‘Or Else,’ What?
Iran’s “president” Ahmadinejad has upped the nuclear ante. Last week at the UN, he announced Iran’s “right” as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to nuclear technology and “right” to share it with other (Islamic) signatories.
Iran’s “president” Ahmadinejad has upped the nuclear ante. Last week at the UN, he announced Iran’s “right” as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to nuclear technology and “right” to share it with other (Islamic) signatories. This week, in a parade marking the start of “Sacred Defense Week,” Iran’s ballistic missiles were displayed with banners saying, “We will crush America under our feet,” and “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” The fact that the Defense AttachÂŽs of Italy, France, Greece and Poland walked out of the parade in protest was a good thing, but less interesting than the fact that they were in attendance in the first place.
The American administration wants to have Iran’s nuclear program referred to the UN Security Council; Russia, China and the EU do not. We agree with the Russians, Chinese and Europeans. What does the administration think Security Council would do? In the movie Team America, the Hans Blix puppet visits the Kim Jong Il puppet and demands to see North Korea’s hidden nuclear facilities. “We must be firm with you. Let me see your whole palace – or else,” says HB. “Or else what?” asks KJI. “Or else we’ll be very angry with you. And we will write you a letter and tell you how angry we are.”
It would be better to fail to refer the issue to the Security Council and have everyone think we are impotent to deal politically with rogue states with nuclear weapons, than to refer it and have everyone know we are.
Furthermore, while there is still loose talk about American or Israeli military action to “take out” Iranian nuclear facilities, there is in fact no “Osirak option.” The best intelligence we have indicates that facilities are scattered throughout the country, and in many cases are buried and/or hardened. While military action cannot and should not be taken off the table, the logistical difficulty of removing Iran’s nuclear capabilities is more difficult by orders of magnitude than the problem that existed in 1981 in Iraq.
So what to do? Regime change in Iran was always our best option. President Bush has said there are three possible mechanisms for change. A government can change aspects of itself. Libya’s divestiture of WMD is an example; unfortunately it was not accompanied by political liberalization. The people can overthrow or undermine a dictatorial system. Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, and possibility that the crack in the Egyptian system will be widened with the upcoming elections are examples. Or, a regime can be ousted by outside force.
Since the first option is hard enough to imagine for Iran and the third is even harder, we are left with finding ways to help the Iranian people overthrow their dictators. We have taken steps around the edges, but we have to do more to convince the Iranian people that we stand with them, and to convince the mullahs that there is an “or else” at the end of our demand that they give up their search for nuclear weapons capability. The “or else” is that they will face the anger of their own people – a far more frightening possibility than a letter from the Security Council.