Yet the Khomeinists appear to welcome a bombing campaign from Israel and/or the United States. Such an attack that is not part of a broader strategy to topple the Khomeinists would only strengthen their regime.

That’s what happened in Egypt in 1967, when Nasser was defeated but allowed to remain in power. And in 1986, after Libya was bombed by the US but Khadafy was allowed to live to brag about his “great victory.” Similarly, in 1991 Saddam Hussein was defeated but allowed to remain in power.

In 2006, in military terms, Israel defeated the Lebanese Hezbollah. Hezbollah lost a quarter of its full-time fighters and all its bases close to the frontier, as well as 80 percent of its arsenal. Yet, because its leadership was left intact in Beirut, it could claim “the greatest victory in modern Islamic history.”

Another reason that Khomeinists may welcome bombings that only wound them: They face a difficult election next spring, with the threat of another insurrection against their corrupt and bloody rule. A bombing raid would give them an excuse to crush the opposition in the name of national unity and claim fresh legitimacy.