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What About Regime Change?

In referencing Stephen Hayes' latest at The Weekly Standard, In the Driver's Seat, Michael Ledeen draws focus to what passes as our Iran policy, at least with regard to the Iraq context. Steve's article looks at Condoleezza Rice's role as both National Security Advisor and ultimately Secretary of State. Michael draws attention at National Review Online by quoting part of the discussion between Steve and Secretary Rice and adding his pointed observation.

RICE: We're not saying, "Please don't kill our soldiers." We're saying, "Don't kill our soldiers or your people won't be safe in Iraq." That's a slightly different message. And not only are we saying that, we're doing it.

TWS: Are there other examples besides the capture in Irbil where we are saying to Iran not only don't do this, but, "Here are the consequences. Look, you can see the consequences"?

RICE: Well, there are lots of consequences, I mean, many of which, of course, happen in military operations that I'm not going to talk about. But we're on the hunt for them all the time.

In other words, we're simply playing defense in Iraq, and financially squeezing the Islamic Republic. I wish Hayes had asked her, "what ever happened to regime change? Don't we want that in Tehran and Damascus?"

So far as I know, she has always said we do not want regime change, we want a change in behavior. A happy thought, to be sure, but not likely to happen so long as our only targets are the terrorists armed, trained and funded by the Iranians, and not the Islamic Republic itself.

But again, at the end of the day it's the president who makes those decisions, no matter how fond he is of the secretary of state.

We can debate until the cows come home the most effective response from us to Iran killing our men in Iraq, which should be viewed as hardly separable from its long history of killing of Americans in terrorist attacks. But we cannot constructively utilize any conclusions from such a debate without embracing at debate's onset the reality that there will be no significant change in behavior from the Tehran regime without changing the regime. We have a 30-year track record of consistency to draw from in this regime's behavior, yet seem insistent that the implacable can be placated.

Arguments are made that we are too stretched thin militarily, or that sanctions must be made stronger, or that incentives will ultimately sway Tehran. Regardless the conclusions, none of the reasons for arriving at such should dodge the inconvenient, troublesome fact that the Iranian regime is the head of the international terrorist snake, and that this snake's head is biting us and killing us in Iraq sans consequence. To do so is to embolden the regime and their terror patrons in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere.

Which brings me to the latest discussion surrounding Syria potentially supplanting Saudi Arabia as our primary Arab broker in the Middle East. The thinking, if true, must be that perhaps Syria can be split from its Iranian master. "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," so the saying goes. But there is such a thing as too close for comfort and a not-new phenomenon called 'unrealistic expectations.' I harbor serious, serious doubts.

But with a pursued policy of regime change in Iran... Perhaps then Syria would fear our consequences more than those threatened by Tehran. But until such time the scales of fear tilt, splitting Syria from Iran is wishful thinking that is easily enabled through lauded talks and agreements that ultimately would serve Iranian long-term interests. Simple fact is that fear is the prime motivator of men in the region, be they leaders or soldiers.

But we skirt the Iranian issue every time, presumably because it's too hard on many levels. That may well be true, but it does not change the fact that moderation and behavioral change within Iran will not occur until the messianic regime itself is done away with. And until then, we will continue to absorb the violent brunt of the regime's behavior outside of Iran. There are no two ways about it, hard or not.

1 Comment

Regime change from within Iran has been sought but remains unlikely. To war Iran risks scattering embers of what Iran up to now holds as something close to a monopoly of (in terms of being publicly state-wise and a general umbrella to) in matters of anti Israel and anti 'western imperialism'. Whether the destruction of this 'pole' would ignite (or redistribute itself to ) other areas of the middle east (where there remains much receptivity to Iran's stance), which could prove uncontrollable,or whether such action would tame the tongue that stirs and incites, would depend very much how actual events unfold, something that is difficult to foresee.

It is no wonder that many are extremely wary of this option, though Iran should realize that it is presenting to many a situation to which they will be obliged to react. Iran may have many of its calculations right and working in its favour, but should it miscalculate on the matter of nuclear non-proliferation and clarity to such, it will not only be doing itself an injustice, but probably to the wider middle east too. The respect, attention and recognition it has received for its nuclear achievements from the west has not been earned on the grounds complacency, submissal, intimidation, or accommodation, but on the wish to avoid a scenario unbeneficial to the area as a whole, and hence global interests.

That wish will come into effect whether in the form of regime change and military intervention due to non-progress in resolution to the current nuclear standoff , as easily as with an acceptable and durable resolution to such. It would be naive of Iran to think that the west will allow the stakes to be further raised by permitting Iran to become nuclear capable. How hard and far Iran is willing to bargain would be its own mistake now, the idea of avoiding US intervention within Iran due to Iranian manipulation within Iraq, on the grounds of it justifying Iranian nuclear armament and wrecking international negotiations for 'disarmament', cannot hold indefinitely.

The time frame of events within which Iran is playing for its own success does not match with the time frame the west, and particularly the US, are willing to accept. Short of looking for a conflict that can be blamed as US instigated, we would hope that Iran will recalculate, as the framework for doing so (ie. UN resolutions etc.) is not always as clear or precise as it may seem, as well as requiring some form of humility on Irans part. Though we would hope that in spite of the US not having direct contact with Iran ,it would still respect some kind of formality before any action, no-one can guarantee that . We may not understand it fully , but we can see Iran's direction , the same might be applicable to the US in another similar sense.

Iran will most likely eventually try disengaging from the US on the most contentious fronts, but only while reengaging it in some other way. The US may not be willing to allow this to happen, and there is usually not much warning from those that find themselves over-tested.