With the protests in Iran ebbing away, get ready for a change in approach from the neo-cons. Yesterday they sung the praises of the Iranian people. Now they want to bomb them.

You’ll remember John Bolton as the ferociously moustachioed wingnut whom George Bush appointed as ambassador to the UN, despite – or perhaps because – Bolton had famously explained that there was no such thing as the United Nations and thus the international community should be content to be led by the ‘only remaining superpower, which is the United States’.

Now Bolton’s penned a piece for the Washington Times, explaining how the world cannot live with Tehran’s nuclear weapons program. Hence, with the Iranian regime seemingly firmly in the saddle, “the already compelling logic for an Israeli strike is nearly inexorable.”

Given that Mirhossein Moussavi made clear in the course of the election campaign that he was at least as committed to nuclear technology as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we might be forgiven for suspecting that the inexorable and compelling logic for an Israeli attack would have been as inexorably compelling no matter what. Indeed, Joe Klein points out that on 26 June Bolton penned an op-ed for the LA Times calling for an attack upon Iran; on 12 June he wrote for the Wall Street Journal discussing – there’s something of a pattern here – the need to bomb Iran.

“Anyone can go to Baghdad. Real men go to Tehran.” The neo-con slogan that once resounded throughout the corridors of Washington encapsulated the Bush administration’s defining features: sociopathic aggression and breathtaking arrogance, with more than a whiff of s-xual insecurity (most of the key neo-cons, Bolton included, had assiduously avoided military service themselves).

But that was then and this is now. Does Bolton represent anything these days? The fact that his Washington Times article is largely an assault on the pusillanimous Obama administration suggests not. In that respect, it’s a more ginned up version of Sheridan’s characteristically loopy piece in the Oz yesterday, in which we learned that repression in Iran was largely the fault of Robert Manne and Antony Loewenstein (surely Clive Hamilton must bear some of the responsibility?).

Then again, Bolton’s not talking about an American attack on Iran but an Israeli one – quite a different matter. The Times today discusses Netanyahu’s position on Iran and concludes that, if a strike on Tehran’s not likely, neither is it entirely off the table.

What would be the consequences for the Iranian protesters? Ahmadinejad is both a social conservative and a pugnacious nationalist. He draws much of his not inconsiderable support from the perception of many Iranians that important people in the West want to kill them.

Not so long ago, John McCain used to enliven speeches with a merry little ditty about bombing Iran. Now, if there was a YouTube clip circulating in which one of the most powerful politicians in the world joked about obliterating Sydney, you’d expect that Australians would develop a renewed interest in national security.

In other words, nothing’s more likely to bolster the Iranian regime – and increase the repression of dissidents — than an Israeli air strike. It might not be very manly to suggest the best thing we can do for Iranian protesters is not attack them. But it happens to be the truth.