I guess they’ve taken this “moderation” thing as far as it’ll go.

The man with a plan? Ahmadinejad’s eminence grise.

In a move that would push Iran even further into the diplomatic wilderness, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, 71, who publicly backs the use of suicide bombers against Israel, is campaigning to succeed Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini, 67, as the head of the Islamic state.

Considered an extremist even by fellow mullahs, he was a fringe figure in Iran’s theocracy until last year’s election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow fundamentalist who views him as his ideological mentor…

Appointing Mr Mesbah-Yazdi as supreme leader would be a massive blow to Western efforts to get Iran to cease its nuclear programme and backing of militants in Lebanon, Iraq and among the Palestinians. Although he has never spoken publicly on the issue, Mr Mesbah-Yazdi is thought to support the idea of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Ali Ansari, an Iran specialist at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: “Mesbah-Yazdi is on the hard Right and very authoritarian. He doesn’t even believe in democracy. Having him in power would lead to a much more hard-line puritanical rule in Iran. It would not be good news for the West.”

Things are already getting worse, not better. I used to think hardliners cracking down on the kids over there was a good thing insofar as it would antagonize them into revolution that much more quickly. But from what I’ve read in the last year or two, it sounds like Santa’s not coming down the chimney anytime soon. Either we’re going to have to do something — notorious far-left liar Sy “Winter Soldier” Hersh’s latest anonymously-sourced, national-security-compromising scoop notwithstanding — or Israel will have to play deus ex machina. A possibility to which Bush, not surprisingly, sounds sympathetic.

On the other hand, it’s not like Ahmadinejad is Hitler. Why worry?

Tags: Israel