Daniel Pipes explains while Ahmaidinejad may not be rational in our sense, he's perfectly logical --and predictable-- within his own thoughts. He's a Mahdaviat,
Thanks to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a new word has entered the political vocabulary: mahdaviat.Pipes links this story from December in the CSM that further explains what's going on inside Ahmadinejad's head.
Not surprisingly, it's a technical religious term. Mahdaviat derives from mahdi, Arabic for "rightly-guided one," a major figure in Islamic eschatology. He is, explains the Encyclopaedia of Islam, "the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world." The concept originated in the earliest years of Islam and, over time, became particularly identified with the Shi‘ite branch. Whereas "it never became an essential part of Sunni religious doctrine," continues the encyclopedia, "Belief in the coming of the Mahdi of the Family of the Prophet became a central aspect of the faith in radical Shi‘ism," where it is also known as the return of the Twelfth Imam.
Mahdaviat means "belief in and efforts to prepare for the Mahdi."
...most dangerous leaders in modern history are those (such as Hitler) equipped with a totalitarian ideology and a mystical belief in their own mission. Mr. Ahmadinejad fulfills both these criteria, as revealed by his U.N. comments. That combined with his expected nuclear arsenal make him an adversary who must be stopped, and urgently.I'd add misunderstanding the United States and the American people to that mix of ideology and mystical belief.
We're a difficult people to fathom. We're reluctant to fight, and will debate it bitterly. That can be misunderstood a pacifism and weakness. Once resolved though we can respond fearsomely.
Democrats tell us Bush has cost us the world's support, but I'm far more concerned the world clearly understands what the United States will do. The resolve far easier to see with Bush then it would have been with Kerry.
I'm just not sure Ahmadinejad isn't so far in the mystical clouds that it's too late.