Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad yesterday rejected a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration to agree to a U.N.-sponsored proposal for Iran to ship its low-grade uranium abroad for further processing.
On Fox News today, John Bolton — who has wanted nothing short of a military strike on Iran for years — dismissed any talk of sanctions and lamented that if Israel “take[s] a pass” on attacking Iran, then “Iran gets nuclear weapons.” When host Trace Gallagher wondered if attacking Iran might cause the opposition there to coalesce around the regime, Bolton said that wouldn’t be a problem because all that would be needed is an accompanying public diplomacy campaign:
BOLTON: I don’t agree with that, if handled properly. … I think a careful campaign of public diplomacy in the wake of a military strike could explain to the people of Iran who are knowledgeable and sophisticated, that the attack is not aimed against them, it’s aimed against this regime that they dislike so much.
Unfortunately, this kind of public diplomacy campaign didn’t work out so well coinciding with the U.S. war in Iraq. Indeed, just before the invasion, President Bush addressed the Iraqi people, saying the war “will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. … We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.”
And while Bolton has routinely ignored questions of how military action will “play out” in Iran and the region, the consequences are real and sobering.
The Carnegie Endowment’s Karim Sadjadpour — an actual Iran expert, not just some war-hawk flack like Bolton — has said that any use of force would all but kill the Iranian opposition movement. “Khamenei and Ahmadinejad would actually welcome a military strike,” he said, adding that “it may be their only hope to silence popular dissent and heal internal political rifts.”
The Wonk Room's Matt Duss has more on how a military strike on Iran "is probably the best way to kill" the Green movement.