Friday, February 23, 2007

Keep Talking?

In the twilight of his tenure at #10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has stated publicly--for the first time--that it would be wrong to take military action against Iran. In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Blair indicated that he still prefers diplomacy for curtailing Tehran's nuclear ambitions:

“I can’t think that it would be right to take military action against Iran . . . What is important is to pursue the political, diplomatic channel. I think it is the only way that we are going to get a sensible solution to the Iranian issue.”

While Americans should applaud Mr. Blair's long-standing support for the War in Iraq, they should also understand that the Prime Minister is--to use a Thatcherism--going a bit wobbly on Iran. Three years of on-again/off-again talks between Iran and the EU-3 (Great Britian, France and Germany) have produced increased defiance from Tehran, and an accelerated nuclear program. We can only wonder what a few more rounds of "talks" might produce; relocation of North Korea's nuclear program to Iran; rapid development and testing of the mullah's first atomic weapons, and eventually, a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv. Yeah, that's the road to lasting peace.

Mr. Blair is correct in noting that a military operation against Iran would be difficult, with consequences that would extend far beyond the Middle East. But removing the military option from the table--as many in Europe have suggested--would do nothing but encourage Iran, and likely hasten Tehran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. What then? Mr. Blair hasn't said, and other European leaders are equally evasive. In fact, some politicians on the continent have suggested that we "learn to live" with an Iranian bomb, never mind the fact that those weapons will be aimed at Europe, and the technology gladly shared with terrorist groups.

The Blair approach might work if we had some assurance that short-term regime change was possible in Iran, and a new government seemed prepared to step back from the abyss. But, as we've noted in the past, the Iranian opposition is relatively weak, despite widespread opposition to the current government. Making matters worse, the U.S. has missed opportunities to support opposition groups in the past, allowing the theocrats to further suppress internal dissent. Short and medium-term prospects for regime change in Tehran are virtually nil. Even if Ahmadinejad is somehow forced out by the mullahs, his replacement won't be a Social Democrat. We'll be dealing with some sort of hardline government for years to come.

Which brings us back to the military option and Iran. While the current troop surge in Iraq poses no direct threat to Tehran, it certainly caught Iran's attention, particularly when we began rounding up members of the Quds Force that are training and supporting the terrorists. Iran's Supreme Leader reportedly said that "the cobra is standing on its tail," and his favorite proxy in Iraq, "Mookie" al-Sadr, suddenly found it necessary to take an extended vacation in Tehran. By comparison, three years of ignoring Iranian meddling in Iraq did nothing but embolden the regime in Tehran, and allow their operatives to kill more of our troops.

No one wants a war with Iran. But if the west is genuinely serious about halting Tehran's nuclear program, then all options must be on the table. As for the Europeans, let's just say we've been here before. Back in 1938, a certain madman in Germany was considered a "manageable" problem, and diplomacy remained the preferred option of the day. That approach lasted until the German panzers rolled into Poland, and members of the striped-pants set (and a certain Prime Minister) realized that they had been duped.


blert said...

The Echelon concensus is that Iran ALREADY has the bomb... but no militarily effective delivery mechanism.

Her atomics are placed as mines at critical nodes for American and global interests. The mullahs figure that national hari kiri with American ground forces strapped to their belly will bring forth the Mahdi and global anti-Americanism.

One or more of those atomic mines is presumed to be across the Shatt-al-Arab. That's too close for the British.

More generally, many savvy Americans pray for the British departure since a see-no-evil occupation has completely undercut our political goals: a secular polyglot coalition government.

The Shia militias are massively financed by crude oil diversion in this Shia heartland. Stolen oil is also quite handy for the Qods budget.

If liberal politics is deemed essential for Iraq we're going to have to begin colonial government.

eatyourbeans said...

In today's London Telegraph it says that Israel is planning to deal with the problem. The Brit papers have said this many times before, of course. But this piece says their airforce needs to fly over Iraq to get to Iran, and that they would have to clear everything in advance with the US so that
our guys on patrol didn't shoot them down by mistake.

This is unfortunate. It would be so much better if we could discreetly supply Israel with whatever she needs to make her visit a towering sucess, but then act shocked. If only we could raise our eyes heavenwards, heave a melancholy sigh, and tell the world
"Oh, those crazy, wicked, jooz...just look what they gone and done"

jamminedward said...

Can't find the quote right now, but right after the Munich Accord sellout in '38, Churchill said something to the effect that Chamberlain had traded honor to avoid war, but Hitler would give Britain war in any event. History could hardly have repeated itself with such deja vu-like accuracy. Yet another prime minister goes down the appeasement toilet.