Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Until They Are Belgian

Real Clear Politics thinks we need to overthrow the mullahs of Iran. Noting that it is the regime and not the weapons the regime has that is the basic problem:

Of course, there’s no way to predict whether a coup or a revolution in Iran would bring to power leaders who would dismantle that country’s nuclear capabilities. It may well be that whatever government comes to power will continue the present course and – more likely sooner rather than later – turn Iran into a nuclear power. That will be worrisome, to say the least – but not nearly as terrifyingly dangerous as having these weapons in the hands of crazy people.

This is quite true. French annoyance with us is not going to lead to a French first strike on us (and the reverse, of course, is also true).

I recently wrote that I favor an American-led military campaign to knock back the Iranian nuclear program:

This isn't ideal. We really have no good assurance that we can root out all the Iranian nuclear facilities. But it beats letting Iran go nuclear and hoping that the nutjobs sitting in Tehran aren't as crazy as they appear.

As I say, this is not ideal. I would prefer regime change fully in agreement with the RCP contention that it is the regime that is the problem. A normal Iran with a few nukes is not the same as a nutball Iran with a few nukes.

But as I wrote, part of my assumptions to support military action is that we cannot pull off a coup or revolution since our CIA apparently blew whatever Iran network we had a few years ago. This was noted in an aside in a story trying to re-argue the debate over going to war against Saddam. When I read the Iran angle, I dropped my intention to write about the Iraq angle:

Excuse me? Shouldn't this afterthought be the lead? That our network of agents in Iran was compromised by a CIA blunder? That given the impossibility of invading Iran (even if we were not fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan we'd have too few troops to occupy a country this size), our network to organize a coup or revolution was wrecked? Could this not explain some of our dithering over strategy to keep Iran from going nuclear?

My hope is that our covert capabilities still exist and that either the CIA has a network or the military built a network there in the last few years (there has been some tugging between the two over this issue since Afghanistan). My hope is that we learned from Iraq not to telegraph our intentions. My hope is that my recent near-despair that we will make good on the President's pledge that we will not allow a mullah-led Iran to go nuclear is based on the need to maintain secrecy. My hope is we want the element of surprise after letting the Euros lull the Iranians into thinking they are on the verge of victory over the West.

Overthrowing the mullahs should be the priority. But if we can't do that, I'll settle for a military strike that puts off the day of a nuclear-armed nutball regime in Tehran.