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February 13, 2007

IRAN IN IRAQ: Smoking guns.

This has been obvious for a long time anyway, and I don't understand why the Bush Administration has been so slow to respond. Nor do I think that high-profile diplomacy, or an invasion, is an appropriate response. We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists, supporting the simmering insurgencies within Iran, putting the mullahs' expat business interests out of business, etc. Basically, stepping on the Iranians' toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq. And we should have been doing this since the summer 2003. But as far as I can tell, we've done nothing along these lines.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Hugh Hewitt.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Haig Hovaness emails (most personal insults deleted):

What is wrong with you? How can you not grasp that what you are advocating is a mirror-image of the savagery of those who attacked us on 9/11? You don't seem to know what civilization means. Civilization is not a big TV and lots of disposable income, nor is it a tenured position and a fast Internet connection. Civilization is founded on ethical conduct. The barbaric conduct you are advocating is despicable, and, if carried out, will reap a whirlwind of disastrous consequences for America.

Actually, I was trying to suggest something well short of massive air strikes, invasion, or giving them the full Atrios treatment. Nor do I think that targeting actual wrongdoers is the same as the 9/11 attacks. But if civilization will not allow itself to respond to the barbarians who are making war on it -- complete with a nuclear weapons program that violates the "international law" usually invoked with such vigor where U.S. actions are concerned, and the fomentation of widespread murder throughout the region -- then civilization will not persist, and barbarism will flourish. Mr. Hovaness will be happy to know, however, that the Bush Administration seems to share his views, as it has done essentially nothing in response to Iranian depredations for nearly four years. I suspect that we will come to regret that limp response, but I hope that Mr. Hovaness is right, and sweet reason will prevail throughout the region despite U.S. inaction.

I note, however, the complete absence of moral outrage aimed at the Iranian mullahocracy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts on "soft war" against Iran: "There are many ways to bring Iran to account for their war-making inside of Iraq, and perhaps the most effective options may not require direct military involvement."

MORE: Reader Terrye Huygentober thinks I'm unfair to Bush: "Just because you do not know what the Bush administration is doing in regards to the Iranians, does not mean they are doing nothing. A few days ago the NYT accused Bush of bullying Iran and so far the Democrats do not seem inclined to even consider evidence of Iranian involvement in Iran. Things are not as black and white as you imply. However, I do agree that there are ways of dealing with Iran that do not include outright invasion." I wish I believed that there was a cunning plan in operation.

Meanwhile, outrage on behalf of Iran is analyzed here. And some of those who are outraged say it's terrible to attack "religious figures and scientists." But wait -- wasn't the left calling American bomb builders "mass murderers?" And the mullahs hardly deserve immunity for their actions because those actions are cloaked in religion. Certainly few on the left would extend such immunity to Christian religious figures who acted in the same fashion. But to be clear, I think it's perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries -- like Iran -- that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses. We may wind up doing so via airstrikes, but it would be better to do it in a more selective manner.

MORE: A reader points out that my suggestion is actually milder than this Democratic policy document on Iran from 2006, which provides:

Carrots are not enough:

* Iran should be concerned that it has no realistic possibility of making its enrichment and reprocessing facilities operational.

* Accordingly, Iran should understand the existential threat of a military response under some conditions.

"Existential threat" means regime change, basically, and war. What I describe is well short of war -- a better-targeted version of Clinton's cruise-missile strikes against suspected WMD factories and terrorist leaders, which nobody complained about much, plus some squeezing intended to get the existing regime to change its policy. But the Democrats of 2006 are apparently too warlike for some people in the spring of 2007.

STILL MORE: Don Surber rounds up the options and doesn't like my suggestion above: "Supporting insurgents is a long-established weapon in the U.S. diplomatic arsenal, but Frank Church killed assassinations. I always had the creepy feeling that JFK’s death was bad karma." Instead, he makes a different recommendation:

Cutting a deal with Iran makes sense. Iran does need electricity and could use a nuke power plant or five. Hey, we could use the nuke-building business, right? Put some of that Iran oil money in US pockets. And why the hell do we still embargo Iranian oil?

We could agree to buy oil at $40 a barrel and to set up a half-dozen nuke plants in exchange for Iran playing nice and helping to rebuild Iraq. That might piss off the House of Saud, but so what? Those are the bozos who gave us Osama bin Laden.

Well, that's thinking out of the box. If I thought we could trust them to keep the deal, I might be for it. But I don't. Do you?

MORE STILL: Looking at Memeorandum, I notice that many of the lefty websites are unhappy with this post, though their outrage seems a bit forced, and somewhat disconnected from the actual substance of the post. I just wish they could get as exercised about people who want to kill Americans in wholesale lots as they do about my blogging. That wish seems unlikely to be fulfilled, though. But then, they're not the only ones whose thinking on this subject seems rather confused.

And Major John Tammes emails:

Sir,

I agree with your stance on the Iranians. I am a bit startled that people could be so shocked (shocked!) that those that have publicly declared their intentions to kill or covert us all would actually have violence used against them!

I suppose its still OK to them if it is an Iranian IED or sniper rifle being used against one of my fellow soldiers, however...

Yeah, it seems to be.

Jeff Goldstein comments: "I don’t happen to agree with Reynolds on this. But that doesn’t mean I find the suggestion irrational or repugnant -- just, from a contemporary political standpoint, unworkable." But read the whole thing, as he has some choice -- and accurate -- things to say about Glenn Greenwald's analysis and Greenwald's -- typical -- misrepresentation of my positions. And this comment seems about right: "The problem is that any solution we propose will be the wrong solution to the progressives. Whatever war we support will be the wrong one. “No, we should have liberated Zimbabwe...” (or Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia) will often come from the same people who complained about the international legality of our resumption of hostilities with Iraq, either without seeing the contradiction or ignoring it in their quest for further arguments. Then they’ll suggest the miraculous special forces should do the job, until someone actually proposes the covert solution, at which point the moral objections rear their ugly heads. Sanctions are good, until someone puts starving children on TV, then they’re bad." It's wrong to do anything. Except apologize for existing.

Rick Moran reluctantly concludes that assassinating mullahs and atomic bomb builders is too hard.