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May 24, 2006

A Letter From President Bush to Ahmadinejad

Topics: Iran

Michael Ledeen at NRO received a letter from a former Reagan-administration official that calls to mind the good old days, when our leaders had a sense of humor and didn't mind making fun of our enemies. Here's a few excerpts:

Thank you for your invitation to accept Islam. As you know, I am a Christian. Throughout your letter you accuse me of being a bad Christian, which leaves me puzzled as to why you think I might make a good Muslim. However, before you proselytize outside your own country, you might want to address the condition of the Islamic faith in Iran.

I am genuinely sorry to hear that so many Iranians, especially the young, have lost their faith because of their profound disillusionment with theocratic clerical rule. Apparently, there is no way for them to distinguish between their religion and your rule. That is understandable since you claim there is none, that your authority comes directly from God and you are ruling in his name. It is no wonder you disdain "liberalism and Western style democracy." Under it, you would be answerable not only to God, but to the Iranian people, to whom God gave certain "unalienable Rights" that you and the mullahs have chosen to ignore. How ironic that, in the name of God, you deny your people's God-given rights.

When young Iranians survey the way in which the clerical regime has enriched itself and impoverished the country, and enforced its rule with such harshness, what are they to think of this "God" who rules over them in this way? As a result, they abandon their religion and, unfortunately, many turn to drugs.

Your answer to the abuses under which the Iranian people live is nuclear "power." Since your country is so richly endowed in oil and natural gas reserves, this is a strange answer. In fact, you so often denounce "lies" in your letter, I am surprised you would engage in such a whopper yourself. No country has conducted a 20-year clandestine program to develop nuclear power for peaceful domestic uses. The reason is that it is perfectly legal to do so in the open. In fact, we would support your nuclear power program, if that is what it was. However, as everyone outside of Cuba, Syria and Belarus knows, you are developing nuclear weapons....

Read the rest.

Although it's doubtful that such a letter will ever be written by a U.S. president, Christopher Hitchens wrote on May 19 that there is an excellent case to be made for initiating an imaginative diplomatic overture to the Iranian people - although he qualified his statement by pointing out that the case for doing so certainly wasn't strengthened by the demented letter by the man posing as Iran's president.
:

I say "posing," because, however many times our media babble about his "landslide" victory in Iran's "elections," everybody knows that he was put in by the reigning mullahs at the very last moment, after all independent and reformist candidates had been eliminated from the process, and that the counting of the votes was an insult to the meanest intelligence. I repeat the word "posing," because, even as he was putting his signature to the infantile diatribe he dispatched to President Bush, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was being further exposed to his own people and the world as the wretched puppet that he is. Seeking to advance his own pseudo-populist appeal, he had announced that women would henceforth be allowed to attend soccer matches and be in the same stadium as men. (The concession itself shows how depressing is the status quo in Iran.) But no sooner had it been made than the free gift was countermanded by Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader of the theocratic "Guardian Council" that exerts all real power in Tehran. Ahmadinejad, having thus been exposed as the mere monkey on top of the organ, was sent by the organ-grinders on a trip to impress students in Indonesia with his stale theological tropes.

This does not necessarily mean that his letter is not a guide to the mentality of the masters who bade him write it. It opens with a few boilerplate paragraphs about American evil-doings (in which the admission that Saddam Hussein's overthrow was welcomed by "the people of the region" is easy to miss). It then turns to a pedantic discussion of the wrongness of the whole existence of the state of Israel, which might have been designed to make professor Juan Cole (who thinks that Khomeinist anti-Zionism is a derivation from Persian poetry) look like a fool and an ignoramus. Ahmadinejad then rams home this point, as it were, by a couple of callous remarks about the Holocaust. And, as if for good measure, he goes on to insinuate that the attack on the World Trade Center was unlikely to have been planned "without coordination with intelligence and security services." If he has evidence about this, he would have done well to present it, but it seems from the context that he believes the "coordination" to have been American.

The man is as mad as a hatter, therefore, and makes up for his impotence and insanity with many ingratiating assurances about Jesus and his honored place in the Quran and many lachrymose remarks about violations of human rights. He declares that his regime's nuclear program is a matter of "scientific R&D," and he ends with a salutation in Arabic which is given without translation in the news-agency versions that have been made available. The salutation reads, "Vasalam Ala Man Ataba'al hoda." This is a customary signoff by devout clerics, in Iran as well as in Arab lands, and can be approximately translated as "peace unto those who follow the true path." It was a favorite of the late Ayatollah Khomeini's. According to some, it was used as a silkily threatening mode of address by the Prophet Mohammed, who employed it when addressing neighboring states that had not yet converted to Islam. In this declension, it could be interpreted to imply war unto those who did not choose to follow the true path.

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