An attack would bury the Iranian opposition in a landslide of Iranian patriotic fervor. Not only would the attacks merely postpone the development of nuclear weapons in Iran, they would unite the Iranian people around a regime that is increasingly detested. Tehran has painted opposition to the regime as identical with abandoning Iran to foreign invaders.
The US, Israel, and their allies should seek to encourage exactly the opposite sentiment among the Iranian people, through measures that divide the people from the regime. That is the promise of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions, which have finally begun to bite.
Iran’s economic relations with the outside world have been hit hard by US-led sanctions, including a number of key sectors, such as banking, trade, energy, insurance, and commodities. Joint US-European Union prohibitions have also crippled Iran’s financing of high volume exports and imports. Despite high prices for Iran’s oil exports, the value of Iran’s currency, the rial, has fallen sharply.
Prices are rising, and even the most basic goods are disappearing from stores, partly because of import problems and partly because Iranian citizens and businesses have resorted to hoarding as a way of escaping the effects of inflation and the rial’s depreciation, adding to economic uncertainty and turmoil.
Iranians in and out of government cannot avoid asking whether the isolation and punishment imposed on Iran as a result of the regime’s nuclear policies are worth the increasing costs that they have to bear.