September 4, 2006

Iran Delenda Est?

Some suspect that before he leaves office, President Bush will order air attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities. Some urge that this be done.

Comments on Ed Morrissey’s blog, for example, include the following:
I agree this shows just how out of control the Iranian regime is. In normal circumstances it would serve as a wake up call to other governments about the futility of negotiating with these lunatics. But, don't expect Annan's humiliation to change the approach of European appeasers to Iran, much less the obstruction and cynicism of Russia and China (whatever weakens US foreign policy objectives is a win for us) in opposing sanctions against the mullahs.

The only thing that's going to stop Iran is regime destruction on a scale rivaling Germany in WWII. If it comes to war, I favor a conventional bombing campaign that will literally take them back to the stone age. Let's see how arrogant they are when they have no oil revenue and no ability to support their population. The reality of aerial extinction tamed Khadaffi. A similar, though much greater effort, will be necessary with this crowd, and I am afraid it will have to extend to the whole damn country.

This is a cruel prescription, but we are dealing with a form of vile totalitarianism whose objective is the destruction of Western civilization, starting with the Jews, but continuing with Christianity and everything else inconsistent with their Dark Ages religion/ideology. If they start it, we'll have to finish it this way.

Posted by: Redhand  at September 4, 2006 09:53 AM

I think it's clear that Iran doesn't give a damn. Time to take the fangs out of the viper. After we sink every one of his Naval Vessels, destroy his Air Force, Military Bases, Missile Batteries, and Command/Cobntrol facilities, let's see if he still ignores the U.N, or goes running to them screaming bloody murder. Heh!

Posted by: Nostradamus  at September 4, 2006 09:56 AM
It strikes me that this eagerness to attack Iran, although perhaps understandable, could lead to a serious mistake.

Episodically, Iran has committed acts of war against the United States and offenses against the international order, such a seizing our embassy and holding our diplomatic personnel hostage, and attacking barracks holding our soldiers. The verbal hostility of the régime continues unabated. The régime’s efforts to go nuclear should give pause to everyone, not least Iran’s neighbors.

However, Iran isn't a direct threat to the United States. Iran’s military, although not inconsequential,is not equipped for serious adventures even of a regional sort. It managed to fend off Saddam, among other things, by sending unarmed teenaged boys to their deaths in Iraqi minefields. Its economy requires it to sell its oil, and oil being a fungible commodity, even if Iran chose not to sell its oil to us, it would matter little.

The mullahcracy has serious economic problems and has lost the support of many of the urban young, who seem to admire the United States as only those subject to a repressive state seem to do these days.

The United States lacks the army to carry out an invasion, let alone hold Iran or any appreciable part of it. As Napoleon said, “One can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.” Our sissified élites and our isolated public might accept a Grenada-like or Panama-like quick victory, but would have little patience for another Middle Eastern waiting game, even if casualties were few.

Air power might set back the nuclear program for awhile, but not permanently, and the attacks would have to be widespread and harsh. There goes the sympathy for the US among the Iranian people. Up comes a Shi’a uprising in Iraq, and possibly around the Persian Gulf. Otherwise, air power is not all that effective, and the dream of conquest without casualties is just that--a dream.

Moreover, there is a split in the Muslim world. Shi’a such as the Iranians are in a distinct minority, and the chances of a permanent line-up linking the Shi’a with the Sunni are small. Unlike Sadaam's régime, which was held together by violence, the Iranian régime, however unpopular and nasty, emerged out of an internal process. It's organically linked to Iranian society. Give the Iranians a chance to deal with it, and assist them with the means, and when the time comes, perhaps they will.

In fact then, other than moralistic obstinacy, there is no reason for us not to be trying modestly to engage Iran, both on the diplomatic level with its government, and on the NGO and economic levels as well. We have a strong Iranian diaspora here, composed largely of educated people. Seduction might work better than intimidation. Our Allen Dulles and Kermit Roosevelt got rid of an Iranian government once (Mossadegh’s in the ‘50s, replaced by the Shah), and are still paying the price.

The nasty fly in the ointment is the nuclear program, and in particular two scenarios--nukes handed out to terrorists, and a nuclear attack on Israel. A “first use” of nukes after 60 non-nuclear years would be a Rubicon better not crossed, and even if largely destroyed, Israel could and would retaliate. The destruction of Israel would be a human and historic tragedy, and insofar as Israel is now, willy-nilly, our ally, would damage our prestige and our national interest. A hard-headed assessment of that danger is needed, and we probably won’t get it with our eternal Presidential campaign and the undoubted power of the pro-Israeli veto groups in our polity.

The UN, of course, will do nothing, except to slap Israel down if it acts.

Whether the Israelis, now governed by a rudderless, feckless bunch, will see the Iranian nuclear threat in stark enough terms to attack, which might conceivably suck us in, is questionable. Whether we should hold them back or run the risk of being dragged into a conflict that it is not in our interest to fight, is the question.

My sense is that the régime is not so strong, and won’t last another 20 years, and Ahmadinejad, however unpleasant, is not completely irrational. At a minimum, Bush should answer his letter. His Dad would have done so; he was polite.

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