Getting Iran right 

It has long seemed to me, and to the much better informed Michael Ledeen, that the chances of regime change in Iran are far greater than the chances that the current mullah regime would agree to abandon its nuclear program. But the Bush administration did not do much to encourage regime change, and the Obama administration has bet heavily on the prospects of negotiation and has at times treated regime charge as affirmatively undesirable.

Their policy has had a year in which to work—and obviously hasn’t. But don’t take my word for it. The editorialists at the Washington Post now recognize that regime change is more likely than a deal. Key paragraph:

“The problem with this strategy is that it keeps the administration focused on the least likely scenario for success -- a deal with the current regime -- instead of the more likely one, which is an opposition victory. It could cause the administration to take steps that undermine the green movement, such as conducting more negotiations with the government, while failing to do that which could tip the balance of power to the opposition. The latter would include more support for independent broadcasting into the country, and funding for groups that can help the opposition circumvent Iran's Internet firewall. Mr. Obama himself might make a difference by speaking out more forcefully and more often in support of Iranians' right to free speech, free assembly and justice for those who have been killed or imprisoned.”

Another convert is Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who has long let it be known that he opposed from inside the Bush administration military action against Iraq. Writing in Newsweek, he confesses:

“I've changed my mind. The nuclear talks are going nowhere. The Iranians appear intent on developing the means to produce a nuclear weapon; there is no other explanation for the secret uranium-enrichment facility discovered near the holy city of Qum. Fortunately, their nuclear program appears to have hit some technical snags, which puts off the need to decide whether to launch a preventive strike. Instead we should be focusing on another fact: Iran may be closer to profound political change than at any time since the revolution that ousted the shah 30 years ago.”

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Michael Barone

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