Arab Media Sees Missed Opportunity in U.S. Rejection of Ahmadinejad

In the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf, Iran may be the biggest kid on the block. But it's hardly the most popular.

The size of the Islamic Republic (69 million people), its state theology (revolutionary Shia), its influence in Iraq (considerable), and its ambitions for nuclear power (and perhaps weapons) worry the unelected governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar and other oil-rich emirates in the region.

So when Iranian President Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to President Bush earlier this week, the region's online media responded with a mixture of fear and hope: fear of Iran's ambitions and hope that Washington will engage Tehran, not wage war.

"Iran's latest message confirmed the fears of those who see its actions as an aspiration for leadership," writes Tariq Alhomayed, editor of the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in London, which usually reflects Saudi government thinking. "Iran seeks to control the region and the Middle East and become its policeman. This will lead to the breakdown of the peace process and the sabotaging of the Iraqi dream."

The Arab Times in Kuwait says the letter brings to mind "a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt who told one of the British kings, 'To save your soul, be a Muslim or else your head will be chopped off'."

"Suddenly [Ahmadinejad] yearns for peace and wants to sit at a negotiating table with the US on condition he won't allow anyone to interfere in our regional affairs, as if he owns the region," said editor Ahmed Al-Jarallah. Unwilling to abandon its revolutionary past, Iran is "embarking on childish adventures," he says.

But others see Iran's letter as an opportunity to avoid a U.S. attack on Iran.

Ahmadinejad's letter, say the editors of The Peninsula news site in Qatar, "is an opening - even if very slim - for the long-time foes to engage in a dialogue."

Peninsula agrees with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said the 18-page missive contained no concrete proposals to end the impasse over Iran's nuclear energy program.

"Yet the taboo-breaking initiative ... has a symbolic value which, if deftly handled, can lead to real 'breakthrough ... Bush, now must seize upon the symbolism of the message and slowly but surely build on it a relationship conducive to peace and progress in the region and the world," says Peninsula.

In Saudi Arabia, the Arab News, another Web site that generally reflects Saudi thinking, lamented Rice's rejection of Iran's "remarkable and encouraging" initiative.

The letter "could have been used as a bridge for further contacts with Tehran. A carefully worded response, on which dialogue could be built, should have been the next step. Washington has missed an opportunity to try and resolve the nuclear issue through an unexpected diplomatic opening -- just when all other diplomatic efforts seem to have run into the ground."

"In so tersely rejecting the letter and saying there would be no response, Washington sends a clear message that it is not interested in a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis," says the Riyadh-based news site.

"By seemingly dismissing dialogue and talking the language of ultimatums, which Iran will reject, Washington may well maneuver itself into a corner where, to save face and prevent Iran from gaining a great political victory, it will have to take military action. It happened in Iraq and could happen again. The world cannot bear another such tragedy."

By Jefferson Morley |  May 10, 2006; 11:24 AM ET  | Category:  Mideast
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The idea that a man who weeks ago stated his intention to "wipe Israel off of the map" can now become a man who can be negotiated with, shows how desperate the left and the Arab world is to latch onto any means to put the onus on the US and make Bush the issue and the villian. That way if war does come, it MUST be Bush's fault, and not the fault of psychopathic mullahs who run Iran.

There is no room for negotiation here, either Iran will enrich Uranium and develop weapons or they wont. There is no middle ground. Put simply Iran is saying to the world: "we will develop Nuclear Weapons anyway! What are you going to do about it?"

The international community apparently plans to do nothing about it, which has demonstrated once again how useless and feckless the UN is. Once again it is up to us to actually get something done, and not just talk.

Why dont we just rent out the UN building in NYC for office space and put the building to better use. What in Gods name is that organization good for? What do they do right?

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 12:26 PM

Talking is the basis of diplomacy. If US is serious about diplomacy, they should definitely talk.

I don't see any serious reason why not to talk to Iran or any other country. It does not exculde military action, if needed, but it could certainly prevent it.

Democracy is also based on free speech and open discusion. What kind of message are we sending to those non-democratic nations if we refuse to talk?

I wish US was the first to send a letter to Iran, not the other way around. Now it looks like Iran is more open to dialogue than US is. Nevertheless, the opportunity must not be ignored.

Posted by: Michael N, Toronto | May 10, 2006 12:30 PM

Iran's letter was not asking for a response. The rhetorical questions were ment to weaken the USA's image. Is President Bush supposed to get into a theological debate with an Islamic leader?
How could he respond without insulting the man? There stance on women's rights alone makes the entire letter hipocritical.

Posted by: James | May 10, 2006 12:48 PM

Being in the ring with an Iranian would be even more humiliating for Emperor George than debating a Democrat. Just like the last time (with Kerry), Bush would be shown up as arrogant, incompetent and stupid.

Posted by: David Ellis | May 10, 2006 12:56 PM

Ahmadinejad has never said that Israel or any other country should be wiped off of the map. In fact, The misquotation of Ahmadinejad, who actually quoted Khomeini as saying, "This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time," now seems all by itself to be producing visions of nuclear war! (See http://www.juancole.com/).

The United Nations is an organ reflecting the wishes of the International Community and not that of solely the United States. The Hawks here in the US must understand this. Of course, it is perfectly fine for the United States to renounce its membership into the United Nations and legitimately do as it pleases without the need to secure the agreement of the World Community. So long as the United States chooses to remain a member of the United Nations, it must abide by the rules it has agreed to abide by.

One must also remember that Ahmadinejad, has not authority over the army. That is, even if he wanted, he alone has no authority to launch an attack on anyone. Further more, he is an elected figure whose term will soon end... All this talk about this mad man wanting to start a nuclear war is plain nonsense.

I urge the Administration to open direct dialogue with the Iranians. This imaginary crisis can be negotiated--if only in fact a negotiated settlement is wanted.

Nima\Chicago, IL

Posted by: Nima | May 10, 2006 12:56 PM

Nina,

Read Christopher Hitches response to Cole, and how he shows that Cole's "translation" is wrong and really an attempt to put lip stick on a pig, and make an insane comment sound sane. Or more to the point, if Ahmadinejad's intention was not to threaten Israel with Annihilation, then why didnt he come out and clarify his remarks after the fact.

After all it is a very big misunderstanding if the world thinks you intend to destroy a nation, when you really "didnt mean it". This "misunderstanding" would also prove to be rather inconvenient, while your government is busy trying to convince the world your Nuclear Weapons program is "peaceful". If what you say is true (which it isnt) then why is Juan Cole being a PR man for this Iranian nutcase? Why isnt he correcting the "misconception"?

http://www.slate.com/id/2140947/

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 01:09 PM

Until Bush is gone from the White House, I'm afraid Ahmadinejad will have a free had to do whatever he wants. Bush has zero credibility and cannot possibly assemble a coalition of nations to stand up to Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad has chosen his moment brilliantly: with a weak, discredited U.S. president in office who is despised the world over, the is the perfect time for him to make a move. If you Americans finally impeach Bush and try him for his crimes, maybe those of us who live elsewhere on this great planet of ours will take your government more seriously when it spouts on about the "menace" of Iran. As things stand, the U.S. -- with its gulag of torture prisons, illegal wiretapping, murders and tortures of the illegally detained, contempt for international law, pro-global warming policies and its sponsorship of a pointless, costly, destabilizing and murderous war -- poses a far greater threat to humanity than the populist-Islamist regime in Teheran, which doesn't even have nuclear weapons.
Get some perspective, please!

Posted by: Antonio | May 10, 2006 01:10 PM

As far as your statement about the US leaving the UN is concerned, well I agree. I think we should leave and as long as we stay we give it legitimacy it does not deserve.
We are being hypocrites by staying in the UN and badmouthing it. That Nina I agree with totally. Except I think we should leave and leave now.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 01:13 PM

"If you Americans finally impeach Bush and try him for his crimes, maybe those of us who live elsewhere on this great planet of ours will take your government more seriously when it spouts on about the "menace" of Iran."

Antonio,

Interesting idea, except there is just one problem. Despite Bush's low approval ratings most Americans don't lose sleep at night worrying about what the world thinks. We really couldnt care less. I wish you people would stop going on and on about America's "lost credibility". Its so annoying and none of us really care what you think. As a conservative I am not thrilled with Bush either, but dont mistake that for caring what you think. Get over it please.

"Frankly my dear I dont give a damn."
-Humphrey Bogart

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 01:19 PM

Andrew. When you say "We really couldn't care less," who is the "we"?

It seems to me the United States has no choice but to pay attention to what other countries think. Condoleezza Rice would be incompetent if she didn't care what Russia and Saudia Arabia and Germany and Qatar think about Iran, no?

Posted by: Jefferson Morley | May 10, 2006 01:38 PM

http://redhatmandan.blogspot.com

just a few comments. It must be said that Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev, even though Gorbachev was the ruler of the "evil empire."

Was Reagan wrong in doing this? Should Reagan have, instead, planned some kind of takeover of the Soviet Union?

Also, Nixon went to China.

Posted by: RHMD | May 10, 2006 01:45 PM

Jeff Morley,

Correction we=52% of the population who reelected Bush. Sorry Jeff, I forgot that you are actually losing sleep over the things that leftist Eurocrats say about us.

If we really lost sleep about whether they liked us or not then the "unliateral" Bush administration would not have been reelected. Even his low approval ratings now reflect more anger at the President (liberal and conservative) than a desire to placate to anti-Americanism around the world. So correction, most of us dont care and arent losing sleep over it.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 01:58 PM

Jefferson Morley,

As far as Condi Rice is concerned, well of course the Secretary of State must be concerned over Russia. Its her job to be. But to the extent that Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar dont agree with American actions, well I dont think we should lose sleep over it or change our policies.

Ever since kindergarten I have learned that not everyone isnt going to like you. If you spend your time worrying what others(people or nations) think of you, you will never do what is necessary for your own interests. The world may find it shocking that after 9/11 we have started looking after ourselves, but you know what, 2700 dead tends to change a few perspectives. But even before that I felt that while having a Secretary of State go out and sell US policies to the world is useful, those policies should not be altered merely because a Saudi and Qatari autocrat, a former Russian KGB officer, or a German anti-american leftist doesnt like us.

You may find it shocking, but Americans being the individiualists that most of us are largely agree. Thus Bush receieved more votes than any other President. Is that tough for the you and the rest of the world to hear? Maybe. But its reality

"I didnt say it would be easy NEO, I just said it would be the truth"

-Lawrence Fishburn

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 02:06 PM

I find it interesting that Andrew assumes a vote for Bush in 2004 is equivalent to a vote for "we don't care what the world thinks." By that token should we then correlate his current approval rating of 27% (on progess in Iraq) as the current fraction of the population that doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks, or should we use Bush's 31% approval rating? Seems to me that Andrew just wants to go the bombing route directly, even though this may make things much, much worse for us in Iraq and elsewhere. Let's talk to Iran.

Posted by: Manfred Winde | May 10, 2006 02:11 PM

"Shocking" Andrew?

No, I don't find it "shocking" that you profess not to care what foreign countries think while you express the hope that our government officials do care. That seems normal to me. That's what we pay them for.

As for the view that we shouldn't change our policies because what other governments think. That depends on the assumption that can achieve what we want without the help of other countries and that other countries couldn't possibly tell us something we didn't know.

For example, some countries that said Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction and that governing the country after Saddam was deposed would be difficult; that Iran would benefit from a Shiite government in Baghdad etc. These were insights that proved more credible than our government's claims.


Posted by: Jefferson Morley | May 10, 2006 02:16 PM

Manfred Winde et. al.,

What exactly have we been doing for the past 2 years if not trying diplomacy and trying to "talk to Iran". Even the EU3 the masters of nice guy "we feel your pain" diplomacy failed. What else would you like to talk about?

Economic and political incentives have been offered to Iran, who has responded by spitting in Europe's face. So what else do we say to a man who after 2 years still insists that God enchanted the UN while he was speaking, wants to exterminate Israel, and has laughed at European and UN efforts to "talk" and "negotiate"?

Tell me what does an 18 page letter full of Islamic religous rantings change that 2 years of diplomacy did not?

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 02:19 PM

Jefferson Morley,

Good point, except that most of the countries you named had alterior motives themselves for opposing the Iraq war, that themselves were counter to US interests. Think oil for food corruption, trade deals that broke the sanctions, weapons dealing, and good old fashioned anti americanism.

The key players in this drama all had their own axes to grind, so for us to jump everytime France, Germany, or Russia says how high without it being in our interest is insane.

However, the fact that our government failed to do its due diligence is a legitimate criticism, which is one of the reason Bush has made me angry. Even without WMDs I still would have supported the war, but the fact that they were caught by suprise on that fact and on the post-war insurgency makes me frustrated at this administration. However, that is just an argument that our intelligence agencies need fixing and that the adminstration's planning was poor.

That is not a reason to listen to Dominique De Villepin when he plays to anti-americanism to make a name for himself at a UN gallery orlisten to a Russian minister who secretly is shipping Iraq weapons and US battle plans. THese people have their own interest and we have ours.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 02:29 PM

Andrew's comment that "after 9/11 we have started looking after ourselves," namely that since then and only then have we really put American interests first, is also interesting if unverifiable. Given that we have botched literally everything since then and are soon to have as many soldiers die in Iraq as civilians in the vicious acts of 9/11, perhaps looking after the world in a genuine sense - poverty, climate, health care, education, as opposed to a singular focus on military dominance may have better results. As in a marriage, if one partner is utterly dominant there can be no balance, equanimity and joy. Fear is never enough to ensure harmony. There is nothing lost from talking to Iran provided we do it with a genuine intention of seeking peace.

Posted by: Manfred Winde | May 10, 2006 02:38 PM

"There is nothing lost from talking to Iran provided we do it with a genuine intention of seeking peace."

See my post above. Specifically, what would you like to talk about?

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 02:44 PM

I think we all get Andrew's point:
(1) The UN is useless, all they do is talk. Shut it down, unless of course they agree with us, in which case we can quote that fact.
(2) Iran is run by a madman. Can't talk to him. Never mind that his power is probably vastly overstated.
(3) Ahmadenijad's letter was just an "Islamic" ramble notwithstanding the multiple references to Jesus: All talk, like Jesus' sermons - Basically useless.
(4) Bush doesn't want to talk; though if he did, one could never be sure exactly what he said. Or perhaps Bush does not like to talk.
(5) There is only one way to solve this and it involves some form of aggressive act aka pre-emptive war.
(6) It really does not matter whether we actually derail Iran's Nuclear ambitions. What is really crucial is that we bomb them hard.
(7) We can think about the consequences of bombing Iran later. Let's focus on what we have to do right now. Thinking, like talk, is painful.


Posted by: Manfred Winde | May 10, 2006 03:05 PM

Boy there is a peaceloving leftist if I ever saw one :)

Give peace a chance Darren! :)

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 03:06 PM

"Boy there is a peaceloving leftist if I ever saw one :)

Give peace a chance Darren! :)"

How incredibly enlightening!!!!

Posted by: | May 10, 2006 03:19 PM

1. Definitely True ( That speaks for itself)

2. True (Ahmadenijad's power is overstated, Iran is a Mullahcracy run by clerics. But that just makes it even more scary.)

3. Half True (Does his references to Jesus, make him or his Mullah bosses anymore sane, or refute in anyway their behavior in the last 2 years?)

4. False (Bush does want to talk. If he didnt it would be raining ordinance in Tehran right now. I wish he would stop though. I think any deal that could have been made would have been made by now)

5. Definitely true (people like the Mullahs only learn the hard way. Read Thomas Hobbes.)

6. Good Point (Except regardless of how well dug in their reactors are a B2 Stealth Bomber will be more effective at "convincing" them to cooperate than the EU3 approach has been so far)

7. False (Ive already thought about it and the choice to go to war is better than a Nuclear armed Mullacracy whose stated intent is to develop WMDs and destroy Israel. Its a choice between bad and worse, but thats life)

Posted by: | May 10, 2006 03:20 PM

Forgot to put my name on the last post.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 03:20 PM

The USA negotiated with Khruschev, who said, "We will bury you!" A close parallel with President A, isn't it?

Of course K. had nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the Iranians have the power to bring down the whole petroleum economy.

Unfortunately both Iranian and US presidents have too much benefit from brinkmanship to do the sane thing. That's the danger!

Posted by: sm | May 10, 2006 03:34 PM

Kruschev's USSR were much more predictable and sane, and generally demonstrated that they understood the aspects behind the academic theory "Mutual Assured Destruction".

The Iranian government seems to be willing to take a nuclear bomb in the teeth and not care. THe USSR was deterable and predictable. Is a Ahmadenijad?

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 03:40 PM

And bombing is going to decrease the Mullahcracy. Definitely. Nothing like a good bombing campaign to make them love us, love democracy and overthrow the Mullahs. Hey, we can all feel the luv in Iraq right now. Petals and flowers, IEDs and suicide bombs. Last throes. Mission Accomplished. Go ahead, do it on my tax dollar.

Posted by: Seth | May 10, 2006 03:47 PM

7. False (Ive already thought about it and the choice to go to war is better than a Nuclear armed Mullacracy whose stated intent is to develop WMDs and destroy Israel. Its a choice between bad and worse, but thats life)

Since you are so concerned about Israel, why don't you move there and help protect it against a madman. Americans who put America's national interest FIRST, don't need people like you here.

Posted by: | May 10, 2006 03:54 PM

If our bombing Iran makes Iranians love religious theocracy and oppression more well, good for them. I dont care. But we shouldnt alter our policy in the hopes that the Iranians will overthrow them. If they dont well then I guess they are happy being arrested and shot as they protest the government. In the meantime there is a little matter of Iran's potential to destroy whole cities that we need to worry about.

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 03:57 PM

to ??????

Is it in our national interest to appease Adolph Hitler retreads like Ahmadenijad?

If there is a nut out there committed to exterminating millions of innocent Israeli's could it really be against American interests to stop him?

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 04:00 PM

In Regard to the comments about Ahmadinejad's statements concerning Israel, no matter how one does the interpretation, it is simply not the case that Ahmadinejad said that "Iran" intended to wipe Israel off the map, nor is it even nessesarily a reference to an act of war or direct aggression. It can be viewed to be much more similar in nature to the comments that adherents of the Israeli settler movement use when describing what their intentions for the Palestinians are. They suggest that the Palestinians real home is in Jordan, (which is most certainly not where they come from) and not in the Gaza or the West Bank, or his statement can be seen to be similar in nature to the infamous quotation of Golda Meir that in fact there "There is no Palestine people. There are Palestinian refugees ". Consider what the meaning of Meir's statement means if applied to Israelis. It would mean that they too are only a population in transition, whose real home and destiny may well be somewhere other than Israel (A sentiment I disagree with, but one that I state here only to make a point).
In other words, the Israelis want to wipe Palestine and the Palestinians "off the map" by marginalizing their legitimate claim to their home and literally pushing them out into another country, and short of that keeping them in a prison like state that is meant to inspire them to leave.

Keep in mind that Ahmadinejad is only guilty of using rhetoric similar to the israelis, and of being a anti-Semetic jerk. Please also keep in mind that Iran has not attacked another country in more than 200 years, and remember, to Nuke Israel is to Nuke the Palestinians and many other surrounding Arab/Muslim nations, something that I assure you that Iran will never do.

The Israelis, on ther other hand, are actually acting on the "wipe them off the map" rhetoric and have been doing so quite steadily for the last 40 years.
They have inserted more than 400,000 thousand settlers into the west bank and jerusalem, as they continue to steal more land to increase the physical size of the settlements. Even with the withdrawl from gaza, there will still be a net increase of settlers and settlement size if current plans go through and in fact the settlements have always increased in population and size regardless of any negotiations or the howls of protest from the U.S. or the rest of the world.

Meanwhile the effect on the daily lives of the Palestinians over the last 40 years has been devastating, with whole generations of their people born into virtual captivity under the occpation that allows the settlers to steal more and more land with impunity, so that in effect, they are slowly wiping Palestine and the Palestinians "off the map".

Finally, Osama Bin Laden has stated quite unequivically that he concieved of the attacks on 9/11 when he saw the Towers burning in Beirut. ( A war started by Israel in order to install a puppet dictator in Lebanon and to destroy the Palestinan resistance stronghold there. In other words, to help the settler movement in their efforts to wipe the Palestinians off the map.) Bin Laden makes numerous other statements about how the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians is one of the main inspirations for Al quaeda terrorism.

So why don't we take the wind out of Ahmadinejad's sails by forcing (diplomatically or otherwise) a complete withdrawl from the West bank and east Jerusalem? He would have a great deal less support in his own country when he makes these inflamatory statements and it would, as bill Clinton put it, remove the philosophical underpinnings of terrorist recruitment in the middle east.
It would also simply be the morally correct thing to do.

J

Posted by: J | May 10, 2006 04:08 PM

J,

I like the fact that your article is not full of hyperbole and hysteria and is a relatively well thought out argument. I dont agree but I see where you are coming from.

I posted a hyperlink to an op ed by Christopher Hitchens that directly quotes the words of Ahmadinejad here is the quotes in Persian and English with Hitchens' comment in the middle:

'Esrail ghiyam-e mossalahaane bar zed-e mamaalek-e eslami nemoodeh ast va bar doval va mamaalek-eeslami ghal-o-gham aan lazem ast.'

"My source here is none other than a volume published by the Institute for Imam Khomeini. Here is the translation:" (Hitchens, slate.com)

'Israel has declared armed struggle against Islamic countries and its DESTRUCTION is a must for all governments and nations of Islam.' (emphasis added)

As far as Israel wiping Palestine off of the map, well we both know that Israel would have done that by now if that was its intention. But you can think whatever you want.


Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 04:17 PM

The game of international negotiations is all about tiring to set up 'incentives' so that the party you are negotiating with is eventually lead to making the decisions you want. Thus the US is holding out on direct (public) negotiations, trying to use them to reward some positive step such as stopping enrichment or allowing more complete inspections. However first, I'm not sure that trying to set up some rational structure of incentives will work with Iran for two simple reasons, first with oil at $70 they don't need anything from the outside world, the outside world needs them, and second its not clear that Ahmadinejad is a rational actor. And second focusing on incentives ignores the fact that the positions that countries take is often based more on the (sometimes irrational) mood of the country at a given moment in history than on any sort of rational calculation being made.

So that said, what do I think is the proper response to Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush? (Which I would, based solely on composition would give a grade of C; its hardly better than this post!) Use it to try and change the mood of the Iran US conflict.

Is there a reason to think there is room on this front? Well one thing that is striking to me about the letter is that it is not completely dismissive of the Bush administration as the "Great Satan." Rather, he scolds Bush for apparent inconsistencies between what he says and the policies he implements; but this implies that he at least considers some of what Bush says and even has done to be positive. Well a sceptic could say this is just a rhetorical device. Is it?

I don't believe so. Why? Because I don't think most people appreciate the complex role of the US in the Iranian psyche. We are simultaneously admired, detested, feared and liked. Iran is hardly all mullahs. There are large segments of urban Iranian society who behind closed doors are among the regions most secular. Part of the reason Ahmadinejad won was because this segment of Iranians largely didn't vote in the last election. (Personally, given the cowardly - or overly pragmatism if you prefer - leadership of Khatami, I have a hard time blaming them.) If the mullahs with real power allow it he could easily lose the next election. Additionally Iran is demographically very young. There is a significant portion of the population, that if events play out correctly, would view a close friendly relationship with the US positively.

My point is that there is a large room for maneuver here on the public relationships front (which wouldn't even have to include direct negotiations) that could tilt the love-hate emotional reaction towards the US away from the hate and more towards the love. I mean the last time US wrestlers went to Tehran they received a standing ovation (our two countries are among the world's best in this sport). Lets have some more ping-pong diplomacy. Next time he goes all nuts-o about the holocaust respond calmly by inviting him take a tour of the Holocaust Museum...

Look I'm not saying that these particular ideas are necessarily workable, but what I am saying is that there is a lot that can be done to change the dynamics so that Iran can change course without it being a humiliation for them. Even if Iran wasn't actively pursuing a bomb, it is very possible in the current climate of growing hostility they would rather appear to look like they were, rather than appear to its own people that to be caving to American pressure. But it we are able to change the dynamic so the Iranian people feel favorably towards the US (which as I'm trying to emphasize is not a distant a prospect) and such a move would be viewed as much as caving in because it would be more like building bridges.

So now that I've painted this hopeful picture of cultural engagement, is it a realistic possibility that the leadership of Iran would be willing to facilitate such a rapprochement? I mean Iran's president seems to truly believe that liberalism is a failed model and must give way to religious rule, which as Muslims of this world view so cutely believe leads naturally to Islam? (Friedman's characterization of a Muslim's view of religion is funny and true: Judaism = Religion1.0; Christianity = Religion2.0 and Islam = Religion3.0; I guess for Ahmadinejad Shi`ism = Religion 3.1). So perhaps not, but given the other two options involving war or a nuclear armed Iran, options like this need to be seriously considered.

Posted by: David George Ferguson | May 10, 2006 04:26 PM

We need to talk to Iran. There is no other option. Talking, as other have said changes the psychological dimensions of the current rhetorical buildup. Bombing will only provide a short term gratification to pyromaniacs. Also, they should be fully entitled to develop nuclear energy, no matter how distateful this idea may be to our oil based regime.

Posted by: Seth | May 10, 2006 04:39 PM

"As far as Israel wiping Palestine off of the map, well we both know that Israel would have done that by now if that was its intention. But you can think whatever you want."

Please be kind to us and explain.

Like Americans, we know that all Israelis are averse to violence and are as peace loving as we are. Why don't we just compromise and single-handedly put an end to bloodshed in ME? Here is novel idea - invite all Israelis to move the States! I am sure you will agree that Israelis have "the right of return" to NY, CA, PA, and FL. And since we are such a generous nation, we could give them some land in AL, MS, TX, etc.


Posted by: | May 10, 2006 04:41 PM

The President is making the same mistake he always makes, he's being obstinate. Please Mr. President, write a thank you note. It's the polite thing to do.

Posted by: Richard Katz | May 10, 2006 04:46 PM

I would response with the following:


FROM: THE OFFICE OF POTUS


Dear Mr. President of Iran:

Thank you for your helpful comments and suggestions per your letter of (insert date). It's been a rough year so far, so I appreciate you taking the time to sit down, think about it and write me a letter.

Maybe we should get together sometime and talk it over. We call that benchmarking here in the US where we trade ideas to help one another do better.

For example, I could suggest that it would be a good idea to give your women the right to vote, although I sort of agree with you (but don't tell anyone) that we should not let them drive a car. See we have common ground already.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Your new Friend (I hope)
W

Posted by: Richard Katz | May 10, 2006 04:51 PM

Andrew,

First of all, few legitimate news sources seem to lend any credibility to Mr. Hitchens translation although he seems pretty impressed with himself.

Iran's foreign minister said:

"Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned," he said. "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognize legally this regime"

Now if that is not sufficient for you, lets look at it logically. Your saying that Iran is making the "wiping " threats now, in front of the whole world, so that in 5 to 10 years, when they actually might have a nuclear weapon, they can use that weapon on Israel in some sort of a "surprise" attack and wipe out the Israelis, the palestinians, parts of egypt and jordan and lebanon, in fact lay waste from the fallout to a great deal of the whole region including parts of their own country? Or maybe your idea is that they plan a massive land war where they plan to some how Teleport (like Star Trek) all their troops and air traffic directly into israel instead of crossing over Turkey, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia without being "noticed". And finally, you think that if they were somehow successful at attacking Israel using one of these methods or some other as yet unimagined, absolutely ridiculus scenario that they would expect not to suffer repercussions from Israel, The U.S. or the rest of the world?

Please, it's too ludicris to even waste time going over the other myriad reasons why your imagined Iranian threats are utterly spurious. (But hey, maybe they'll use those "Stealth" WMD's that the Iraqi's had. OR maybe that's where the Iraqi's are storing all the WMDs! In Iran! And maybe after we attack Iran, they'll move the WMD's to syria. After that, I'll have to check my "Project for a New American Century" play book for where the Stealth Iraqi WMD's will move next!)

To end on a more realistic note, if the Iranian's are going after nuclear weapons, they are only doing it so that they will be left alone, like North Korea, whose leader is a far greater whackjob ( I mean, check out that Hair!) than than the bush league Mullahs in Iran. It's a lesson we have spelled out for them fairly clearly.

J

Posted by: J | May 10, 2006 05:40 PM

Lets talk ! The West has had a great track record of negotiations with tyrants and terrorists.

The Brit Chamberlin spared France at least 2 years of occupation after meeting with Hitler. FDR pursuaded Stalin to occupy East Europe for only a half-century. Hey and don't forget the successful peace negotiations Clinton had with Arafat, and with Kim Jong, North Korea over nukes. And heck.. those Europeans just finished 3 years of carrot and no-stick diplomacy with Iran.

Talking with tyrants is such a great idea... I think Cindy Sheehan should lead our delegation !

Posted by: pwilson | May 10, 2006 05:45 PM

iraq is learning what american indians learned a few hundred years ago.now it is irans turn.you dont mess with the christian capitalists and survive to talk about it.at least not with out deep sorrow and layers and layers of humiliation,what the capitalists want they get.they even have the press to echo there message. what is good for G.W Bush is good for ted turner.it is sad to see our press tell us that iranians dont value life like us.we have a special love for life that can only come from being a judaism-christian righteous person.we are born special, thank,s to our fore fathers, for the killing off of those savage indians who did not like life like us.how dare them to fight against our god given right to control and kill.when is the world,old europe included, going to see that god blesses america because they have a monopoly on love for life.Let us not look at the reserves,but look at the good we can do in the middle east.every country that wants to exist must first say they support israel,only then can they be our friend.you want to save the people of sudan,then move jerusalem there.then watch the money and resources pour in(just a thought).we kill what we dont understand and starve what we dont like.I could just see the iranians praying for emerica to come and drop the bombs so they could be the next iraq.After iraq i could see alot of countries wanting to be liberated by all those children of congressmen that are fighting in iraq( i am sure their is many for such a noble cause).it is such a refreshing image to see all those children of politicians ready to invade iran.how more american can it get.i know andrews chomping at the bit to go.

Posted by: robert | May 10, 2006 05:59 PM

Saudi Arabia is our oldest, and to my my mind, our most valued ally, in the Middle East. However, While Saudi Arabia and Iran have different versions of Islam, I think we can safely say that Saudi Arabia is more conservative than Iran. They are just now having local electionsin Saudi Arabia, and, while not prefect, Iranians are voting at the national level. If we can get along with Saudi Arabia, we can get along with Iran.
Granted Ahmadinejal lets his mouth get away from him on Israel, but we also have President Bush with his "Axis of Evil" foreign policy. We will be very luck if we can keep Bush from setting off an nuclear device, and soaking the Middle East with radioactive fallout. There is nothing outside of President Bush, that scares me in the world. With proper preparation and civility, we can solve most of our problems diplomatically, and, as a very, very, very last resort the use of force. Talking never hurt anybody, but bullets can kill you.
However, there is an old American flag, with a curled Rattle Snake on it with the motto "Don't Tread On Me". oOn 9/11, we were tread on, and as with Pearl Harbor, We need to finish with Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Iraq was unnecessary, but,in Afghanistan, we need to seek a little justice, but not revenge.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | May 10, 2006 06:00 PM

I wish people would be more precise in assigning blame and other labels.

I keep hearing that the UN is useless, but America's problem is not the UN (which in this matter basically means the IAEA). It's Russia and China, who are refusing to agree to a Chapter 7 resolution.

Instead of Bolton-like raving about smashing up UN HQ or evicting the tenants, it might be worth considering WHY Russia and China are resisting.

Of course they have trade interests at stake (don't we all), and I'm sure these play a role. But they are also telling us other reasons for their reluctance and we aren't listening, as usual.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 06:02 PM

Russia's ambassador to Britain tried to explain it on Sunday.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article362745.ece
Yury Fedotov, the Russian ambassador in London, said his country opposed the Chapter VII reference because it evoked memories of past UN resolutions on Yugoslavia and Iraq that led to US-led military action which had not been authorised by the Security Council.
Russia's partners in the Security Council had argued in the past that the reference was needed to obtain "robust language," he said. But "afterwards it was used to justify unilateral action..."
...Mr Fedotov said: "Our position is not much different from Britain and the US. We want Iran's nuclear programme to remain in a peaceful framework, and we need clarification on its past programmes on the questions raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency [the UN nuclear watchdog]. But on tactics we have our own views, based on past experience regarding Iraq and Yugoslavia."

In other words, the US and Britain's previous bad faith in the UNSC is coming back to haunt them.
They WERE warned about this, but chose as usual not to listen.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 06:03 PM

In case anyone doesn't follow the ambassador's comments:
The US and Britain already asked for a toughly worded resolution against Iraq with the ostensible purpose of increasing diplomatic pressure on Iraq.

They then turned around and used that resolution to justify an illegal war. And it became clear to all that they had never intended to follow the diplomatic route.

That's why Russia and China are unwilling to use equally strong language in this resolution.

It's the price of dishonesty and you are paying it.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 06:12 PM

Salaam,
Do you read the Ahmadinejad's letter?
I suggest to read it; I think it is necessary:

http://medias.lemonde.fr/mmpub/edt/doc/20060509/769629_lettre.pdf

I should notify We (Iranians) DO NOT break any international rule; IAEA confirms our claimant.

Also I should add Iran is so different from Saudi Arabia. In Iran women has right to vote and to drive car. I am sorry for your mininformation.

Posted by: Hamzeh (Iran - Tehran) | May 10, 2006 06:20 PM

andrew,

i hereby declare the iranian government illegal and order it to disappear. what, it's still there? i guess irans president doesnt care what i think. kinda like most americans dont care what he thinks. he has no right to determine what is legal or illegal, nor does he have the right to forcefully call for the removal of another state, and thats exactly what he meant, so who exactly does the moron think he is. and further, what is iran. a third world nation that if dealt with properly, could be beaten into the ground by the united states in a week. thats reality. the people of the united states are getting tired of you foreign crybabies who are in the places they are because of the incompetance of their systems and not the actions of the united states. if you want to see the proper way a country should be run, its right there for you. its called the constitution of the united states. and maybe you will sit there on your coward behinds while you're bitten by this rabid neo hitler, but we wont and you can count on that.

Posted by: gary | May 10, 2006 06:52 PM

J,

I really dont think Juan Cole et al are at all reliable themselves. Besides if you read the Slate article Hitchens is quoting the Persian translation from a NY Times employee in Tehran. And we all know that the NY Times is part of the right wing spin machine:) Also I posted the actual persian language version so Hitchens is wrong then compare that to his actual speech. Otherwise it looks like he did his homework to me.

Now as to your other point would it be crazy to launch a Nuclear War against Israel? Yes Sure. Do I think they are crazy? Absolutely

1. Jordan, Egypt, and Syria as the Sunni Arab newspapers at the top of this screen make clear are no friends of Iran. There is no love lost between them.

2. When someone tells me that they want to wipe a country off the map (translated by the NYTIMES) then I take them seriously. That is a pretty strong statement, and I first heard the news story on BBC, which is hardly known for "right wing saber wrattling" and presumably has its own translators. I can find the web site link if youd like.

3. Crazier things have happened in history. 67 years ago Germany began a war that pitted it against France, Germany, US, and the USSR whereby they were surrounded on both fronts and destroyed by 1945. IS IT THAT FAR FETCHED THAT A MAN WHO CLAIMS THE UN WAS ENCHANTED BY ALLAH WHEN HE SPOKE TO THEM, WOULD LAUNCH A NUCLEAR WAR AGAINST ISRAEL? Especially since he (not his foreign minister) have made it clear that is precisely what they intend to do?

Who do I believe YOU or the Iranian President?

Please, it's too ludicris to even waste time going over the other myriad reasons why your imagined Iranian threats are utterly spurious"

There are a few problems with that statement:

1. If its so ludicrous then why are the EU3 tripping overthemselves to help reduce a threat that according to you is not even there?

2. If there is no threat out there then why do you say we even have to negotiate with Iran? What is there to negotiate over if every thing is just fine over there in Mullahland? After all they a just a bunch of misunderstood little bunny rabbits who keep getting picked in by Bush the meanie, so why dont we just leave them alone entirely? Your contradicting yourself J.

3. WHy has the IAEA referred them to the security council? Am I "imagining" that also? I

4. AM I "imagining" the Security Council meeting that took place last week? What do you know that they dont? By all means if the Iranian President is really just a swell guy then you should call the UN now and grace them with their knowledge, because all this time most of the security council believes he's up to no good.

Yes J there is some imagination going on on this forum but I think its coming from you. I think you live in a land of make believe where every action that has been taken concering Iran is really unnecessary, because Iran is "just kidding" around and wouldn't hurt a fly. I didnt know the land of make believe had internet access but I guess it does

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 07:15 PM

"Of course they have trade interests at stake (don't we all), and I'm sure these play a role. But they are also telling us other reasons for their reluctance and we aren't listening, as usual"

OD

What "other" reasons are those?

1. A sincere feeling of apathy for those poor innocent Iranians who may die in war? Russia and China arent known for that

2. A desire to usher in an era of cooperation and end realpolitik?

So tell me OD what other reasons are there for Russia and China, those model nations of Human Rights, freedom, and internationalism to oppose a UN resolution?

Tell me? (This should be hilarious)

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 07:24 PM

OD,

Interesting point OD. I get it so because we used tough language with Iraq and that led to war (after 12 years and numersous resolutions) Iran may actually think the UN is serious and will back up its talk with the threat of force. The UN may actually have some (gasp) credibility!! OH NO!!!!!

We cant have that. We have to go back to days when the UN passed resolutions and did nothing about. :)

Posted by: Andrew | May 10, 2006 07:34 PM

Andrew you really do not make sense at all. Every point you have made has been refuted but you keeps making the same arguments. I think a lot of us are just tired of having to answer you. No, we are not going to war on the basis of your highly repetitive thoughts. A war would make us even less secure, not more. Good night from me to you buddy. Sleep tight and dream of those Stealth Bombers that ain't taking off from the good old USA. Maybe that other ME nation we can't talk about can fight it's own war this time around.

Posted by: Brad | May 10, 2006 08:22 PM

Andrew - re your tagline from above

"Frankly my dear I dont give a damn.
-Humphrey Bogart"

Are you really American - if so how could you possibly make such a mistake....

Posted by: Angus | May 10, 2006 08:37 PM

Andrew-

"IS IT THAT FAR FETCHED THAT A MAN WHO CLAIMS THE UN WAS ENCHANTED BY ALLAH WHEN HE SPOKE TO THEM, WOULD LAUNCH A NUCLEAR WAR AGAINST ISRAEL?"

Are you an American citizen? If yes, then you are a SICK and SHAMELESS TRAITOR to America.

If not, then you should haunt a blog on Jerusalem Post and stop wasting our time.

Posted by: American with Vested Interest in America's future | May 10, 2006 09:56 PM

Andrew: 'The world may find it shocking that after 9/11 we have started looking after ourselves, but you know what, 2700 dead tends to change a few perspectives.'

Andrew: '...regardless of how well dug in their reactors are a B2 Stealth Bomber will be more effective at "convincing" them to cooperate than the EU3 approach has been so far.'

So America, when attacked, responds with steely resolve, but Iran, when attacked, will naturally squeal uncle. Because they have chicken genes?

The Iranians are as likely to surrender to bombing as the Iraqis were to welcome you with flowers. Your problem is that - being a nationalist - you assume foreigners are cowards with no pride.

Saddam Hussein also thought the Iranians would fold easily.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 10:07 PM

Andrew: "Interesting point OD. I get it so because we used tough language with Iraq and that led to war (after 12 years and numersous resolutions) Iran may actually think the UN is serious and will back up its talk with the threat of force. The UN may actually have some (gasp) credibility!! OH NO!!!!
We cant have that. We have to go back to days when the UN passed resolutions and did nothing about. :)"

This is what I don't get. This idea that the UN let Saddam get away with it. The UN passed two kinds of resolutions against Saddam:
1. Get out of Kuwait
2. Surrender your WMD for destruction

Well, Andrew, Saddam WAS kicked out of Kuwait by a UN-mandated force in a highly successful and popular war.

And he WAS disarmed completely of WMD, by the UN, in the early 1990s, as the resolutions demanded.

Remember? That's why you couldn't find any.

It's not the UN that failed to achieve its goals in Iraq. It's the US.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 10:50 PM

In fact the only UN resolution against Saddam that wasn't enforced was 1441, which demanded unfettered access for UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors.

The inspectors were ordered out of Iraq by the US (not by Saddam) in March 2003 and have never been allowed back in.

Way to stick up for the SC's credibility.

Posted by: OD | May 10, 2006 10:56 PM

There is a very sreious problem the western mind suffers from concerning the way of dealing with islamists.... when a mistake been made by any islamists it is considered by most - not all - western thinkers as a rule dominating the policy of the all islamists....
Muslim Brotherhood rejected violence but some western thinkers insist on linking between it and violence till now....!!!
I am a nasserist not a brother... but I find it not fair to judge a whole movement on the basis of one word

Posted by: Nasserist | May 11, 2006 02:20 AM

So what makes Isreal soo special a? Are they somehow more human then the rest of us. If so they deserve extinction. Too bad Iran will not deliver. It is too busy winning points among the world populace. As for US well it seems they don't care what we think so let them burn, Why should we care about them?

Posted by: ?????? | May 11, 2006 04:58 AM

Iran has the right to defend itsrelf against the zionist threat

Posted by: hussein | May 11, 2006 09:33 AM

Andrew,

Wow! The responses that you have recieved before I had a chance to respond pretty much sum up (with a few really obviously cretinous anti-Semetic exceptions)the reasons why your fears might be just a bit on the Neo-histrionic side. Although, there are a few things I'd like to add.
In the human behavioral sciences, an old and widely accepted rule is that the best predictor for future behavior is past behavior. So, if you'll allow me to repeat myself, the Iranians have not attacked anyone in more than 200 years, and have a long history of talking badly about israel, in much the same way that all of their neighbors do. Conversely, the U.S. installed a a brutal dictator in Iran, Armed the pathological dictator next door with WMD and other support and inspired him to cause over one million total casualties (both sides) before he decided that it was a good idea to stop.

Now 9/11 was horrific, but I would have to say that it pales in comparison to that.

You could also make the case that the reason that the Iranian people, who are highly educated and want more liberties than they currently are allowed, are saddled with having to remain in their version of catholic school for their entire adult lives courtesy of the Mullahs is because we have created so much fear that we have inspired radicalism in their leadership and populace.


So I believe that it may be incumbent upon us to show restraint and prove to the Iranians that in fact we are not totally nutty, brutal monsters bent on "their" destruction. One way to do that (for both the Persians in Iran and most of arab population in the middle east) would be to either talk the Israelis into completely pulling out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and rebuilding the wall on the green line. Or, allowing the U.N. to send in peace keeping forces to accomplish that, as has been suggested in the U.N. before and agreed on by many countries and vetoed by the U.S. This would go a long way towards cooling the Rhetoric that seems to worry you so much. The U.S. would be a safer place, Israel would be a safer place, it would be the morally right thing to do, and would be the beginning of the return of the Republican party to a stance of true moral integrity, not to mention fiscal responsibilty.

Finally, regardless of how you want to view that translation, (which I still find to be "NYTimes-Judithmiller-yellowcake-spyouting-scooterLibby-declassified-butwewerewrongafterallandarereallysorry" dubious) you still can't get me or any rational person to believe that
Ahmadinejad some how let the cat out of the bag 10 years early (that's how long it will be before they have Nukes, and in that time, he may be, dare I say probably will be replaced in subsequent elections unless we really work hard to continue to make the Iranians Paraniod)and that for the next 10 years he's just going to keep shaking his fist at Israel and saying "just you wait! Nine and a half more years to go and then Boom! were going to Nuke you! and theres nothing you or the rest of the world can do about it!

P.S. by the way, whats the exit strategy for Iran? Will you go over there and fight?
cause if your of age they are going to draft you or maybe your kids if they are of age. And will the Israelis join us if there is a ground war there this time? they havn't in Iraq, even though GWB and John Kerry both said during the debates that one of the main rationales for the war was that it kept Israel safe. (not one news source even questioned this)
Some how I think not. Why? because we would lose the support of every Arab ally we have and it would probably foment fundmentalist revolution throughout the Middle East.
How many simultaneous wars to keep Israel safe that israel does not actullay participate in militarily or financially (we send them money, not the other way around, remember?) must we fight before we consider forcing Israel to change the policies that inspire these wars, including 9/11?

(note to editors of the Washington Post. This is the central message of the Walt and Mearsheimer paper "The Israel Lobby". You might consider running some articles on the actual meaning of the paper instead of completely skirting the issue and spending your time slandering the authors directly or indirectly.)


J

Posted by: J | May 11, 2006 01:53 PM

For example, I could suggest that it would be a good idea to give your women the right to vote, although I sort of agree with you (but don't tell anyone) that we should not let them drive a car. See we have common ground already.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Your new Friend (I hope)
W

Posted by: Richard Katz | May 10, 2006 04:51 PM

What are you talking about? women in Iran do vote,drive cars and get elected to parliament.They do not have full rights as western women, but it is not what you described.
Speaking of women rights, how come countries like India,Srilanka,Bengladesh, Pakistan have had women head of states for years, and the beacon of democracy and champion of rights "USA" still fail to nominate one, nevermind electing one.

Posted by: Rami | May 11, 2006 02:31 PM

It never fails to amaze me how so many people miss the big picture in these international squabbles. We just can't resist "intellectualizing" every single foreign policy issue.

Just because we are human, doesn't mean we can escape the "nature" part of human nature.

At the end of the day, the strongest will survive. And the strongest survive at the expense of the weak.

Look it up.

The world IS getting smaller, right? To me, that means the pie is getting smaller too.

This century, technology, globalization, etc.. etc.., helped a boat load of people find out about the pie. Humanitarian cost be damned, they want some pie too. Everyone wants their slice of the pie.

The biggest, strongest and/or smartest person usually gets the biggest piece of pie.

Is it morally right to leverage that position at the expense of others?

Certainly not.

Most certainly there is a point of diminishing return over the paranoia of mataining one's self interest. Many believe we are past that point now.

But riddle me this. To what extent should America sacrafice our self interest to feed the egos, passify the guilt, and rich liberal America's insatiable desire to feel needed and liked?

Probably when the religious right stops preaching about Jesus and driving gas guzzling SUV's.

All this guy, we'll call him President A, wants for Iran is some more pie.

How long will you be willing to share *your* piece of the pie?

Posted by: Day Laborer | May 11, 2006 06:26 PM

J,

yes there have been many responses. I go away for a little while and the leftists on this forum go absolutely batty. You guys must not be used to debating someone who comes equipped with facts and quotes (such as the Iranian leaders own words)and whose arguments are thought out. Most of your colleagues here are either openly anti-semetic or just plain crazy.

It seems it must be furlow week at the liberal nut houses around the world. One poster claimed that Israeli's "should be exterminated" another has claimed that "all Neocons should be shot". These dont sound like the responses of peace loving weed smoking liberals to me.

Very quickly because this is all getting kind of boring, Iran may not have attacked anyone for 200 years but it has had a cleric run government only for 27 years. Give them time. Im sure an Iranian President who imagines an Allah enchanted UN during his speech is crazy enough. But hey, from your point of view we should wait until millions of Israeli's are vaporized, until we find out what his true intentions are.

I think that is fundamentally, the difference between you and me. I think dictator's and despots are illegitimate by nature and are always guilty until proven innocent. People who order protestors shot at campus, are not entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

But I suppose in August 1939 no one would believe that Germany after suffering in the "Great War" 20 years earlier would be crazy enough to actually attack POland and trigger another European conflict. After all that would be crazy. You would have to have been "Neo-histrionic" to believe it.
Surely the Germans had had enough of war.

Never mind that Hitler clearly stated his plans in "Mein Kampf" almost 10 years earlier and had been as you said "shaking his fists" saying "just you wait!"

But in all seriousness, it is clear you and I see the world differently. I clearly see human beings as fallen and inclined to do evil because of fear, pride, prejudice, or insanity. THat is why Armies and Police forces are necessary. Some of us are worst than others but we all are capable of committing bad acts.

J War and violence define human history, and no matter how sophisticated and intelligent the left claims to be human nature is the same in 2006 AD as it was in 2006 BC. Given that Human nature is unchanging, I believe to give a man as nutty as the Iranian President the benefit of the doubt sounds more like wishful thinking and as you said "imagination" that concrete thinking. There is a tendency on the left to want peace so bad that you are willing to close your eyes and blind yourself to the obvious. In this case the obvious facts are:

1. If you are wrong millions of innocent people will be vaporized in less than a second.

2. If Im wrong we would have knocked off another despot ( all be it at the cost of life but certainly not millions.

3. If you are right human nature has suddenly changed in our post-modern leftist imagined world, and leaders who threat to annihilate another country, unlike for all of human history "are just being misquoted" "or are just kidding" or are being misinterpreted by Neo-histrionic republicans. In addition if you are right then we should just stop negotiating with Iran at all. Their intentions must be peace full they said so right? (Funny how you can believe whatever you want to believe)

4. If Im right human beings are just as stupid, crazy, and dangersous as they have always been (especially the ones who believe Allah entrances the UN for him) and that it is better to preemptively knock off a tyrant than to take the chance to he could exterminate hundreds of thousands of children.

Its a nasty world out there J and the only thing standing in the way of the world and evil is the United States Military. We are kind of like the "ghostbusters" in a way because when sh*# hits the fan who does the world always call? Even as you damn us for Iraq you beg for help in Darfur.

Well the best strategy is to eliminate threats before they arise PREEMPTIVELY so last minute desperate battles to retake a continent like Normandy are not necessary.

Just think if people were "Neo-histrionic" in the 1930s 55 million people may not have died violent deaths in WW II.

Liberalism and your "peace at all costs" attitude gets people killed. That is why the left is not fit to lead USA, and why they will continue to lose elections.

One ideology grudgingly admits that the world is a nasty Hobbsian place and that we must battle evil before it becomes too powerful.

The otherside lives in a fantasy land were religious nutcases threaten democracies, but dont really mean any harm, and that the true "threat to world peace" is the same evil US that the world calls on to help in Darfur and to bail everyone out when their in trouble.

Boutique anti-americanism is easy because it costs the global left nothing. You know that "Daddy" will always be there to bail out those childish European ankle biting teenagers when you get into trouble.

"Sometimes sh&# happens someone's got to deal with it and who are you gonna call?"

-Bill Murray

Posted by: Andrew | May 12, 2006 12:37 AM

Andrew,

Ghosts are, after all, figments of people's imagination that are purported to exist either by the mentally unstable or by people who wish to the control behavior of others by creating the impression of an evil, other worldly force that menaces a certain area or which appears as the result of certain actions. It is often suggested by psychics, palm readers, and other charlatans that certain behaviors can cause the ghosts (invisible in the first place) to disappear and bring joy and stability back to the effected area or to the lives of the duped.

Ghostbusters. That's what we are being reduced to. Ghostbusters.

J

Posted by: J | May 12, 2006 11:36 AM

THe "ghostbusters" comment was an attempt to add a little humow to web forum full of peacenic leftists who seem to be frothing at the mouth. I guess you didnt think it was funny. Oh well. I pretty bad at jokes anyway. :)

Anyway suffice to say a person who thinks that Iran is just "kidding around" has his own problem with "figments of imagination". A person who sees the quotes of the Iranian President himself and still denies reality definitely has his own Either way just relax and let "Daddy" America take care of it.

Posted by: Andrew | May 12, 2006 01:54 PM

Andrew states: "Despite Bush's low approval ratings most Americans don't lose sleep at night worrying about what the world thinks. We really couldnt care less."

Allow me to point out, Andrew, that this we-don't-care attitude explains why America and Americans are today the most hated, despised people on earth.

Perhaps you'll start caring when terrorists slaughter thousands more Americans, when tens of thousands more of your soldiers return in body bags and when not one country lifts a finger to help you.

We've all seen what your go-it-alone, we-don't-care, we-don't-need-the-rest-of-the-world attitude has brought your country. Your economy is in a shambles, your armed forces are losing a murderous and pointless war, your allies are deserting you, and your international reputation has been destroyed.

You know what? If "you don't care" then I don't care either: I don't care what happens to America. You and all Americans who think like you can go straight to hell. America today is governed by people like you, Andrew, which is why America is rightly despised the world over.

10,000 Americans dead because of a terrorist attack? America suffers a humiliating loss in Iraq? America suffocates in the stench of its own pollution? Americans keel over one by one from obesity epidemic?

"Well, I don't care."

Posted by: Antonio | May 12, 2006 03:14 PM

Antonio,

1. Obviously whether you "hate or despise America" is meaningless to me. I dont know why you keep bringing it up, to make a rhetorical point as if it matters. We get it. You people have been saying it for years, you dont like us. Thats great. Now move on!

2. If tens of thousands of our soldiers are slaughtered, will France send its "Charles DeGaulle" carrier with no planes? Will we be rescued by the mighty Luxembourg Airforce? What about the Canadian Special Forces, Im sure they could rescue our "hapless" Navy SEALs when they get in trouble. If tens of thousands of us are slaughtered what do you think your country (wherever you are from) could do about it? THe two most powerful militaries in the world are already in Iraq fighting the terrorists. WHat could you possibly do to help anyway?

3. In case you havent noticed the US economy is red hot now. It is growing at 4% and unemployment is down to 4.7%. As of today the WSJ reports the trade deficit dropped for the second straight month. An 11 trillion dollar economy that grows 4% per year is not going to collapse anytime soon. Gee thanks for your concern Antonio but I think we will be ok.

4. You may be angry that we dont care you may not. I was just responding to your first post that somehow implied that the mere fact that YOU hate Bush means we should not elect him and that we should impeach him right away to get back in your good graces. You must be from Europe because only European leftists are that haughty and full of themselves to believe that their opinion of our President has any effect on Joe American from Hoboken, NJ.

Posted by: Andrew | May 12, 2006 03:39 PM

Andrew, you'd fit in perfectly as a member of the George W. Bush team. That arrogant, ignorant, "I don't care" attitude exemplifies Bush's approach to world affairs. And just look where it's got you.

Posted by: Sean | May 12, 2006 03:41 PM

Sean and Antonio

"And just look where it's got you..."

The Iraq War is tough now because Bush failed to plan adequately for the war, not because the French Navy wasnt there with us.

The Iraqi insurgency is not motivated to kill Marines, because we thumbed our nose at the UN. Get over yourselves. Bush's tactical errors have made Iraq harder than it has had to be.

Whether a militarily toothless tiger like Europe likes Bush or not has had no effect on the insurgency, as most Iraqis hate Europe for making deals with Hussein during the oil for food program more than they are annoyed by our bungling of the post-war period. But please stop overestimating your importance here. You have no influence, and you never had any over this situation.

Posted by: Andrew | May 12, 2006 03:53 PM

"...most Iraqis hate Europe for making deals with Hussein during the oil for food program more than they are annoyed by our bungling of the post-war period."

Delusional. The US accounts for more than half the global total of oil-for-food profiteering and the US govt ran a separate Iraq oil smuggling program right into 2003 that gave even more money to Saddam.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1485546,00.html

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/sanction/iraq1/oilforfood/2005/0217treasury.htm

Posted by: OD | May 12, 2006 10:04 PM

"You must be from Europe because only European leftists are that haughty and full of themselves to believe that their opinion of our President has any effect on Joe American from Hoboken, NJ."

Since 76% of Joe American thought the Iraq war was a good idea in 2003, but only 38% of him thinks so now, I'd have to say that poor old Joe American doesn't know what he likes or wants. In fact the evidence suggests Joe American couldn't find his ass with both hands.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/EDUCATION/11/20/geography.quiz/
Young Americans may soon have to fight a war in Iraq, but most of them can't even find that country on a map, the National Geographic Society said Wednesday.
The society survey found that only about one in seven -- 13 percent -- of Americans between the age of 18 and 24, the prime age for military warriors, could find Iraq. The score was the same for Iran, an Iraqi neighbor.
Although the majority, 58 percent, of the young Americans surveyed knew that the Taliban and al Qaeda were based in Afghanistan, only 17 percent could find that country on a world map.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/02/national/main1571756.shtml
(CBS/AP) Even though their country has been at war there for three years, six in 10 young American adults were unable to locate Iraq on a map of the world, a survey found.

They did little better with their own country: Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 could not locate Louisiana, and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi, according to a Roper poll conducted for National Geographic.

"Only 50 percent of the kids could find New York State on a map of the United States, and only slightly better than that for Louisiana, and particularly, given what we all have gone through in Louisiana recently, I was just really surprised to see that," National Geographic president John Fahey told CBS Radio News.

That's just sad...

Posted by: OD | May 12, 2006 10:06 PM

Andrew-

"But please stop overestimating your importance here. You have no influence, and you never had any over this situation."

It is interesting that you choose to respond to foreigners and not to your fellow Americans. I asked you the following question and then made an observation but you never addressed it. Here is what I asked you above:

"Are you an American citizen? If yes, then you are a SICK and SHAMELESS TRAITOR to America."

While you can ignore what foreigners say, I am an American and have an equal say in the future of our country as you, unless you believe in special-interest group lobbying and hijacking our national interest in favor of another country. So what is your response? Please have the courage to answer my question.

You said the following to Antonio:
"Obviously whether you "hate or despise America" is meaningless to me."

If you are a concerned citizen of America, why wouldn't you care about what the world says about our country. In democratic institutions, leaders rule by consensus - meaning that leaders have to convince majority either by setting a good example or having the high moral ground. It seems to me that since we are despised around the world, nobody would be willing to follow or support us. The Iraq disaster is a very good example.

Posted by: American with Vested Interest in America's future | May 13, 2006 01:09 AM

Andrew-

"Well the best strategy is to eliminate threats before they arise PREEMPTIVELY so last minute desperate battles to retake a continent like Normandy are not necessary."

There is a big distinction between PREEMTIVE WAR and PREVENTIVE WAR. Let me quote a political scientist on this subject:

"A preemptive war is where it is clear that one side is about to attack the other side. The potential victim state strikes first, getting in the first blow. But the potential victim doesn't really start the war because the other country was going to attack it anyway. A preventive war is where there is hardly any evidence, in fact no evidence, that the other side is about to attack, but you go to war against that potential adversary anyway, because you fear that over the long run a threat will materialize that is better dealt with now than later.
The reason the Bush administration used preemptive war rhetoric is because both just war theory and international law allow for preemptive wars. But a preventive war is not okay; it is illegitimate. The Bush Administration, paying careful attention to this distinction, labeled its attack against Iraq as a preemptive not a preventive war. But of course it was a preventive war."

Posted by: American with Vested Interest in America's future | May 13, 2006 01:21 AM

American with vested....,

"Are you an American citizen? If yes, then you are a SICK and SHAMELESS TRAITOR to America"


I just think your TRAITOR comment is so idiotic it wasnt worth responding to. When I read that comment I laughed to myself and was amazed at how many leftist freaks come out when you present an opposing point of view. WHen you have something contructive to say that doesnt involve calling someone you disagree with names as if you are in Kindergarten I would be happy to respond.

Otherwise grow up

Posted by: Andrew | May 13, 2006 02:47 AM

We Euro-leftists love folks like "Andrew." They only help our cause. Keep it up, Andrew. It's people like you who we need to accelerate America's hastening decline.

Posted by: Jean | May 13, 2006 03:26 PM

Andrew,

If your not philosophically, emotionally or intellectually inclined to pay some respect to the potentially opposing views of people from your own country or from other countries in the world, then at least take a moment to consider how important "other coutnries" support is to your daily life. The overwhelming majority of things that one buys in stores in America are made in "other countries". Huge amounts of America's capitol investments are sitting out in "other countries". If we want to fight a whole bunch of wars simultaneously, as your attitudes seems to suggest that you find an acceptable and apparently even a good idea, then we will eventually need the support of "other counties" or we won't be able to balance all of those uselessly spinning plates without them coming crashing down around our ears. with regard to the leftist freaks, well you'll be fighting next to them in the foxholes of Iran and syria if your wishes are granted because they are going to have to institute a draft if "other countries" don't support us there, which they probably will not.

And don't delude yourself. "Other counties" are not supporting us with the sanctions and other possible US reprisals against Iran because they are so afraid of Iran, Rather I think they are afraid of us going to war with Iran for nothing, as we did in Iraq, which "other coutnries" did not really support us with either as they maintained all along there were no WMDs, remember?

Two more things.

1) I am a Republican.
2) You still have not said whether you would go to Iran to fight if drafted (or would you volunteer?) or let your kids go and what your exit strategy for Iran would be. How do you see it all turning out after the bombs start falling?

J

Posted by: J | May 13, 2006 03:34 PM

"You still have not said whether you would go to Iran to fight if drafted (or would you volunteer?) or let your kids go and what your exit strategy for Iran would be. How do you see it all turning out after the bombs start falling?"

J

I am an InfantryMan (11 Bravo) in the NY Army national guard right now. I will go to Iraq or Iran when called.

Posted by: Andrew | May 13, 2006 09:10 PM

J,


1.Im not "inclined" to change my policy over a foreigners opinion or to lose sleep if they claim to hate America. If they hate America oh well. But as far as people in THIS country is concerned, well their opinions do count as much as mine, because they get to vote for our elected officials and they have a stake in the outcome as an American equal to mine. But that doesnt mean I will change my opinion because they disagree with me. Just as is the case between us we have to agree to disagree.

2.It is true that the world is interdependant and globally connected so that America depends on the rest of the world. But my answer is: So what?

Since we represent roughly 30% of world GDP the world obviously NEEDS US TOO. Are you implying that there will be a world boycott of the US? Of course not. Since we are the engine of economic growth our dependance on them and theirs on us cancels themselves out so that neither us nor the world derive any advantage or disadvantage from our interdependence.

3. As I've said before, Europe has allowed itself to drift so far behind in military power that it is of no use to us anyway. If the US Military cannot handle Iran, then Im pretty sure the French Military wont be much help either. As I have said to another person on this forum, What exactly could the world other than the UK do to help us anyway?

Its nice to believe in the idea that America cant do it all alone and "balance the spinning plates", and maybe you are right. But since there is noone out there who CAN help anyway, why should we fret that international "help" will not forthcoming when that help is of no real value? If you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself.

4. You are the first Republican I have ever heard quote or reference Jimmy Carter, except to prove what an idiot he is. If you are a Republican you definitely are on the 2.5% of the Republican bell curve.

5. Im not sure if it matters but, I think you answered me on the wrong forum. You responded to my post from the "Hamas" forum.

6. As far as the motives other countries have well my answer to that is:
How could you possibly know that? ESP? The force? I think this is another case of me listening to what people SAY, and you presuming to read their minds.

So far you have told me the "true thoughts" of the leaders of Hamas, UK, France, Germany, and Iran and in every case you "theory" is contrary to what they have actually said. Wow you MUST using the force:)


7. As far as whether Im "intellectually inclined" to do anything. I find these veiled swipes by the leftists on this forum on the intelligence of someone who disagrees with them to be absolutely hilarious.

You can assume that anyone (like me and you) who spends a part of their day debating US foreign policy on a Washington Post.com forum is pretty well educated and extremely well informed.

Posted by: Andrew | May 13, 2006 09:44 PM

In the past I've been proud of countries like mine that have refused to support America's bullying and misguided military adventures around the world. But folks like "Andrew" make me think that perhaps we in Europe, Canada and Latin America ought to go a little further and actually wage active war against America.
If the fiasco that is Iraq hasn't taught the "Andrews" of this world about the limits to American military might, perhaps a few more wars against America will get that simple truth through their thick skulls.

Posted by: Jurgen | May 13, 2006 11:23 PM

Hey Andrew,
Glad to learn that you're ready to head off to Iraq. Perhaps you'll be blow apart by some suicide bomber. But, hey, "I don't care."
Your attitude, in fact, encapsulates precisely why so many people in this world "don't care" about America, and why so many Americans are being blown to smithereens.
Ignorant, self-satisfied bullies tend to end up getting what they deserve.

Posted by: Charles | May 13, 2006 11:28 PM

"If the US Military cannot handle Iran, then Im pretty sure the French Military wont be much help either. As I have said to another person on this forum, What exactly could the world other than the UK do to help us anyway?"

Actually, the French armed forces are nearly 50% bigger than Britain's.

Still looking for your ass with both hands? Can YOU find Iraq on a map?

Posted by: OD | May 14, 2006 02:09 PM

OD,

Oh yea, that makes them better than the British Army. In 1991 Iraq had a larger army than the US how did that turn out?

Posted by: Andrew | May 14, 2006 04:34 PM

France's armed forces are every bit as professional as Britain's, and unlike Britain, France has its own independent nuclear weapons that it can use without asking another country permission.

Anyway, you really are a dimwit to say: "Europe has allowed itself to drift so far behind in military power that it is of no use to us anyway...Im pretty sure the French Military wont be much help either," etc etc.

There are French troops in Afghanistan right now, and they've been there since 2002.

It's because of attitudes like yours that America is running out of allies.

Posted by: OD | May 14, 2006 06:41 PM

Running out of allies? That's a rather generous way of putting it. In the world of public opinion, you have no allies left. One by one, the governments that have lined up behind you are being defeated by voters. You think America is isolated now? Just wait.

Posted by: Giorgio | May 14, 2006 06:45 PM

Giorgio, Jurgen, Charles, and OD,

Let me apologize for "Andrew", my fellow American. You see, not all of us are insane, pompous, or suffer from exaggerated sense of self-importance. This man can't even tell the difference between a preemptive war - considered legal by international community - and preventive war which is illegal.

Posted by: American with Vested Interest in America's future | May 14, 2006 09:09 PM

We all know that one fool can pose more questions than the whole of Harvard is cabable of answering, and the letter in question contains such an amount of questions.
But he is not any fool, and they should be attempted answered - in the same calm and reasoning mood as that of the letter.
It is a religious, not a political debate, centering on the question: can a politician, merchant, and leader of armies, a military dictator - be a succesor to that line of "prophets" that is referred to again and again ?
The moral schisms mentioned at length in the letter has in christianity, long before the regime of Mohammed, been solved by the introduction of the socalled Holy Spirit.The alternative - to mix politics and religion the muslim way is not a valid alternative, as it contains more potential repression and does therefore not mix as good with humanism and other demands of the progress of civilization.
This is an example of what an answer might be built around.
But in this situation I must sadly join the view, that fears mr. Bush (PBUH too) is not intellectually capable of a direct confrontation with this argumentation. But the most silly thing would be not to make a response in the same mood and level of reason.
The danish prime minister A.F.Rasmussen did reject a similar invitation to "dialogue" from som arab ambassadors last year. Maybe, maybe not, this was the reason for a lot of cartoon mess.His resaon there was, that there was nothing to discuss (and there were not). But it should be said - and why - in the proper channels, and not just by silence and turning the back.

Posted by: quant denmark | May 15, 2006 12:10 PM

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