Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Really Loyal Opposition?

Just why, I've asked, do we assume that an effort to overthrow the mullahs will prompt the Iranian people opposed to the regime to actually rally to its defense? Ledeen asks this as well when he discusses the possibility of overthrowing the mullahs:

The main arguments against this policy are that the repressive regimes in Damascus and Tehran are firmly in control; that any meddling we do will backfire, driving potential democrats to the side of the regimes in a spasm of indignant nationalism; and that the democracy movements are poorly led, thus destined to fail. The people who are saying these things — in the universities, the State Department, National Security Council and the Intelligence Community — said much the same about our support for democratic revolution inside the Soviet Empire shortly before its collapse. They forgot Machiavelli's lesson that tyranny is the most unstable form of government, and they forgot how much the world changes when the United States moves against its enemies.

We need to stop the mullahs from controlling nuclear weapons. Invasion is simply not possible. We have neither the troops nor the stomach to embark on another war in the near future. An air campaign may or may not destroy a significant amount of the nuclear infrastructure of Iran. And even if it does, the Iranians will rebuild, but this time will dig deeper, embed the facilities into the civilian sector more tightly, and disperse the facilities more widely--including in foreign countries.

So overthrowing the regime is the only option left other than just learning to live with the Islamic bomb.

But even though most Iranians hate the regime, many people here say that an effort to overthrow the mullahs will just lead the Iranian opposition to ditch opposition and rally to the government in its defense. These people opposed to changing the regime in Tehran argue that the opposition hates the regime, but hates even more the idea of America saving them from the hated regime.

Remember that civil wars are the most vicious of conflicts. Just look at the politics of this country. The Left reserves levels of hate and vitriol for our government that they'd be ashamed to direct toward any foreigners--even enemies. If America's Left had rallied to the side of President Bush after 9-11 and supported his actions against foreign enemies, I'd believe that the Iranian opposition might hate to be saved by America.

What is more likely, I think, is that the Iranian opposition--if there is a leader capable of rallying the opposition--will use the leverage of our aid to defeat a regime they've been helpless to defeat on their own.

And so what if they decide they hate us for trying to overthrow the mullahs? The regime already does hate us and it will hate us whether 10% or 40% or 90% of the population joins the regime in hating us. We don't get points if one of our cities is nuked in some mullah plot yet 90% of Iranians express regret at that action.

Regime change by supporting domestic oppostion in Iran is the only option left short of learning to live with the terror regime. God help us if we decide living with the current Iran is acceptable.