John Bolton wants to bomb Iran. No, seriously.

Mr Bolton said that striking Iran would represent a major step towards victory in Iraq. While he acknowledged that the risk of a hostile Iranian response harming American’s overseas interests existed, he said the damage inflicted by Tehran would be “far higher” if Washington took no action.

“This is a case where the use of military force against a training camp to show the Iranians we’re not going to tolerate this is really the most prudent thing to do,” he said. “Then the ball would be in Iran’s court to draw the appropriate lesson to stop harming our troops.”

Let me first air out a pet peeve. Apparently, in order to be a really good idea, a military operation now need only represent a step toward victory instead of actually being one. This is the kind of thing that gives postmodern conservatism a bad name.

Now then. To my further irritation, it’s not that John Bolton’s information train is jammed, it’s that the train keeps winding up at the same — wrong — station. Clear interest in not getting badly beaten in Iraq? Check. Acknowledgment of risks posed in theater by Iran? Check. Emphasis on selecting prudent courses of action? Check. It’s like he loads a perfect souffle into the oven and it comes out an ugly, bloodthirsty Critter.

Why this atavistic insistence on the pre-9/11 strategy of undeclared-war bombing runs? Doesn’t Bolton understand the nature of the threat? Seriously, it’s frustrating. The man is intelligent, thoughtful, clearsighted, and dead wrong on bombing Iran, which is not the prudent thing to do. It will not only represent a major step towards uncontrollable violence and regional instability, it will be a major step in that direction. Hell, it might actually even be uncontrollable violence and regional instability!

You want to prudently drop something on an Iranian training camp? How about thousands of leaflets saying

We know who you are. We know what you’re doing. Please stop. (Next time we won’t say please.)

All the benefits of bombing the camp, none of the unsightly general war. I, too, am incensed that Iranian efforts are going into killing American soldiers. But the war those soldiers are fighting is in Iraq, and if we want it to be in Iran, we’ve not only got to actually start a war with Iran but we’ve got to suffer the consequences. In neither case are the ends of responsible neo-imperialism served. I’m still looking for a neocon whose passionate interest in bombing Iran is overruled by the weight of prudence. There’s got to be one somewhere. …Right?