Jed ruled the other day that “it’s no longer possible to sit on the fence,” so I’ve given it some thought, and here’s where I am: As I’ve mentioned, I’m somewhat sympathetic to Robert Kagan’s view, that bombing Iranian nuclear facilities (as Jed advocates) might be counterproductive, because in the aftermath of such a campaign we won’t know what we’ve accomplished, we could be handing the Mullahs a political victory, and we might not be prepared to deal with Iranian retaliation. Kagan advocates various ideas, all of which I support, oriented toward regime change. He adds:
But we shouldn’t delude ourselves. Efforts to foment political change won’t necessarily bear fruit in time to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. That may be the risk we have to take. But if this or the next administration decides it is too dangerous to wait for political change, then the answer will have to be an invasion, not merely an air and missile strike, to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program as well as to its regime. If Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon is truly intolerable, that is the only military answer.
If it were both militarily and politically feasible, I’d be calling for an invasion of Iran ASAP. But I don’t think that it is. And there’s always Israel to consider: From Jerusalem’s perspective, risking an Iranian bomb is a really bad idea. Jed has argued that A) An Israel-only strike would be less effective than one that involves American firepower and B) The US would take political heat for Israel’s actions even if we didn’t directly participate, especially since the Israelis would probably request overflight rights in US-controlled Iraqi airspace. I don’t think it makes sense to effectively intervene against Israel on Iran’s side by denying overflight rights, so if there’s going to be a strike, I think the US should probably participate. I’m not completely thrilled with that conclusion, but there it is.