The first is President Ahmadinejad:
A Congressional Research Service report published in August referenced reports that contend "Ahmadinejad believes his mission is to prepare for the return of the 12th 'Hidden' Imam, whose return from occultation would, according to Twelver Shiite doctrine, be accompanied by the establishment of Islam as the global religion."
"I have a connection to God," Ahmadinejad said at a Tehran mosque last October. He added that President Bush "also receives inspiration -- but from Satan."
All this inevitably suggests a chain of thought: A leader who believes it is his job to usher in an Apocalyptic age, where Israel is destroyed and Islam becomes the global religion, cannot be deterred from constructing, or using, a nuclear weapon. Therefore, an Ahmadinejad-led Iran must be pre-empted from obtaining one.
This chain of thought draws us toward another pre-emptive Middle Eastern war and counsels that we risk all the horrendous unintended consequences that could flow from such a war.
But is Ahmadinejad really Iran's decider? If he had personally driven Iran's nuclear-weapons policy, the NIE released this week would make no sense.
It is clear from every piece of evidence at our disposal that Ahmadinejad is a fanatic's fanatic who will not deter his vision because of a few million piddly human deaths or worldwide destruction. He is completely irrational and would like nothing better than to usher in the apocalypse for his beloved 12th imam.
Then there are the Iranian mullahs who may be religious, but are not stupid. They use Ahmadinejad to jab at the West and draw blood, then pull him back. Their goal is power, and they realize that you can't have power if you are dead. Ahmadinejad may think he calls the shots, but the mullahs, however immoderate and provocative are the ones with real power.
The question is, how far will the mullahs let the madman go? Would they let him "wipe Israel off the map", if they thought the world, i.e., the U.S., would do nothing? I think they would, simply because if they could get away with it, then it would completely consolidate their power as the real "leaders" of Islam--the ones who elimated the hated Jewish State, the poisonous thorn in the side of the Islamic world.
As Jeffrey states:
The intelligence community assumes a certain long-term stability among Iran's real deciders. "This Estimate does assume that the strategic goals and basic structure of Iran's senior leadership and government will remain similar to those that have endured since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989," says the NIE.
President Bush seems to agree. "The NIE talks about how a carrot-and-stick approach can work," said Bush at his Tuesday press conference. "And it was working until Ahmadinejad came in. And our hope is that the Iranians will get diplomacy back on track."
Bush's bet is simply this: The ayatollahs may be immoderate, but they are not irrational.
It is too bad that the release of the NIE at this point in time, and the subsequent irrational braying by the leftist pundits and politicians now gives the immoderate mullahs reason to believe that they would have a green light to do whatever they want; and if Bush tried to stop them it would only unleash the usual leftist hysteria that is always directed at the U.S. and not at the malignant behavior of the followers of Islam.
Ahhhh. Displacement is such a useful psychological process to cultivate in one's enemy....immoderate they may be, but the mullahs are also very clever, and will most certainly use the left's hysteria to advance their own dreams of power.
UPDATE: And, speaking of psychological displacement, Bush bashing is so much fun!