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Banging the drums of war

| Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006

WASHINGTON

You can always tell when the War Party wants a new war. They will invariably trot out the Argumentum ad Hitlerum.

Before the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein had become "the Hitler of Arabia," though he had only conquered a sandbox half the size of Denmark.

Comes now the new Hitler.

"This is 1935, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as close to Adolf Hitler as we've seen," said Newt Gingrich to a startled editor at Human Events. "We now know who they are -- the question is who are we. Are we Baldwin or Churchill?"

A few facts. First, when Hitler violated the Versailles Treaty by announcing rearmament in March 1935, Baldwin was not in power. Second, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald quickly met with Il Duce to form the Stresa Front -- against Hitler. Third, when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia in October 1935, Baldwin imposed sanctions.

But back to the new Hitler.

The Iranians, said Newt, "have been proactively at war with us since 1979." We must now prepare to invade and occupy Iran, and identify a "network of Iranians prepared to run their ... country" after we take the place over.

What about diplomacy?

"We should say to the Europeans that there is no diplomatic solution that is imaginable that is going to solve this problem." Newt's reasoning: War is inevitable -- the longer we wait, the graver the risk. Let's get it over with. Bismarck called this committing suicide out of fear of death.

My own sense of this astonishing interview is that Newt is trying to get to the right of John McCain on Iran and cast himself -- drum roll, please -- as the Churchill of our generation.

But are the comparisons of Ahmadinejad with Hitler and Iran with the Third Reich, let alone Newt with Churchill, instructive• Or are they ludicrous• Again, a few facts.

In 1942, Hitler's armies dominated Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals. Ahmadinejad is the president of a nation whose air and naval forces would be toasted in hours by the United States. Iran has missiles that can hit Israel, but no nuclear warheads. Israel could put scores of atom bombs on Iran.

Why would Ayatollah Khameinei, who has far more power than Ahmadinejad, permit him to ignite a war that could mean the end of their revolution and country• And if we were not intimidated by a USSR with thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on us, why should Ahmadinejad cause Newt to break out in cold sweats?

Currently, the "nuclear program" of Iran consists of trying to run uranium hexafluoride gas through a few centrifuges. There is no hard evidence Iran is within three years of producing enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb.

And if Iran has been at war with us since 1979, why has it done so much less damage than Moammar Gadhafi, who blew up that discotheque in Berlin with our soldiers inside and massacred those American kids on Pan Am Flight 103• Diplomacy worked with Gadhafi. Why not try it with Iran?

Yet, Newt and the War Party appear to be pushing against an open door. A Fox News poll finds Iran has replaced North Korea as the nation Americans believe is our greatest immediate danger.

Instead of whining about how they were misled into Iraq, why don't Democrats try to stop this new war before it starts• They can begin by introducing a resolution in Congress denying Bush authority to launch any preventive war on Iran unless Congress first declares war on Iran.

Isn't that what the Constitution says?

Before we go to war, let's have a debate of whether we need to go to war.

Pat Buchanan edits The American Conservative magazine.

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