Iran is set to defy a U.N. set deadline to cease its uranium enrichment activities.
And it is now clear that at best, the most we can expect the U.N. to offer in response is likely to be some toothless sanctions.
What this also shows is that we have a President who is stupid enough to draw a line in the sand without having either the military or political support to back it up. Yes, we could bomb the heck out of them, and we may end up doing that, but the fact is, they know they can survive a bombing campaign and that we don't have the ability to do anything beyond that.
In fact, Iran has seen North Korea already expose us as a 'paper tiger.' They have admitted to making nukes, and the U.S. does not have the ability to do anything much about it. So Iran is playing the same card.
It was not always thus. George W. Bush inherited the most frighteningly powerful military machine the planet has ever seen. And yet in the space of only five years, he has squandered it. It is overextended, and with the army and marines now again having to resort to involuntary callbacks just to keep enough forces in Iraq (to achieve, I don't know what anymore), the prospect of an American invasion and occupation of Iran grows increasingly dim (that word is, 'and,' not 'or.' Invade then we will have to occupy.)
Iran is enjoying pulling our tail. And we have a President who plays right into it. Iran has already achieved much in the region that they would not have been able to accomplish without the inadvertent help from George Bush, and they love to show they can 'stand up' to him.
So what should we do? First, realize that we can survive a nuclear armed opponent. The Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear warheads, and we survived just fine.
And what should we do about Iran, if not oppose them?
That's an easy one. Trade with them.
In Iran, 2/3 of the population is under thirty, and they don't remember the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini or the revolution. Many of them hate living under the strictures of an Islamic society. Young people in Iran want reform, and they want a better life, which despite the countries' oil wealth they aren't getting. Ordinary Iranians don't hate us, and in fact the only way that Ahmadinejad got elected was that the mullahs who pull the strings there had to disqualify many candidates from the ballot and manipulate the election in ways that make Katherine Harris look like a picture of integrity. People in Iran want something else, and American and western goods, music and celebrities, while officially on the 'bad' list, are very popular in the subculture that exists among the youth in Iran. A current of wanting to break out of the vicelike grip of this society is bubbling just under the surface and the mullahs have to spend a great deal of effort now just to keep it under wraps.
And we have the perfect weapon to deal with Tehran. The same weapons that brought down the thousands of nukes in the former Soviet Union, and the same weapons that we haven't used against North Korea or Cuba (hint: alone among old line traditional communist societies, they still stand.)
Disney. McDonalds. Hillary Duff. MTV.
And with products, inevitably follow ideas.
I'm surprised conservatives (who are still railing for an invasion of Iran, as if we have some secret armies somewhere that are just waiting for the command) don't see this. If anyone would see it, I'd expect it to be conservatives.
Some conservatives praise free trade, suggesting that the market determines the direction of society, and point out that it was free trade that opened the door behind the iron curtain that evetually led the people there to replace their system with a free system. Other conservatives bemoan monetary mammon and the effect materialism has on the religious fervor and strength of society.
And that's why we should unleash our best weapon on Iran.
Let mammon go to work.