iran - The United States and Iran have been engaged in a...

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The United States and Iran have been engaged in a tense war of words over the contentious issue of Iran's nuclear development program. At times it has seemed as if the two nations have been on a collision course, with fearful mentions of "World War III" being thrown around the media. But a closer inspection leads one to believe that war may be anything but inevitable-- it may just be political grandstanding by two ironically similar opportunistic leaders looking to boost nationalism for their own political gain. An objective look reveals that if the U.S. were to launch yet another military campaign in the Middle East, it would do so with questionable intelligence (again), with armed forces that are already stretched thin, and in spite of building popular and political opposition. In the end, both leaders are likely to be out of office long before any military confrontation become truly "inevitable" or even feasible. In many respects, one cannot understand the complexity of relations between the United States and Iran without first looking at their respective leaders. George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually have a lot in common. Both are wildly unpopular-- the Iranian reformist newspaper Etemad reported in mid-March that Mr. Ahmadinejad's approval ratings had fallen to just 35%, barely beating out Bush's 28%. In their styles of political leadership, both men combine staunch conservatism with a folksy populism, preferring idealism over pragmatism. Both make frequent references to God in order to appease their county's fundamentalist factions, portraying God as an active ally of their respective nations. Both Bush and Ahmadinejad have politicized their administrations, replacing many competent cabinet members with like-minded conservatives; Ali Larijani, a well- respected moderate conservative, was a recent casualty, with Ahmadinejad jettisoning
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him from his post as Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, which oversees the nuclear program. Bush and Ahmadinejad both continue to portray domestic dissenters and political opponents as traitors, pointing fingers at far-off countries as the source of all their nation's troubles. They are both largely seen as being responsible for isolating their countries from the outside world, tarnishing relations with other world powers through simple-minded arrogance. In both cases, international and domestic critics lambast their tactics, which many fear will lead to war. In light of how numerous their similarities are, there is some sad irony in the fact that the characteristic which marks their most dramatic divergence is by far the most potentially destructive. Iran, through the words of Ahmadinejad, has proclaimed a right to fully developed nuclear power. The United States, as displayed by the tough rhetoric of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, has assumed the duty of preventing Iran from
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course POLS 150 taught by Professor Ckharris during the Spring '08 term at San Jose State University .

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iran - The United States and Iran have been engaged in a...

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