The way to ensure regime change in Iran is to attack the regime, as I argued in this space last month. Nothing loses like losing. Hitler’s generals were ready to ditch him in 1938 until Neville Chamberlain handed him Czechoslovakia on a silver platter. Humiliate the regime, and its internal opponents will take it down. Reinforce the regime de facto by letting it get away with murder, and the prospects of an uprising from below diminish drastically.
The most important thing to understand about Iran is that the country is dying. After three thousand years, the Persian nation can see its demise just a generation or two down the road. It has passed the point of no return. Today’s Iranians were raised in families of six or seven children, but have on average 1.5 children of their own. No country–and in particular no poor country–can survive an inversion of the population pyramid. The industrial nations are buckling under the costs of aging. Iran will disintegrate.
That is why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been screaming for years that national doom is in sight. He’s not stupid, just crazy. He’s the geopolitical equivalent of a fellow with an inoperable brain tumor who robs a banks and takes hostages. This is man who knows he has nothing to lose. You can’t “engage” him. He has no rational self-interest, for he won’t be part of any rational outcome. You have to neutralize him.