Noah Millman answers one of Ferguson’s questions and poses a question of his own:

Let’s turn thequestion around: can you name any country that suffered military humiliation that didn’t, in consequence, turn to parties, forces or individuals who promised to redeem the national honor through new action? Germany, Japan and Italy weren’t “humiliated” by Wold War II; they were thoroughly and comprehensively defeated. France after 1870? Germany after 1918? Heck – America after 1975? The only example I can think of, honestly, is Serbia after 1999.

Even the Serbian example isn’t quite right. It’s true that Milosevic was forced from power after losing Kosovo, and Serbia has tried to cultivate better relations with the EU since 2000, but even President Tadic has taken an uncompromising position on Kosovo’s independence despite the likelihood that this will likely keep Serbia from joining the EU for a long time. Serbia will almost certainly never recover control of Kosovo, but despite the de facto partition of their country their government appears to be unwilling to yield on something that they regard as a matter of sovereignty.

In the Iranian case, an attack that destroys most or all of Iran’s nuclear facilities isn’t likely to lead to the toppling of the regime (because, as Noah mentioned elsewhere, Iranians are going to see an attack as unjustified aggression). Even in the unlikely event that the regime collapsed because of “humiliation,” that certainly wouldn’t make a successor regime more accommodating on the nuclear issue. If the regime survived, it would see a nuclear deterrent as a guarantee against future attacks, and a successor regime would see that its security and survival depended on being able to prevent the sort of attack that brought down its predecessor.