Well, somebody had to do it: even as other Republicans hint at it, and others promote policies that inevitably lead in that direction, former UN Ambassador John Bolton has come right out in a New York Times op-ed and proposed war with Iran. He claims, of course, to be motivated strictly by the desire to prevent an “arms race” in the Middle East, and at first makes it sound like he’s talking about a one-and-done “surgical strike” on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. But then you have this:

Rendering inoperable the Natanz and Fordow uranium-enrichment installations and the Arak heavy-water production facility and reactor would be priorities. So, too, would be the little-noticed but critical uranium-conversion facility at Isfahan. An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

Gee, how you think that regime change is going to occur? Radio broadcasts? Will the Iranian people rise as once to toss off the yoke of the mullahs, instead of, as absolutely anyone with knowledge of the country tells you they will do, uniting against the countries bombing them?

Obviously Bolton’s influence is limited; I for one keep forgetting to include him in the list of possible 2016 presidential candidates. But particularly if he does run and makes it into the candidate debates, he’ll make it easier for others to talk irresponsibly about confronting Iran. The field is already pretty much committed (give or take Rand Paul, depending on which way the wind is blowing any particular day) to the re-invasion of Iraq. Why not “take out” Tehran while we are at it? What could possibly go wrong?

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.