I have to say that if Iran’s nuclear weapons problem is effectively destroyed this way–without leading to even a localized war let alone a regional war because Tehran so desperately wants to deny that anything is even happening–those who have argued for years that we should learn to live with an Iranian bomb will look ridiculous.
I think that’s overstating it. We might well have to learn to live with an Iranian bomb, but invasion isn’t the only way to prevent that (and invasion it would have to be, since a one-off airstrike, as with Osirak or the Norks’ facility in Syria, wouldn’t do it). We’re not going to invade Iran — we’re just not. Period. I’m not even persuaded the Israelis have what it takes to extirpate the mullahs’ nuke project.
But that kind of military action, while appealing in its promise of finality, isn’t the best option. Moves like the Stuxnet virus that destroyed the centrifuges and covert attacks like the ones we’ve seen over the past month may only delay progress toward the bomb, but that’s good enough. The goal really isn’t to prevent the nation of Iran from getting the bomb, it’s to prevent the psychopathic regime currently in power from getting the bomb. And anything that delays their progress buys time for inevitable (though not necessarily imminent) overthrow of the regime. It’s not like anyone worries about India having the bomb (well, other than Pakistan) or Israel (again, other than the crazies who want to exterminate the Jews), much less France or Britain. It’s the nature of the regime that’s the problem, and when the mullahs are overthrown I’d bet that the new regime would give up work on the bomb altogether, just as South Africa did.
And toward the goal of regime change from within, covert action is actually preferable to overt attacks because it doesn’t engender a patriotic reaction, leading even those who hate the scum ruling them, but are proud Iranian nationalists, to rally ’round the flag, as it were.
So, let the mysterious explosions, unexplained automobile accidents, and insidious computer viruses continue!