Can't believe I'm posting something from the National Review -ick- but I read this excerpted in the NYT today and it struck me as pretty smart.
Theocratic Iran is not exactly as "empowered" as is generally alleged, but in the greatest crisis of its miserable existence. As the mullahs up the ante in the region, they could very soon not only lose Iraq, but also their own dictatorship. Trying to oppose the West in Iraq, Lebanon, and the West Bank is taking an enormous financial toll, as is the general isolation from the world community.
With oil prices at an all-time high, Iran can't provide gasoline for its own people, who resent the billions spent instead on Arab terrorists abroad. If oil were to dip from near $70 to $50-55 a barrel, the regime would face abject bankruptcy. For all the criticism of the U.S. position, from the left and right, we have now found the right blend of military determination not to let Teheran go nuclear, combined with economic and political efforts at containment. There is an array of future options — stronger embargoes, blockades, and military strikes on infrastructure — still on the table. The social unrest the mullahs desire in Iraq is starting to spill over the border into their own Iran, and its magnitude and final course are still unpredictable.
IMO: The threat of force --in the form of surgical strikes on infrastructure-- is important in any solution with Iran, but everything we do there must be designed to empower a very disenchanted populace to overcome a government that doe not represent it at all. That place is likely to fall in on itself, unless we do something to unite the public there behind what is currently a very unpopular government.