Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Regime Change Plans for Iran

Today's phrase is eminence grise. Sometimes you just need a ten-dollar word, or a fifty-dollar word after cost-of-living increases, to impress the wife's parents or obscure something you're discussing so the kids don't get it. Today's word for the more plebian "advisor" or even "consigliere" is just way beefier than either.

On the other hand, consigliere was all through Godfather, which is pretty freaking beefy.

Enough musing.

According to Inter Press Service News Agency, George Shultz, eminence grise for the Bush administration, is the senior-most leader of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), an unofficial coffee-klatch meeting in and around Washington and hashing out a plan (or hatching a plot if you prefer a poultry metaphor) to motivate Iranians to toss their government out on its collective tuchas. Some assistance would also be provided. BUT one of the main goals seems to be to avoid a full-scale war against Iran.
Specific elements of a new U.S. policy, according to the paper, would include:
  • A major policy address by Bush that would pledge to ''reconnect with the Iranian people, to help the vast majority of Iranians who want democracy to achieve it ... to assure their security in return for not acquiring nuclear weapons and to help develop their economy'';
  • An announcement of U.S. willingness to re-open its embassy in Tehran and the designation of a senior official devoted to the co-ordination and implementation of the policy, including lobbying U.S. allies, speaking with Iranians via various media, and engaging with senior Iranian government officials, as opposed to ''ordinary diplomats in the Foreign Ministry'';
  • Making clear that Washington will not accept Iran's possession of nuclear weapons and will back that up with force, presumably unilateral, if necessary;
  • Supporting Iranian democrats and dissidents ''to make clear that they are our partners in a new dialogue and that even as we meet with representatives of the Khamenei regime, we consider these to be illegitimate''. Support would include sending Iranian activists abroad for short seminars with their counterparts, ''who have been successful in organising civic campaigns in Serbia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile and elsewhere'';
  • Developing relations with the military and various other security services in Iran in order to undermine the regime's ''pillars of support,'' and marshalling evidence for a legal case against Khamenei for indictment in an appropriate tribunal;
  • Devising other ''smart'' sanctions to isolate the regime and its supporters, including the revolutionary foundations, or ”bunyads”, by publicly identifying companies and bank accounts controlled by them to highlight alleged corruption and prepare legal cases for economic crimes; and
  • Attempting to launch a ''dialogue with Khamenei and the clerics around him about how to arrange ''a way to exit peacefully from political power, combined with indications of the alternatives (jail or hanging)''.
The only thing that strikes a bad note for me is the mention of nuclear weapons. Obviously we don't want an expansionist, totalitarian theocracy to have nuclear weapons. But neither do we want the government to have a way to weasel out of regime change, by pretending to acquiesce on the nuclear issue and continuing work on a nuclear bomb in underground labs.

But then I could be wrong. My wife, my own eminence grise, tells me I usually am.

Next time out, I really must find a more elegant way to close the loop.

Pip pip and all that tosh.

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