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Irrational Iran

Like Saddam, Iranian leaders have wholeheartedly embraced terror as a weapon of foreign policy

Issue: "Meltdown," April 22, 2006

I hope this Easter people were praying for the peace of the world and for those who keep it-because the enemies of peace are many and their arsenal ever more dangerous.

Imagine Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple with a nuke instead of poisoned Kool-Aid. Imagine David Koresh of the Branch Davidians with a nuke instead of a fortress compound. Jones killed more than 900. Koresh's actions led to the death of 85.

Religious fanatics don't care much about the numbers. They care about their mission, and the body count is what it is.

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Which is why the nuclear crisis with Iran is so disturbing.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a habit of making extraordinarily provocative statements, especially concerning Israel and the Holocaust. He wishes for the former to be wiped from the map and denies that the latter took place.

These beliefs are troubling enough, but there is also growing concern that Mr. Ahmadinejad is a member of a subdivision within Shiite Islam that believes the cultivation of chaos will usher into history a messiah, the Twelfth Imam. While this is an unorthodox belief within Shiite Islam, it does have its proponents within Iran, a group called the Hojjatieh. Although banned by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s, the group persists and may have deep roots in the current government.

There is no hard proof that Mr. Ahmadinejad or his spiritual leader Mesbah Yazdi believe in using the power of Iran to ignite the sort of chaos that would mark the appearance of the Twelfth Imam. But neither is there the sort of commitment to rational behavior world leaders display even when separated by deep chasms of ideological difference.

Unlike Saddam, Iranian leaders have never actually used weapons of mass destruction. But like Saddam they have wholeheartedly embraced terror as a weapon of foreign policy, and their passion for the destruction of Israel exceeds even that which motivated the deposed Iraqi dictator.

As Iran approaches the nuclear threshold, the stakes for the world could not be higher, or the momentousness of the decision President Bush must make larger.

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