|Photo by Hamad Saber|
If we undertake to defeat Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, the "simple" step of killing the theocracy from the top down seems to be an obvious objective. How different is that from taking out non-state actors like Anwar al-Awlaki? This would spark wholesale cultural upheaval in Iran and give popular democratic movements an opportunity to step in. In Arab countries, chopping off Shia's head would alleviate centuries-long tensions between Sunnis and Shia, giving radical Sunni groups one less reason to be so pissed off. I can picture A. Khamenei hunkering down like the Fuhrer deep in an underground five-star bunker, thumb-stomping his as yet unconnected Armageddon button, while his earthly kingdom is progressively destroyed by wave after wave of allied attacks until he realizes that he has been Trumped.
Obama is leaving his successor with unfinished work in Syria, another state sponsor of terrorism. Regime change is also appropriate for them. Knocking off the Ayattolahs to spark a new Iranian revolution would leave President Assad twisting in the wind.
Trump has made it pretty clear that he sees no purpose for staying in that region other than to take their oil. It's a safe bet that nation building and most reconstruction is not forthcoming, yet we risk forgeting the lesson from earlier petrocolonialism in Iran, which resulted in the last Iranian revolution and loss of control of oil infrastructure - the West's only national interest in the country then, as well.
It is likely, and would be better, that our actions to stomp out terrorism will staunch the flow of oil rather than accelerate it. War or no war, our economy is toast. More cheap oil only delays the inevitable crash and worsens our long term prospects as a species. The Trump effect will keep us going long enough to further dissolve tensions in the Middle East and accelerate the end of the oil age. By the late 2020's the world and U.S. economies will be vastly reconfigured, downshifted to the point that whatever idiot runs the country, some life can go on.