The more I read through these posts the less likely a direct attempt at regime change in Iran seems. At 100% capacity (and I mean 100% ) I am sure the US could take on its Afghan campaign, Iraq and Iran in quick succession, but would it want to? Consider the potential for running three Vietnams similtaneously. That’s military disasterous, terrible for US international image, and most importantly, it’s a second term-killer for the president that does it.
As I see it, the regimes that the US needs to compel into obidience or else remove as part of its war on terrorism stand like this:
Taleban in Afghanistan: already removed from power.
Iraqi Ba’athists: the next target. There is zero room for US-Iraq conciliation on either side and a new war will come, though probably not as soon as people think. This war has the potential to be a bloody mess. Saddam will lose, but his reprisals against Israel, US troops and his own people before he goes down do not bear thinking about. Occupation after the war will be indefinite and dangerous for America and will turn domestic and international opinion against any futher adventures, such as…
Iran under the Ayatollahs: Does fund terrorism and produce WMDs, and may build atomic weapons one of these days. But to change the regime would be a whole new Iraqi scenerio; indeed it would be worse, as Iran is a larger and more populous nation, and potentially more militant too. Fancy occupying a nation of cheesed-off, would-be suicide bombers? The West Bank on a massive scale. Furthermore, in all logic Iran should have no truck with al-Qaeda at all. Al-Qaeda and the Taleban hate Shi’ites and spent lots of of time in Afghanistan killing them off (not to mention smuggling massive amounts of opium/heroin into Iran). The way forward here is what we pocney political scientists have been known to call “congagement” (dreadful word) ie a containment coupled with engagement- dialogue and incentives for co-operation. Should somehow US-Iran relations seriously decline, I coul imagine the US launching a series of “behave yourself” airstrike son Iran, but that is, I think, an extreme scenario.
North Korean Communists: Tricky one this. North Korea is like the weird kid at school everyone keeps a safe distance from. Some say the regime cannot last, but I could imagine it continuing to muddle through its self-created mess of famine and terror for a very long time. The problem: North Korea has a naughty sideline in heroin, and worse still in WMD technology which it sells off to Iran, Iraq and others for badly needed cash. A plausible scenario would be a US strike to take out its WMD facilities in one go, followed up by no further action. No warning, maybe even in one single night. And probably a good idea too.
Last- and least- Sudan’s military regime: In the mid-1990s Sudan was public enemy number two after Saddam, and landlord to Osama bin Laden. However, the army has elbowed out the Islamist extremists and its now running its own show as far as I can tell. They seem to have cut back (but not eliminated) their aid to terrorists, presumably cos they fear US action otherwise. As long as Sudan continues this policy, the US will keep a watchful eye on it but not make serious attemts at intervention.
Phew… that was a lot of writing. Let me know what you all think…