The president is making irresponsible references to “World War III,” Cheney is dusting off his 2002 speeches to bluster about “serious consequences” for Iran, and Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria is left to wonder what planet these guys are on.
Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?
When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button.
Rudy Giuliani went so far as to argue last week that Ahmadinejad is actually worse and less rational than Stalin and Mao, which is … what’s the word … insane. As Zakaria added, “One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.”