Lessons of history: Americans fear 'second Holocaust' if Iran gets the bomb

Technicians work inside of a uranium conversion facility near Tehran, Iran.

Story highlights

  • Rick Santorum and Joel C. Rosenberg believe that Iran is engaging in the same deception as Hitler did
  • They say that the President never should have agreed to ease sanctions
  • Greater pressure on Iran will make war less likely, they argue

Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows this month when she compared Vladimir Putin's tactics in Ukraine to those of the Nazis.

She was right, but there is an even more ominous similarity between the actions of Iran and those of pre-war Germany.

On May 21, 1935, Adolf Hitler delivered his infamous "peace" speech. In his masterful history of Nazi Germany, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," William L. Shirer quotes the Fuhrer's remarks at length:

"Germany needs peace and desires peace."
"Germany has solemnly recognized and guaranteed France her frontiers."

"Germany has concluded a non-aggression pact with Poland."

Shirer, a CBS Radio correspondent, called the address "one of the cleverest and most misleading of his Reichstag orations this writer, who sat through most of them, ever heard him make." He observed the West seemed beguiled by the speech, noting the Times of London welcomed Hitler's words "with almost hysterical joy."

"The speech turns out to be reasonable, straightforward, and comprehensive," stated the Times editorial. "No one who reads it with an impartial mind can doubt that the points of policy laid down by Herr Hitler may fairly constitute the basis of a complete settlement with Germany."

Rick Santorum

Yet Hitler was lying to buy time. He would not bring peace, but a horrific war, annexing Austria, invading France and Poland, and ordering the extermination of six million Jews.

Indeed, Hitler's lies were apparent less than a year after the speech. On March 7, 1936, the Nazis marched into the Rhineland, the demilitarized zone between Germany and France, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

If the West had confronted Hitler then, it could have forced him out of the Rhineland with a limited application of military force.

Such history is worth noting in today's showdown with Iran. Many in the West seem beguiled by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. But are they truly interested in peace, or buying time to build the Bomb?

"Let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach," Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly last September.

"Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions," Rouhani added.

President Barack Obama praised Rouhani's "more moderate course," and The New York Times called Rouhani "charming."

By November 24, Iran had successfully negotiated an interim nuclear deal with the P5+1. The deal was widely lauded, especially by Iran.

The "Geneva deal means the surrender of big powers before the great nation of Iran," Rouhani said in January.

No wonder the Iranians were so happy:
-- Sanctions were eased, and "Iran was given access to $550 million of its assets that are frozen overseas," noted Iran Watch. "This is the first tranche of the $4.2 billion that Iran has been promised."
-- The interim deal does not require Iran to dismantle a single centrifuge or stop enriching uranium to 3.5%.
-- Tehran has 18,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium, and some operate 15 times faster than older models.
-- After years of work and massive financial investment, Iran currently has only enough enriched uranium to run its Bushehr Reactor for three months, notes Valerie Lincy of the Wisconsin Project On Nuclear Arms Control.
-- Yet Iran now has enough enriched uranium to build six or seven nuclear warheads, Lincy adds.

Americans want diplomacy to work -- as do we all -- but they worry that if the mullahs obtain a nuclear arsenal, it will be used to kill many.

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In January, we engaged polling firm McLaughlin & Associates to ask a series of questions of 1,000 likely U.S. voters. Among them: "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: 'If the world does not take decisive action, and the Iranian regime is permitted to build nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, the Iranian regime will one day attempt to annihilate the State of Israel and bring about a Second Holocaust'?"

A stunning 80% of Americans agreed. Only 16% disagreed.

The world is at a critical moment. President Obama must insist on a final deal that requires Iran to fully dismantle its illegal uranium enrichment capabilities, its heavy water plutonium facility in Arak, and its nuclear weapons development efforts.

The President -- who never should have agreed to ease sanctions -- should also support congressional efforts and declare that if Iran refuses to truly give up its nuclear ambitions, then he will sign aggressive new sanctions to be imposed the moment the six-month period of the interim deal is complete. What's more, he should significantly beef up U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, and abandon efforts to slash our Army to pre-World War II levels.

Right now, the mullahs do not take Obama seriously. They do not believe a serious U.S. military option is really "on the table." The President must make them believe it and restore American credibility.

"Now you know how you get [an] agreement with Iran?" asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently. "Not by relieving pressure but by adding pressure. Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and only more pressure will get [them] to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Greater pressure on Iran will not make war more likely; it will make war less likely -- because the greater the pressure on Iran and more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller the chance that force will ever have to be used."

We cannot say force won't be needed. But Netanyahu is right that our last best chance for a peaceful outcome is increased American pressure and resolve. The stakes are too high for anything less.

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