June 19, 2009

Arguing Iran

I suspect the critical op-eds by Paul Wolfowitz and Charles Krauthammer in today's Washington Post will merely serve to convince the president that he is doing the right thing after all. The op-ed by David Ignatius, meanwhile, will be read more carefully. Krauthammer just opened his cakehole and started giving his opinions. Ignatius first consulted with people who -- unlike Wolfowitz or Krauthammer -- might actually know something of Iran:

"We clearly have to be on the right side of history here," says Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment and an informal adviser to the White House. But he cautions that "if we try to insert ourselves into the momentous internal Iranian drama that's unfolding, we may unwittingly undermine those whom we're trying to strengthen."

That very much seems to be the dilemma, and I sure as hell don't know how one strikes a useful balance between these competing desires. I do have faith that the Obama Administration has held its tongue not because it supports the regime in Tehran but because it doesn't want to undermine the position of the protesters.

And I also understand that neo-conservatives like Krauthammer -- who has reliably advised reckless courses of action since this crisis started -- have less fear of open conflict with the Iranian regime than I do. But here's my question for them: what is your endstate? Where are we trying to ultimately go? Are we trying to force a bloody crackdown on the protesters so the world can see how horrific the regime is and will then approve tough sanctions? Are we trying to start an armed confrontation with Iran? Just tell me what you are trying to acheive through a more openly confrontational stance and I'll listen. But for now, I suspect that one of the reasons Krauthammer, Kagan & Co. are criticizing Obama's tactics vis a vis Iran is because the majority of Americans would find their strategic goals they hint at but never reveal to be bat-guano crazy. Prove me wrong.