Expert Advice on Iran

(National Review) Clifford D. May - A trio of veteran Iran watchers recently discussed the threat posed by the Iranian regime: Bernard Lewis, the greatest living historian of the Middle East; Uri Lubrani, Israel's envoy to Iran prior to the fall of the Shah; and Meir Dagan, head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency from 2002 to 2010. None of the three minimizes how dire will be the consequences should Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's finger come to rest on a nuclear trigger. The Iranian president subscribes to an extremist school of Shia theology that, General Dagan explained, looks forward to an apocalyptic war that would "hasten the arrival of the Mahdi," mankind's ultimate savior. It is the regime that rules Iran, more than its weapons, that constitutes the real problem. Changing the regime - not destroying its hardware - is the higher goal. Based on the analyses of these experts, a coherent strategy should include the following specific policies: 1.Tighten the sanctions noose to maximally increase pressure on the Iranian economy. 2.Isolate the regime diplomatically. 3.Continue to use high-tech, cutting-edge cyber weapons to further delay the Iranian nuclear-development program. More conventional clandestine measures also can play a role - things that go boom in the night and the untimely deaths of individuals contributing to illegal nuclear-weapons development. 4.The threat of force must be credible. Iran's rulers should lose sleep over the possibility that a military strike - against their nuclear facilities or against them more directly - may be seen by Americans and Israelis as the least bad option. 5.Help Syria break free of Iran. The loss of Syria would be a heavy blow to the Tehran regime. 6.Iran's anti-regime opposition also deserves moral support and material assistance. In what has been misperceived as an "Arab Spring," the downtrodden masses in Egypt and elsewhere now may be coming to the conclusion that "Islam is the answer." Iranians, having tested that proposition over decades, know it is the wrong answer. Rule by mullahs has made them less free and poorer than they ever were under the Shah. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2012-01-10 00:00:00

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