The Futility of Trying to Wish Iran into Being Rational
State-owned Iran Press TV led with the headline "US Gen. Dempsey: Iran rational actor, not after nukes." Their story highlighted his comment, “We also know, or we believe we know that Iran has not decided to make a nuclear weapon.” It also focused on how the general said a strike against Iran would be "destabilizing."
"The remarks come as Israeli officials have ramped up their war rhetoric over the past few weeks, threatening Iran with military strikes in case the US-led Western sanctions against the country fail to force Tehran to halt its civilian nuclear program," Press TV reported.
Iran's friends cast the interview in a similar light, with Russia Today seizing on the rift created between Washington and the Jewish state by Dempsey's comments.
Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and other senior Israeli officials told visiting National Security Advisor Tom Donilon of their "dissatisfaction" with Dempsey's comments.
"We made it clear to Donilon that all those statements and briefings only served the Iranians," a senior Israeli official said. "The Iranians see there's controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them."
Iran Press TV was among those rejoicing in the controversy: "Israel irked by top US officials' opposition to Iran attack."
And amid quibbling about the wisdom of striking Iran's nuclear facilities, the "rational actor" was emboldened enough today to talk about its own preemptive strikes.
Deputy Head of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Logistic and Industrial Research General Mohammad Hejazi, a senior commander, told the semi-official Fars News Agency that Tehran would use every means possible to respond to "potential" enemy aggressions.
"We will no more wait to see enemy action against us," Hejazi said. "Given this strategy, we will make use of all our means to protect our national interests and hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our national interests."
The article pointedly reminded all of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's remarks to students on Nov. 10. "Iran is not a nation to sit still and just observe threats from fragile materialist powers which are being eaten by worms from inside," Khamenei said. "Anyone who harbors any thought of invading the Islamic Republic of Iran -- or even if the thought crosses their mind -- should be prepared to receive strong blows and the steel fists of the military, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the Basij force, backed by the entire Iranian nation."
"Iran will respond with full force to any aggression or even threats in a way that it will demolish the aggressors from within," the ayatollah added.
The administration's posture toward Iran has raised the concern not just of this Congress, as noted in a bipartisan letter Friday from a group of senators warning Obama to beware stall tactics from Tehran. Even two years ago frustrated lawmakers were joining across the aisle in a push led by Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) to implore President Obama that "time is not on our side" and that the commander in chief must fulfill his June 2008 pledge that he would do "everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
The Islamic Republic, as it seems, has at least enough of a rational mind to realize then and now that those were just words.