14 December 2005

Here We Go Again

Unfortunately, the US media has pretty much neglected the implications of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's latest assault on Israel's "right to exist." The NYT does not, as of this moment, even have a link to a story on its front page; neither do the major papers in Chicago, Seattle, and St. Louis. The Washington Post article really isn't too bad, as at least it delves into the tangled web of issues that have been made "related" by rhetoric.

Ahmadinejad said the West had harmed Muslims, invaded their countries and plundered their wealth. "If your civilization consists of aggression, making oppressed people homeless, suffocating the voices of justice and bringing poverty to a majority of the world's people, we say loudly that we hate your hollow civilization," he said. Ahmadinejad has been unapologetic about taking Iran on a more openly defiant course, insisting on Iran's right to develop its nuclear program — which it insists is peaceful — and often using rhetoric reminiscent of the 1980s heyday of the Islamic Revolution. The president's views sharply conflict with those of predecessor Mohammad Khatami, a moderate who used to call for dialogue among civilizations and promoted a low-key understanding with the United States that stopped short of diplomatic relations. Inside Iran, Ahmadinejad's remarks have been criticized by some of his conservative allies, who fear he is hurting the country's image. Moderate Iranians have called on the ruling Islamic establishment to rein in the president.

Ali Akbar Dareini, "Iran Leader Escalates Holocaust Rhetoric" (14 Dec 2005) (fake paragraphing omitted for clarity). It's not quite as good as the article in Frankfurter Rundschau, but that is at least in part because the WaPo must concentrate more on basics due to the unsophisticated nature of its audience.

I suspect that Ahmadinejad's latest outburst is a carefully calculated attempt to deflect attention away from Iran's nuclear weapons program. The subtext is something like this: "Because the West has so grievously insulted and imposed upon Islam by allowing Israel to exist (and, worse, setting it up in the midst of Islamic nations), the West must allow the true sons of Islam the ability to defend their culture through nuclear weaponry. In other words, it's the West's own fault that Iran must become a nuclear power, because the West proves its evil intent every day it continues to support Israel. So go away now. By the way, it's your fault when anything else goes wrong—such as airliner crashes—because you make getting spare parts for the stuff the Shah purchased difficult." <SARCASM> Yeah, I'm convinced. </SARCASM> But then, I'm not in the intended audience.