The Corner

What I Would Do, Andrew …

is really not a mystery, at least around these parts, and my sense is that you would probably agree with a lot of it.

First and foremost, I would have a clear policy of regime change, premised on the beliefs that the mullahcracy (a) is a threat to the national security of the United States, (b) has a long and ongoing history of levying war against the United States and (c) does not legitimately represent the will of the Iranian people.

All else would follow from that clear policy (at the moment, we don’t have a policy). I would make a point of hitting the terrorist camps and the IRGC/Qods Force/Intelligence facilities inside their borders if (a) they don’t desist in Iraq, (b) Hezbollah hits anything, or (c) the IRGC/Qods hits anyone. I would not invade Iran, but I would make clear that I was prepared to invade Iran if it did not modify its behavior — and I would not even consider negotiations until it established a record of modified good behavior (I would not be foolish enough, given the last 30 years, to think I could talk them into doing so).

I would punish domestic and international banks and companies that help them conduct activities of concern to us (including by provision of dual-use technology). I would squeeze, to the extent I was able to, nations that did such business with them — especially to the extent those countries rely on U.S. markets and security-guarantees. I would aggressively push alternative energy development in the hope of creating downward pressure on the revenues on which the mullahs (and other jihadist supporters) depend. I would certainly not, for example, allow U.S. companies to provide the mullahs with aeronautics assistance — as the State Department has recently done even after they spurned our plea that they suspend enrichment activities.

As Michael Ledeen and Michael Rubin urge, I would provide aid to dissidents and democracy movements. Overt aid because I’d want the mullahs to know, every day, that I wanted them gone, was not apologizing for wanting them gone, and was driving a wedge between them and their subjects. Covert aid because some dissidents could operate more effectively if it was not so obvious that they had U.S. backing.

Finally, to make most of the above both possible and credible during wartime, when we are stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, I would follow the advice of my friend Mark Levin, among others, to increase defense spending. As Mark puts it: “Our military spending, which is around 4 per cent of GDP, is way below historic levels.  I’d prepare for war with Iran.  The UN, the Europeans, Jimmy Carter, et al, have been talking to the Iranian terrorists for decades, to no avail.  So, if we can’t topple the regime from within, we need to be prepared to destroy it by other means.  I know this is considered controversial in the post-Vietnam era, but if this is a world war, as many of us believe (including the enemy), then it must be treated as such.”

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