Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1 (Prof. Juan Cole in Salon and ICH)

Demonizing the Iranian president and making his visit to New York seem controversial are all part of the neoconservative push for yet another war – against Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited. The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States. Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran’s 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament.

There is, in fact, remarkably little substance to the debates now raging in the United States about Ahmadinejad. His quirky personality, penchant for outrageous one-liners, and combative populism are hardly serious concerns for foreign policy. Taking potshots at a bantam cock of a populist like Ahmadinejad is actually a way of expressing another, deeper anxiety: fear of Iran’s rising position as a regional power and its challenge to the American and Israeli status quo. The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state…

Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1 (Prof. Juan Cole in Salon and ICH)

iran crisis


5 thoughts on “Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1 (Prof. Juan Cole in Salon and ICH)

  1. TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger’s insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.
    The following is the full text of the letter:

  2. Iran voiced preparedness to transfer its experience and knowledge in the field of civilian nuclear technology to other Muslim states.
    According to a statement released by the Presidential Press Office, the issue was raised during a meeting between Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu in New York on Tuesday. ..
    The OIC secretary general also praised Ahmadinejad’s speech at the US Columbia University, saying that his words reflected the existing realities.
    He further blasted the president of the Columbia University for his impolite treatment of the Iranian President, and said, "Your behavior war very good and you showed them that they must be polite and meantime, you promulgated your message."

  3. Het is allemaal volstrekt volstrekt onredelijk wat er in Amerika gebeurt. Het Iran van nu is niet meer het Iran van 1980, toen de religieuze verdwazing ertoe leidde dat godsdienstwaanzinnigen in Irak het als duivels ervaren seculiere bewind van Saddam Hussein omver wilden werpen.
    De oorlog die Saddam in gang zette tegen Iran vloeide voort uit de angst voor fundamentaliserng van de Islam in het Midden-Oosten. Dat is de reden waarom Saddam Hussein zo kwaad reageerde op wat hij ‘het verraad van de Arabische landen’ noemde. "Jullie waren het allemaal met me eens dat het Iraanse fundamentalisme een gevaar voor de regio vormde en nu we jaren lang gevochten hebben en diep in de schulden zitten, nu laten jullie ons barsten…"
    Saddam Hussein heeft altijd samengewerkt met de gematigde stroming binnen de Sjia (waar de geestelijke leider Sistani een vertegenwoordiger van is). Gematigde shi-ieten maakten ook deel uit van het Baathistische partijkader: 40 procent van de partijleden behoorde tot de Sjia, ondanks het feit dat lidmaatschap van de Baath-partij door de religieuze leiders werd afgeraden.
    In de loop der jaren heeft Iran zich afgewend van de fundamentalisten en partij gekozen voor de gematigde Sistani, die ondanks het feit dat hij een Iraanse Ayatollah is nooit het kontakt met de overwegend Arabische bevolking heeft verloren.
    Ahmadinejad zit vreemd in elkaar: politiek links georienteerd (waar de Iraanse ayatollahs naar economische liberalisering streven) maar religieus gebonden aan tradtionele opvattingen, een soort George Bush-figuur dus, want met de kritiek op Ahmadinejad wordt vergeten dat Bush en de rechts-christelijke zionisten ook doodgewone godsdienstwaanzinnigen zijn, die alles wat God hen opdraagt te doen als absoluut goed ervaren.
    Ahmadinejad veroordelen wordt nog moeilijker gemaakt vanwege het absurde feit dat wij de anti-Iraanse anti-fundamentalist Saddam Hussein tot duivel en nieuwe Hitler hebben uitgeroepen, hetgeen betekent dat wij het morele recht verloren hebben Ahmadinejad (die behoorde tot de mensen die heilig geloofden in ‘de heiligheid en de vroomheid van de Islamitische mens’) tot ‘gek’ uit te roepen. De man is in moreel opzicht onze medestander geworden, een broeder die ‘de nieuwe Hitler’ acht jaar lang bestreden heeft…
    We doen maar wat hier in het Westen. Het belachelijke standbeeld dat we hier hebben opgericht voor de nihilist Theo van Gogh bewijst elke dag dat wij hier ‘knettergek’ zijn.Reactie is geredigeerd

  4. When Ahmadinejad repeated Ayatullah Khomeini’s words that “Israel baayad az bayn beravad,” (which literally means that Israel should cease to exist), what is critically important for understanding is to see how Iranian people understand these words of their president. I don’t think any mature Iranian with some awareness of regional politics has ever thought that the late Leader of Iran, or the present president of the country, were advocating some kind of military objectives against Israel. By citing the example of the Soviet Union and the Apartheid regime in South Africa Ahmadinejad, too, has clarified what he meant by ‘Israel ceasing to exist.’ By the rules of civilized discourse, every speaker’s clarification concerning what he means is authoritative as he is entitled, before all others, to state and clarify what he means by his statements. In this case, Ahmadinejad has also clarified as to how he thinks that my happen: a general referendum in undivided Palestine with the participation of its Arab, Jewish and Christian population.As for his statement that the Holocaust in a myth, we all know that the word “myth” has several meanings in the dictionary. One of its meanings is “A fiction or half-truth, especially one that forms part of an ideology” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). Thus a myth is not something necessarily untrue and Ahmadinejad has not denied outright that the Holocaust did occur, although he seems to have—what he considers to be legitimate—doubts about its exact extent, doubts which are prone to be strengthened, rightly or otherwise, by attempts to persecute or prosecute scholars whose research leads them to conclusions different from main-current historiography. What he basically appears to question is that the Holocaust should be made an ideological tool for the pursuit of unfair and inhuman objectives—something which most of us acknowledge has happened in the case of Palestine. Why should the people of Palestine be made to pay the price for the guilt and failings of Europe? He asks. I think that is a legitimate question.
    The savants of the media are free to interpret Ahmadinejad’s statement with the purpose of demonizing him and excoriating Iran, but there are better and alternate paths for those who strive for understanding and peace between nations, and to an objective like this should institutions like universities, including Columbia, contribute…

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