Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Crazy Mahmoud

The Wall Street Journal:
About Moammar Ghadafi, Ronald Reagan once remarked that not only was the Libyan dictator a barbarian, he was also flaky. Regarding the publication yesterday of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's "letter" to President Bush, flaky is being kind.

In different hands, the Iranian president's letter might have been a diplomatic masterstroke. The Bush Administration has been under mounting pressure to engage in face-to-face talks with the Iranians as a way of dealing with the regime's bid to develop nuclear weapons. As Clinton Administration National Security Adviser Samuel Berger wrote in these pages Monday, the purpose of such talks would be to settle "all issues of mutual concern: its nuclear program, to be sure, but also its support for militant groups, its posture toward the Middle East peace process, the future of Iraq and, on their side, the removal of our sanctions, Iran's integration into the global community and U.S. assurances of noninterference and security guarantees."

We have deep doubts about this course, not least because every previous U.S. attempt at engagement -- Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton all tried -- was spurned and taken as a sign of weakness. But put that aside. What Mr. Ahmadinejad's letter reveals is the thinking of the man who would, if Mr. Berger had his way, be our "partner." READ MORE

"Those with insight," the Iranian tells Mr. Bush, "can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems. We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking toward a main focal point -- that is the Almighty God. . . . My question for you [Mr. Bush] is, 'Do you not want to join them?'"

Loopy as this sounds, it should be of some comfort to those on the American left who believe Mr. Bush is already a theocrat. But consider some of Mr. Ahmadinejad's other weird diplomatic and historical insights:

"September 11 was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services -- or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess."

• "The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including . . . [the] transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters supporting the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic. . . ." That's the U.S. Embassy he's referring to.

• "One of my students told me that during WW II . . . news about the war was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. . . . After the war, they claimed six million Jews had been killed. . . . [Let] us assume these events are true."

The letter also contains repeated references to what Mr. Ahmadinejad imagines, with some justification, are the main concerns of the Western left. It's all here: the exploitation of Africa's mineral resources; homelessness and unemployment in the U.S.; the budgetary wastefulness of the war in Iraq and U.S. fiscal imbalances. The concern is almost touching, though perhaps Mr. Ahmadinejad needs to broaden his daily media sources beyond the BBC.

What's wholly absent, however, is any indication that he is prepared to moderate his positions as a way of meeting the U.S. or U.N. half way. As a psychological comparison, the Unabomber's manifesto comes to mind.