03/09/2012 07:50 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

World Ends With a Bang Because of a Whimper


All the pesky troubles facing politicians today will fade into irrelevancy if Israel (read Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu) decides to attack Iran's nuclear weapon capabilities.

At the moment, Canada frets about robo-phone calls during last year's election; Americans are embroiled in their GOP primaries; Europe worries about the fate of its currency; Russians protest Vladimir Putin's re-ascendency to the presidency.

And so on.

All these issues will be sidelined if Israel attacks Iran.

And that possibility has shifted from "possibility" to "probability," judging from Netanyahu's recent meetings with both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama.

There is virtually no disagreement among nuclear "experts" that Iran is on the threshold (at least) of developing nuclear weapons.

It's the most critical issue of our time -- making the troubles in Syria seem a blip.

Netanyahu's visit to North America had the feel of quietly letting Israel's allies know what is going to happen, without actually spelling it out, or giving ultimatums.

Despite his words, Obama is not seen as friendly to Israel. He stresses sanctions against Iran, but the situation has progressed beyond that.

Obama's Number One priority is not Israel, but to be re-elected president in November. Understandable, but it also encourages Iran to ignore pleas for restraint. Obama has made it clear he will not risk his future by pledging the U.S. military to bring Iran to heel.

Any air strike will have to be an Israeli one -- incurring the wrath of critics. Netanyahu knows this, and his visit seems to confirm that Israel is ready to act, unless there is a dramatic change of direction by Iran.

Some say if Israel has a small nuclear arsenal, why shouldn't Iran have one?

The trouble is, the Iranian leadership is not Pakistani, nor Indian, nor like any other nuclear regime. If Iran has nuclear weapons, one can be assured that some terrorist organization will also get access to them. What if Hamas had an Iranian-made nuclear device?

None of Iran's neighbours want it to have nuclear capabilities. None like Israel, but also none fear Israel is likely to start a nuclear war -- though it would retaliate if attacked.

Apparently, aerial photos show a massive clean-up of a remote area in Iran where there has been nuclear testing. And testing has reached a point where it may soon be too late to do anything about it -- hence Netanyahu's warning that time is running out.

Again, according to most reliable sources, the reality of Iranian nuclear weapons is not a myth like Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

The Iranian leadership is pledged to Israel's destruction, and developing nuclear weapons makes this goal more than mere rhetoric. Mutual assured destruction isn't a deterrence in this case.

A nuclear attack on Israel would be fatal for Israel, while Israeli nuclear retaliation on Iran would be absorbed by that large country. The deterrence factor is lessened.

Maybe the point of no return has not yet been reached. But it is close. And to ignore Benjamin Netanyahu's concerns and warnings is a form of willful deafness that has led to past wars.

Whatever happens in the Middle East, the outside world must bear responsibility because it did too little for too long, and convinced itself that evil would not prevail.