Earlier this month, the United States launched what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refers to as a "diplomatic initiative." It's aimed at appeasing terror-supporting -- and weapons of mass destruction-proliferating Iran -- and terror-supporting -- and weapons of mass destruction-proliferating Syria.
Those who applaud the administration's decision to engage the nuclear-weapons-seeking mullahs in Tehran argue that the administration would be wrong to confront Iran for its stated intention to "wipe Israel off the map" and bring about "a world without America," since U.S. intelligence services are incapable of bringing unequivocal information regarding the state of Iran's nuclear-weapons program.
Clearly, there is something wrong with this analysis. If what's not in doubt is Iran's commitment to acquiring nuclear weapons, rather than base its policies on a best-case-scenario regarding Tehran's unknown capabilities, the United States and its allies should be basing their policies on a calculation of the risks a nuclear-armed Iran would constitute for global security.
Broadly speaking, there are three possible scenarios of how Iran would likely behave were it to become a nuclear power.
In the most optimistic scenario, Iran would not attack Israel or any other country with its atomic arsenal, but would rather use it as an instrument of international and regional influence. In this scenario, Iran would reap economic advantage from its nuclear status by threatening oil shipping in the Persian Gulf, and so jack up worldwide oil and gas prices.
Operating under Iran's nuclear umbrella, terror groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda would feel free to attack at will throughout the world. The rates of terrorism -- of both the organized and lone-wolf variety -- would increase exponentially.
In a moderate scenario, not only would all the events that would likely occur in a best-case scenario occur, Iran would also make indirect use of its nuclear arsenal. In this case, Iran would likely use one of its existing terror proxies in Sinai, Gaza or Lebanon, or invent a new terror group in one or all of these areas. Iran would transfer one or more nuclear weapons to its terror group of choice, which would then attack Israel and cause the second Holocaust in 70 years.
While Iran's leaders from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on down have expressed a willingness to endure an Israeli nuclear second-strike, judging from the way in which the Western policy elites are treating Iran today, the Iranians can have every expectation that they can wipe Israel off the map and pay no price for their aggression, either from a destroyed Israel or from the United States.
In the worst-case scenario, not only would Iran implement the best case and the moderate case scenario, it would also widen its network of allies while neutralizing its competitors in the Muslim world in order to expand its exportation of the Khomeinist revolution worldwide. All this it would do in an effort to achieve its longstanding aim of destroying the United States.
Here the Iranians would be operating under the reasonable assumption that Europe will be neutral in the conflict, and Russia and China would likely support them against America -- at least covertly.
Since Iran not only wants nuclear weapons but has an active nuclear-weapons program, the question that should be guiding policymakers is not whether Iran should be negotiated with, but rather, whether the United States is willing to accept any of the likely scenarios of what will transpire if Iran does, in fact, acquire nuclear weapons. If America is not willing to accept any of those scenarios, then it should be asking itself what must be done right now to prevent Iran from becoming a viable nuclear power.
While Europe may be willing to sit on the sidelines of this fight, just as it sat on the sidelines of the Cold War, and did little to prevent the Nazi conquest of the continent in World War II, Israel has no such luxury.
Rather than trying to gloss over the dangers, Israel should be actively engaging the many forces in Washington and elsewhere who understand the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. Together, we should be working tirelessly to ratchet up support for a policy based on the understanding that the world cannot abide such a potentially devasting situation.
Caroline Glick is a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.