(And probably more than some of the Republican presidential candidates, if we are to judge them by their rhetoric.)
First of all, the "Iranians" are not a monolithic group, any more than "Americans" or "Israelis" or "Muslims" or "Science Fiction Geeks." The fact that so many commentators seem to present them as speaking with a single voice is suspicious in itself.
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They falsely accuse the Islamic republic’s establishment of producing nuclear weapons. We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons and prohibit the use and production of nuclear weapons. This is because of our ideology, not because of politics or fear of arrogant powers or an onslaught of international propaganda. We stand firm for our ideology.So what--that was 2009. How about 2010?
We have said repeatedly that our religious beliefs and principles prohibit such weapons as they are the symbol of destruction of generations. And for this reason we do not believe in weapons and atomic bombs and do not seek them.Ok, ok. But that was still years ago. How about last month?
The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.Does this sound like madness?
So how do we make sense of the Iranian program? In part, it may be just what they say it is, a program to develop their energy infrastructure. The fact that they can be harmed by an embargo on gasoline sales (the Iranians have little ability to refine their own oil) is reason enough to persue this. Besides, they know better than most what their future oil production is likely to be, and what the global market will look like.
Do I buy that? Not entirely. I suspect they want the ability to produce a bomb quickly, as a deterrent, without actually producing or deploying the weapons that might trigger Israeli premption. And it's not just me, sitting in Pennsylvania. More and more Israelis are willing to come out with a similar view. Mier Dagan, the head of the Mossad for eight years, has described the regime in Iran, including Ahmadinajad, as "a very rational regime." The fact that he talks in public at all is impressive. That he came out to say that is remarkable.
So why the drum-beats for war? Is it simply the obsessions of Netanyahu and some personalities? American campaign rhetoric? A chance to manipulate oil prices? Or to sell advanced weapons? To be sure, these are governments that are not going to be friends any time soon. Khamenei still refers to Israel as a "cancerous tumor." All of this is probably part of what's going on, but in the final analysis it doesn't matter: the picture of the Iranians and the Iranian program does not reflect reality, and a policy based on those illusions is an invitation to failure. Maybe catastrophic failure.