Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not enough Ahmadinejad, too much fear.

Eric Trager, a Ph.D. student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in the Inquirer today that the U.S. is losing the battle of public opinion with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad's "strategy" of manipulating our leaders into doing what he wants is "brilliant." His gambit to lay a wreath at Ground Zero made Mayor Bloomberg look like a dolt, and as for his speaking engagement at Columbia university . . .

"If the predictable protests forced the cancellation of his talk, Ahmadinejad could declare that his freedom of speech was quashed, vilifying the Jewish groups inevitably at the core of these protests while questioning the true extent of American civil liberties. When permitted to speak, Ahmadinejad ensured that he would return to Iran after having engaged faculty and students at one of the nation's top universities. Ahmadinejad 2, Americans 0."

Trager writes: "He understands the American public far better than our leaders understand the Islamic publics to which he is appealing. Therein lies his true danger."

Yes, the true danger of Ahmadinejad. . . after all:

"His government is supplying weapons that are killing American troops in Iraq. He recently sponsored a conference denying the Holocaust. He has called for Israel's destruction, and is openly pursuing nuclear capabilities."

The U.S. says Iran is supplying weapons to their Shiite brethren in Iraq (who include the government we're propping up) but there is, as of yet, no actual proof that their government of Iran or Ahmadinejad personally is behind any of it.

If you'll recall, the US made a big show of displaying all the "evidence" they had about this lethal activity but prevented reporters from disclosing who was giving them the briefing, didn't allow pictures and didn't provide any documentation. At the time, in fact, even General Peter Pace said the mere presence of Iranian made weapons, "Does not translate that the Iranian government per se, for sure, is directly involved in doing this." [Boston Globe]

Truth 1, pro-Israel/anti-Iranian hype 0.

Trager has some good points to make:

'The Bush administration - and future administrations - will have to confront Iranian successes in public diplomacy," he says, which is true, but then he follows that up by contending that these PR successes "have made Shiite Ahmadinejad a beloved figure among Sunni masses throughout the Middle East" - - which is nonsense.

Besides the fact that Hassan Nurallah is way more popular than Ahmadinejad, most of his popularity has more to do with his standing up to the United States, which continues to support Sunni autocrats throughout the region and -- oh yeah -- invaded a Muslim country and, along the way, managed to alienate the entire Islamic world by doing things like opening up Gitmo and humiliating Iraqis in their thousands at Abu Ghraib.

With a bully like George W. Bush strutting around the Middle East telling insurgents to "bring it on," even the dumbest dictator in the world could make himself popular by thunbing his nose at the big bully in the neighborhood.

As Michael Slackman recently pointed in his analysis of Ahmadinejad in the NYT:

"In demonizing Mr. Ahmadinejad, the West has served him well, elevating his status at home and in the region at a time when he is increasingly isolated politically because of his go-it-alone style and ineffective economic policies, according to Iranian politicians, officials and political experts. "

In point of fact, all this grousing about Ahmadinejad is pretty much beside the point when it comes to our policies regarding Iraq and Iran. Like an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal for Slackman's pieces said: "The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad. He is not that consequential.”

But he's really good for stoking up fear of another Holocaust and raising money for AIPAC.

As Eric Trager says, Let's put "Amadinejad's denial of the Holocaust in its appropriate context: As Iran pursues nuclear weapons, its denial of one genocide might beget another."

Right, Iran is going to nuke Israel if they ever get a nuke. And Israel will nuke Iramn from the air, sea and land. And the US will Nuke them from the air, sea and land. Smart plan.

I say let's have Ahmadinejad have a weekly show in the US and let him spew all he wants. The more we see of this guy the less afraid we should be.


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