I have long been an advocate of the “soft kill” on Iran (i.e. here, here, here and here). The government there is at odds with its people, and has shown signs of decay for some time now. The Mullah regime that came in in 1979 is in its Brezhnevite phase of sclerotic senility, as Zenpundit recently opined. This recent piece from Foreign Policy describes in detail how Ahmadinejad’s regime is crumbling. The reason he is ratcheting up the rhetoric is that a foreign war is the only thing that can keep him in power. The conclusion:
… the only thing that could save him now is the United States. Nobody knows this better than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As his support within Iran has evaporated, he has cranked up the anti-American rhetoric, and the U.S. military has publicly accused the Pasdaran of arming insurgents in Iraq and even Afghanistan. At this point, the only way Ahmadinejad can revive his flagging fortunes is by uniting his country against an external threat. U.S. officials adamantly maintain that Washington is committed to using diplomacy to resolve the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program and its aggressive role in the region. Yet pressure is mounting in some branches of the Bush administration to take military action against Iran. That pressure should be resisted. For military action would give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exactly what he wants most: job security.
The soft kill is the way to go in this scenario. Embrace the Iranian people. Don’t kill them. Five years ago Robert Kaplan said: “I think it is interesting that the population of Iran is very pro-American, because they have actually had an experience on the ground with an Islamic revolution and it has been terrible.” Based on lots of reportage and anecdotal evidence, these trends have continued. The Iranians have a positive attitude toward Americans and they have contempt for their own government. But they will rally to it if their country is attacked, as anybody would. We need to be patient and firm with the current regime, and let it die of its own ravaging internal illnesses. Containment worked against Russia and it will work against these idiots. Time is on our side. We should act accordingly.
I remember my Russian Civ teacher 25 years ago saying that Jimmy Carter was stupid to pull the US out of the Olympics in Moscow. Instead, he said, the US Government should have subsidized a massive influx of Americans into Russia with duffel bags full of cassettes of rock music, Sears catalogs, blue jeans, and other Western goodies. We should be doing the same kind of thing with Iran now. 50,000 American tourists would do more good than 50,000 troops shooting the Hell out of the place. I hope to God our president does not decide to throw one more Hail Mary pass before he leaves office.