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What Does "Taking Iran at Its Word" Mean?

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Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Douglas Murray urges the world to take Iran's leaders seriously when they say they are going to "wipe Israel off the map." We must do so, Murray argues, because of Iran's history:

Another point made frequently by Tehran's defenders, apologists and denialists is that the regime has never acted in a hostile manner against any other neighbors. But the merest of glances across history belies this.

So, more importantly, do recent events. Iran's arming and funding of terrorist proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah, are not the inventions of right-wing warmongers. They are facts, and ones that the people of Lebanon and Syria are having to live and die with.

This is the first time I've heard the claim that Iranian funding of Hamas and Hezbollah are inventions of "right-wing warmongers." I don't think anyone seriously disputes the fact that Iran provides that support to these groups, nor would anyone really characterize Iranian intentions vis-a-vis their neighbors as benign (the reverse, however, is also true). But there is a rather enormous gap between these realities and the prospect for a nuclear war between Israel and Iran, which is what Murray is implying but is apparently unwilling to state forthrightly.

Beyond that, Murray is making a very strained comparison. Funding terrorist groups is not the same thing as starting a conventional war against another state. Iran does the former, but has not done the later (at least in the era of the Islamic Republic). This suggests that Iranian leaders understand the imbalance of power between them and their adversaries and the costs that such hostilities would bring.

Second, and related, there is nothing in Iran's history that suggests that country's leaders are suicidal, which is what they would have to be to start a nuclear war with Israel.

(AP Photo)