Anyone who cares about our relations with Iran owes it to themselves to read this Matt Yglesias post:
True, we’ve seen rational leadership even from vicious dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong, but the contemporary United States is led by religious fanatics, which introduces a new element into the equation. What’s more, the USA is the only country on earth to have ever actually deployed nuclear weapons. Indeed, current political elites are so war-crazed and bloodthirsty that they not only engineered the 2003 attack on Iraq — a country that tried to appease the Americans by eliminating its nuclear program and allowing IAEA inspectors to certify that it had done so — but they continue to deny regretting it to this day. And that includes not only radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but so-called “moderates” like Hillary Clinton as well.
Key religious leaders like John Hagee explicitly argue that the United States should attack Iran in order to hasten the coming of Armageddon, and Hagee gets not only a respectful hearing at the White House, but also works closely with AIPAC giving him important entrée with many Democrats. All of the incumbent faction’s candidates from office have said they’d contemplate a nuclear first strike against Iran, media sources generally lambaste anyone who criticizes American moves to ratchet up conflict with Iran, and in general any responsible Iranian leaders needs to wonder if the USA is really a country that one can risk doing business with.
He’s not just being cute here. If one seriously considers the perspective of the average Iranian statesman, or even the average Iranian citizen, not only do the same aspersions the US casts upon Iran’s leadership fit, they fit better than when leveled against Iran. The bipartisan, media-enabled “all options on the table” posture is really dangerous. It isn’t a useful bargaining chip for negotiations; it just unsettles Iranian civil society and lowers the chances that they’ll risk an agreement with us. That helps no one.