Bad and worse options
Mark Steyn has great column reprising the world's history with Iran.
I read that I and I feel despair, since most of the country seems to
suffer from Bush Derangement syndrome, and all problems are seen
to be caused by Bush. Iran and the islamist is a problem from the '70's
that could have been nipped in the bud, but there's not much we can do
Anyone who spends half an hour looking at Iranian foreign policy over the last 27 years sees five things:
- contempt for the most basic international conventions;
- long-reach extraterritoriality;
- effective promotion of radical Pan-Islamism;
- a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing (unlike, say, Osama);
- an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action.
Yet the Europeans remain in denial. Iran was supposedly the Middle Eastern state they could work with. And the chancellors and foreign ministers jetted in to court the mullahs so assiduously that they’re reluctant to give up on the strategy just because a relatively peripheral figure like the, er, head of state is sounding off about Armageddon......
Once again, we face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.