This Ashura, things is heating up in Iran again, with reports of violent clashes between street protestors and forces loyal to the "government" led by Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad and supreme leader Ayatollah Khamani; among the reported dead is the nephew of opposition presidential candidate (and opposition leader) Mir Hossain Mousavi.
Assuming arguendo that our Presidential elections actually matter (and if the 2008 election hasn't already disabused us of that ridiculous notion, I don't know what will), one must still at least give the Iranians props for refusing to sit idly by when a presidential election is so clearly stolen right in front of them. Then again, maybe their elections actually do matter.
Whichever scenario it is, the ongoing protests of the "reelection" of Iranian President Ahmadinedjad with the help of well-organized government thugs "complicate" American policy toward the usually perceived as inscrutible Iranian regime. Alas, neither the comic-book "Axis of Evil" Bush treatment, nor the New Agey "we have to engage and invite 'em over for 4th-of-July-barbecues" Obama approach, seems to provide all the answers. Because, of course, the situation is... wait for it... "complicated." A big part of the complication will come from our friends in Israel, who are rightly concerned about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Notwithstanding my preternatural attachment to Israel's interests as an American Jew, I have come to the conclusion after the role of the Neocon/Likudnik alliance in getting us suckered into the Iraqi quagmire as supposedly in Israel's interests, that given the aftermath of that fiasco and the fact that it was easily foreseeable, those purporting to speak for the hawkish Israeli wing... have no credibility whatsoever, and have demonstrated that they are not competent enough to even tell us what is in Israel's best interests, let alone the best interests of the United States.
That said, it seems to me that the relevant way to deal with Iranian protests is to quietly support them, while not overtly giving the regime any basis to scream that the Great Satan is intervening in a way that has any credibility. As to Iranian nuclear ambitions, alas, the Iranian regime itself is highly cryptic, and given American regime change policies elsewhere in the Muslim world, it seems hard to believe Iran will surrender its nuclear ambitions if that is the question in a vacuum. A deal involving principal nuke supplier Russia as well as likely U.N.-anything-vetoer China would have to be worked out, and a sale made that something containing Iran is in their broader interests... how? Don't know... but it might involve American ambitions (as if we didn't have any) elsewhere (starting with, say, Iraq and Afghanistan...)
Don't know if it can all be worked out... as I said in a prior post, most of the "options" are bad... I'm just hoping one is definitively less bad...