Page 2 of 2   <      

The Holocaust Declaration

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touring the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities this week.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touring the Natanz uranium enrichment facilities this week. (Getty Images)

This policy -- the Holocaust Declaration -- would not be tested during the current administration, because Iran is not going to go nuclear before January 2009. But it would establish a firm benchmark that would outlive this administration. Every future president -- and every serious presidential candidate -- would have to publicly state whether or not the Holocaust Declaration remains the policy of the United States.

It would be an important question to ask because it would not be uncontroversial. It would be argued that the Holocaust Declaration is either redundant or, at the other extreme, provocative.

Redundant, it would be said, because Israel could retaliate on its own. The problem is that Israel is a very small country with a small nuclear arsenal that is largely land-based. Land-based retaliatory forces can be destroyed in a first strike, which is precisely why, during the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union created vast submarine fleets -- undetectable and thus invulnerable to first strikes -- that ensured a retaliatory strike and, thus, deterrence. The invulnerability and unimaginably massive size of this American nuclear arsenal would make an American deterrent far more potent and reliable than any Israeli facsimile -- and thus far more likely to keep the peace.

Would such a declaration be provocative? On the contrary. Deterrence is the least provocative of all policies. That is why it is the favored alternative of those who oppose a preemptive attack on Iran to disarm it before it can acquire nuclear weapons. What the Holocaust declaration would do is turn deterrence from a slogan into a policy.

It is, of course, hardly certain that deterrence would work on the likes of Ahmadinejad and other jihadists. But deterrence would concentrate the minds of rational Iranian actors, of whom there are many, to restrain or even depose leaders such as Ahmadinejad who might sacrifice Iran's existence as a nation to vindicate their divine obligation to exterminate the "filthy bacteria" of the Jewish state, a "disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world."

For the first time since the time of Jesus, Israel (known as Judea at the time) is the home of the world's largest Jewish community. An implacable neighboring power has openly declared genocidal intentions against it -- in clear violation of the U.N. Charter -- and is defying the international community by pursuing the means to carry out that intent. The world does nothing. Some, such as the Russians, are literally providing fuel for the fire.

For those who see no moral principle underlying American foreign policy, the Holocaust Declaration is no business of ours. But for those who believe that America stands for something in the world -- that the nation that has liberated more peoples than any other has even the most minimal moral vocation -- there can be no more pressing cause than preventing the nuclear annihilation of an allied democracy, the last refuge and hope of an ancient people openly threatened with the final Final Solution.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com


<       2

© 2008 The Washington Post Company