First, Bernard Finel of the National War College writes about how Iran war hawks try to have it both ways.
But what is most interesting to me is the contradictions. The Iranian regime is fanatical and genocidal, and yet it will respond to an attack through limited means. The Iranian regime is unpopular at home, but we can’t wait to allow those dynamics to run their course. Iran is committed to the rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, but their response to a strike will be sufficiently desultory as to buy several years of time. There is a narrow window of opportunity such that in six months Iran’s program won’t be vulnerable, but it take them five years to reconstitute it.
He adds, in a droll understatement: “I’m not sure all of those can be simultaneously true.”
Next, at Foreign Policy, Jason Rezaian writes about a misconception on the part of Tehran (emphasis added):
As some Western and Israeli leaders hold out hope for a domestic uprising that rearranges Iran’s political system, they seem unable to grasp this essential fact. Even in the face of severe economic and political isolation, no existential domestic threat is worrying the Islamic Republic’s leadership as it did in the months following the 2009 presidential election. Air attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, meanwhile, are viewed as a manageable inconvenience.
As well as errata and misconceptions, we also handle Iran irony. Rezaian again.
Iran’s sanctions profiteers also have their choice of luxury goods to choose from in Tehran. An insane proliferation of European luxury cars has been building in the capital for several months — a Maserati dealership is set to open any day now, just off one of central Tehran’s main squares. Some Iranians see their country’s capacity for unchecked consumption as progress, but it’s also a reminder that the economy is still functioning, even if top White House officials insist that sanctions are “working.”
Blame for the suffering that the Iranian public is enduring due to inflated prices caused by sanctions lands squarely in the lap of the West, especially the United States. Nevertheless, it might behoove the Iranian rich to demonstrate some solidarity with the Iranian public and refrain from buying Maseratis, Ferraris, and Western fashion goods.
Finally, James Risen in the New York Times:
And today, despite criticism of that assessment from some outside observers and hawkish politicians, American intelligence analysts still believe that the Iranians have not gotten the go-ahead from Ayatollah Khamenei to revive the program.
“That assessment,” said one American official, “holds up really well.”