Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cheney’s Long-Lost Twin


Could Dick Cheney and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be twins separated at birth?

The U.S. vice president and Iranian president, each the No. 2 in his country, certainly seem to be working together to create conflict between the two nations. Theirs may be the oddest and perhaps most dangerous partnership in the world today.

Both men are hawks who defy the international community, scorn the U.N. and are unpopular at home because of incompetence and recklessness — and each finds justification in the extremism of the other.

“Iranians refer to their new political radicals as ‘neoconservatives,’ with multiple layers of deliberate irony,” notes Gary Sick, an Iran specialist at Columbia University, adding: “The hotheads around President Ahmadinejad’s office and the U.S. foreign policy radicals who cluster around Vice President Cheney’s office, listen to each other, cite each others’ statements and goad each other to new excesses on either side.”...

These are real arguments, but a strike is no solution. For starters, it would delay the Iranian nuclear program by only about three years — and when it came back, the regime might be more likely than ever to use the weapons. And for Mr. Bush to launch a third war against a Muslim country would undermine Islamic moderates and strengthen radicals around the world.

Iran is also more complex and sophisticated than it pretends to be — and the fact is that standard deterrence has constrained it. ...

The ayatollahs’ only hope is that we will rescue them with a military strike, which would cement them in place for many years to come. But look out, because that’s what may happen if bilateral relations are driven by those jingoistic twins, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Ahmadinejad.

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