I had any number of Yossarian moments this last week as the entire apparatus of respectable opinion unleashed everything they had at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. But what has Ahmadinejad done to me or anyone in the U.S.? Nothing that I know of.
On the other hand Israel and its Lobby, whose hand was very much in evidence at the Columbia demonstrations against Ahmadinejad, is very much my enemy. Along with the industrial/Congressional wing of the military industrial Congressional complex, Israel and its fifth column in the U.S. (aka the Lobby) drove us into war in Iraq, killing thousands of American soldiers and 1 million Iraqis. So there is the Yossarian moment. Ahmadinejad is not trying to get Americans killed, but these other guys sure are–and they have been remarkably successful. So who is our Colonel Cathcart, the commanding officer in Catch-22 trying to drive Yossarian into ever more life-threatening missions? Not Ahmadinejad, that’s for sure. (It is striking that Bush and the Democratic Congress are literally latter day Cathcarts, cruelly extending the length of combat missions and multiplying them endlessly based on fine print. Catch-22 is not lost on our rulers.)
And now the Lobby and its allies want to kill Iranians too. In fact they would like to destroy Iran, its army and its infrastructure. Why? Because Iran wants nuclear power? That is hardly believable. At that rate we should be pouring into the streets the next time Sarkozy who presides over a densely nuclear France bares his chest in the U.S. again. And if Iran has nuclear power, so what?
Now do not tell me, as radicals (of both Libertarian and Leftist stripe) are being duly advised by liberals these days, that we are making the classical mistake of identifying the enemy of my enemies as my friend. For I am not saying that Ahmadinejad is my friend. In fact I know very little about the man–except what I hear through the filters of pundocratic respectability and the spin put on his words by the chorus of neocons. He apparently feels that historical Palestine should have room for Arabs and Jews both, as Iran apparently does. That is fine with me. A modern secular state for Arabs and Jews together in historic Palestine is inevitable in the long term anyway, so why not get on with it? (I would differ with Ahmadinejad that Iran should remain an Islamic state and I would like to tell him so. But I find that those who would argue for a Jewish state, or more accurately a Jewish apartheid state, are on thin ice when arguing this point with my non-enemy Ahmadinejad.) He says he wants to study the Holocaust more–and he may even be a genocide denier. But so what? Freedom to discuss things should be open ended. And Abe Foxman and company deny the Armenian genocide, but their praises are sung far and wide, high and low. So Ahmadinejad may not be my friend–but he is not my enemy.
Nor is Iran my enemy–although the U.S. owes Iran a mighty big set of apologies, and Iran should certainly consider our government a power hostile to it. For consider what has been done to Iran with our tax dollars. “Our” CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian government of Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1950s because his social democratic party wanted Iran to control Iranian oil–in place of Anglo/American corporations. The U.S. installed the Shah and with the aid of Israel, according to Uri Avnery, trained his vicious secret police who tortured and killed untold numbers of Iranians to maintain his pro-U.S. rule. Then when the Shah was ousted, we supported Saddam Hussein in his vicious war on Iran with chemical weapons. A million people died in that war. Oh, the Iranians did hold a handful of Americans hostage at the time they overthrew our puppet, the Shah, certainly a hostile act but a pin prick compared to the death and destruction we and our Israeli ally have visited on Iran and plan to do again.
So I am really not impressed by the forces arrayed against Ahmadinejad at Columbia and in the neocon “think” tanks. From William Kristol to Michael Lerner (who has also gone after those in the wonderful Jewish Voice for Peace who advocate a one-state solution), they were all attacking the Iranian Pres and Iran itself last week. But the Iranians have not tried to kill Americans–in fact for hundreds of years they have a pretty good record of staying at home, avoiding aggression and defending themselves. They may have a thing or two to teach us on that score. Perhaps Ahmadinejad is right when he says he is just a teacher.
JOHN V. WALSH can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com