Billmon on Iran
I have yet to read as sensible an analysis of the situation as this. Why are you here - go read the rest of it! And for heaven's sake, make sure you check him out daily.
Under the circumstances, Ahmadinejad and his fellow hardliners might see confrontation — up to and even including war — as just what the doctor ordered, both to rally public opinion behind the regime, and to purge it of the corrupt old guard. As one analyst recently put it, for Iran a U.S. air blitz would be the emotional equivalent of 9/11. It could turn a radical crackdown into a patriotic mass movement. It could even make Ahmadinejad the unchallenged dictator of Iran. Such a scenario might seem worth the potential damage to Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
It's also possible that Iran's hardliners are suffering from the same hubris that swept through the Cheney administration after the fall of Baghdad. American failure in Iraq — and the insurgency's success – may have led them to overestimate their own ability to cope with a U.S. attack. Soaring oil prices may have led them to believe the Cheney administration will never risk the energy chaos a full-scale ground invasion ("real men want to go go Tehran") inevitably would cause.
In other words, there is real risk that key players in the crisis — Iranian as well as American — are fundamentally misreading the situation. They may not understand that their counterparts on the other side are perfectly willing to escalate, because they actually want war, or at least are pulled in that direction by their own political and/or strategic dilemmas.