Bolton’s Bombs: Back to Iran

In another one of John Bolton’s weekly stark-raving mad op-eds, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN targets his missiles not at Chicago, but back to his customary bete noire: Iran. As RealClearWorld‘s The Compass blog points out, the takeaway from Bolton’s latest missive in The Wall Street Journal is actually a rather pointed suggestion of outright regime change, only buried deep into the piece and conveniently not elaborated on whatsoever.

On one (very shallow) level, Bolton’s logic is understandable. He interprets various geopolitical problems — Iran’s nuclear potential, its support for terrorists in Gaza, and its meddling in Iraqi affairs — as all symptomatic of the malignant cyst that is the Iranian regime. But by not discussing how to conduct such an operation — dangerous and potentially counter-productive even to the most optimistic of observers — or even how changing Iran’s regime would remove the above symptoms, Bolton’s logic veers off the tracks — quite patently. Case in point:

Iran opposes a freer, more stable Iraq, and U.S. diplomacy will not change that. Given the recent political and military progress in stabilizing Iraq, Tehran holds a weak hand. Accordingly, legitimizing Iran as a factor in Iraqi affairs via diplomacy is patently illogical and would only strengthen Iran at the very moment Mr. Obama has announced the reduction of America’s presence and clout in Iraq.

If Iranian support for destabilizing elements within Iraq is a symptom, then it requires acknowledging that Iran is in fact “a factor in Iraqi affairs.” Diplomacy will no more “legitimize” this truth than ignoring it will make it go away. If Bolton is truly interested in curbing Iranian influence in Iraq, and not simply in finding an excuse to invade Iran, then acknowledging and talking about this influence seems a prerequisite to eliminating it. Otherwise, we might as well just plug our eyes and ears to reality and bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.