Daniel Pipes, distinguished US academic and political commentator, believes an apocalyptic mindset has taken hold in Iran.
"Ahmadinejad speaks freely of this," he said in Melbourne last week of the Iranian president who, as mayor of Tehran, spent millions of dollars building roads and a mosque in anticipation of the arrival of the Mahdi, the 12th imam who's been missing for 1071 years.
Ahmadinejad's branch of Shia believe the Mahdi will return at the point the world is engulfed in war, and what better way to hurry this up than set war off yourself.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is engaged in a higher purpose and if this means its own destruction then it will have been in a worthy cause," explains Pipes on Iran's plans for national "martyrdom".
"It's not suicidal in their understanding. It is giving up ones' life for something higher," Pipes said.
They are convinced Islamic rule can and should come to the West.