But when pressed about what to do instead, these critics have little to say. That is because everybody knows and has known for a long time that there really is no "military option." Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities might set them back a few years but on the other hand it would only reinforce their determination to get a bomb, plus it would probably increase the power of anti-American hardliners in the government. The only military way to stop Iran from getting the bomb would be to invade the country, depose the government, and set about trying to create another Middle Eastern democracy just like the ones we have been so successful at creating in Iraq and Afghanistan. A trillion dollars later, where would we be? At best, right back where we are now, and more likely things would be much worse.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the government is launching a major offensive to drive the Islamic State out of Tikrit, still cleaning up the wreckage left by our last effort at regime change. And who is helping them?
The fight against the Islamic State has brought the United States and Iran into an awkward alliance in Iraq. While the United States’ effort has been most apparent in its airstrike campaign, Iran has taken the most prominent role on the ground, not just with the militias but with Iranian generals sometimes directing the fighting.Right now the US and Iran are allies in the fight that matters most to both of us. But I suppose the complexity of the real situation makes for poor sound bites, so we will continue to hear lots of denunciations and fulminations from people out to score political points. I only hope they never get their hands on the launch codes.
On Monday, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian spymaster who once directed the militias’ deadly campaign against American forces in Iraq, was on the ground near Tikrit, according to a prominent Iraqi militia leader and the Iranian Fars news agency.