Quoth The Times (the real one, not the ersatz versions on this side of the pond):
IRAN’S supreme leader is considering a change of policy on the country’s nuclear programme in an effort to defuse growing tension with the West, according to senior sources in Tehran.
Alarmed by mounting US pressure and United Nations sanctions, officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favour the appointment of a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities.
The move would be a snub to the bellicose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose threats to destroy Israel have left Iran increasingly isolated and facing a serious economic downturn.
Half of me is ready to break into the "Hallelujah" chorus. That is until the other half reminds me that just because one of the few men in the world more wingnutty and hard-line than the Boy Who Would Be King has apparently decided to behave reasonably, that's no guarantee that the Boy Who Would Be King Even If It Takes a Nuclear Götterdämmerung to Keep Him on the Throne will respond in kind.
It's a truly saddening commentary on how low America's fortunes have sunk under the Shrubbery that it is a fundamentalist cleric that came to his senses in this risky game of nuclear chicken, and not the self-styled leader of the free world. I wish I lived in a world where (a) this report proves to be true and (b) there could be no possible doubt that the White House would consider it a positive development and seriously pursue continued negotiations to defuse the situation.
Unfortunately, that perfect world looks nothing like the actual world in which I do live. Here in the reality-based community, we're all in dubiety about just how Bush and his minions will respond. They seem heavily invested in making Iran the next global boogeyman, with which they apparently hope to frighten the American people (and anybody else they want to influence to support them) into the kind of unquestioning obedience demanded by their irrational "unitary executive" theory of constitutional government. The Deciderer has made it abundantly clear that Iran is, both now and forevermore, one of the Baddies of the world--and once you get on Bush's shit list, there doesn't seem to be any way of getting off of it short of dying.
Let's hope (and pray, this Sabbath-tide) this time is the exception that proves the rule.