Two trains are headed toward one another on the same track, each driven by an out-of-conrol engineer who is convinced the other train will somehow get out of his way. One is driven by a religious fanatic, Ahmadinejad, who has been confused by praise from the Muslim world, into believing he can actually triumph over the United States in a war. The other is driven by Dick Cheney and his sidekick, George Bush, who do not intend to go down in history as allowing Iran to become a nuclear military power. Renaud Giraud, writing in Le Figaro, raises these metaphors to illustrate the madness now enveloping the United States and Iran. He cites three factors as propelling Bush/Cheney: their fear of Iran’s military capabilities in the future, strong bipartisan support in Congress for tough action against Iran, and Saudi Arabian and Israel lobbies which emphasize the dangers of Iran to Middle East stability.
The ironic aspect of the current conflict is that in 2001, Iran publicly condemned the 9/11 attack and in 2001 gave quiet assistance to American military forces in their Afghanistan campaign. The Iranian government in December, 2001, supported American efforts at the Bonn conference to implement political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. After offering these supports, President Bush in January, 2002 listed Iran as one of the “axis of evil” threatening the world. The recent resignation of Larijani both as negotiator on nuclear issues and as secretary general of the Iranian Security Council reflects growing strength of hard liners.
A sad aspect of the current presidential primary campaigns is failure on the part of any Democratic candidate to articulate an intelligent Iran policy. They fear being accused of “weakness” just as they feared in 2003 of refusing to back the Bush invasion of Iraq. America need voices of reason about Iran, but they appear muted in the face of media taking them to task for being weak. On the other side, Ahmadinejad is bewitched by his seeming popularity for standing up to America and may have come to the wrong conclusion about Bush and Cheney. They will resort to military action regardless of the cost to their nation. After all, isn’t Ahmadinejad doing the same to his country?