Saturday, April 01, 2006

They Need to Be Careful of What They Wish For

I like Strategypage a lot. So much that I subscribe when I could just get it for free.

But I have to wonder about this:

Iran is doing little to discourage American talk of bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. Such an attack would entrench the religious dictatorship that is currently running Iran. Iranian nationalism being what it is, a bombing campaign would destroy much of the pro-American feelings that exist in Iran. The Islamic conservatives know that such an attack would slow nuclear weapons research, but not halt it. Also, unless the Europeans signed on for a bombing attack, such a strike would make the Europeans far more amenable to forgetting about sanctions.

First of all, I don't know why we assume that Iranians who hate being ordered about by religious fanatics will suddenly be pro-religious fanatics if we deprive said religious fanatic dictators of their nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Perhaps they will. But I've seen nothing that seems to actually analyze this. Perhaps it can't really be analyzed with any certainty. I simply note that the September 11 attacks--except for a brief period--didn't rally nearly half this country to the government. Why would Iranians--who are actually repressed unlike the fantasy oppression here imagined by Hollywood types--be more loyal to their government?

And second, just because the mullahs in their twisted world view think that an attack on them will strengthen them doesn't mean it is acutally true.

Didn't the Taliban and al Qaeda want America to strike back at Afghanistan imagining that we'd be ineffective? Bad call on their part.

And don't we now see that Saddam assumed that he'd weather any attack on him in 2003 and emerge stronger for defying us again? Once more, bad call on his part.

Still, the certainty that an aerial campaign to knock out their nuke facilities will only set them back added to the possibility that the people of Iran will rally to the regime means our prime strategy should be to overthrow the mullahs. A rational regime, at best, will decide that Iran does not need nukes. At worst, a rational regime with nukes is better than a nutcase regime with nukes.

The question in my mind is do we have the time to overthrow the mullahs before they get nukes? Are our intelligence people good enough to engineer this? If not, I do not find the idea of containing nutball Iran an acceptable alternative. Striking Iran to buy the time it would purchase is the only reasonable alternative to regime change if our objective is to protect our people from this very real threat.

So I don't have confidence that Iran's rulers have made the right call in wanting us to attack. Not even if they are correct in assuming that we will merely hit them from the air. We may go for far more. When you strike a king, you should kill him, as the saying goes. Regime change may yet be our ultimate disarming strike--even if done while we hit the nuclear and other WMD sites.