Is the extremist agenda of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - including support for terror, development of nuclear weapons and confrontation with the United States and Israel - popular among Iranians? Are they willing to make the sacrifices that would come from an increasingly tight global boycott imposed because of Iran's defiance of United Nations strictures on its nuclear development?
A rare glimpse into the minds of the Iranian people - via a telephone survey of Iranians conducted for Terror Free Tomorrow - shows that the answers to both questions is "no!"
Apparently, Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs are in serious political trouble. Iranians do not much care about getting the bomb and very much worry about global isolation.
The survey shows:
* Iranians oppose the institution of an "unelected Supreme Leader" by 61-27 and favor democracy by 79-14. So when liberals assail neocons for having a naive faith in peoples' aspirations for freedom, they are just wrong - even in Iran.
* Iranians want nuclear power more than nuclear weapons. Suffering under gasoline rationing and falling energy exports, three-quarters said that developing nuclear power, without weapons, was "very important." By contrast, only 37 percent said developing nuclear weapons was a similar priority. Since the Iranian regime says that it wants nuclear power, not nuclear weapons, its stated position accords with its people's views. (The government, of course, is lying and wants to get a bomb.)
The survey underscores the need to separate nuclear power from weaponry in the mi nds of the people and make clear that Western sanctions are designed to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, not power or energy.
* Iranians would gladly agree to "full inspections and a guarantee that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons" if other nations would increase overall trade and investment (80 percent), increase investment in the energy sector (79 percent), give humanitarian assistance (80 percent) or assist in helping Iran develop peaceful nuclear energy (80 percent).
* Only 33 percent said supporting terrorist proxies Hezbollah or Hamas was a priority, and 55 percent are ready to endorse full recognition of Israel and of a Palestinian state if they could get "normal trade and full recognition" from the United States. Almost two-thirds - 64 percent - said that they are willing to end Iranian assistance to armed groups in Iraq and 51 percent would forgo nuclear weaponry and accept full international controls and inspections in return for normal relat ions with the United States.