The Iran Policy

There's a lot to agree with in this almost sensible post by Ed Morrissey:

The truth is that we don’t have any good options on Iran and its nuclear-weapon program. Sanctions won’t work, because the Russians and the Chinese conduct too much trade with Iran. The Chinese won’t agree to them, and the Russians will cheat to get around them. Military strikes sound good, but Iran has significant military capabilities of its own that can hit us in Iraq, the Straits of Hormuz, and throughout the Persian Gulf and Iran has dispersed its nuclear program to avoid having it destroyed by airstrikes. Invasion would be almost impossible, thanks to the terrain and the 72 million Iranians that would resist it.

The best option we have in dealing with the Iranian nuclear and terrorist threats is regime change. Replacing the radical mullahs with almost anything else would improve the situation, and a popular uprising that replaced the theocracy with a secular republic like Turkey would be the best outcome. Instead, Obama seems intent on regime strengthening. We should be encouraging the democratic activists in Iran not just for the sake of democracy but also to relieve two of the greatest threats to regional stability.

I think it's an absurd stretch of anti-Obama rhetoric to say he believes in "regime-strengthening" in Iran.

Of course, those of us who can support the Green Revolution should continue to do so. But its success or failure will have nothing to do with the United States; and, indeed, too close an association with the US gives the coup regime its only propaganda weapon within the country: to tar the protests as a Western-orchestrated plot by Obama, the Queen, the BBC and the CIA or whatever these nutcases currently believe.

But engagement at a time when it has clearly discombobulated the Iranian regime is still important. The pursuit of America's national interests, the increasing diplomatic isolation of Iran (which Obama and Ahmadinejad have jointly accomplished), and avoidance of any reckless military action by Israel are all necessary. My own view is that we cannot know for sure which tactic will work best and I agree with Ed that regime change is the core goal.

But is Tehran's power in Iran weaker or stronger than it was when Obama took office? Is the regime more or less isolated than it was a year ago? Is Russia more or less friendly toward Iran?

I thnk the results of Obama's restraint and realism combined with the astonishing resilience of the Iranian people have made the mullahs in Iran more worries about their future than at any time since the Revolution. Of course, this means the regime could act out desperately. Before it staggers to its inevitable demise.