the world’s leading apostle of hate is Iranian leader Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad—few do the task better, especially toward Jews. On Dec. 12,
2006, at a two-day gathering of Holocaust deniers, Ahmadinejad pledged
that “the Zionist regime [Israel] soon [will] be wiped out and humanity
will be free.”
long ago proved himself an implacable pariah, as was widely understood
by everyone, from former President George W. Bush to leading 2008
Democratic presidential candidates like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
and Senator Joe Biden. Well, maybe not all Democratic presidential candidates.
Barack Obama judged Ahmadinejad worthy of a healthy dialogue. It was a
point on which Obama was not shy in his pursuit of the 2008
presidential nomination. To the raised eyebrow of his main competitor
for the nomination—Senator Clinton—Obama implored America to talk to
the Iranian madman, to give peace a chance, to not overreact to the
on May 18, 2008, Obama, in arguing for the need to sit down with
Ahmadinejad, explained: “Strong countries and strong presidents talk to
their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what
Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think
about it: Iran, Cuba, Venezuela—these countries are tiny compared to
the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the
Soviet Union posed a threat to us.”
was a stunning statement. Certainly, yes, the likes of Iran are smaller
than the Soviet Union and, indeed, do not pose the same kind of threat.
Yet, in many ways, Iran poses a graver threat, given that its leader
has made more serious, direct, even suicidal threats than Khrushchev or
Gorbachev or Mao ever made—against Israel, against America, and in very
real attacks on U.S. troops reconstructing Iraq.
fact is that one crazy man named Ahmadinejad, with one nuclear missile,
is an extremely dangerous prospect, regardless of the size of his
nation. Size of territory is rarely a determinant of threat; if it
were, Canada and the United States, two of the largest countries, would
be at war constantly—and neither Germany (about the size of Wisconsin)
nor Japan would have been a concern in World War II, nor the tiny
nations in the Balkans that launched World War I.
McCain campaign, rightly, turned the Obama statement into a political
ad, titled, “Tiny,” which carried the banner, “DOESN’T POSE A SERIOUS
THREAT.” The ad concluded with a narrator who intoned,
“Obama—dangerously unprepared to be president.”
the American public elected Barack Obama, not John McCain, as its next
commander-in-chief. In response, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad immediately fired
off a letter of congratulations to the president-elect, which began:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Mr. Barack Obama
President-elect of the United States of America
congratulate you on having gained the majority of the votes of those
who took part in the election. As you know, the chances that God gives
to his subjects pass swiftly…. Use this chance to serve to the extent
you can. And leave a good name behind for yourself.
employed the salutation that Islamic heads of state use to greet one
another in official correspondence, “In the name of God, the
Compassionate, the Merciful.” Curiously, the American left, which had
just spent eight years launching into fits of rage anytime God was
mentioned in the same sentence with George W. Bush, was silent at the
Iranian intransigent invoking the Almighty in commending the new
president. Things were different now—with Barack Obama as president.
different that in his first days in office the new president extended a
unique olive branch: Obama gave his first exclusive interview to a top
Arab news source, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, where he seemed to
apologize for the policies of his predecessor. “[A]ll too often the
United States starts by dictating,” said Obama, promising he would be
different. “So, let’s listen.”
new president said he would employ “a language of respect,” in contrast
to Bush phrases like “Islamic fascism.” He pledged to talk. “I do think
that it is important for us to be willing to talk to Iran,” said Obama.
“[I]f countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will
find an extended hand from us.”
Ahmadinejad responded the very next day—with a clenched fist.
“Those who speak of change,”
said the Iranian leader, in a direct reference to Obama’s campaign
slogan, “should apologize to the Iranian nation for their dark
background and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian
nation.” Americans should “try to repair their past crimes.” The
kingpin of the world’s leading terrorist state for 30 years demanded
“deep and fundamental” change from Obama and America.
the same day that Obama spoke of the need for conciliatory language by
America and Israel, both Ahmadinejad and his spokesman reiterated the
state’s official position that the Holocaust was “a big lie.” And if
that wasn’t enough, the Iranian government went further, asserting
that, “This request [by Obama] means Western ideology has become
passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have
Iranians sensed a delicious, victorious weakness in the new president.
Iran “listened” to Obama alright, and then snapped the olive branch and
tossed a series of verbal hand grenades. The mullahs almost seemed to
be having fun with the new president.
Iran was only warming up. A week after Obama’s gesture on Al-Arabiya,
Ahamdinejad delivered another message, on Feb. 3, this one directly to
his people. “Dear Iranians, your children have put the first indigenous
satellite into orbit,” said the jubilant leader, offering this special
gift on the 30th anniversary of the late Ayatollah’s
launching of the state’s Islamic-theocratic revolution. “With this
launch, the Islamic Republic of Iran has officially achieved a presence
was selling himself short. Iran had achieved much more than that. From
Obama’s State Department to the foreign ministries of France and
Britain, the peace-seeking world quickly lamented this major step
toward a “military nuclear capacity”—specifically, the ultimate ability
to deliver a nuclear warhead via an advanced long-range missile. The
latest development was “of great concern to us,” said U.S. State
Department spokesman Robert Wood.
You bet. In fact, this was the Iranian equivalent of Sputnik. The Ayatollah was surely grinning from the grave.
launch came as Iran continued to defy U.N. Security Council demands to
freeze its nuclear work. It was yet another quick finger in the eye of
the new American president, who, according to Ahmadinejad, was now
Great Satan’s water-boy. Boasting of his technological achievement,
Ahmadinejad looked heavenward: “We have a divine view of technology,
unlike the dominating powers of the world”—i.e., the United States—“who
have Satanic views.”
now, the very latest, U.N. officials announced last week (Feb. 19) that
Iran has produced enough fissile material to produce an atomic
bomb—more material than previously believed, and at a time when (as the
Financial Times reported) “the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.”
It looks like the new tone in Washington isn’t making much difference.
is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responding to President Obama’s friendly
overtures in this way? Because he is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And the man
in the White House should know better.
cannot have this kind of naïveté from the leader of the free world. As
President Carter learned 30 years ago, the Oval Office is not the place
for educating oneself about the world and human nature. This is