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Iran Options


Charles Krauthammer lays out the Iran problem all-too-clearly. There are three potential solutions. Revolution from within might at least replace this dangerous regime, even if it didn’t stop the bomb itself. Michael Ledeen makes the case for supporting an internal revolution. He’s certainly got a point (and has had one for some time), but I fear it may be too late for this to work. A world-wide boycott of Iranian oil might succeed. Yet it’s exceedingly unlikely that the Europeans have the stomach for a boycott. Even if they did, the Russians and Chinese would likely subvert any sanctions. That leaves a military strike as the only way to keep Iran from obtaining the bomb. If we don’t strike, Israel probably will. Yet even that would require American cooperation. And the blocking of the Straight of Hormuz and a world-wide oil shock would likely follow even an Israeli strike.

To a large extent, I think the Democrats hold the key to this situation. If enough Democrats signal support for a military strike, the president would be able to act. And there’s always the off-chance that bipartisan calls for military action would make the Iranians change their course. At this point, popular American sentiment for a military strike is much more likely to stop Iran than the games the U.N. plays. Democratic calls for the severest sort of oil sanctions would be a second-best strategy. The very impossibility of getting the world to play along with sanctions would imply support for military action if an oil boycott failed.

I wonder if there are any doves out there who take the Iranians at their word. If there are folks who believe that Iran’s intentions are peaceful, let them say so. But if the Democrats believe that Iran is in fact building a bomb, they ought to say what they propose to do about it. Would they support a military strike? If not, why not?

After 9/11, some criticized the president for not asking civilians to sacrifice. Well, this is the moment of testing. The most effective Iranian retaliation to a military strike would not be military. It would be what Krauthammer describes: oil shock and a significant blow to the world’s economy. So the question is, are we willing to sacrifice economically for the sake of keeping the bomb out of the hands of Iran and its terrorist allies? If not, I fear America’s cities will someday pay a far higher price.

For some hawkish options, here is Frank Gaffney, who also outlines one of the worst potential threats.