Somehow this slipped by me yesterday. Yesterday Glenn Reynolds linked to an interesting post on Iran from OPFOR. The short version of the post is that military options to stop Iran’s support of terrorism, development of nuclear weapons, and general destabilization of the region are unpalatable, Iran is economically vulnerable, the regime is politically vulnerable, we should support the opposition to the regime within the country. That’s not particularly novel: knowledgeable people like Michael Ledeen and unknowledgeable people like me have been saying it for years. I certainly hope we’re doing that right now. If we are you and I would probably never know it because open support by us for opponents to the regime would be the kiss of death for them.
As should be clear from my many posts on Iran, I believe that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and believe that we should be working actively to prevent this using as little physical force as is practical to achieve the objective. Unfortunately, events are proceeding quite rapidly. With the recent announcements of the state of Iran’s fuel cycle development program, people who are well-informed who were saying that it would be 8 to 10 years until Iran was building nuclear weapons at the beginning of the year are now saying 3 to 5 years.
In the current weak state of opposition to the current regime within Iran it would take longer than that to achieve regime change in Iran solely from within. The mullahocracy is not the Taliban.
I’m not particularly sanguine about the likelihood of face-to-face negotiations with the Iranians for achieving our objectives, either. For success we’d need to be in a greater position of strength than we are right now: either in a position to make good on threats or deliver on promises or both. What will we do? Threaten to stop trading with them? We haven’t traded directly with the Iranians for a generation. Promise to start? What?
I believe that the road to Tehran lies through Moscow and Beijing: our attentions should be focused on convincing the Russians and Chinese that the surest path towards ensuring the stability of a trading relationship with Iran is in regime change there. Without that we’ve got nothing.