Iran's posturing always more smoke than fire
By Jesse Aizenstat
Be it the International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear report last month, the British announcement of new European Union sanctions last week, or the storming of the British Embassy on Tuesday, everything between Iran and the West is calculated. In fact, it's just how they dance. War isn't inevitable here.
Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the religious leaders, paired with the Revolutionary Guard, have made anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric a staple of the regime. Today more than ever, the Iranian government has honed this narrative, positioning its nuclear program as a symbol of national pride. And so we've got to get a little realistic about how the ruling mullahs work: Fiery rhetoric and nostalgic embassy stormings are just what the Iranian government does. It's the same old trick; it's how they consolidate power.
The mullahs of Iran do not want to commit national suicide and use a nuclear weapon. They are not al Qaeda; they are a deterrable actor interested in self-preservation. The diplomatic leverage that comes from becoming a nuclear power is enticing not only to Iran but also to nearly all aspiring powers. And Iran, with all its rich history, sees itself as special. At the very least, it wants the option to build a nuclear weapon.