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Depending on who you believe, Obama has either deftly played the Iranians like a violin or he has just let the lying-est country in modern history pull the wool over his limpid, doe eyes. Whatever the long-term results from Geneva’s multilateral talks, one thing we should remember is that Iran has probably never been the giant bogeyman that we have imagined it. Juan Cole elaborates:

Belief: Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the U.S.

Reality: Iran has not launched an aggressive war modern history (unlike the U.S. or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of “no first strike.” This is true of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as of Revolutionary Guards commanders.

Belief: Iran is a militarized society bristling with dangerous weapons and a growing threat to world peace.

Reality: Iran’s military budget is a little over $6 billion annually. Sweden, Singapore and Greece all have larger military budgets. Moreover, Iran is a country of 70 million, so that its per capita spending on defense is tiny compared to these others, since they are much smaller countries with regard to population. Iran spends less per capita on its military than any other country in the Persian Gulf region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates.

Belief: Iran has threatened to attack Israel militarily and to “wipe it off the map.”

Reality: No Iranian leader in the executive has threatened an aggressive act of war on Israel, since this would contradict the doctrine of ‘no first strike’ to which the country has adhered. The Iranian president has explicitly said that Iran is not a threat to any country, including Israel.

Belief: But didn’t President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to “wipe Israel off the map?”

Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that “this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”  This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.

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One Comment

  1. You forgot a big one:

    Belief: Iran is refining enriched uranium.

    Reality: Iran can’t even refine gasoline. Most of it gas supply is refined in China.

    Please lets get some common sense here and realize that the threat of our own financial collapse because of useless interventions all over the world is far greater than any supposed threat from Iran.


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