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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bolton: Time for Israel to go after Iran

In Thursday's Washington Post, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton says that the 'already compelling logic' for Israel to strike Iran's nuclear program is now 'inexorable' in light of the option of regime change having apparently been lost, at least for the time being (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). Bolton argues that the Obama administration will never go for a military option, and that it is preparing the groundwork for a 'plan B' that will leave Iran with at least the capability of ramping up quickly to nuclear weapons.
Only those most theologically committed to negotiation still believe Iran will fully renounce its nuclear program. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has a "Plan B," which would allow Iran to have a "peaceful" civil nuclear power program while publicly "renouncing" the objective of nuclear weapons. Obama would define such an outcome as "success," even though in reality it would hardly be different from what Iran is doing and saying now. A "peaceful" uranium enrichment program, "peaceful" reactors such as Bushehr and "peaceful" heavy-water projects like that under construction at Arak leave Iran with an enormous breakout capability to produce nuclear weapons in very short order. And anyone who believes the Revolutionary Guard Corps will abandon its weaponization and ballistic missile programs probably believes that there was no fraud in Iran's June 12 election. See "huge credibility gap," supra.

In short, the stolen election and its tumultuous aftermath have dramatically highlighted the strategic and tactical flaws in Obama's game plan. With regime change off the table for the coming critical period in Iran's nuclear program, Israel's decision on using force is both easier and more urgent. Since there is no likelihood that diplomacy will start or finish in time, or even progress far enough to make any real difference, there is no point waiting for negotiations to play out. In fact, given the near certainty of Obama changing his definition of "success," negotiations represent an even more dangerous trap for Israel.
Bolton also makes a strong argument for striking now while Iranians and the World are still boiling mad at the regime.
Those who oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons are left in the near term with only the option of targeted military force against its weapons facilities. Significantly, the uprising in Iran also makes it more likely that an effective public diplomacy campaign could be waged in the country to explain to Iranians that such an attack is directed against the regime, not against the Iranian people. This was always true, but it has become even more important to make this case emphatically, when the gulf between the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the citizens of Iran has never been clearer or wider. Military action against Iran's nuclear program and the ultimate goal of regime change can be worked together consistently.
The question from our perspective is, can Israel do all that itself?

At one time, we might have assumed that if we attacked Iran under the current circumstances, even if the US didn't go along with it, they would try to take advantage of our attack to effect regime change. With the Obama administration, that assumption is no longer valid. Given Obama's legitimizing of the Iranian regime, his swearing off any desire for regime change, his slavish devotion to 'negotiations' with the mullahs and his unwillingness to stand up for democratic values anywhere else in the world, even if Israel were to attack Iran, and even if ordinary Iranians would quietly cheer, it is doubtful that the US would take up the cause of regime change.

And without the US, it's unlikely that the Europeans would take up the cause of regime change either.

Jules Crittenden points out that it's a shame that the Obama administration is so unwilling to do what needs to be done:
It’s too bad. Because the mullahs in Tehran have just given the president of the United States the biggest opening forthright action of any kind, military or diplomatic, since the Iranian hostage crisis. The mullahs, by overtly attacking their own people, managed to do what none of the outrages of the past 30 years have done. They outraged the world.

But never mind the naked oppression and the history of deception, ill-will and criminality. Bolton explains that Obama has a Plan B that lets him to take defeat and declare it victory. The mullahs get to have “peaceful” nukes if they promise they’ll never build bombs. Same deal Kim got. Sure.
It's too late to cry over spilt milk, and Israel should not wait for another of Crittenden's ideas - the forming of an international coalition. There's no time for that even if the will to do it existed.

Israel should strike Iran now, because there is no choice. It has to be done, and this seems to be the ideal time to do it. Curiously, there has been very little talk here over the last three weeks about preparations for striking Iran, although we saw a lot of talk about that in the winter and in the spring. But to expect an Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear capability to bring about regime change is probably wishful thinking given the values and goals of the current US administration. It is more likely to bring a further crackdown on Iranians by the Ahmadinejad regime and sanctions against Israel from the United Nations with US cooperation.


At 8:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Europeans don't want to withdraw their ambassadors from Iran even though Iran is a democidal state and the US still wants to appease it. I hope they're seeing the big picture in Jerusalem.

Hopenchange, any one?


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