Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Max Boot: Air strikes, only serious option on Iran

I have said here all along that it would be a grave mistake for both US and Israel to launch an assault on Iran. However, I don't have the slightest doubt that if both countries conclude that Russia's shuttle diplomacy or eventually UN sanctions won't deter Iran from its nuclear path, they will not give air strikes a second thought and that's what makes me feel really worried because truth be told, I've already given up on my own country's apocalyptic government which these days, instead of defusing the tensions and conflicts they may produce, is busy holding a Holocaust-denying conference and bolstering its nuclear site defenses:

Max Boot, Los Angeles Times - What might stop Iran at this late date? Some conservatives have pinned their hopes on another Iranian revolution. The CIA and other agencies should do everything possible to encourage such an uprising. But the chances of regime change in the near term are not high. Even less likely is a U.S. invasion; the U.S. military is overstretched as it is.

That leaves only one serious option — air strikes by Israel or the U.S., possibly accompanied by commando raids. It is doubtful that bombs could eradicate Iran's nuclear program, but they could set it back for years, possibly long enough for the regime to implode.

There are two major downsides cited by opponents of military action. First, they say, an attack might lead Iranians to rally around the current regime. Possibly. But it might instead expose the mullahs' weakness and thus undermine their authority. The second objection is more serious. Even if air strikes are carried out by Israel, the mullahs would almost certainly order terrorist retaliation against the United States and step up efforts to sabotage our activities in next-door Afghanistan and Iraq.

These are real worries. But do they outweigh the consequences of letting Iran go nuclear?

Sooner rather than later, President Bush must face a hard choice: Either order air strikes (or acquiesce to Israeli strikes) or accept a nuclear-armed Iran. A lot of bluster won't make this difficult dilemma disappear.