The Iranians have again proved themselves far beyond the Arabs. While the Arab world drifts toward fundamentalism, Persians are fed up with it. They disapproved of Khomeini and now disapprove of Ahmadinejad. Khomeini’s ascent to power was accidental: the US supported the Shah and neglected relatively liberal contenders; Khomeini was the only alternative to monarchy. A period of post-Khomeini liberalization ended with the fundamentalist resurgence, but such short-lived rebounds are common during the final stages of totalitarian regimes.

Iran is relatively civilized and pro-Western. It was the only Islamic country where spontaneous demonstrations took place in support of the US after 9/11. Iran is the only Islamic country with a large and comfortable Jewish population. One can only hope that Israel won’t force those Jews to emigrate and lose their wonderful culture in the melting pot of Israeli secularism. Iran holds genuinely democratic elections. Now that Ahmadinejad’s faction lost the elections, the West must jump on the track. Rafsanjani and other possible moderates must be showered with attention and promises of aid and cooperation. Sanctions are a stick; a weak stick calls for a huge carrot. It is imperative to abandon procrastination and diplomatic process and openly pump a lot of money into Ahmadinejad’s challengers in return for their condemnation of the nuclear program. Iranians should see the opposition not simply as more political thugs but as deliverers who could save the common people from the massive American strikes unavoidable if Iran goes on with its nuclear program.

There is not much time left. Ahmadinejad calls Iran a nuclear power; the country has mastered nuclear technology. Traces of plutonium found in Iran show that the nuclear program is more advanced than previously thought. Ahmadinejad is now hard-pressed to speed up the construction of a bomb: nuclearization would leave him as the only politician strong enough to deal with the escalation; people do not elect moderate leaders in a crisis.

Ahmadinejad is a driving force behind the Iranian nuclear bomb, and assassinating him makes perfect sense. He does not hide; his locations are well known. Missiles from the US warships in Persian Gulf could reach Ahmadinejad in minutes with no time to flee. Both Israel and the US have many assets in Iran and could arrange for the locals to assassinate Ahmadinejad. His death could save many people.