By Robert Kagan, Washington Post
I concur with Kagan's assessment when addressing dealing with Iran. Military and diplomatic solutions seem a pipe dream at best - one with great risk for retalitory violence, and the other "been there, done that" method doomed to failure. Negotiations with terrorists do not yield desired results.
What is left? Iranians taking control of their own country. With a youthful population, delighted with western culture and opportunities, it must be logical that many in that country are no more thrilled with their strident, hate spewing President than the rest of the world. It is in Iranians our best hope as a world community lies.
We need to reorient our strategy. Our justifiable fixation on preventing Iran from getting the bomb has somehow kept us from pursuing a more fundamental and more essential goal: political change in Iran. We need to start supporting liberal and democratic change for an Iranian population that we know seeks both.
No one wants to see Iran get a bomb, no matter who is in power in Tehran. But it does matter who is in power. We don't worry that France or Great Britain has nuclear weapons. We tolerate India's and Israel's arsenals largely because we have some faith that their democratic governments will not use them. Were Iran ruled by a democratic government, even an imperfect one, we would be much less concerned about its weaponry. It might dismantle its program voluntarily, as did Ukraine and South Africa. But even if it didn't, a liberal and democratic Iran would be less paranoid about its security and therefore less reliant on nuclear weapons to defend itself.
Yes, yes and yes. What a shining moment to actually agree with the other side for a change.
Of course the irony is this is exactly the argument the WH makes, substituting Iraq for Iran. Not such a far fetched solution considering Saddam's history, his quest for military might, his geographical Eden with the regions water streams, is aid of AQ and other terrorist in the late 1900s, the multitude of Security Council warnings and, of course, his wealth enabling black market purchases right under the noses of the UN.
This same yin/yang thought is not dissimilar to the blessings of the American Congress to bomb and remove Milosevic for "humanitarian reasons", but not okay to bomb and remove Saddam for any reason whatsoever. Both despots committed genocide, and were brutal regimes. It's disingenuous to categorize the Iraqi's plight under Saddam as an unworthy endeavor by comparison - especially in light of his status as a #1 recognized threat in the world's eyes.
Could it be that good foreign policy is only appealing if liberals suggest the direction first? It seems no matter what direction Bush takes, it must be the wrong way and Dems opt to take the other (low) road. Kagan, an obvious anti-Bush journalist, takes the very sensible idea of regime change thru civil war, and manages to suggest that the reason it hasn't already happened is Bush's fault.
The Bush administration, despite its doctrine of democratization, has not yet tried to apply it in the one place where ideals and strategic interest most clearly intersect. It has done little to push for political change or to exploit the evident weaknesses in the mullahs' regime. The steps are obvious: Communicate directly to Iran's very westernized population, through radio, the Internet and other media; organize international support for unions and human rights and other civic groups, as well as religious groups that oppose the regime; provide covert support to those willing to use it; and impose sanctions, not so much to stop the nuclear program -- since they probably won't -- but to squeeze the business elite that supports the regime.
Interesting observation... Iraq was never a threat in Kagan's mind. And now Bush is now getting chastised for not trying to influence Iranian rebellion. Considering that Iran is already pissed at the US for perceived meddling in this very arena, I have to assume we must have been doing some unreported "sheeeet-stirring" already.
General Yahya Rahim Safavi also accused U.S. and British intelligence services of provoking unrest in the oil-rich southwestern Iran and providing bomb materials to Iranian dissidents.
With them already casting a wary eye on the US support of Iran's rebeles, it seems Kagan's facts on the subject are limited. But give him and other journalists awhile. They'll uncover the aid methods we've been giving and publish it for the enemy to see, thus thwarting it's quest.
Kagan also insinuates intelligence failure. Odd train of thought, darting in from left field. Words direct from the President's lips, stating his intentions and hatred of Israel, are "intelligence confirmation" enough to me. No mystery there.
Is the intelligence on Iran so much better than it was on Iraq? The Clinton administration launched Operation Desert Fox against Iraq in 1998 to degrade its weapons programs, and even today we don't know what it achieved. As President Clinton later put it, "We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn't know."
Regime change for Iran. Uhhhhemmmm.... put another way, that's the spread of democracy in the middle east. VERY good idea Kagan. Not exactly a novel thought, but a good application of the very same principle you and others have fought in different arenas.
Now if you would make your suggestions without the usual "hate Bush, it's his fault" rhetoric, more of us might want to listen to your message. And hey... I'll even let you think you thunk up something new and completely different!