True, as The Washington Times charges, Ahmadinejad invited David Duke to Tehran to a conference of Holocaust deniers, and his minions chant, "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
But every mob in the Middle East shouts such slogans. And Duke was the Republican candidate for governor of Louisiana in 1991 and got a majority of the white vote. And Holocaust deniers meet regularly in the United States. Yet, we seem to survive.
Far more serious was the threat of Khrushchev in 1956 to rain down rockets on Britain in the Suez crisis and his "We-will-bury-you" rant. Still, JFK met him in Vienna and negotiated a test-ban halt.
Far more serious was Mao's talk, after the Cuban missile crisis, of accepting "300 million dead" in a nuclear war -- talk that scared even Khrushchev. Fidel Castro reportedly urged the Russians to fire their rockets rather than give them up. Those were deadly serious times.
Hitler could destroy the Jewish population of Europe because he was able to conquer Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. Iran has no air force or navy we could not dispatch in a week and no nukes. Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear warheads and, if it believed its survival was at stake, could turn Tehran into toast in 10 minutes.
Why does Iran want nuclear weapons if it doesn't want to use them? For the same reason Israel wanted them: deterrence.
After seeing what America did to its non-nuclear neighbor Iraq, which had done nothing to America, and after hearing Bush call them an axis-of-evil nation and prime candidate for U.S. pre-emptive strikes, a not-unreasonable ayatollah might conclude they need nuclear weapons, or the Americans will be dictating to them forever.
America and Iran have great differences, but also common interests. Among the latter, no Taliban in Kabul, no restoration of a Sunni Baathist dictatorship in Baghdad and support for the present governments. Iran cannot want a Sunni-Shia war in the region, which would make her an enemy of most Arabs, and she cannot want a major war with America, which could lead to the destruction and breakup of the nation where only half the people are Persians.
That is plenty to build a cold peace on, if the hysteriacs do not stampede us into another unnecessary war.