Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Regime change, out in the open

NY Times:

As the Bush administration confronts the Tehran government over its suspected nuclear weapons program and accusations that it supports terrorism, a newly created office of Iranian affairs in the State Department is poring over applications for a rapidly expanding program to change the political process inside Iran.

The project, which will spend $7 million in the current fiscal year, would become many times larger next year if Congress approves a broad request for $85 million that the Bush administration has requested for scholarships, exchange programs, radio and television broadcasts and other activities aimed at shaking up Iran's political system.

The effort, overseen by Elizabeth Cheney, a deputy assistant secretary of state who is a daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, has been denounced by Iran's leaders as meddling in their internal affairs.

It comes at a time of escalating confrontation between Iran and the United States over Iran's nuclear program, exacerbated by reports, which the administration has played down, that military contingency plans are being reviewed as well.

While the United States has marshaled international support for diplomatic pressure on Iran, some Asian and European allies have expressed misgivings about other avenues of pressure, which are seen as aimed at undermining the government in Tehran.

One Asian diplomat said the effort was reminiscent of the subsidies the United States provided to Iraqi exile groups in the 1990's. "They don't call it 'regime change,' but that is obviously what it is," he said.
Imagine if this went the other way. It would be branded as akin to a declaration of war.