wrong:
Look, in the early 1980s, Norman Podhoretz and the neoconservatives believed the Soviet Union was going to take over the world and Finlandize Europe. When Reagan started talking to the Soviets, started talking to Gorbachev, Mr. Podhoretz excoriated him, called it the “Reagan road to detente” and such.
It turned out he was wrong. It turned out that the Soviets were not that powerful, and that history was on our side, and that things were going to work out as long as we kept our cool.
Podhoretz would like nothing better than to bomb Iran, even though he believes it may “unleash a wave of anti-Americanism all over the world.” Furthermore, he is “certain” President Bush will do it before he leaves office, to which he says “thank God.”