Speaking today at the American Enterprise Institute, Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC) declared that the United States must prepare to launch a military attack on Iran, but predicted that absolute victory including a regime changing wouldn’t require a single ground soldier.
“The United States should have in mind the goal of changing the regime,” Graham declared, “not by invading but by launching a military strike by air and sea.” The attack, he insisted, would have the duel aims of destroying Iran’s civilian nuclear program and toppling the government.
Sen. Graham is one of a growing number of US officials calling for a military attack on Iran, even as intelligence officials concede that Iran hasn’t made any decision to attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and as IAEA reports continue to verify the non-diversion of the civilian program toward any military use.
And despite Sen. Graham’s predictions, a military attack would almost certainly be a precursor to a ground invasion. The US launched air strikes against the much weaker Iraqi government for a decade without successfully toppling it (and if anything giving it public cover to go after domestic opponents). In late 2008 Israel destroyed pretty much every single government building in the Gaza Strip, including police stations and universities, without toppling the Hamas government. The idea of even a sustained conventional air campaign causing a regime change on its own simply isn’t supported by the evidence.