The Republican mindset remains rooted in the “Bush Freedom Agenda,” the Wilsonian illusion that with enough money and firepower, America could build democracies in the Muslim world that would be friendly towards the United States. But that has failed miserably. Iraq has turned into an ally of Iran, and may turn into its puppet. Our best ally in the Muslim world, the feckless Hosni Mubarak, has fallen and left in its place a chaotic, Islamist-leaning disaster in Egypt. The vicious, corrupt but pro-Western Tunisian government is gone, and an Islamist party with a violent history will almost certainly rule in its place after this week’s elections. Turkey’s supposedly moderate-Islamist government vies with Iran to sponsor Hamas and threatens war against Israel (and yet we hear Hillary Clinton warning Iran not to interfere in Iraq because “we have a NATO ally in Turkey” — have worms eaten her brain?). Pakistan sponsors terrorist attacks against American embassies, and we warn, and warn, and do nothing about it.
Admiral Mullen was right: if we take serious action to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, either through bombing (as I propose) or through active subversion of the regime (as Michael Ledeen proposes), Iran will use all the power it has accumulated through our years of inaction to create chaos in the Middle East. So be it: the strongest power is best positioned to benefit from chaos, and the strongest power is still the United States of America. If we abandon the illusory goal of stability, and assert American security interests aggressively, we will find that the fault lines in the Middle East can work to our benefit as well.
Republicans should demand of their candidates that they take a no-compromise position on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. They should pledge to use force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. No nation-building, no occupation army, no Mr. Nice Guy — just the raw exercise of American muscle. And the American public will stand up and cheer.