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"meta-rationality"?

Reader comment on item: The Unthinkable Consequences of an Iran-Israel Nuclear Exchange
in response to reader comment: Iran probably IS saner than it seems, but is that sane enough?

Submitted by TGGP (United States), Nov 29, 2007 at 02:30

I've heard the theory that it could be rational to take a drug that made you irrational if home invaders had tied up your family and threatened to torture them unless you gave them the combination to your safe, but that's a matter for philosophers. I don't see how Iran stands to gain from irrationality here. They currently have ZERO nukes, are years away from having any and when they do get some it will likely just be a few (sufficiently enriched uranium doesn't exactly grow on trees), whereas Israel has enough nukes to absolutely immolate Iran.

Remember that Saddam was sane and deterrable (after Desert Storm he just focused on staying in power). The Iranian regime has shown itself to arguably be saner. Unlike Iraq, it didn't start wars with its neighbors, and it had to deal with the seriously nutty and fanatically anti-Shi'ite Taliban murdering its officials.

Your lumping huge numbers of people into a simple "Muslim" category and ignoring the variation in irrationality among that set is terribly ignorant. Examine the past of the Iranian regime rather than imagining them as al Qaeda with a country. Remember that revolutionary regimes flame out by the first generation.

If you want to bring up Kim Jung Il as an exception, I would respond that he proves my point. He has been much less aggressive than his father. He has been skillful in extracting aid from other countries and his nukes ensure that nobody will attempt any violent regime change. A great many politicians have been clamoring for regime change in Iran, but there is too much loss of credibility or "political capital" and baggage in Iraq and Afghanistan to carry that out. In the mean-time Iran will work toward getting a nuke, thereby ensuring that it will not share the fate of Ba'athist Iraq. Seems much more rational to me than the behavior of the U.S government.

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