October 16, 2004

Iran Alternatives

Andrew Sullivan asserts that regarding a nuclear Iran "Our options are limited. We can't invade another country; surgical bombing will almost certainly miss its target; so we are left with sanctions and/or incentives." He's got most of the options but he's missing one, subversion.

The Shiite religious twinning of Qom in Iran and Najaf in Iraq make anybody who halts traffic between the two an enemy of Shia Islam. Pilgrims go in both directions, as do religious scholars. For a Shia theocracy to plug up the border and deny people permission to visit Najaf and pray at the holiest shrines the Shia have outside Mecca is unthinkable.

With 70% of Iran's population against the government, it would be simplicity itself to replicate the training that the West provided to Poland's Solidarity movement to Iranian pilgrims and religious scholars in Najaf. Classes would be run by muslims, for muslims and Shia dominated. Iraq would offer the essential safe harbors that Roman Catholic church basements offered Polish patriots who prepared for, fought for, and won their freedom over the course of a decade.

Iran's mullahs have no hope of resisting such a tide and would fall. It is very likely that the subsequent government would retain the peaceful nuclear program, perhaps even enlarging it, while giving up whatever is going on in their secret labs, hidden from IAEA inspectors. That's the path that Romania took when Ceausescu fell and it's highly likely a new Iranian government would trade economic assistance and security guarantees in exchange for its nukes.

Posted by TMLutas at October 16, 2004 03:59 PM