Lacrosse teams prepare to open seasons on road this weekend

Both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams will open regular season play on Saturday, as the men travel to Hamilton, N.Y. to take on Colgate University and the women face in-state rival University of New Hampshire in Durham. The women’s team in particular carries high expectations this season after finishing the 2011 season ranked No. 11 in the nation and earning a trip to the NCAA tournament for the 12th time in program history. The Big Green finished with a 6-1 record in Ivy League play last spring and shared the regular-season Ivy title with the University of Pennsylvania.

The Big Green must step up to the challenge of replacing six graduated seniors, including Ivy League Player of the Year Kat Collins ’11 and All-Ivy players Greta Meyer ’11 and Shannie McKenzie ’11. Dartmouth is hardly working with a bare cupboard, however, as 2011 Ivy Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Ivy selection Kristen Giovanniello ’14 returns as goalkeeper, as well as first-team All-Ivy midfielder Sarah Plumb ’12.

Dartmouth has prepared for the season through scrimmages, which are important because the team does not get the chance to play outside often during Winter term.

“Our scrimmages these past two weekends were great learning experiences,” women’s co-captain Georgia Bird ’12 said. “A lot of the younger players obtained valuable game experience. February is a long month, with lots and lots of practice. It’s always so nice to break it up a bit with scrimmages against other teams.”

The women have a tough schedule ahead of them. The Big Green will take on national powerhouse No. 5 Duke University in Hanover on March 17 before traveling to Gainesville, Fla. just three days later to face No. 4 University of Florida. The home opener, which also doubles as the Ivy opener, comes on March 3 against Yale University.

“Everyone on the team is really excited for the season to finally be here and to see our hard work pay off,” Bird said. “I’m feeling very positive about the game this weekend.”

The men’s team is set to debut this weekend as well. The Big Green returns second-team All-Ivy goalkeeper Fergus Campbell ’12 and Kip Dooley ’12 and Nikki Dysenchuk ’13, both of whom were named honorable mention All-Ivy last season.

Campbell was recently named to the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award, which honors the nation’s top lacrosse player. Campbell was not the only Dartmouth player to receive an accolade recently, however, as Dooley was named a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, one of only four Ivy League lacrosse players to be honored.

Dartmouth finished with a 1-6 record in the Ivy League last season, something the team is looking to improve in 2012.

“Our goal this season is to bring the same high level of intensity and focus to each session whether that be in the weight room, on the practice field or in games,” Dooley said. “It’s dangerous to get caught up in long-term goals. We know that if we commit 100 percent to the day-in, day-out challenges, in the end we will realize our potential on game day.”

After scrimmages against Big East opponents Providence College and Georgetown University, Dartmouth heads into its first official game of the season against Colgate on Saturday.

The Big Green opens the home portion of its schedule on March 3 against Sacred Heart University, while the Ivy opener is scheduled for March 24 against Harvard University.

“This is by far the best preseason we’ve had in the four years our class has been here,” Dooley said. “The team dynamic is fun and focused, and the coaches are doing a great job of getting us ready for game day. We’re feeling very confident in our ability to play together and to play fast.”

Dooley is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.

Ski teams struggle to deal with unseasonably warm weather

Compared to the Nordic teams, Dartmouth's alpine ski teams have been relatively unaffected by the winter's warm weather.

This certainly has been a strange winter in New Hampshire. With surprisingly warm temperatures and little snow, Dartmouth has skipped the worst the winter has to offer, resulting in a less than festive Winter Carnival. While the mild temperatures have prevented most of the student body from enjoying a winter wonderland in Hanover, one group of students has been affected more than most the men and women of the Dartmouth ski teams, who are reliant on the snow for training and competition.

The consequences of the weather have been much more severe for the Nordic skiers than for the alpine team. Because Nordic races are conducted on relatively flat ground, most courses do not have the snowmaking capabilities of ski mountains. Additonally, because Nordic courses are generally at a lower altitude than alpine courses, the snow melts more easily, leaving the Nordic courses barren and bereft of snow.

The Dartmouth team has been unable to practice at its home Oak Hill course for most of the season due to the lack of snow. The problem is not unique to Hanover, however, as the majority of schools in the Northeast are currently facing similar constraints.

The Nordic races for the Dartmouth Carnival had to be moved north to the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt. because of the lack of snow in the Upper Valley, while the sprint races at last week’s Williams Carnival were canceled for similar reasons.

Women’s Nordic coach Cami Thompson said the most difficult part of the changes was not the boredom of having to race at only a few courses but having to move the Winter Carnival races away from campus.

“The biggest disappointment was having to move the Dartmouth Carnival races,” she said. “It is always fun to have a bit more of a crowd each year.”

Nordic skier Gordon Vermeer ’12 said he tried not to let the weekly race changes bother him.

“The best attitude to have is to not get too preoccupied with the conditions and changing schedule,” Vermeer said. “If you just try as hard as you can to ignore that stuff, it leads to a better result.”

The Nordic team has also dealt with increased travel time due to training location changes. Instead of taking a five-minute bus ride to the Oak Hill facility, the team has been forced to either train on less-groomed trails or spend extra days at carnival sites to get additional days of training.

“It has been harder to run quality workouts when we aren’t sure what we are going to have in terms of skiing,” Thompson said.

This season, it has been difficult to get quality training time, and the team has spent more time on the road as a result, frequently leaving school on Thursday and not returning until Sunday, according to Vermeer. He also said that it has been most difficult for the non-carnival group who have not been able to get extra ski days and have been spending more time running and lifting than they typically would.

The team has spent much of the extra time training at the Trapp Family Lodge, located approximately 90 minutes away, which has provided them with a significant amount of advance training in preparation for this weekend’s Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships, for which the Nordic events have been relocated to Trapp from Middlebury.

Annie Hart ’14 said she hopes that the training will pay off, providing the host University of Vermont with less of an advantage because of the additional time Dartmouth has spent training on the course.

The poor conditions have been essentially equal for the majority of EISA teams, as it has been a winter of little snow for most of New England.

“There might be a little diversity in terms of who has access to snow, but everybody is hurting,” Vermeer said.

Hart also noted that the lack of snow has not been a huge factor in the season’s training and results.

“Everyone has been subjected to the same thing,” she said. “Everyone has adjusted and learned how to wax for this type of snow.”

Conversely, the alpine team has benefited from near-ideal conditions for downhill racing. Men’s coach Peter Dodge said the lack of snow is actually been good for the team.

“With excellent snow-making at the Skiway and all other ski areas, we have had excellent training and competitions as scheduled all season,” Dodge said.

The packed snow provides a solid base for the alpine ski racers, who rely on a harder course for speed rather than soft, abundant snow.

Alpine skier Abby Fucigna ’15 said the alpine team has had fewer major setbacks than the Nordic team. The alpine group’s main worry is whether each day will be good for training, while the Nordic group faces a bigger issue whether it will be able to ski at all.

“The quality of the training has been adjusted by taking a few more runs on good days and realizing that it might be one of the few good days of the week,” Fucigna said.

The NCAA Championships are being held at Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont., an area that has had significantly more snow than New England this year, though this season ranks as a weak year for the West as well. Both teams are looking forward to the conditions as a welcome change.

Vermeer said he doesn’t expect the change to be a big factor but does feel that the conditions represent “one less thing to worry about.” Fucigna added that “going east to west is a lot easier than going west to east” in terms of adjusting to the quality of the snow.

Alumnus publishes e-book ‘Robert’s Rules of Karaoke’

A Dartmouth alumnus will soon make his mark on the literary scene, as the debut novel of Elliot Ohlansky ’04 will be released later this month by recently established e-book publishing company The Write Deal. Ohlansky’s novel, titled “Robert’s Rules of Karaoke,” tells the story of two recent college graduates navigating bachelorhood in Boston and New York.

Olshansky choses a unique stage for his two main characters: The protagonist, Rob, and his best friend, Chuck, are hooked on the karaoke bar scene. Rob and Chuck have the karaoke world completely figured out. They know what pubs are the best and what Top 40 tracks will help them win the local ladies. Experts in the karaoke world, Rob and Chuck have applied the knowledge they acquired through their karaoke habit to compile a list of the “Rules of Karaoke,” which is a detailed catalog of which tunes to sing and which to avoid.

Olshansky clearly did his research on the 20-something social scene. He aptly captures what some have called a new genre of “guy lit.” Much of the novel chronicles the casual atmosphere of the karaoke bar, and Ohlansky successfully captures the average “two guys in a bar,” but with a unique karaoke obsession.

Olshansky’s integration of his broad musical knowledge into the narrative elevates the text from a mediocre account of two bachelors’ romantic conquests and bad Friday nights singing into a microphone. He references artists from the Barenaked Ladies to Queen and songs including “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Baby Got Back.” Readers later learn that Rob actually has a decent knowledge of music theory, as he cites musical terms like coda.

The karaoke angle is well thought-out, as it provides a unique context for Olshansky to more deeply illustrate his characters. At one point, Rob ponders how, “When you see someone sing, you learn a little bit about that persons’s tastes, and a bit about personality, too.” He insists that karaoke allows people to “get a little more information, so it’s not just about whether you’re fit for a GQ cover.” Rob, an anchor on a local newscast, also insists that performing in karaoke bars helps him cope with the fact that no one watches him on television.

Although there is no Dartmouth-related content in the novel the colleges mentioned in the book are Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University and Cornell University Olshansky certainly hints at his days in Hanover when he throws a few anti-Harvard quips into the narrative.

Olshansky’s novel also sneaks a wide range of sports knowledge into the plot. Rob is an avid hockey fan, a plot point that arose from Olshanksy’s days writing about Dartmouth hockey for The Dartmouth, according to Olshansky. Olshansky’s current experiences as a sports journalist for the New York Hockey Journal and New York Daily News allowed him to offer a unique and informed perspective on hockey, a sport not often discussed in novels. His dynamic portrayal of the BC/BU rivalry and the legendary Beanpot tournament provide both a humorous and painstakingly accurate look into the intensity of college sports in Boston.

He vividly paints the Boston social scene from the male perspective. Rob and Chuck go to sports bars such as The T and John Harvard’s, visit Harvard Square and attend a Boston Pops concert at the Hatch Shell on July 4. Parts of the novel certainly deal with less interesting male issues, such as Rob’s annoyance with his overbearing mother, his feelings of inferiority to his best friend and his uncertainty about the perfect moment to drop the “L-bomb” to his girlfriend. Olshansky adds a unique angle to many of these plotlines, however for example, the girl with whom Rob falls in love is an artsy, purple-haired photographer for the Village Voice, not exactly the type of girl one would picture with a hockey-loving BU grad.

“Robert’s Rules of Karaoke” represents a quirky and unique take on a slice of young adult life about the post-graduate world. Olshansky’s novel paints a refreshing picture of two average but interesting dudes who hang out at bars, sing karaoke and like sports. College students and graduates will appreciate Olshansky’s honest, humorous and engaging take on bachelorhood in the big city.

Documentary raises awareness of Baha’is’ persecution

Rainn Wilson is best known for his role as Dwight on “The Office,” but the actor is also one of the key supporters of equal rights and access to education and jobs for Iranian Baha’is. The documentary “Education Under Fire,” which discusses the unjust treatment of members of the Baha’i faith, was screened on Tuesday evening in the Rockefeller Center, bringing this often overlooked human rights issue to the attention of members of the Dartmouth community.

The documentary “Education Under Fire” was produced by Single Arrow Productions and derives its name from a non-governmental organization founded by David Hoffman, a member of the Baha’i faith. The NGO aims to use international pressure to convince Iran to grant Baha’is a Persian religion emphasizing human unity basic human rights, such as access to education. The documentary’s production was co-sponsored by Amnesty International.

The Education Under Fire campaign was formed by several Baha’is, according to Stephen Langley, the assistant musical ensemble director for the Hopkins center and a member of the Baha’i faith.

“The goal of the event was to bring this issue to light among the Dartmouth community,” Langley said.

Denis Rydjeski, a member of Hanover’s Amnesty International chapter and one of the event’s organizers said Baha’is’ lack of access to education is only one of several human rights issues that needs to be addressed in Iran.

“[The documentary] focuses specifically on one human rights issue in Iran,” Rydjeski said. “It’s by no means the only human rights issue.”

The Baha’i faith has seven million adherents worldwide in 247 countries, and the majority of Baha’is live in India, Iran and the United States, according to Langley. The Baha’i faith was founded in 1866 in Persia, modern-day Iran, by Mirza ?usayn-Ali Nuri, Langley said. Unlike other major religions, the Baha’i faith accepts the universality of all religions and views each religion as stemming from a belief in the same god.

The event, co-sponsored by the sociology department and Hanover community activists involved in Amnesty International, was attended primarily by members of the Hanover Community and those of the Baha’i faith.

The event began with a showing of a video clip of Wilson advocating on behalf of the Baha’i, followed by an introduction by Langley, who read a letter from Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i, that called for world peace and equality among people.

“Opposition and persecution have often made being a Baha’i a difficult or deadly thing,” Langley said. “Baha’u’llah’s message was primarily one of unity.”

The 30-minute long documentary was in a traditional format and featured interviews with Baha’is who had been persecuted in Iran. They face persecution in much of the Islamic world because the faith is seen as apostasy from Islam, which is illegal in many Islamic countries, according to the documentary. “Education Under Fire” addresses what it believes to be the most damaging of the persecution they face Baha’is’ limited access to education and employment in Iran.

The documentary followed the creation of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, an illegal underground higher education system. BIHE was founded in 1987 to help Baha’is gain access to higher education, which they were being denied due to their religion, according to the documentary. Since they were not allowed to participate in an educational system openly, students would meet in apartments and homes. The documentary also highlighted the effects of a May 21, 2011 raid against the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education by the Iranian government, which resulted in the confiscation of learning materials and arrests. Furthermore, the lack of citizenship for Baha’is makes them an easy target for persecution by the government.

After the screening, Charles Buell, a member of Building Bridges: Middle East-U.S., described a trip he took to Iran and attempted to dispel preconceived notions others may have had about the country.

“When I visited Iran in 2003, I had a relatively optimistic view of Iran,” he said. “I was impressed with their openness to Americans.”

Along with Baha’is, Jews, Christians and Zororastrians can be found in Iran. Many Baha’i in the documentary said that they enjoyed good relations with Muslim neighbors and that the persecution of those of the Baha’i faith is mostly propagated by the government of Iran.

“The problem that Baha’is have is that their religion started quite recently within an Islamic faith,” Buell said. “They are viewed as apostates, which is the theoretical justification for persecution of the Baha’is. However, though there is theoretical justification, the primary cause is a political one Zororastrians, Jews and Christians are second-class citizens in Iran, but they are at least recognized.”

Sociology professor Misagh Parsa also explained how persecution of Baha’is was used by the government to set an example for other dissident groups.

“It’s not just Baha’is all these religious groups are being arrested.” Parsa said.

Parsa also said he believes that the spread of democracy in the Middle East would also end the persecution of minority groups.

“The future looks bright,” Parsa said. “Iran will be one of the most Democratic countries in the Middle East. The future may be 20 years, it may be 30 years, it may be tomorrow. The future will be happy the present makes me very sad.”

Francfort: Rethinking Diversity

There has been increased discussion lately about the impact of race on admissions at Dartmouth and its peer institutions. A recent article highlighted a few very telling statistics and perspectives on the bias that has become part of admissions departments here at Dartmouth and throughout the country. The article points to a 2009 study conducted by Princeton University theology professor Thomas Espenshade, which found that Asian-American applicants must have a score of 1550 out of 1600 on the SAT exam in order to compete with white applicants scoring 1410 and African-American applicants scoring 1100. Dartmouth’s former Assistant Director of Admissions Michele Hernandez also confirmed that different admissions standards exist for different races, notably Asian-Americans.

It may be the case that this disparity between SAT scores is not as meaningful as it first appears since it does not take into account other aspects of a student’s application, such as extracurricular activities. But this great discrepancy reveals an underlying prejudice in the system. It is true, according to Hernandez (“Race poses challenges to admissions,” Feb. 13), that our admissions office and those of other top schools around the nation have different standards for applicants of different races. The purpose of this policy is a worthy one. Universities believe that it is in the best interest of its students to maintain a diverse environment in which learning can occur through dialogue between students who harbor different perspectives. The benefits of such a diverse community are numerous. I doubt, however, that this process as it is currently practiced is truly the best way to achieve such diversity.

The current system of admissions at elite universities depends on an oversimplified method of achieving and portraying diversity. Upon inquiry into the topic of diversity at an American college, one may look toward statistics on the demographic makeup of the student body. But the percentage of Asians, Caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanics at a college is not indicative of the diversity of an institution. It is not the color of one of my fellow students’ skin that enhances my learning experience at Dartmouth. In fact, the color of somebody’s skin should be of little importance to any of us. I’ll bet that each and every Dartmouth student knows more than a few people for whom the stereotypes associated with their race do not apply.

However, there is great value in a wide range of experiences and perspectives among individuals in the Dartmouth community. Our admissions process ought to reflect that sentiment and employ an approach that delves deeper into what each applicant offers to the school with regard to their unique life experiences. It may be that this uniqueness has been shaped in part by a person’s background or culture, but those factors are not always directly related to or encapsulated by race. Why not include a short answer or optional essay on the Dartmouth application to identify an applicant’s potential impact on the diversity of our community? This would provide a much more comprehensive means of achieving the goal that we have in sight and could help avoid the stereotyping in admissions that this recent study illuminates.

Ultimately, we as a college must reflect on the role that race should play in admissions decisions. I count myself among the majority of students here who value the benefits of interactions between people of different backgrounds. It is when members of our community see past physical differences and come to appreciate the plethora of perspectives at the College that we learn and grow. If we continue to employ our current system of placing people into racial categories, we will only perpetuate the kind of stereotyping that leads to the statistics found in the study. As a student body and a college, we ought to make it a priority to examine what each applicant may bring to campus. We must do so because it is these unique, personal traits and not the color of our skin that defines us.

Miller: Addressing a Nuclear Iran

An anti-Western, anti-Semitic and generally unstable Iran cannot be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon under any circumstances. While sanctions will weaken Tehran’s economy, they won’t shake its nuclear resolve. Unfortunately, the United States, still the lonely armed leader of international democracy, will be forced to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next year.

I’m not suggesting that the United States should begin lighting up Tehran tomorrow. But the latest round of sanctions, aimed at disrupting Iran’s oil and gas exports and excluding its central bank from the global financial marketplace, ultimately will not deter Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran may be forced to lower oil prices in order to find new buyers, but large developing nations will always be thirstier for oil than hungry for American approval. Demand for Iranian oil will be redistributed. Russia and China have refused to enact the sanctions, and continue to buy Iranian oil. Even India, an American ally opposed to Iran becoming a nuclear power, has been unwilling to jeopardize its fuel supply by instituting sanctions.

There is also significant historical evidence that sanctions, though they may weaken recipient nations, rarely succeed in their political objectives. North Korea has continued to build its nuclear program in the face of crippling sanctions designed to stop them from doing just that. This is not to say that sanctions will have no effect. Iran’s economy will flounder, its infrastructure will begin to crumble and its people will stagger under the weight of inflation and, eventually, recession. But this presents President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the opportunity to use sanctions to further galvanize his people around a nationalist nuclear program, scapegoating a hostile West for the nation’s economic woes.

The doves and the disconnected realists argue that Iran can be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon because it would never be irrational enough to risk full-scale military conflict with the United States by using it. But Ahmadinejad is not a rational actor. This is a man who denies the Holocaust and has advocated for the annihilation of the Jewish state. This is an administration that has plotted to assassinate neighboring diplomats, moved warships to Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s violent repression of freedom fighters and recently threatened to take preemptive military action against any perceived threats. It seems that an increasingly bellicose Iran is also behind the recent attempted bombings of Israeli targets in India, Thailand and Georgia.

It would be incredibly naive not to question Tehran’s claim that its nuclear capabilities are being developed for peaceful purposes or to imagine that a nuclear Iran is not a threat to Israel, the United States and all Western democracies. Iran has a long history of supporting and sponsoring terrorist organizations, from Hezbollah to the Taliban. Even if Tehran doesn’t launch a nuke itself, we can expect it to share nuclear technology and weapons with terrorists. In allowing Iran to complete a nuclear rise, the United States would also undermine its own legitimacy as a deterrent in the contentious region and encourage other hostile states to emulate Iran by developing their own nuclear weapons.

Iran is undoubtedly a much more immediate threat to Israel than to the United States, so why not let Israel handle the air strike? Put simply, Israel is not capable. Many American military experts, like former CIA director Michael Hayden, say that the Israeli Air Force would be hard-pressed to even position its bombers above Iran for targeted strikes. Some of Iran’s key nuclear facilities are buried deep under concrete reinforcements. Others are built into mountains, and Tehran has just launched a four-day military exercise demonstrating its commitment to protecting these nuclear sites.

The United States is still the singular, mighty military defender of democracy, and we absolutely must take the lead in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. So we can wait and see if sanctions break Iranian will, but we can only wait for so long. We must strike in concert with Israel before Iran brings its most valuable sites underground and fortifies its nuclear facilities from air assault, a process that has already begun. If the next president wants to protect democracy, preserve Israel and ensure America’s long-term security, he will have to make a hard decision. The costs of air strikes may be high, but the costs of inaction will be higher.

Francfort: Rethinking Diversity

There has been increased discussion lately about the impact of race on admissions at Dartmouth and its peer institutions. A recent article highlighted a few very telling statistics and perspectives on the bias that has become part of admissions departments here at Dartmouth and throughout the country (“Race poses challenges to admissions,” Feb. 13). The article points to a 2009 study conducted by Princeton University theology professor Thomas Espenshade, which found that Asian-American applicants must have a score of 1550 out of 1600 on the SAT exam in order to compete with white applicants scoring 1410 and African-American applicants scoring 1100. Dartmouth’s former Assistant Director of Admissions Michele Hernandez also confirmed that different admissions standards exist for different races, notably Asian-Americans.

It may be the case that this disparity between SAT scores is not as meaningful as it first appears since it does not take into account other aspects of a student’s application, such as extracurricular activities. But this great discrepancy reveals an underlying prejudice in the system. It is true, according to Hernandez, that our admissions office and those of other top schools around the nation have different standards for applicants of different races. The purpose of this policy is a worthy one. Universities believe that it is in the best interest of its students to maintain a diverse environment in which learning can occur through dialogue between students who harbor different perspectives. The benefits of such a diverse community are numerous. I doubt, however, that this process as it is currently practiced is truly the best way to achieve such diversity.

The current system of admissions at elite universities depends on an oversimplified method of achieving and portraying diversity. Upon inquiry into the topic of diversity at an American college, one may look toward statistics on the demographic makeup of the student body. But the percentage of Asians, Caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanics at a college is not indicative of the diversity of an institution. It is not the color of one of my fellow students’ skin that enhances my learning experience at Dartmouth. In fact, the color of somebody’s skin should be of little importance to any of us. I’ll bet that each and every Dartmouth student knows more than a few people for whom the stereotypes associated with their race do not apply.

However, there is great value in a wide range of experiences and perspectives among individuals in the Dartmouth community. Our admissions process ought to reflect that sentiment and employ an approach that delves deeper into what each applicant offers to the school with regard to their unique life experiences. It may be that this uniqueness has been shaped in part by a person’s background or culture, but those factors are not always directly related to or encapsulated by race. Why not include a short answer or optional essay on the Dartmouth application to identify an applicant’s potential impact on the diversity of our community? This would provide a much more comprehensive means of achieving the goal that we have in sight and could help avoid the stereotyping in admissions that this recent study illuminates.

Ultimately, we as a college must reflect on the role that race should play in admissions decisions. I count myself among the majority of students here who value the benefits of interactions between people of different backgrounds. It is when members of our community see past physical differences and come to appreciate the plethora of perspectives at the College that we learn and grow. If we continue to employ our current system of placing people into racial categories, we will only perpetuate the kind of stereotyping that leads to the statistics found in the study. As a student body and a college, we ought to make it a priority to examine what each applicant may bring to campus. We must do so because it is these unique, personal traits and not the color of our skin that defines us.

Miller: Addressing a Nuclear Iran

An anti-Western, anti-Semitic and generally unstable Iran cannot be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon under any circumstances. While sanctions will weaken Tehran’s economy, they won’t shake its nuclear resolve. Unfortunately, the United States, still the lonely armed leader of international democracy, will be forced to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next year.

I’m not suggesting that the United States should begin lighting up Tehran tomorrow. But the latest round of sanctions, aimed at disrupting Iran’s oil and gas exports and excluding its central bank from the global financial marketplace, ultimately will not deter Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran may be forced to lower oil prices in order to find new buyers, but large developing nations will always be thirstier for oil than hungry for American approval. Demand for Iranian oil will be redistributed. Russia and China have refused to enact the sanctions, and continue to buy Iranian oil. Even India, an American ally opposed to Iran becoming a nuclear power, has been unwilling to jeopardize its fuel supply by instituting sanctions.

There is also significant historical evidence that sanctions, though they may weaken recipient nations, rarely succeed in their political objectives. North Korea has continued to build its nuclear program in the face of crippling sanctions designed to stop them from doing just that. This is not to say that sanctions will have no effect. Iran’s economy will flounder, its infrastructure will begin to crumble and its people will stagger under the weight of inflation and, eventually, recession. But this presents President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the opportunity to use sanctions to further galvanize his people around a nationalist nuclear program, scapegoating a hostile West for the nation’s economic woes.

The doves and the disconnected realists argue that Iran can be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon because it would never be irrational enough to risk full-scale military conflict with the United States by using it. But Ahmadinejad is not a rational actor. This is a man who denies the Holocaust and has advocated for the annihilation of the Jewish state. This is an administration that has plotted to assassinate neighboring diplomats, moved warships to Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s violent repression of freedom fighters and recently threatened to take preemptive military action against any perceived threats. It seems that an increasingly bellicose Iran is also behind the recent attempted bombings of Israeli targets in India, Thailand and Georgia.

It would be incredibly naive not to question Tehran’s claim that its nuclear capabilities are being developed for peaceful purposes or to imagine that a nuclear Iran is not a threat to Israel, the United States and all Western democracies. Iran has a long history of supporting and sponsoring terrorist organizations, from Hezbollah to the Taliban. Even if Tehran doesn’t launch a nuke itself, we can expect it to share nuclear technology and weapons with terrorists. In allowing Iran to complete a nuclear rise, the United States would also undermine its own legitimacy as a deterrent in the contentious region and encourage other hostile states to emulate Iran by developing their own nuclear weapons.

Iran is undoubtedly a much more immediate threat to Israel than to the United States, so why not let Israel handle the air strike? Put simply, Israel is not capable. Many American military experts, like former CIA director Michael Hayden, say that the Israeli Air Force would be hard-pressed to even position its bombers above Iran for targeted strikes. Some of Iran’s key nuclear facilities are buried deep under concrete reinforcements. Others are built into mountains, and Tehran has just launched a four-day military exercise demonstrating its commitment to protecting these nuclear sites.

The United States is still the singular, mighty military defender of democracy, and we absolutely must take the lead in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. So we can wait and see if sanctions break Iranian will, but we can only wait for so long. We must strike in concert with Israel before Iran brings its most valuable sites underground and fortifies its nuclear facilities from air assault, a process that has already begun. If the next president wants to protect democracy, preserve Israel and ensure America’s long-term security, he will have to make a hard decision. The costs of air strikes may be high, but the costs of inaction will be higher.