In the U.K., the Guardian reports that John Bolton, the former U.S ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates that “he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country”.
Mr Bolton, who was addressing a fringe meeting organised by Lord (Michael) Ancram, said that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was “pushing out” and “is not receiving adequate push-back” from the west.
“I don’t think the use of military force is an attractive option, but I would tell you I don’t know what the alternative is.
“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities.”
He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove the “source of the problem”, Mr Ahmadinejad.
“If we were to strike Iran it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change … The US once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back.”
It’s unlikely that the U.S. is going to send troops into Iran because, as Jason said earlier, there aren’t sufficient American troops to do the job.
At the same time, Bolton isn’t the only one saying that Iran needs to be reigned in. Last week French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that is is clear that Iran “is trying to equip itself with a nuclear bomb.” But what Sarkozy is really talking about are more economic sanctions:
he said diplomatic pressure has spurred other countries to give up nuclear weapons programs before.
“How can we convince them to renounce this project, like the international community convinced Libya and North Korea? By discussion, dialogue and sanctions.”
Sanctions could put the pressure on the Iranian leadership if conditions deteriorate inside that country. But discussion and dialogue are unlikely to produce results. Unlike Libya and North Korea, the powers in Iran really believe their own shtick and, like North Korea, it’s unlikely that the Iranians would negotiate in good faith, if they were to do so at all.
A “limited strike” on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a better option than invasion. But what are the chances of success? Presumedly the Iranians have planned for the eventuality of a strike on their facilities and, not being stupid people, given their projects a good chance of surviving a long-range air attack.
Bolton also raises the question of regime change in Iran. From this writer’s perspective that does not seem like an option with enough chance of success to make it worth discussing. Bolton may lament the loss of that particular club from Bush’s bag, but even if it were available aiming it at Ahmadinejad would be rather a waste of effort because he is not the real power in or problem with Iran.
In the past I’ve wondered if Bolton is serious or if he’s simply playing “bad cop” with an uncooperative world so the official U.S. government doesn’t have to. In this case, I’m inclined to think he’s simply keeping the Iranians on their toes by stating the obvious – that the U.S. is keeping its options open.