Powerline has an interesting post on whether President Bush would use military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Some are speculating that the President’s recent statements have indicated that he has every intention of ensuring that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons, and he is willing to use military force in order to prevent that from happening.
I don’t think he will. For one, we do not currently have the technology to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The worse we can do is set the Iranians back by a number of years — and it’s not entirely certain exactly how far we’d be able set them back. In the meantime, such a strike would likely embolden the Ahmadinejad regime and unite the Iranian people against America. A military strike would be an action of very last resort, only if all other options failed.
Instead, the US needs to work to undermine the Ahmadinejad regime from within. The US should make it a policy to support any anti-regime group that wants our help and isn’t allied with any of our enemies. This help would have to be covert, but it would likely be the best way of toppling the regime. The US should also engage in a full-blast psychological campaign targeting the Iranian people. They should know how the Iranian regime is spending billions for weapons while they starve. If we’re going to drop something over Iran, it should be thousands of concealable radios that could spread a pro-democracy message broadcast in Farsi to everyone in the country who wants to hear it. The Ahmadinejad regime has been trying to isolate the Iranian people from the world — the US should offer them a view of what they’d have without that regime.
The Iranian government has only barely been able to contain the dissent which has been brewing under the surface of Iranian society for years now. A military strike against Iran, unless absolutely necessary, would set back a potential overthrow of the Iranian government, possibly fatally. Even Michael Ledeen has been warning against military action against Iran on that basis. Our best option is for the Iranian people to organically overthrow the tyrannical regime that controls them and tries to cut off their access to the outside world. The more we can undermine the totalitarian underpinnings of that regime, the more unstable it will become. The dream of a more democratic and tolerant Middle East isn’t yet dead, and ultimately that remains our last, best hope.