Is Iran a “Rational Actor?”

"Rational Actor?"

When you see that even scientists have become so irrational, you know you’re not dealing with an ordinary regime, or rational actors who can be counted upon to follow norms of behavior as we perceive them to be in the West.  The Israeli National News is reporting that the Iranian nuclear scientist who was assassinated in Tehran in January was very  much concerned with and focused on the annihilation of Israel, according to his widow.  Whether she was prompted into this statement by the Ahmedinejad government, or whether she volunteered the information on her own, this speaks to the plainly irrational desires of that regime. There are those who suggest that there’s no proof Iran is an irrational actor, but I think that flies in the face of more than thirty years of evidence to the contrary.

Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and they continue to back operations by Hezbollah along with others throughout the Middle East.  More, their current dictator and his theocratic overseers are so-called “Twelvers” who believe in the 12th Imam and a theology that specifies the end of their “oppression.”  These are people who have beliefs more irrational than the worst cultists you’ve ever known in the West, and yet there are those who think we can somehow negotiate in good faith with them.  Worst of all, their leader, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, professes a devout belief in this theology, and says that the oppressors are the “Great Satan” (the US) and the “Lesser Satan” (Israel.)

For those who suggest we can deal with such thinking, I’d remind them that nobody took Hitler and his occult beliefs and practices seriously outside of Germany until it was much too late.  I wonder if these same critics would contend that Hitler had been a “rational actor.”   The Iranian dictator is a maniac, and to pretend he’s less dangerous than he is would be to subject this country to unnecessary risks and a threat of serious harm.  This guy is no more rational than David Koresh, but Koresh had a few rifles, and for that Janet Reno laid siege to his Mt. Carmel compound.  This mad-man is seeking nuclear weapons, and has already tried to carry out political assassinations in the US.  By what standard can anybody conclude he is rational?

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7 Responses to Is Iran a “Rational Actor?”

  1. Great article to our conversation yesterday.

    One thing that I would add is that I do not believe Ahmedinejad is rational in the sense that his religious or moral beleifs make any sense, but rather that he IS a rational actor when it comes to maintaining his own life and power.

    To take Hitler for example, irrational beleifs, but very rational desire to maintain power. In fact, once that power he wanted so much was gone he killed himself.

    Similarly, Iran no doubt knows that a nuclear attack on the US would be suicide. His power would end immediately. Furthermore he knows that the US isn't so aggresive to countries that have nuclear weapons (i.e., Pakistan) so he has a great incentive to get them. That too is rational.

    I just wanted to clarify the type of rationality I'm talking about.

    • MarkAmerica says:

      Here's the source of our disagreement, I think, and the reason I see this differently: I believe the desire to rule over others is irrational. I believe it's a primitive reflex that evokes images of cavemen with clubs.

      The fact that Hitler killed himself was merely the completion of that irrational circle.

      For a nut like Ahmedinejad, the fact that his country would be scorched to oblivion is not necessarily a deterrent. In his view, that just means his people would achieve some form of martyrdom. This is the problem with nuts like him, and this sort of irrationality is widespread in the region.

      • Well, I really hope you are wrong. Because if he is truly that irrational (i.e., mentally insane) then we are in big trouble.

        I think he values his power and life a little more than you give him credit for though. :)

        • MarkAmerica says:

          I think he values his own life plenty, otherwise, he'd be strapping on the vest himself. The problem is that he does not value his countrymen or their lives. That's part of the irrationality of the ruler mentality. They generally believe they are qualified to make every decision in your life, but you are not. Levin calls them "masterminds" and such, but the general idea is the same. You can't avoid the fact that a person who sees himself fit to rule over the lives of millions generally views any of the individual people as disposable, and that this view is entirely irrational.

      • Not sure if you saw my post form yesterday.

        If I may add, WE may not be at war with Iran. However, are you familiar with jihad? It is an Islamic edict which says God wants you to kill, a holy war in the name of Islam. If you are a Muslim it is your duty to carry out this order by any means necessary including blowing yourself up.

        At one point, Islam used to be the center of the world and the apex of society. Today, Islam is a 3rd world religion in a 3rd world region. Its followers will stop at nothing to once again be rulers of the world.

        The West (US) represents the greatest obstacle because it has been so successful through freedom, justice and liberty. And Israel, with very similar views as the US, blossoms right in the heart of the middle east, while the Islamic countries suffer in misery and poverty, dreaming of a comeback.

        So, its not a question of if Iran will attack, but a question of when. To sit back and allow them to obtain nuclear weapons is not only extremely dangerous, but shows a complete lack of clarity of the greater picture on our part. Now do you see why something has to be done? If we wait it may be too late!

  2. eyetooth tom says:

    Surely all coming here know Valerie Jarrett and her comments November 9, 2008. "Ready to rule on day one." As someone who has forgot more than he ever knew…I have to refresh my memory from time to time