It is a well-known fact–except among the American media, the American government, and about 98.7 percent of the American people–that Iran is not a monolithic state where sheep-like masses bray with a single voice in chorus with their demented leaders, but is, on the contrary, a complex society where many conflicting opinions on matters political, religious, social, historical, etc., contend with each other in open debate. True, it does have a government dominated by repressive clerics, who exercise the kind of veto power over secular law that George W. Bush’s vaunted “base” dreams of seeing established in the United States; but Iran is far more open than, say, Saudi Arabia or China, just to name two countries where the Bush Family and friends have long engorged their bellies through insider connections with the ruling cliques.
Therefore it must have come as a great shock to the system for Americans this week to hear Iran’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, rail against the ignorant Holocaust revisionism mouthed by his successor, the hardline flibbertigibbet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Excerpts below.) Or rather, it would have come as a shock to the American system to hear Khatami’s words–if Americans had actually been told about them. But it serves no interests among America’s own ruling cliques to dilute the current line of the day: that Iran is a hellhole of unremitting evil, a new Nazi Germany led by a new Hitler. So Khatami’s remarks, reported widely elsewhere in the world, were not allowed to disturb the lie-drugged slumber of the American consciousness.
No one knows what dark dreams stir in Ahmadinejad’s noggin, of course; he seems from most accounts to be an unpleasant character, as rabid fundamentalists usually are, proud of his willful ignorance, which he mistakes for steadfast integrity. (The type is not unknown among world leaders today.) However, in coming to grips with the Iran “crisis” that is being forced upon us, there are two salient facts to keep in mind.
First of all, Ahmadinejad’s malevolent blather does not represent the entirety of the Iranian people–or even the entirety of the Iranian government, as even a cursory examination of current Tehran politics shows–any more than George W. Bush and his rapacious gang of cronies and cranks represents the entirety of the American people. (Although at the moment, Bush has far greater control over the American government than Ahmadinejad has in Iran.)
Second, and perhaps most importantly, it is highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad would have ever been elected president if Bush and his crony-cranks had not relentlessly and ruthlessly undercut every attempt by the moderate government of Khatami to forge a new relationship between Iran and the United States. The greatest opportunity came after September 11, of course, when Iran sought to help the US break al Qaeda, a common enemy that threatened both nations. But Bush and his circle, as we now know, were not interested in breaking al Qaeda or fighting terrorism; they were interested in “establishing a military footprint” in Iraq, as part of a wide-ranging plan to “project dominance” over the energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia, while fomenting “creative destruction” throughout the region, in the belief that when the resultant rivers of blood had at last subsided, there would be a series of obedient client regimes installed in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere–including, in the dreams of some of the crankiest cronies, new, even more obedient American satraps in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, there could be no accommodation with moderate elements in Iran; on the contrary, the existence of a moderate faction within the Iranian power structure could only be a hindrance to the Bushists’ avowed goals. How could you maintain the profitable, fear-fomenting image of a dastardly nation–a member of the “axis of evil,” no less–bent on the destruction of “the American way of life,” if its leaders are trying reach an accommodation with you, if they speak of moderation, of a “dialogue among civilizations”? Khatami–already hemmed in by the hardline mullahs, unable to deliver all of his promised domestic reforms–was also left with nothing to show for his moderate foreign policy. Instead, Bush confirmed the mullah’s criticism of Khatami: “You reach out to the infidels, and what do you get? They spit in your face, they try to destroy us.”
(There is a remarkable parallel here to the curious dynamic between Bush and Osama bin Laden, whereby almost every action undertaken by Bush tends to confirm bin Laden’s vision of the world: “You see? I told you America was a Crusader Nation bent on attacking Islam–and now Bush has invaded Iraq and all its holy sites for no reason whatsoever. You see? I told you America regards Muslims as nothing more than dogs and beasts–now see how they treat our brothers in their secret prisons!” And so on and depressingly on. Even Bush himself has acknowledged this odd symbiosis, when, just this week, he admitted that bin Laden’s (or “bin Laden’s”) sudden appearance in the closing days of the 2004 presidential election tipped the race in his favor. As Juan Cole and others have noted, bin Laden is more than savvy enough to know that such an intervention would have precisely that effect: bolstering Bush. Both men need each other to stoke the hatred they feed upon.)
Just as the September 11 attacks were openly regarded by the Bushists as an “opportunity” for implementing their long-planned militarist agenda–“Through my tears, I see opportunity,” Bush declared just days after the strike–so too the election of Ahmadinejad was a god-send for the gang: a hard-line goon straight out of central casting, waving the red flag of Holocaust-denial before the world. Now some serious warmongering and fear-fomenting could be done! For who would defend such a moral cretin? Through him, you could defame and dehumanize an entire nation–the necessary prerequisite for any mass blood-letting you have in mind.
But one doesn’t have to defend Ahmadinejad–or Khatami, for that matter–in order to oppose the instigation of a foolish and murderous military action against Iran. It is self-evident that such an action would kill thousands of innocent people and set in motion a chain of monstrous consequences beyond anyone’s control–including the certainty of more terrorism and more hatred for America, the great likelihood of global economic ruin, and the very real possibility of actually launching the world war between the West and Islam that the Bushists like to pretend is already taking place.
Yet that appears to be where we are heading. Although some say that the Bushists are now too weak politically and perhaps militarily to strike at Iran–an argument that is more of a projected wish than a reality, I fear–no one should ever underestimate the foolishness, recklessness, avarice, greed and callousness of the Bush Faction. The disaster in Iraq stands as indisputable proof of their own moral cretinism and incompetent folly.
So it would be nice if the American people could be given a more variegated view of Iran, as represented in the comments below from Khatami and some of the Iranian press. But where’s the “opportunity” for war profits, war powers and world dominance in that?
From Agence France Presse: Iran’s former reformist President Mohammad Khatami has described the Holocaust as a “historical reality” – a stinging attack on his controversial and revisionist successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don’t forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German national socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews,” the cleric said in comments carried in the Iranian press Wednesday.
The Holocaust, he asserted, should be recognized “even if this historical reality has been misused and there is enormous pressure on the Palestinian people.” Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by insisting the Holocaust was a myth used to justify the creation of Israel.
Khatami served as Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005, and attempted to open up Iran to the West and initiate a “dialogue among civilizations” – in stark contrast to the ultra-conservative agenda of Ahmadinejad. The former president, who has shied away from the political limelight since leaving office, also asserted Muslims were not out to persecute Jews.
“The persecution of Jews, just like Nazism, is a Western phenomenon. In the east, we have always lived side by side with them. And we follow a religion that states that the death of an innocent person is the death of all of humanity,” Khatami said
Ahmadinejad also came under attack from the prominent and centrist Shargh newspaper, which complained that “the Holocaust has, as wished for by the president, become a topic of our foreign policy. The Jewish question was never a problem for Iran or Islam, and is a Christian-European problem,” the paper argued. “Don’t we have enough with the nuclear question, human rights, free elections and political in-fighting, so do we need to add another problem to that?” it said, saying Iran would be better off “thinking of the creation of a Palestinian state rather than the destruction of Israel.”
CHRIS FLOYD is a columnist for The Moscow Times and the St. Peterburg Times, and a regular contributor to CounterPunch. His blog of political news and commentary, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.