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The choices we have on Iran

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In his disproportionate praise of the six-month agreement with Iran, Barack Obama said: “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program.” But if the program, now several decades old, had really been “halted” shortly after U.S. forces invaded neighboring Iraq, we would not be desperately pursuing agreements to stop it now, as about 10,000 centrifuges spin to enrich uranium.

If Denmark wanted to develop nuclear weapons, we would consider that nation daft but not dangerous. Iran’s nuclear program is alarming because Iran’s regime is opaque in its decision-making, frightening in its motives (measured by its rhetoric) and barbaric in its behavior. “Manes,” writes Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, “from whose name the word manichean derives, was a Persian who conceived of the world as being divided into good and evil.” But Pollack says suicidal tendencies are not among the irrationalities of the Iranian leadership, who are not “insane millenarians.”

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