We’ve been treated lately to an Iran-rationality fest. In February it was U.S. chief of staff Martin Dempsey saying Iran’s government was a “rational actor.” In March it was Israel’s disgruntled ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan saying “The regime in Iran is a very rational regime.”
Just last week Israel’s serving chief of staff, Benny Gantz, took up the slack by saying that “the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.” And the next day another disgruntled Israeli, ex-Shin Bet (domestic security) chief Yuval Diskin, suggested who might really not be rational, saying that Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak—both at least verbal hawks on Iran—were “two messiahs” who make decisions out of “messianic feelings.”
The New York Times, one could say, ate it up. A day after Diskin’s pronouncements, it ran a piece called “Experts Believe Iran Conflict Is Less Likely,”claiming that the “threat of tighter economic sanctions,” the “revival of direct negotiations,” and a “growing divide in Israel between political leaders and military and intelligence officials” had led “American officials and outside analysts” to believe that the “chances of war in the near future have significantly decreased.”
And the Los Angeles Times has reported that the U.S. was signaling a “major shift on Iran[s’] nuclear program,” with Obama administration officials saying they “might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity, which is the upper end of the range for most civilian uses,” if Iran agrees to strict inspections and safeguards.
As the article notes, such a deal would be anathema to Jerusalem and probably most of Congress, since allowing Iran to continue any uranium enrichment means leaving the door open to clandestine work toward the bomb. Israel’s national security adviser Yaakov Amidror has, in fact, been dispatched to Europe for “extremely sensitive” talks on the possibility of such a deal emerging.
The Los Angeles Times article, however, quotes Michael Singh, former top Iran adviser to President George W. Bush, saying “There have been many signals lately that the red line has shifted and they’re no longer pushing for full suspension” of Iran’s uranium enrichment—a shift that Singh “strongly opposes.”
The problem with the Iran-rationality fest is that Iran refuses to join in.
This week Iran’s English-language Fars News Agency website—regularly scoured by Western Iran-observers—has run a report rather brazenly titled “Iranian Navy Able to Deploy Vessels Three Miles off New York Coasts.”
It quotes from a recent speech by Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who proclaimed: “Our naval forces are so powerful that we have a presence in all the waters of the world and, if needed, we can move to within three miles of New York.” Fadavi’s speech was given on Tuesday, April 24—the 32nd anniversary of the failed U.S. attempt to rescue the American hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
And “on Friday,” the report continues,
IRGC Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the Islamic republic’s military is also capable of crippling or disabling US aircraft carriers.
“First, sinking an aircraft carrier is not a complicated task,” Hajizadeh said. “Second, an aircraft carrier is equipped with so many advanced, delicate, and sensitive devices…that it could be incapacitated by even the smallest explosion.”
These are certainly unpleasant words at a time when such nice things are being said about Iran, as the world powers gear up for the second round of nuclear talks with the mullahs in Baghdad on May 23. After the first round in Istanbul on April 14, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton glowingly foresaw “a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.”
But there is even more unpleasantness on Fars, with Iranian defense minister Ahmad Vahidi—wanted by Interpol for the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and wounded hundreds—chiming in: “The [Iranian] Navy has a strong presence in the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, Sea of Oman, Indian Ocean and international waters and soon it will be present in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal has published an important op-ed by Robert Bernstein, Irwin Cotler, and Stuart Robinowitz noting that “Iran’s genocidal anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric…constitutes one of the most serious crimes under international law.” Among other things, Bernstein, Cotler, and Robinowitz quote Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini calling Israel a “cancerous tumor that must be removed” and declaring that there is“justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and Iran must take the helm.”
Bernstein, Cotler, and Robinowitz also note that Iranian officials regularly characterize Jews as
nonhuman or subhuman: “bloodthirsty barbarians,” “filthy bacteria,” “wild beasts,” “cattle,” “cancer,” “filthiest criminals,” “a blot,” “a stain,” “wild dogs” and the like. Similar slurs were made in Nazi Germany and Rwanda. They are the precursors to genocide.
How strange, then, to find even Israeli security officials publicly describing Iran as “rational.”
Of course, “rational” can mean different things. If one wants to annihilate Jews, it is rational to build Auschwitz and Treblinka. If one wants to annihilate Israel, dominate the Middle East, and eventually bring the West including the United States to its knees, it is rational to build nuclear weapons, a far-flung navy, and intercontinental ballistic missiles as Iran is doing.
It is also rational to realize, and exploit the fact, that one is essentially dealing with the same West that Hitler dealt with in the 1930s—just as weak-kneed, delusive, and eager to be duped.
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