One of the reasons that wars happen is misperceptions of intents and capabilities. The Korean War started because the North believed that the US had effectively abandoned South Korea because it forgot to list it in some protocols, and they misjudged the ability of the US to get fighting troops to the front in time. Misjudgments of intents and capabilities.
The same was true in Iraq's attack on Kuwait: a certain State Department employee delivered what she thought was a non-committal message, diplomatically stated, that problems between Iraq and Kuwait should be solved between these two countries; what Saddam Hussein understood was that the US didn't care about how those two resolved conflicts, do what you please. The Iraqis didn't believe that the US could get fighting troops to the front in time. Misjudgment of intents and capabilities.
Now, how does one end up misjudging, of having faulty perception?
By listening to what you want to hear, rather than finding out the truth.
Like listening to someone like Gore Vidal rant and rave about how the US has been turned into a fascist state by the Bush family.
Read what Vidal says:
We are no longer a country we are a framework for crooks to go in and steal money. Knowing that they'll never be caught and they'll be admired for it. Americans always take everybody on his own evaluation. You say I'm a state and they say "oh, yeah yeah yeah, he's a state, isn't that great." And you accuse the other people of your crimes before you commit them. It's an old trick which was known to Machiavelli who wrote about it in his handbook, the Prince.
What is fascinating is that this may well be what Tehran wants to see: a mirror image of themselves. If anything, this description fits Teheran, rather than Washington, but if it is an accurate reading of what Tehran wants to see, i.e. that the US government is nothing more than a mirror image of themselves, then war is probably inevitable.
What people like Gore Vidal don't realize - or perhaps they do, but simply couldn't be bothered to care - is that their statements read vastly different outside of the US than for their intended audience. In the US, I can see people nodding their head in ditto unison, following the party line on "How Horrible Things Are Under The Bushies", but in Tehran (and elsewhere) this changes and warps perceptions of the US from reality.
Such perceptions lead to miscalculations. Such fundamental mistakes lead to war.
But Vidal and similar sycophants don't really care that they are part of the problem...not of the solution.