Ray Takeyh makes an odd case that the U.S. should seek to meddle in the aftermath of the collapse of the Iranian regime:
The task of a judicious U.S. government today is to plan for the probable outbreak of another protest movement or the sudden passing of Khamenei that could destabilize the system to the point of collapse. How can we further sow discord in Iran’s vicious factional politics? How can the United States weaken the regime’s already unsteady security services? This will require not just draining the Islamic republic’s coffers but also finding ways to empower its domestic critics. The planning for all this must start today; once the crisis breaks out, it will be too late for America to be a player.
It’s not clear why the U.S. should want to be “a player” in the aftermath of Iranian regime collapse, and it is even harder to see what the U.S. could do in such a scenario that would be constructive or useful in advancing American interests. I am skeptical that Iran’s political system is as fragile as Takeyh claims, but if it is the U.S. doesn’t have to do a thing. If it isn’t that fragile, preparing for a day that will never come is just a waste of time and resources that could be better used on other things.
The appropriate U.S. response to a future internal political crisis in Iran would be to say and do as little as possible. There should be no attempt to “shape” political developments there. Our government wouldn’t know how to do it, and it would be wrong to make the attempt anyway. If Iranians do someday successfully change their government, the U.S. can begin the process of normalization, but interference on our part before that would be irresponsible and would almost certainly backfire on us and the people we mean to help.
The one thing certain about Iran’s future is that another protest movement will rise at some point seeking to displace the regime.
This could happen, but it is far from certain. Even if it were certain, it is not the business of our government to do this. Takeyh wants the U.S. to plan for a contingency that may never happen in order do something that the U.S. shouldn’t be involved in to start with.