http://www.sina.com.cn 2007年10月31日 10:42
The prospect of war with Iran is beginning to look real. The hardening of positions in both Tehran and Washington over the past week has brought relations to their lowest point since the Iran hostage crisis that began in 1979. Both sides insist that they seek no military conflict, but tensions on issues ranging from Iran's nuclear program to influence in Iraq and the Arab-Israeli peace process is turning their differences into all-out regional power struggle. Last week, Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice criticized Iran's "emboldened foreign policy" and "hegemonic aspirations," while asserting that the U.S. will continue to be engaged on economic, political and security issues in the Middle East. "We are there to stay," she declared.
On the critical issue of Iran's uranium-enrichment program, Tehran and Washington are now engaged in a game of geopolitical chicken, which favors hard-liners on both sides, making compromise more difficult, escalation more likely and war — by accident, if not by design — a greater possibility than before. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after stepping up defiance of U.S.-led efforts to compel Iran to halt enrichment, this week appeared to gain greater domestic influence over the issue with the replacement of Iran's pragmatic top nuclear negotiator by a key Ahmadinejad ally. After President Bush invoked the specter of World War III to press the urgency of stopping Iran, the Administration followed up with another round of punitive measures.
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly pooh-poohed the idea that the U.S. might take military action against Iran, to the anger and alarm of others in the Iranian leadership structure, who accuse him of downplaying a real danger. Ahmadinejad says that he considers the U.N.'s case against Iran's nuclear program closed, and dismisses U.N. sanctions as "piles of paper." Bragging that Iran's uranium-enrichment efforts have succeeded in achieving "the capacity for industrial-scale fuel cycle production,"
A similar hardening of positions has been taking place in Washington, with U.S. rhetoric assuming a more confrontational tone in the past two weeks. On Oct. 17, Bush warned that "if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace" that risked a third world war. Four days later, Vice President Dick Cheney warned, "The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences... We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon."