By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
There's not much foreign policy talk on the campaign trail except for one issue - Iran. Everyone is talking about Iran's new strength and assertiveness - its missile tests, its progress on the nuclear program, its moves in Iraq. Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, describes Iran as "the greatest threat that the world faces over the next decade." Newt Gingrich has compared the Iranian challenge to the rise of Hitler’s Germany. More measured commentators also see Iran’s rising influence and power across the Middle East.
In fact, the real story on the ground is that Iran is weak and getting weaker. Sanctions have pushed the economy into a nose-dive. The political system is fractured and fragmenting. Abroad, its closest ally and the regime of which it is almost the sole supporter - Syria - is itself crumbling. The Persian Gulf monarchies have banded together against Iran and shored up their relations with Washington. Last week, Saudi Arabia closed its largest-ever purchase of U.S. weaponry.