A reader writes:
I find myself troubled by your recent posting. Specifically, the line, "We have a dictator on the brink of nukes." By all indications, the Iranian regime is at the very least, 6-7 years away from a working nuclear weapon. Most estimates give it a decade, as in around the year 2016. Some predict more time. I have seen no credible reports that they are remotely close to a nuclear weapon. Have you?
Also, Ahmadinejad is not a dictator. He cannot make decisions without the specific approval of Supreme Leader Khamenei. A small point, but still.
I understand the difficulty in projecting domestic politics in a country as hostile as Iran. However, we know that Ahmadinejad is facing a dearth of support in his country over his economic failures, when he was elected largely on an economic populist platform. Seeing how the key issue driving his popularity appears to be his belligerence and feistiness towards the USA, instead of adapting a hard-line stance and feeding into his popularity, it puzzles me why we don't treat him like the pretend fraud he is.
Considering that Iran will likely have its nukes by 2016, and Ahmadinejad is up for re-election in 2009, the smart move appears to be to apply sanctions and just wait him out. By that time, we will have a new administration who is able to competently deal with the issue, and Ahmadinejad will likely be tossed out by his own people.
In any case, they are not on the "brink" of nukes. This hysteria does nothing to help the situation. Personally, I don't think any of this matters. Bush and company appear determined to deal with Iran and they will do so, over the rest of our complaints.
There are reasons to hope for the best, yes. And reasons to fear the worst as well.