I had that flashback to that bygone time when I listened to NPR's Weekend Edition this Saturday morning. An expert named Lisa Margonelli was on, discussing oil politics. Then came this:
WE: You were able to get at least some view of the Iranian oil industry. By taking a look at the Iranian oil industry, Americans might better understand what nuclear power represents to Iranians — even Iranians that are not wild at all about the government of Iran...
LM: Nuclear power, even since the time of the Shah, has been a very potent idea in Iran, because it would provide them with a more consistent electrical supply, and it would allow them to sell their oil for money while producing their own electricity. Nuclear weapons are also very symbolic, because Iran spent eight years or so at war with Iraq and has seen that Iraq was attacked because it didn't have nuclear weapons, while North Korea was left alone. So Iran has a sense of being besieged for years. Nuclear weapons offer a couple of things. They offer a very symbolic development and they offer what they feel is a kind of protection against attack by outside countries.
Of course, the stated reasons for the ayatollahs acquiring these weapons--stated more than once--is far from symbolic. Their stated purpose is to wipe Israel off the map. Of course, the nukes do have a more limited use. They are seen as being good for holding America at bay while Iran subverts the elected Iraqi government, stepping up Hezbollah's assault to the death on Israel, and who knows what else, some day. But surely they can't mean it, can they? If Israel were to be nuked, then experts would come on Weekend Edition and criticize Iran for it--or at least call for restraint by both sides in future nukefests!
If Ms. Margonelli thinks the Islamic nuke is for symbolic use, let her relocate to Tel Aviv, once Iran has a device in hand.
And a little comparison between eras like this shows the power of wishful progressive thinking or, as P. J. O'Rourke called it, "the awful power of make-believe.