"That’s right: the mullahs are anything but mad. Calculation will demand that Iran take Obama seriously."
Regrettably for Cohen, his drive to facilitate normalization between Tehran and Washington ended when the mullahs brutally put down Iran's Green Revolution, following the rigged presidential election in June 2009. Moreover, Iran has since all but ignored Obama, while aggressively pursuing its mission to build its first nuclear weapon.
Today, however, Cohen has a successor in Fareed Zakaria, who also wishes to convince us that Iran's mullahs can be expected to behave rationally. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "How history lessons could deter Iranian aggression" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/history-could-be-a-deterrent-to-iranian-aggression/2012/02/15/gIQA6UVcGR_story.html?hpid=z3), Zakaria proclaims:
"In the end, however, the global revolutionaries in Moscow, the mad autocrats in Pyongyang and the terrorist-supporting military in Pakistan have all been deterred by mutual fears of destruction. While the Iranian regime is often called crazy, it has done much less to merit the term than did a regime such as Mao’s China. Over the past decade, there have been thousands of suicide bombings by Saudis, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians and Pakistanis, but not been a single suicide attack by an Iranian. Is the Iranian regime — even if it got one crude device in a few years — likely to launch the first?"
The Iranians have never engaged in suicide attacks? Oh really? Apparently Zakaria has forgotten that during its war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, Iran sent waves of children into Iraqi minefields in order to clear safe paths for its tanks. That's not suicidal and crazy?
And although not suicidal, Iran's bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed 29 persons and injured over 250, and its bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 87 persons and injured over 100, were anything but rational.
Zakaria would have us ignore Ahmadinejad's call to "wipe Israel off the face of the map," and Supreme Leader Khamenei's recent pronouncement that Israel is "a cancerous tumor that must be removed, and God willing it will be" (see: http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/10/193813.html). Given what happened to the Jews after Hitler warned of a final solution, Zakaria's suggestion unfortunately makes less than perfect sense. When someone says that he intends to kill me, I have learned to pay attention.
I suppose Zakaria would also have Israel ignore what the mullahs are thinking when they "rationally" hang homosexuals, stone women to death for adultery, and brutally persecute Iran's Baha'i, Kurd and Sunni Muslim minorities.
Zakaria concludes by quoting Gideon Rose, the editor of Foreign Affairs:
“Hopefully [Israel], too, will come to recognize that absolute security is impossible to achieve in the nuclear age, and that if its enemies’ nuclear programs cannot be delayed or disrupted, deterrence is less disastrous than preventive war.”
Consider, however, where Israel might be if it had not destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 and Saddam Hussein had built a nuclear bomb. Some ten years later, dozens of Iraqi Scud missiles fell on Tel Aviv during the First Gulf War, and imagine if only one of them had been nuclear tipped. In this instance was deterrence less disastrous than preventative war?
Unlike Zakaria, I experienced first hand the Iraqi missile attacks on Tel Aviv in 1991. The concussions of the missiles rocked my sixth floor apartment, where I sat huddled in a "safe" room with my wife and infant son, all of us wearing gas masks. It is more than a bit frightening that Obama relies upon the shallow, unsubstantiated opinions of Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman when formulating his Middle East strategy (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/us/politics/12prexy.html?pagewanted=all).