Christopher de Bellaigue has a wonderful essay
about Iran in the New York Review of Books
this week that pretty well encapsulates the dovish (or anti-alarmist) view of things. Two things to spotlight. Back in 2002—before the invasion of Iraq—some Iranian officials were apparently talking about a "strategic realignment" to bring the country closer to Jordan and Egypt, and offering cautious support for Saudi Arabia's Israel-Palestine peace proposal. "Within the Iranian establishment... there were intense disagreements, of which the public was only partly aware, over the value of maintaining Iran's rejection of Israel's legitimacy."
If true, that's yet another data point in favor of the view
that Iran's leadership isn't totally insane or intent on going to war with everyone and destroying Israel at all costs. Of course, maybe not all
the mullahs are that pragmatic. Ahmadinejad sounds extraordinarily belligerent at times. Then again, according to de Bellaigue, earlier this year Ahmadinejad tried to allow women to attend soccer games. He was... overruled. One might suppose that a dude who can't even set attendance policies for his own football stadiums probably has less than total control over the country's foreign policy too. Anyway, much recommended.