Ky. Voices: Ignoring Syria would fuel Iran's nuclear ambitions

September 10, 2013 

US Syria

Demonstrators opposed to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad rallied at the U.S. Capitol on Monday.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

Please support President Barack Obama's proposal to attack Assad in Syria. If we do not attack, we will worry not just about chemical weapons, but about nuclear war.

Iran directly supported the sarin attack. We here have the moral authority to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for breaking the internationally ratified Chemical Weapons Convention.

The attack will not just be a shot into the bow of Assad's army, but also a shot across the bow of Iran's nuclear armory.

If we hesitate to punish Assad for crossing the red line of chemical weapons, how can we respond when Iran crosses the red line of building atomic weapons? How many more will die then?

True, we have stood aside while more than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war. These 1,429 new deaths by gas are just 1.5 percent more. But they are deaths by prohibited weapons.

True, both sides in the civil war are committing atrocities. If we allow the al-Qaida-linked troops to overrun Syria, they will massacre many religious minorities, Alawites, Christians and Druze. The rebels have attacked churches, kidnapped and may have killed two Aleppo archbishops, and killed hundreds of civilians. But, we are not proposing to leave the Alawites and Christians defenseless.

True, there should be a negotiated settlement of the civil war. But, until a settlement arrives, we need to stop chemical warfare.

True, we cannot be certain of the consequences of an attack on Syria. But the consequences should be manageable as long as we remain on alert and keep good communications with other countries. And the consequences will be much more dangerous if we do not act, trying to hunker down behind the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Ask yourselves: who gained most when Assad boldly crossed a red line set by Obama? Mainly the Iranian government, especially Ayatollah Sayyid Khameni. The Iranians are in constant contact with the Assad government. They egged on the Assad government to use chemical weapons.

The Iranians want to know whether a red line set by Obama can be traversed, and how long they can violate it before America retaliates. Will they have time enough to build nuclear weapons? Assad is merely their canary brought into the dark cavern of war. Unless we respond quickly to the Syrian poisonous gas atrocity, we will be confronted with atomic bombs.

We cannot influence Khameni by mere talk. Note, the ayatollah despises all non-Muslims. We know of the untouchable caste in India and the despised blacks in our antebellum South. Iran has its own caste system, and the non-Muslim dhimmis are untouchables. It makes no difference whether they are Jews, Christians or Zoroastrians, dhimmis now cannot enter most Muslim shops in Iran to buy anything. They must stand outside and point out what they want to buy. If they touch anything it becomes taboo, and the shopkeeper can charge any price he wants to force the dhimmi to buy it.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, shah from 1941 to 1979, tried to modernize Iran, ending this discrimination. The 1979 Iranian Revolution brought back the dark ages. For Khameni, living in the USA with Christians made the Muslims taboo, and all the non-Muslims are potential dhimmis.

My complaint about Iran refers specifically to that country, and not to all Muslims. Muslim-American citizens are harmed by the Iranian shenanigans. However, while we should reject Islamophobia just as much as Judeophobia, we should not blind ourseselves to the problems with Iran and its satellites. For them, talking is just a delaying tactic. Kindness is perceived as weakness. Only active pressure will make them hold back or retreat.

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from a pacifying meeting with Adolph Hitler, declaring "Peace for our time." Subsequently, England still had to fight the Nazis, and more than 50 million people died in the World War II.

A vote not to fight now will be as futile as Chamberlain's "peace." Many millions will die in a nuclear war. We can block such a war only if we act now to punish Assad.

Rabbi H.D. Uriel Smith lives in Lexington.

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