And so Ahmadinejad mirrors Saddam's behavior. He posits that Americans are so afraid of repeating the Iraq "blunder" that they will allow him to acquire nuclear weapons. He openly champions Iran's WMD program -- he knows that Americans will remember Saddam's bluster, and assume that Ahmadinejad is all talk. He obliquely hints at internal dissension while invoking Allah's aid in achieving nuclear holocaust -- he knows that Americans will remember the supposed conflict within Saddam's regime, and write off Ahmadinejad's religious ravings as an attempt to appease his base. He stonewalls International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, then gives them bits and pieces of information, enough for them to ridiculously theorize that Iran is truly attempting to cooperate with international standards -- he knows that Americans will remember Hans Blix and the missing WMDs.
The anti-war left swallows Ahmadinejad's Hussein-lite strategy hook, line and sinker. Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com writes, "the Iranian nuclear program is contracting, not expanding, and furthermore Tehran has agreed to a timetable for making their entire program transparent, and bringing it within the parameters established by the IAEA." Of course, this deliberately misreads the available information. Tehran claims that it is complying with international standards by slowing its production of centrifuges; still, they have produced hundreds of new centrifuges since May. As for agreements regarding weapons production and UN inspections -- well, that clearly worked to everyone's satisfaction in North Korea.
The anti-war left has applied the Vietnam Syndrome to the Iraq War, with some success. Now the anti-war left has translated the Vietnam Syndrome into the Iraq Syndrome: every dictator must be considered innocuous, innocent or incompetent until a bomb bearing the dictator's fingerprints strikes American soil. Pre-emptive war is out.
Ahmadinejad is the beneficiary of the Iraq Syndrome. He will don his Hussein mask, laughing and building, as Americans, paralyzed by memories of Iraq, wonder idly whether Ahmadinejad is another Hussein.