"If you look at the way in which the mullahs have run Iran, by and large they have been incredibly savvy. They're building up bank accounts in Dubai and in Switzerland. This does not strike me as the kind of ravings of, you know, an end of days millenarian.

The Iranians are trying to capture the core political high ground of the Middle East, and they're trying to become the dominant power in the region. We should be working against them; we should building an alliance against them.

But the idea that they are not going to be deterred by Israel's 200 nuclear weapons, including a second strike capacity on submarines, is just fantasy. It's based on plucking a few quotes here and there from a president who is not constitutionally or operationally in charge of the nuclear program," - Fareed Zakaria, in a debate with Norman Podhoretz on the PBS Newshour last night.

It's worth reading the entire transcript. Here's the audio. I find the specter of religious fanaticism behind nuclear weaponry extremely troubling. I don't think we can dismiss the theological rantings of the Tehran leadership. And it's very refreshing to hear one of today's neo-conservatives speaking of the danger of religious fanaticism. But we also have to be empirical about this: is their fundamentalism worse than Mao's fundamentalism? Or Stalin's? Are they less susceptible to the logic of mutually assured destruction than the Soviets were?

This is not an easy call. But the transcript shows that Zakaria has far more empirical reasoning behind his position than Podhoretz does behind his. And bringing Hitler up in your first response is not a sign of a deep or complicated analysis.

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