Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Targeted Force Only Option Left on Iran

Over at the New York Post, John Bolton argues that after four years of failed negotiations, a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear problem is beyond hope. Ministers from the permanant members of the U.N. Security Council met last week for another round of multilateral futility in stopping Iran's march to nuclear readiness:

This pattern of failed diplomacy has gone on for over four years, starting with the efforts of Britain, France and Germany ("the EU-3") to talk Iran out of its pursuit of nuclear weapons....

Unfortunately, the EU-3's fascination with negotiations lost sight of the ultimate objective - preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons - and became an end in itself. For the EU-3, the process became more important than the substance, especially the unstated but obvious EU-3 agenda of dealing with a proliferation threat their way, rather than resorting to military force, as the United States did against Saddam Hussein.

The result of more than four years of EU-3 negotiation is that Iran is more than four years closer to a nuclear-weapons capacity, and the United States and the world are in greater danger. I believe it was obvious from the outset that Iran wasn't going to renounce its quest for nuclear weapons voluntarily because it was part of a much larger strategy. The stakes were and are high: whether Iran and its radical Shiite version of Islam become dominant throughout the Muslim world, whether largely Persian Iran achieves effective hegemony in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and whether a nuclear, terror-financing Iran emerges on the global stage as a real power.

Chitchat by complacent and languorous European and State Department negotiators isn't enough to divert a theocratic autocracy like Iran's from its long-standing strategic course. To the contrary, the years of failed diplomacy gave Iran something it couldn't have bought with all of its oil revenues: time. Time is usually on the side of the would-be proliferators, and that has been true in spades for Iran. While the EU-3 thought they were "negotiating," Iran was perfecting the critical technique of converting uranium from a solid to a gas and then mastering the uranium-enrichment process to produce weapons-grade uranium. The timing on actual weaponization is now essentially in the hands of the mullahs. With oil at $90 a barrel, resources aren't a problem.

Thus, as a consequence of heedless, failed diplomacy, our options on Iran are limited, unless, as some believe, we can live with a nuclear Iran. Of course, that would leave to the likes of President Ahmadinejad the decision whether and when to use Iran's weapons. This isn't a happy prospect. As Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman once said insightfully, "Ahmadinejad denies the existence of the original Holocaust while preparing for the next one."

Regime change in Iran is the preferred option, and a feasible one given the regime's weakness. Rampant economic discontent caused by 28 years of economic mismanagement, the desires of younger Iranians to be freed from the mullahs' theology and dissatisfaction among Iran's ethnic minorities are all fertile breeding grounds for discontent. If we had supported and encouraged this dissent for the last four years, we might now be on the verge of regime change.

Absent regime change, the targeted use of force against Iran's program is the only option left. Risky and unattractive as it is, the choice may well be between the use of force and a nuclear Iran, which is really not a choice at all. Iran is already asserting itself in ways profoundly hostile to our interests and those of our close friends. Imagine adding Iranian nuclear weapons to that equation. That's why surrender is not an option.
Bolton's clarity on the Iranian threat is unsurpassed (a point that obviously doesn't sit well with the hard-left surrender forces).

Bolton's new book is Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad. The book's reviewed in
today's Wall Street Journal, and Brendan Simms, the reviewer, notes that Bolton's no neocon.


UPDATE: Via Goat's Barnyard, be sure to check out Bolton's interview with Hugh Hewitt at Townhall.