Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit, has an interesting screed on Iran that makes many of the same points as (although earlier and separate from) Michael Ledeen's column in NRO today.
Here's the crux of the Vodkapundit's argument:
Beyond the government itself . . . there's little wrong with Iran in need of fixing. Prior to the Khomeini Revolution, Iran was a mostly-functional member of the Semi-Decent Nations of the World. It can be again.
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Yet, Iran, our seemingly easiest problem, remains our most intractable. [snip] Iran is ripe for revolution. And, as we learned last year in Fallujah, Iran is already waging war against us (directly and by proxy) in Iraq. So what, exactly, is Bush waiting for – an Iranian-sponsored 9/11-style attack on us in Iraq? We've had those already.
Iran doesn't need fixing. It just needs a good shove. And since Iran is already pushing us, why isn't Bush pushing back?
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In fact, Bush has done worse than nothing. By failing to stand up against Iran's mullahs in Fallujah, he has actively discouraged Iranians from standing up against their hated government.
Green is essentially correct. Bush has repeatedly called for freedom in Iran, but never acted in concert with that call. He has fiddled with constructive engagement while Iranian influences in Iraq get stronger or more entrenched. Bush is semi-paralyzed to a degree that prevents him from acting on his instincts to cause the overthrow of Iran's theocracy, and not just because of troop commitments to Iraq.
There are two key reasons underlying Bush's semi-paralysis. First, the dishonorable Democrats and their amen-chorus in the media have accentuated the negatives in Iraq whilst completely overlooking the positives (go to Chrenkoff's site and look at his "Best of" links for good, and underreported, news from Iraq). Kerry is the biggest disgrace of the bunch because he has a mini-bully pulpit as a presidential candidate and uses it to undermine the US efforts in Iraq. Thus, between media carping and Kerry's rubbish, Bush has to concentrate on his re-election to a degree that ensures that he will not be able to take bold action before Election Day.
Second, the Bush Administration made an historic mistake when it took office (and again after 9-11-01) by failing to purge the State Department, CIA and Defense Department of Clintonist and Bush-41 realpolitikers who valued the stability of tyrannous regimes in the Middle East that hate America quietly over the broader thinkers like Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith who can recognize the virtues of a progressive instability that would lead to democratic change. The State Department, Defense Department and CIA rank-and-file has ACTIVELY worked against Bush for 3.5 years in ways that are anything from disgraceful to treasonous. Once again, a problem that cannot change until after Election Day and until Bush is able to institute reforms in the civil service.
There are other reasons, of course, that Bush has not done to Iran what he did to Iraq. Green touches on some of them and does not discuss others. Hopefully much more will change with a Bush re-election; as Mark Steyn noted, the alternative does not bear thinking about.