Our Worst Enemy
When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Irans president, or dictator, or tyrant, or whatever he is (his constitutional and actual practical authority is rarely defined for us), arrived in New York, it was to tremendous media excitement. The intensity of the furor is suggested by the fact that he knocked
Ahmadinejad, whose name is nearly as hard to spell as Condoleezza, is now the main selection of the Hitler-of-the-Month Club, following such luminaries as Louis Farrakhan, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Osama
The hostile coverage was monotonously repetitious: brutal dictator, sponsor of terror, developing nuclear weapons, and so forth. If these sound familiar, they are exactly the same phrases verbatim! we used to hear about Saddam Hussein five years ago, but without the specific details. The War Party is up to its old tricks.
The Iranian leader was invited to speak at Columbia University, whose president explained that this would be the best way to expose him for what he is, to wit, a bad apple. He faced some hostile questions from the student body, but he also won applause several times. That figures. He may be a Hitler; on the other hand, hes not President Bush.
One Wall Street Journal column about the Iranians visit mentioned Hitler exactly twelve times (next to a drawing of his face); in the pro-war press there were countless hysterical references to Nazis, the Holocaust, terrorism, the 9/11 attacks, and so forth. (Curiously, Mussolini was mentioned only once.) Little of the verbiage had any factual relation to Iran or its regime. Reading it, youd never guess that none of the 9/11 hijackers was Iranian. It was all naked propaganda, sheer denunciation, designed solely to stupefy.
Columbias president, Lee Bollinger, feeling compelled to insult his guest, called him astonishingly uneducated. Well, that would seem to make him a fit match for Bush, one of the most ignorant of all U.S. presidents. Listen to ordinary Americans discussing presidential powers the next time youre in, say, McDonalds: they take for granted that the president has virtually absolute power, never mind what the Constitution says. Theyd heatedly deny that hes a dictator, of course, since he has to be elected, this being a democracy. But when it comes to limits on his authority, they are imbecilic. Besides, dictators are bad, and our presidents are good. It comes down to that.
We are horrified at the idea that dictators may have nuclear weapons, but its fine for democratic leaders to have them even though the only two nukes ever used on populated areas were dropped by order of an American president. (Thank heaven Hitler didnt get them first! He might have abused them; whereas the United States used them to shorten the war.)
Ahmadinejad did excite raucous laughter when he said there are no homosexuals in Iran, an assertion that suggests he thinks we are as gullible as Bush does. As for the Holocaust, a note of skepticism would have been more plausible than flat denial: surely its an extraordinary fact that the war memoirs of Churchill, De Gaulle, and Eisenhower dont discuss it, but this is not the same thing as saying it didnt happen. It merely invites the inference that whatever actually occurred during World War II, there has been a lot of subsequent embellishment, as usually happens with history, an omelet in which fact, propaganda, and legend are hopelessly scrambled by the victors.
At any rate, Ahmadenijad has so far done little to justify the lurid Hitler parallels. He seems to be more a figurehead for the regime than a strongman in full command of it; hardly a totalitarian dictator. Where are his victims? Compared with Saddam, he seems almost humanitarian. And even Saddam, truly grisly as his record was, posed no threat to the United States.
At the moment, the worst enemy we Americans have seems to be George Walker Bush. Who else has done this country so much harm?
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