EDWARD LUTTWAK says we should be encouraging the breakup of Iran:

If Iran’s economy were strong, ethnic divisions and even religious resentments would matter less. As it is, with at least 20 per cent unemployment and an annual inflation rate of 30 per cent, Iran’s economy is scarcely a unifying force.

Viewed from the inside, Iran is hardly the formidable power that some see from the outside. The natural outcome of increasing popular opposition to extremist rulers, of widening ethnic divisions and bitter Sunni resentment of Shia oppression is the break-up of Iran.

There is no reason why Iran should be the only multinational state to resist the nationalist separatism that destroyed the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, divided Belgium in all but name, and has decentralised Spain and even the United Kingdom.

As with the Soviet Union, there is a better alternative to detente with a repulsive regime – and that is to be true to the Wilsonian tradition of American foreign policy by encouraging and helping the forces of national liberation within Iran.

I would like to see the mullahs’ regime fall, preferably in the bloodless fashion of the old Soviet Union.

UPDATE: Reader Frieda Hovsepian emails:

I grow up in Iran and I hate Mullahs’ more than anything , but to divide Iran like Soviet Union…No way! I can not see that happening. Culturally and Characteristically, Iran is not Soviet Union.

Iranians will rally around even this regime, IF they know Western countries have plans for division of Iran.

People who talk about division of Iran, don’t know what Iranian people are made of…Revolution yes, division NO.

I’d be just as happy with revolution, velvet or otherwise. And other readers note that some parts of Iran that aspire to independence, like Baluchistan, might make pretty unpleasant countries if independent.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related item here. ” I’ve always said invasion of Iran would be a terrible mistake, and it would demonstrate a failure to design and conduct a rational policy toward Iran.”

MORE: Further thoughts here.