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.