What's Iran Up To? 'We Know,' Says Netanyahu
It was just a short clip on CNN. Reporter Erin Burnett recited some statistics that suggest Iran's oil tankers are all tied up, that the Islamic Republic's oil revenues have been hard hit. Economic sanctions have been tightened on the mullahs' tyrannical regime by the U.N., the European Union, and the U.S.
"It appears the sanctions are working," said Burnett. She challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assessment of Iran's headlong drive to build a nuclear weapon.
"How do you know what [the Iranians] are doing?" she asks, hoping perhaps to see the prime minister flustered. Maybe he will stumble. Or he may be reduced to wringing his hands -- as our own State Department spokespeople seem to do every day on TV.
Netanyahu looks steadily at his interlocutor. He doesn't waver. His baritone voice conveys finality: "We know," he says. "We know, and others know. And we share what we know with others."
The CNN reporter is just the latest in a long line of talking heads from that network. CNN was the favorite channel of Israel's mortal enemy, the late terrorist Yasser Arafat. It was from watching CNN that Arafat got the idea for airline hijacking for terror purposes.
The CNN reporter is trying to build the case for more time for sanctions. The prime minister takes her to school, just as he did President Obama at their famous Oval Office meeting last year.
The sanctions, he politely informs her, have yet to take a bite out of Iran's nuclear program. "The centrifuges are spinning," he tells her levelly. The centrifuges, of course, are the critical component of a nuclear reactor, that unmistakable step in building nuclear weapons.
Benjamin Netanyahu is not about to be distracted by arcane discussions -- which the media and the U.S. State Department love -- of how many oil-laden Iranian tankers are riding at anchor in which Iranian ports and by how much their oil revenues have been decreased. Is it 56%? No, it's 65%. Maybe even 67%!
These media/State Department fixations are a perfect replay of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's feckless leadership during the "Phony War" with Hitler in 1939-40. Convinced he could bring down the Nazis through economic warfare, Chamberlain latched onto every intelligence report that suggested that Germany was on the verge of collapse, that German civilians were going hungry, that surely they would rise up and oust the Hitler regime.
So convinced was he of the efficacy of economic measures that he ordered the Royal Air Force to drop not bombs, but propaganda leaflets over Germany's industrial regions. Leaflets. One RAF bombardier was actually reprimanded for failure to cut the strings binding a large bundle of Chamberlain's notes before tossing them out. He might have hurt someone.
After the war, at their trial at Nuremberg, Nazi Generals Keitel and Jodl testified that Hitler's regime could surely have been toppled had the English and the French moved quickly to invade Germany after they declared war on September 3, 1939. Attacking Poland, the Germans had few divisions defending their western borders.
But Hitler knew how weak, how irresolute, his enemies were. He read Chamberlain's propaganda leaflets, too, and he took them for the exercise in fatuousness they were.
The obvious enthusiasm for economic sanctions displayed by the liberal commentariat and by the spokespersons in all the foreign offices and prime ministerial chanceries throughout the West is serving only to stiffen the mullahs' conviction: they won't do anything to stop us. They are afraid of us. They'll only drop leaflets on us.
Every Mideast despot who has been overthrown, and even Osama bin Laden in his cinderblock palace, have left behind stashes of luxury goods, plenty of food, alcohol, drugs, and pornography. These evil men are doing just fine. Sanctions may bite their captive peoples, but they won't even nibble at the dictators' pleasure domes. If their hungry, oppressed people rise up, those people are shot down. This is what the mullahs did to protesters in the streets of Tehran following the fraudulent elections of June 2009.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has put the world on notice: Israel will act when Israel must. This is the month of Holocaust Remembrance. This is the month when Israel reminds us that "Never Again" will she allow the fate of the Jewish people to be decided by others.
Ken Blackwell is an advisor to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and on the faculty of the Liberty University School of Law. Bob Morrison is a veteran writer on national security matters.