But, say the critics, Iran is different. They have all those mad mullahs over there who don’t care about life on earth and simply want to destroy — fill in the blank — Israel, the United States, or Israel and the United States. Yet there is little evidence that the leaders of Iran are mad. Instead, they are cautiously conservative. Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council and adjunct professor of international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in his book Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S., states it as follows: “But whenever Iran’s ideological and strategic goals were at odds, Tehran’s strategic imperatives prevailed.” He notes that the Iranian government has had informal alliances with Israel against the major Arab nations in the Middle East. These alliances existed not only when the shah was Iran’s dictator but also for much of the time the mullahs ran Iran. Through the government of Switzerland, Iran’s government made an overture to the Bush administration in 2003, in which it asked the Bush administration to meet Iranian officials to discuss ending the sanctions and bringing Iran back into the community of nations in return for Iran’s forswearing any attempt to build nuclear weapons. According to Parsi, the Bush administration, at the behest of Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, rebuffed them. Moreover, the Bush administration verbally attacked Tim Guldimann, the Swiss ambassador to Iran, for being the bearer of good news. Interestingly, Parsi quotes none other than Efraim Halevi, the former head of the Mossad (Israel’s version of the CIA) saying of the Iranian government in 2006, “I don’t think they are irrational, I think they are very rational.”

This is from my recent article, “Is Iran a Threat?” In it, I also get into why I think the sanctions are a bad idea.