I saw former New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer speak last night about his new book Overthrow, a eagle-eye's perspective on the last 14 regime changes carried out by the United States (he's written more in depth about the coups in Guatemala and Iran).
The Q&A was mostly about the situation in Iran. He mentioned having been in Los Angeles, with its very large population of American-Iranians, talking with several immigrants and dissidents friends. I saw him on CSPAN-2 Book TV a few weeks ago, but his composure was changed last night. He looked worried as he related this new story of a large number of prominent Iranian-Americans being pulled to Washington in the past week to talk with administration and military officials, who are trying to get a sense of the reaction on the street if the President were to bomb Iran. And for kickers, how would it play out in the coffeehouses if they were to, say, drop a small tactical bunker-busting nuclear weapon on Iran?
The funny part is how much the administration believes that (a) a free, democratic, Western-and-peace loving Iran is not going to want the nuclear bomb even though backwater neighbors like Pakistan have them and (b) that us bombing a couple hundred military and scientific station is going to cause a democratic revolution, and that people will rise up against the government, instead of, ya know, rallying around it, and (c) how much they want to find a dozen or so Iranian dissents to sign off on it for accountability reasons ("We've consult with people who know Iran and found that the people there crave getting nuked…"). I can only assume it's like an episode of Sopranos, with contracts going out to whomever is willing to go public with support ("you can take 3 points on the construction of Tehran, with 5 no-work jobs and 2 no-shows"); the lack of the government being able to find a patsy only highlights how poorly this is all going to go.