The recent developments in Iran - President Ahmadinejad's remarks regarding Israel right to exist and the Holocaust, as well as Iran's decision to quit negotiations with the European "trio" and to start enriching Uranium - proves once again that Iran is a country that does not hesitate to deny its obligations and the norms of the civilized world in order to achieve its goals and implement its extremist ideology, to say the least. Actually, it forces us once again to acknowledge that its part in the "Axis of Evil" still holds.
However, the U.S. administration presented a very soft, not to say indecisive, response to the recent escalation in Iran's behavior. Secretary Rice declared that "a new phase of diplomacy" was opened, and sent Undersecretaries Burns and Joseph to travel around the world to talk with foreign officials in order to bring the Iranian nuclear program before the UN Security Council. These efforts haven't seemed to work too well: The administration is busy lowering its own expectations, refusing to deal with sanctions on Iran at that phase, The Russians are "offering" Iran yet another chance, and the gas thirsty Chinese aren't too enthusiastic about the Security Council option either.
The question 'why?' casts a giant shadow over the American diplomatic efforts. Why is the U.S. so toothless, so slow and reluctant in dealing with the Iranian threat? (The other two members in the Axis of Evil were properly treated: The Iraqi regime was changed forcefully, and North Korea is the most isolated and banished country in the world today). Why is Iran, which poses - unabashedly - a greater risk for the stability and peace in the Middle East and the entire world, being treated with kids gloves?
The answer to that question is much more complicated than it seems, and is a mixture of facts and assumptions alike: First, the State Department, and Secretary Rice herself, decided to strengthen the ties between the U.S. and Europe, and are doing so by allowing the Europeans - using their well-known appeasement approach - to "lead" the international efforts. Second, the U.S administration does not feel obliged in dealing with the nuclear showdown now, as it assesses that Iran is at least five years away from completing its nuclear weapons program (many intelligence sources refute this belief). The third - and the most dangerous reason - is that the U.S. administration does not fully understand the Iranian threat to the world's stability and peace, and to the administration own efforts for promoting democratic societies and fighting global terrorism.
One cannot shy away from the fact that the Iranian regime is "Evil": It lies and conceals parts of its nuclear program; wholesale abuses human rights; supports terrorists organizations (such as "Hezbollah" in Lebanon, Palestinian rejectionist groups) that are destabilizing the middle east, hurting the efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and causing more American casualties in Iraq; and denies the most basic and elementary codes of conduct. When the Iranian president Ahmadinejad, who is no madman, called to "wipe Israel off the map" and wished for the death of the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, one might have thought that it's a rivalry between Iran and Israel, but it isn't. When he denied the Holocaust, calling it "a myth", a red light should have turned on. It's a rivalry between Iran and the entire civilized world.