Currently you are riding somewhere between 30% and 39% in approval ratings among the American public, some fairly recent polling has had you as low as 24%. This is nothing to write home about. The cause of this demise stems from alleged mishandling of Iraq and New Orleans, GOP corruption, Harriet Miers (what was that?), and various other small missteps along the way. Throughout the last 4 years of challenging times for you, I am proud to announce that I was one of those 24% and am still one of the 39%. I can’t say that I was not without my doubts in your administration, certainly there were tough times of trying faith, however I have stood by you and apparently so have many more people and some have even started to jump on your bandwagon. The new Iraq strategy provided by Petraeus is providing you more political capital, the complete ineptitude of the democratic congress has largely overshadowed any issues you have had, and the race for the 2008 election is starting to take the front page stories… in short, things are looking up for you and your legacy.
But don’t screw it up! You are starting to scare me with much of the Iran rhetoric of late, statements from within the Administration (as well as my favorite GOP Presidential candidate) are sounding very much like the rhetoric leading up to the Iraq war in 2002-03. Resorting to force in Iran too soon is the worst thing you could do and would completely ruin your legacy. I understand you want to be doer for good in the world, but this is not the way to go about it. I agree with you that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, there is no arguing that here. I also agree that Iran is actively pursuing such weapons (as demonstrated by the appointment of hardliner Jalali as the new nuclear negotiator for Iran). However, there is still plenty of time to try diplomatic or, perhaps, other subversive means to quell their quest.
It is obvious that the Ayatollah and Jalali will play the diplomatic game for as long as possible. They will string us, the UN, and the IAEA along as we try to talk through the issue, all the while developing weapons under our noses. Most conservative pundits and Israel would argue that this is enough to justify a strike. It is not, at least not yet. You have not tried everything, or you have not put enough time into some strategies.
First, continue with severe diplomatic pressure and sanctions. The latter of these will have minimal impact as Russia and China will completely ignore them, but it is the point that matters. Press the UN for more action and insist that the IAEA get unfettered access to all Iranian sites. Basically, do everything you have done up to now.
Second, and most importantly, use what you already have in place to your advantage. A couple of years ago in your state of the union address, you spoke to the Iranian people and gave them your support. Your policy has been to support opposition groups inside and outside of Iran. This is what you are not doing enough of. You need to realize how unique the Iranian people are. About 75% of the Iranian public is under the age of 30, meaning they do not remember the revolution of 1979. It is not personal to them; they don’t have the revolutionary spirit. A majority of these young people despise their government and want a new democratic on in its place. A good percentage even like the U.S. and support you. Do you realize how much power this gives us in Iran? But don’t be foolish into thinking that you cannot lose that support. The Iranian people are also very proud and nationalistic. They still relish in the Persian Empire that was around in 500 BC, they despise being called Arab and Middle-Eastern. An attack on their country from an outsider, regardless of one’s intention will ruin all good will. They will turn to their government and uphold them. Why waste such an opportunity with a premature attack.
You have massive amounts of troops in countries on both of Iran’s eastern and western fronts, you have a large Navy contingent in the Persian Gulf and the Indian ocean. All of this gives you a significant show of force. Additionally, you have the Kurds and Iranian internal opposition groups; your greatest weapons. The Kurdish areas in norther Iraq are, for all intents and purposes, autonomous and doing well economically. This allows them some freedom of movement and shows that they are capable enough for strategic involvement. Northwestern Iran has a province called Kurdistan and is full of Kurds, who would like nothing more than to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Further south in Ahwaz you have Arabic opposition groups, while these groups are likely not pre-disposed to like us, they will likely take our support against the mullahs. Use them. There are Baluchi opposition groups in SE Iran and other Persian groups throughout the country that you can use to our advantage. And, finally, there are moderates in the government that will quitely support you. Perhaps people like former President Khatami.
You have so much opportunity for positive peaceful, or not-so-peaceful but at least without American intervention, change. Do not even consider going to war until these options have been exhausted. Even if there is a violent revolution in Iran like in 1979, at least the Iranian people were the ones to do it. They will be personally invested in it and will hopefully take care to uphold a new democratic government. That is one of the struggles in Iraq, the people don’t own it; it was not their revolution. Do you think the American revolution would have been as strong had France fought our battles for us? Of course not, revolutions are always more successful when brought on by the people themselves. Even if it is with foreign support. Remember the Iranian people are smart, educated, and sophisticated compared to most of the rest of that region. They are not Iraq. It is a whole new ballgame.
In closing, President Bush, I implore you to be wise here. Do not ruin another possibility for change in the Middle-East. I will not support you in a war with Iran without a dire, dire need, and there is not anywhere near enough evidence yet. As of now I predict that in the long term your Presidency will be remembered as one of the best and most influential. It will be Trumanesque – despised in office, yet revered 50 years later. A pre-mature attack against Iran will ruin that.
Steven Swint, Editor-in-Chief
Dry Fly Politics & Mitt Report