U.S. interests would seem to dictate supporting those elements in Iran who wish to be rid of the regime and re-engage the West. But if that is our goal, the Senate bill, and a House version that passed 412 to 12, seem almost diabolically perverse.
For a cutoff in gas would hammer Iran's middle class. The Revolutionary Guard and Basij militia on their motorbikes would get all they need. Thus the leaders of the Green Movement who have stood up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah oppose sanctions that inflict suffering on their own people.
Cutting off gas to Iran would cause many deaths. And the families of the sick, the old, the weak, the women and the children who die are unlikely to feel gratitude toward those who killed them.
And despite the hysteria about Iran's imminent testing of a bomb, the U.S. intelligence community still has not changed its finding that Tehran is not seeking a bomb.
The low-enriched uranium at Natanz, enough for one test, has neither been moved nor enriched to weapons grade. Ahmadinejad this week offered to take the West's deal and trade it for fuel for its reactor. Iran's known nuclear facilities are under U.N. watch. The number of centrifuges operating at Natanz has fallen below 4,000. There is speculation they are breaking down or have been sabotaged.
And if Iran is hell-bent on a bomb, why has Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair not revised the 2007 finding and given us the hard evidence?
U.S. anti-missile ships are moving into the Gulf. Anti-missile batteries are being deployed on the Arab shore. Yet, Gen. David Petraeus warned yesterday that a strike on Iran could stir nationalist sentiment behind the regime.
Nevertheless, the war drums have again begun to beat.
Daniel Pipes in a National Review Online piece featured by the Jerusalem Post -- "How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran" -- urges Obama to make a "dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him as a lightweight, bumbling ideologue" by ordering the U.S. military to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Citing six polls, Pipes says Americans support an attack today and will "presumably rally around the flag" when the bombs fall.
Will Obama cynically yield to temptation, play the war card and make "conservatives swoon," in Pipes' phrase, to save himself and his party? We shall see.