TIME magazine gets it (mostly) right in a column by Joe Klein [Inflating a Little Man].
Well, at the top of the list are our old friends the neoconservatives, the folks who provided the intellectual rationale for Bush's war in Iraq, many of whom are now itching for a war with Iran. Norman Podhoretz, the neocon paterfamilias, has written a trifle called World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism and loves to posit Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden—a far more dangerous character—as the heirs to Hitler and Stalin. "They follow the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism," he writes. This is incendiary foolishness. Terrorists have the ability to wreak terrible damage intermittently, but they don't represent an existential threat to the U.S. Ahmadinejad commands no legions—not even the Hizballah forces in Lebanon that attacked Israel in the summer of 2006—and if Podhoretz doesn't know that, he should. Taking Ahmadinejad literally, as the neoconservatives do, is being disingenuous with lethal intent. It gives license to a conga line of politicians—especially Republicans running for �President—to strut their stuff by jumping on Ahmadinejad and Columbia University and liberals in general. Mitt Romney runs an ad in which he brags that he denied the milquetoast reformer Khatami a police escort to Harvard University in 2006. Now there's a man! The New York Daily News, owned by neoconservative Mort Zuckerman, runs the headline the evil has landed. The cable news networks hyperventilate. Even the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, feels the need to demolish Ahmadinejad — elegantly, I must say — before the speech. A giant toxic bubble overwhelms the public square.
And then, there he is — and laughter is freedom's only appropriate reaction. The bubble bursts. He denies not only the Holocaust but also homosexuality? Suddenly, it all becomes obvious: We are being played by extremists on both sides. To be sure, Iran does arm Hizballah, and it does have an active nuclear program that may or may not be proved to have hostile intent, and it is making trouble for the U.S. in Iraq, supplying weapons to our enemies. These are all problems to be addressed soberly and perhaps even, eventually, with multilateral force. But the neoconservative campaign to transform Ahmadinejad into Hitler or Stalin, to pretend that he has the ability to destroy the world, to make a hoo-ha over letting the little man speak, is a cynical attempt to plump for war. Ahmadinejad may be ridiculous, but Podhoretz—who recently spent 45 minutes with Bush arguing for more war—isn't very funny at all.
[Hat Tip: John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts (How to fix Iraq, and not invade Iran)]