IMAGINE two men planning for years to escape from a high-security mental
institution that is surrounded by 100 walls. On the night of their
escape, they reach the 99th wall, and one asks the other, “Are you tired
“Yes,” says the second one. And so they go back to their cells.
Are Iran’s leaders that crazy?
In the current standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, Western policy is
guided by a key assumption: Iran’s decision makers are rational actors,
and their calculations about their nuclear program are driven by
cost-benefit analyses. By gradually increasing the costs of Iran’s
nuclear pursuit, Western decision makers believe, Tehran will eventually
They are only half right. Western expectations that Iran will behave
rationally and agree to a compromise under the increasing pressure of
sanctions ignore Iran’s perspective on the costs already incurred, the
price of completing the journey and the advantages of turning back. For
Iran, it is far more rational at this point to accelerate the program
and reject any agreement the West would be prepared to sign.
Historical precedents demonstrate that Iran’s decision makers are not
impervious to cost-benefit analysis. One such instance… >>>