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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Comments

Michael S

Small in many ways, yes, but incredibly dangerous. I once imagined he was the people's choice until the other shoe dropped, then he took over, got into bed with the Ayatollah and screwed his countrymen into slavery with an Islamic government.

Get ready because this one won't ever stop until the Entire World is either dead of bowing to Mecca.

Jamie

He seems quite Machiavellian to me. The man is chilling.

I can't help but wonder about the road we're taking with NAFTA, CAFTA, etc, considering Ahmadinejad's sly reference to the disparity between population and world power. As we (theoretically) help to raise the standards of living in other countries through NAFTA et al, eventually there would have to be a point where they start demanding a bigger share of the pie--more power and responsibility. That is a very scary thought.

You know, one of these days we might just face a lemming attack. ;)

Aatom

It seems to me that the specter of terrorism itself is a type of lemming invasion, no?

North Dallas Thirty

"As we (theoretically) help to raise the standards of living in other countries through NAFTA et al, eventually there would have to be a point where they start demanding a bigger share of the pie--more power and responsibility. That is a very scary thought."

Not terribly, in my opinion.

Why?

Because, as a character of Garrison Keillor's says in "Lake Wobegon Days", "The rich can afford to be progressive. Poor people have reason to fear for the future."

I can think of numerous examples of countries becoming more liberalized as they grew in economic strength. I struggle to think of the reverse; remember, it took the worldwide depressions of the 1930s to put the fascists into power in Italy and Germany.

Aatom

I agree, NDT, but the double-edged sword of scientific advancement makes the stakes of such a process, and the growing pains, more volatile than ever before.

Jamie

Heh. NDT, I thought I was the optimist!

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for everyone sharing the responsibility and the power planetwide, and would love to see the whole world raised to a higher standard of living. I'm just very apprehensive as to how well prepared, psychologically and culturally--many parts of this world will handle it. There will inevitably be a very sudden cultural shift in the most underprivileged parts of the world, and we need to be adamant in ensuring that a few charismatic nutjobs aren't waiting in the wings to abuse the advances that are shared in those countries. Is that a little clearer or does it sound like rambling?

Aatom

I encourage rambling here at AatomBomb!

Josh

I actually read reports of his address to the Council on Foreign Relations, in which he addressed a holocaust survivor, calling him a liar and demanding a "more objective investigation" into whether or not it happened. He than called the entire Council, which is left-leaning and usually critical of the White House, "tools of the government."

Richard Haas, the Council's Chairman, said it was a disturbing encounter, as the man is a deft and masterful debater, able to turn around arguments and dodge questions even better than Clinton on a good day.

I'd agree with you, the man is dangerous. But only to a point. He works as long as we play his game—and our foreign policy establishment right now is not willing to become the beast, so to speak. Ahmadinejad uses holocaust denial to throw people off, as he knows it is an explosive subject that monopolizes the debate and clouds the discussion. If people would adopt a similar tack—say, denying the Shah ever did anything bad, or that the Ayatollahs are tools of the Jews—he would be left similarly speechless, or forced to defend mass murder while condemning it from the previous ruler.

In short, we're not debating him right. Either we lower ourselves to his level and insult his culture with a smile, or we cheerfully ignore him as an unimportant puppet ruler of a country that matters little to us.

Either would be effective. Iran knows if it plays games with its nukes we vaporize Tehran, so there's little danger of him seriously trying to do anything. His shenanigans are more for domestic consumption than accomplishing any sort of agenda.

I'm not worried this is the start of something major from Iran, but I am worried it's the start of our final diplomatic decline. Our public figures are trained too well to be polite to all foreign figures in these settings, even when they whip out barbs and mortal insults. We just don't know how to officially respond.

Jamie

Ramble, ramble.

Now I sound like the Hamburgler. :)

Aatom

That all sounds reasonable Josh, you have a much cooler head than I do about these sorts of things. He still scares the crap out of me.

Aatom

"I am worried it's the start of our final diplomatic decline."

exactly, btw. it's not the man so much as what he represents historically that worries me. it's a fool's game to predict the future, of course, but I have a hard time believing that history will look back on this era as a win for the west.

Kevin (QC)

We need to rid the world of that man, and yesterday wouldn't be too soon.

Aatom

Sounds good to me, Kevin, but I'm afraid the phrase "easier said than done" is a pretty drastic understatement at this point. This is no Saddam we're talking about, and even he wasn't easy to oust without severe consequences for us. Ahmadinejad isn't the most popular man in Tehran, but he's no mass murderer, and he does have some popular support over there. Nothing would make me happier than seeing an Iran free from religious tyrrany, but the American Iranians I've spoken with here and in DC have a very nuanced view of the world, and it doesn't usually involve us meddling too much in their internal affairs. There is a strong pride element involved, and where bold action was called for (and promptly bungled) in Iraq, the same play in Iran would most likely backfire hard on us and shore up a patriotic response from the Iranian public, which by and large is very supportive of the nuclear program. I read a random comment on a post at the Democratic Underground that actually made sense to me (even a stopped clock is right twice a day). The gist of the comment was that Ahmadinejad would love nothing more than an attack on his soil to give him his very own "mandate" to do whatever the fuck he wants to do with widespread Iranian support. That feels right to me. he's playing a slick game of brinksmanship with us, and as Josh noted we are not in our prime dimplomacy-wise anymore. And Josh is a smart cookie when it comes to these things.

Josh

Thanks Aatom. At this point, I'd be happy with an Adlai Stevenson, should any exist, dragging Ahmadinejad out into public and crying, "have you no shame?"

Publicly calling these people on their foolishness, or treating them like insects, is how they are best dealt with. "Iran doesn't concern us, as they are powerless" is just as effective as (and possibly more insulting than) "Shameless Mahmoud is a tool of the zionists trying to entice us to attack sovereign Iran."

North Dallas Thirty

"I'm just very apprehensive as to how well prepared, psychologically and culturally--many parts of this world will handle it. There will inevitably be a very sudden cultural shift in the most underprivileged parts of the world, and we need to be adamant in ensuring that a few charismatic nutjobs aren't waiting in the wings to abuse the advances that are shared in those countries. Is that a little clearer or does it sound like rambling?"

Perfectly clear -- and agreed.

I combine a strongly-held belief in countries becomig more liberalized with prosperity with the deeply-cynical viewpoint that there will be train wrecks along the way.

Overall, though, it is a catch-22 for the dictators involved, as we are seeing with Mahmoud and Hugo -- while their oil wealth has given them an enormous amount of money, their populations aren't taking well that they are spending it on shiny baubles for Hizbollah, subsidization of Castro, and bad speechwriters while the populations starve and live under the constant repression of the secret police.

The question is not if, but when, the denouement will come -- and unfortunately, how many people get killed in the process.

David

When I got the Time magazine in the mail, I also thought it was interesting how "soft" the image is on the cover. An interesting treatment indeed.

While I agree with your feeling that most Americans aren't very in touch with what's going on, some people just prefer pop and fizz when they're at the gym and they get their "hard" news elsewhere :)

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