In my previous post, where I worried about the Iranian nuclear threat, commenter GT asked what I propose to do.
Obviously the direct application of force will be difficult, which is why the mullahs have been able to get as far as they have in developing nuclear weapons. However, I speculate that we will do better in the long run if we take more risks now.
In particular, I have in mind:
-More pressure on Syria.
-A campaign of sabotage and assassination against Iran’s nuclear industry.
-Retaliation, including sabotage and assassination if necessary, against foreign firms that supply Iran’s nuclear industry.
-Bombing of key Iranian facilities, even if we can’t destroy them all and even if we risk dispersing some radioactive material.
-An information campaign to make clear what we want: the dismantling of nuke sites and abandonment of the nuke program, preferably accompanied by overthrow/assassination of the mullahs, and ideally democratization. Make clear that we will hold Iran’s leaders personally responsible for their hostile actions.
Yeah, we would have to kill people and the Iranians might end up hating us. Too bad. Our fundamental security should be non-negotiable. What happened to all the talk about an axis of evil and about nations being either with us or with the terrorists? Some of us took those ideas seriously and still do. The Administration will get more domestic support if it does not appear wobbly.
National leaders should be willing to risk their careers to do what’s right. Bush is a lame duck with three more years to get something done. I think the American people would go along with forceful action against Iran if Bush explained why it is important. Will he do it? I don’t know.
It seems plain to me that Bush weakens his case by compartmentalizing the war. Are we in a global struggle against Islamic fundamentalist imperialism or merely a war against some bad guys in Iraq and Afghanistan? If it’s the latter, why are we putting our people at risk over there? OTOH, if the war and combating WMD proliferation by hostile dictatorships are really important, as I think they are, we should not hesitate to use force against an Iranian regime that embodies the worst of Islamic fascism and is openly pursuing nuclear weapons. The Administration has a strong case if it would make it.
Bush and his colleagues seem to be institutionally tongue tied. I fault them for it, but they are what they are, we are stuck with them for the foreseeable future, and anyway they are probably as good as any political leaders we are likely to get. Complaining about their mistakes and ineptitudes won’t help, nor will rationalizing inaction because many Americans don’t support that which was never adequately explained to them. A nuclear Iran worries me, but suggestions that we can’t do anything about it and may as well learn to live with it are deeply troubling. I don’t like the attitude. I also think we would do better to force the issue than to allow the mullahs to get nukes on their own timetable.
UPDATE: In the comments, Lex makes a good point about covert-action campaigns.