Tucker Carlson: 'Iran Deserves to Be Annihilated'

The conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, with whom I am on friendly terms, said the following last night:

I do think, I'm sure I'm the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they're lunatics. I think they're evil.

This is the sort of rhetoric that leads to war. I have no doubt this clip will be played over and over again in Tehran by a regime eager to prove that America wants to -- to borrow a phrase -- wipe Iran off the map. It should go without saying that Iran does not "deserve" to be annihilated. I wish, of course, that Iranian citizens will one day soon be free of the evil regime that rules their lives, and that Iran's neighbors, Arabs, Jews, everyone, will be able to live without fear of Tehran's aggressiveness. But language like this -- careless or premeditated -- is inhuman and sets back America's interests.

UPDATE: This is Tucker's explanation, to Glenn Greenwald, about the motivation behind his statement:

It's my fault that I got tongue tied and didn't explain myself well last night. I'm actually on the opposite side on the Iran question from many people I otherwise agree with. I think attacking could be a disaster for the US and am worried that Obama will do it, for fear of seeming weak before an election. Of course the Iranian government is awful and deserves to be crushed. But I'm not persuaded we or Israel could do it in a way that doesn't cause even greater problems. That's the main lesson of Iraq it seems to me.

Here is an e-mail I received from Tucker shortly after I posted on the subject: "I was arguing that an attack on Iran might cause a massive spike in energy prices that could tank our economy. In other words, slow down -- just the opposite of what you claim I said. Watch the fucking tape."

For the record, I watched the fucking tape before I posted. On tape, Tucker did say he favors the "annihilation" of Iran. It is true that Tucker opposed the Iraq war, btw.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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