Cultural Revolutions

The Next Foreign-Policy Crisis

Iran is fast emerging on Washington’s radar screen as the next major foreign-policy crisis.  Several officials in the Bush administration—including the President himself—emphasized that the United States will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.  And, on that issue, there was no significant difference between President Bush and John Kerry.

Equally ominous, many of the hawkish luminaries who lobbied successfully for the United States to go to war against Iraq have now turned their sights on the Islamic regime in Tehran.  Several neoconservative activists—most notably Michael Ledeen, a policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute—are pushing for Washington to adopt a goal of regime change in Iran.  Most of them stress that they are not advocating that the United States launch an invasion, insisting that such an initiative would be unnecessary.  There is supposedly so much public opposition in Iran to the mullahs that a U.S. propaganda offensive combined with financial and logistical assistance to prospective insurgents would be sufficient to topple the regime.

Such a thesis might seem more plausible if we had not heard similar arguments in the years leading up to the war in Iraq.  Those arguments were quietly buried when the time for action arrived.  Saddam’s overthrow was carried out by a massive application of U.S. military power. ...

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