The 1st problem of the situation is that the Iraq War has proved that the Bush government wants to dramatically change the political landscape of the middle-east. The Saudi-controlled Bush government is more interested in oil exploration than they are in peace. It makes the Saudis rich and it keeps fat lazy Americans who drive SUVs happy.
The 2nd problem is that Iran's new president has been feeding off of anti-Americanism. Thats why he managed to get elected despite many of his countrymen being against his election platform. That anti-Americanism means that negotiating with Mahmoud will be incredibly difficult.
The 3rd problem is nuclear. Iran has nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons capability. The problem is that they haven't tested any weapons yet. The day they do test a nuclear bomb, we had better hope that it explodes over water and not over an American city.
Lets pause and look at the statistical data for Iran (statistics courtesy of the CIA World Factbook):
Land Area: 1.636 million square km, which is roughly 4 times the size of Iraq (432,162 sq km) or 2.5 times the size of Afghanistan (647,500 sq km). The country is bigger than the state of Alaska.
Coastline: 2,440 km, which means that they also have submarines. Iraq and Afghanistan are both practically landlocked in comparison.
Natural Resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur. This means that if we did pick a fight with Iran, we wouldn't just be getting oil. We'd also be getting coal (which is becoming more expensive) and a variety of other usable materials.
Population: 68,017,860 (July 2005 est.), which is twice that of Afghanistan (29,928,987 2005 est.) or Iraq (26,074,906 2005 est.)
Ethnicity: Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%.
Economics: Iran is wealthy compared to its neighbours with a higher standard of living, billions of dollars of oil profits and $40 billion in foreign exchange reserves.
Military Service: Compulsory military service for men AND WOMEN. Everyone over the age of 18 is trained for duty (except for the elderly and invalids). The mandatory service of both men and women (similar to Switzerland and Israel) has resulted in a standing army of 36.5 million troops. During the Iran-Iraq War soldiers as young as 9 were recruited.
Military Branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qods Force (special operations), and Basij Force (Popular Mobilization Army).
Military expenditures: Only 3.3% of the GDP ($4.3 billion US), which is surprisingly little. Their nuclear capabilities is unknown.
International Refugees: 1,223,823 (Afghanistan) 124,014 (Iraq) (2004 est.)
Let me conclude by saying that picking a fight with Iran would be a messy business. Our soldiers would be fighting armed women and children. I'm talking about little kids with AK-47 assault rifles.
And if they do actually have nuclear capability, and the ships or submarines to deploy them, what then? It doesn't take a whole submarine to deliver a nuclear weapon. A fishing-boat could do it just as easily.
Or an oil tanker. We have to be vigilant against such unorthodox attacks.
After all, who would suspect an oil tanker to be carrying a nuclear weapon? Especially if they were flying the flag of Saudi Arabia, our allies.
Just like who would suspect someone of ramming passenger jets into buildings?
War, terrorism, its all very scary.
Having two right-wing idiots like George and Mahmoud in the captain's chairs doesn't make much sense either.
The scary thing is that now that we're bogged down in Iraq its just a matter of time before we are forced into a position where we have to fight Iran too. Whether we want to or not. Such a war would be ten times more difficult to fight, due to four times the territory to cover and an army four times larger than Iraq's.
It will be a messy business killing women and children. Who would WANT to sign up to be sent over to that war? No, the United States would be forced to draft people into the military just to support a war we don't want.