Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What to do about Iran.

One of the critical issues likely to emerge in the ’08 Presidential race would be the candidates’ plans on dealing with Iran. It’s become even more of an intriguing issue in light of recent intelligence findings.

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies made public Monday concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold, contradicting an assessment two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

The report seems likely to weaken international support for tougher sanctions against Iran and raise new questions about the credibility of the beleaguered American intelligence agencies, while reshaping the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran's nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

Appearing on The Laura Ingraham Show this morning, Michael Ledeen, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, contends that Iran is indeed still enriching uranium. That would seem to indicate that Iran could restart its nuclear program at any time.

Ledeen has also been very outspoken in dealing with the Iran and their killing of American citizens. However, no sitting US President in the last thirty years has considered anything outside of failed diplomatic efforts.

From the hostage seizure in Tehran in 1979 to the bombing of the American Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in the early 1980s, to the attack against Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia a decade later, and the terror war waged against us and our friends and allies in Afghanistan and Iraq in the first years of this century, Iran has attacked America, killed Americans, and taken American hostages.

No American president has responded in kind to this ongoing war. Indeed, every president since Jimmy Carter has convinced himself that it is possible to negotiate our “differences” with Iran. Accordingly -– despite the conventional wisdom to the contrary — we have been negotiating with the mullahs ever since the 1979 revolution that brought to power the Islamic Fascist regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In the intervening 28 years, we have participated in countless face-to-face encounters, myriad “demarches” sent through diplomatic channels, and meetings –- some on the fringes of international conferences — involving “unofficial” representatives of one government or the other. The lack of any tangible result is obvious, yet the advocates of negotiation act as if none of this ever happened.

As a result, Ledeen has been a strong advocate of regime change in Iran.

This campaign would range from radio broadcasts (especially conversations with participants in successful non-violent revolutions in other countries), to working with trade unions to build a strike fund for Iranian workers, to providing communications tools (cell phones, satellite phones, phone cards, servers, laptops and anti-blocking software) to the dissidents.

It may not succeed, to be sure, but there is every reason to be optimistic. It has worked in the past, it obviously frightens the mullahs (who inveigh against “soft revolution” at every opportunity), and it would be the morally and politically right thing to do, even if Iran were not at war with us, and even if there were no nuclear program. Under the circumstances, it is not only good policy, but an urgently needed one.

Out of the current crop of Presidential candidates, only one I know of has gone on the record in echoing those sentiments – Fred Thompson. Back in April, Thompson indicated he was in favor of helping the Iranian people overthrow their current government.

(Thompson) accused Tehran of "playing a larger part in killing our soldiers" in neighboring Iraq.

Many Iranians don't like their government, "and I think we ought to capitalize on that," Thompson told The Associated Press.
"There is a chance they may mobilize themselves, and we need to assist them if that happens."

Even though US Intelligence agencies and the UN have concurred that Iran has, for now, suspended its nuclear program, the current regime still remains a threat. Thus far Thompson is the only Presidential candidate who has taken a hard line approach in dealing with the Iran issue.

UPDATE 12/5/07: Thompson also skeptical of new intelligence report on Iran.

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