There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered and wounded animal, or so it is said. The world may be seeing that in the animals who run Syria and Iran.

There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered and wounded animal, or so it is said. The world may be seeing that in the animals who run Syria and Iran.


Last week, Tehran responded to ever-tightening economic sanctions from the West and to reports implicating that nation in recent terrorist attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia with a threat to cut off its sale of oil to six European nations, while boasting of its latest nuclear advance. Going on the offensive is the last refuge of the desperate, of course. These are easily deflected hits, as no one expected Iran to just give in on the nukes issue - especially in advance of potential negotiations on the matter - while the European Union already has decided to stop all Iranian oil imports by July 1. Iran can't sell what no one wants to buy.


Meanwhile, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's continued bombing of civilian populations has prompted the United Nations General Assembly to publicly rebuke him and, at the Arab League's urging, to call for his ouster. Assad's latest, gloves-off offensive in places like Homs and Dara'a has put him squarely in "crimes against humanity" territory. Said the U.N.'s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, "We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately. Hospitals used as torture centers. Children as young as 10 years old jailed and abused. We see almost certain crimes against humanity."


Assad is a bloodthirsty tyrant who without apologists and enablers such as Russia, Iran, China, Venezuela and North Korea - the company Syria keeps is all you need to know - could never get away with this. While the U.N. resolution itself has no real teeth, it's a necessary prerequisite to more concrete action. What should have Assad and other bad boys worried is the possibility of a Libya solution, in reference to the military and other assistance provided the rebels in the civil war that ultimately toppled Moammar Gadhafi.


Syria and Iran can talk all they want about outside interference in their domestic politics, their stand on the principle of a sovereign nation's refusal to be bullied, and the hypocrisy of others who, at least in Iran's case, already have the nuclear weapons Tehran seeks. But not even the Arab world much trusts these sociopaths - theocratic or secular - with these weapons, either. They treat their own citizens terribly, when not outright declaring war on them. There is nothing they won't do to preserve their hold on power.


Some of their pronouncements may amount to bluffing - Iran's threat to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, for example - but as the global pressure gets turned up, irrational behavior from them should catch no one off guard. Expect the situations in both nations to get worse before they get better.


Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.