Feature

Iran

Will the game of chicken end in war?

That was quite a performance by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Farah Stockman in The Boston Globe. The Iranian president blew into New York for just a few days last week. But in that time, he pulled off a diplomatic tour de force that was equal parts statesmanship, rabble- rousing, and 'œcharm offensive.' At the U.N., Ahmadinejad threw red meat to his Islamic comrades, asserting Iran's right to develop nuclear power, ranting about Israel, and expressing his disdain for President Bush. Yet, flashing big grins, he also apologized to New Yorkers for snarling traffic, and said that Iran 'œloved everyone around the world—Jews, Christians, Muslims.' It was hard not to be impressed with the man's complete confidence in Iran's emerging power, said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. When a reporter asked Ahmadinejad if he thought America would attack Iran, he said, of course not, 'œas if he regarded the very idea of a war between the two countries as preposterous.'

It isn't preposterous at all, said Michael Duffy in Time. As Ahmadi­nejad's regime closes in on building a nuclear bomb, the U.S. military is already working through several scenarios for an attack on Iran. There's no talk of a ground invasion. Instead, 'œalmost every type of aircraft in the U.S arsenal' would unleash a torrent of thousands of bunker-busting bombs on up to 30 nuclear-related facilities. The attack, experts say, 'œwould have a decent chance of succeeding, but at a staggering cost.' In response, Iran would authorize Hezbollah to attack Israel and cause further mayhem in Iraq, helped by local Shiites. Tehran would also attack oil installations of U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf, and block oil-tanker routes in the Strait of Hormuz, causing the price of crude to soar past $100 a barrel. A deep global recession would follow. The Iranians, said one worried military planner, 'œcould burn the country down around us if they wanted to.'

Fareed Zakaria

Newsweek

Ted Galen Carpenter

Baltimore Sun

Lawrence Kaplan

The New Republic

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