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Ahmadinejad round-up

Here’s the story from the WaPo. Here’s Dana Milbank shouting "liar, liar, pants on fire."

You can read the WaTi story here and the NYT story here.

Anne Applebaum thinks that Ahmadinejad was the big winner, and the editors at NRO weigh in here. A bit from Applebaum:

Ahmadinejad’s agenda, though, differs from that of the traditional autocrat. His goal is not merely to hold power in Iran through sheer force, or even through a standard 20th-century personality cult: His goal is to undermine the American and Western democracy rhetoric that poses an ideological threat to the Iranian regime.

The purpose of his posing, she argues, is to coopt the language, twisting it to his own purposes. And unlike his Communist predecessors who could call on very few open sympathizers in the West, Ahmadinejad has all too many people willing to applaud his evasions and prevarications.

Discussions - 11 Comments

I understand that Juan Cole is not terribly enlightened on Middle East affairs, and after having lost that bet about Iraq to Jonah Goldberg a while back he's certainly lost much of his credibility, but still, there might be one or two small things in his Salon article worth mulling over...

It may be just a throwaway line, but I'm not sure it's at all true that A'jad "has all too many people willing to applaud his evasions and prevarications" as opposed to this "Communist predecessors." It seems to me quite different, in that *even those* who smirk and say flattering things about him (as in a couple of Kos posts over the past couple of days) don't have any *real* sympathy for his sort of regime. During the Cold War, there were legions of intellectuals who were not just anti-anti-communist, they were actually communists and thought that the Soviet model provided a superior way of organizing social and political institutions.

I think the problem is not so much that there are so many sympathizers, but rather that there are moral equivocators, i.e., the multicultural crowd. When one states that militant Islam is militant, they respond, "what about the Crusades"? When one states that Iran is not democratic, they respond, "what about Bush v. Gore"? When one states that Iran oppresses minority, they respond, "what about me and my leftist friends?" The first response constitutes (willful) ignorance of the role of violence in religious traditions, the second constitutes partisanship as well as failure to understand basic concepts found in the Federalist papers. The third represents a burning wish among various members of society that they suffer as much oppression as people who truly have suffered oppression (which goes along with their cultural relativism that tells them that USA is fascist, etc.). It's the third factor, post-modern martyrdom complex for lack of a better term, that is the strongest motivation and most diabolical.

Michael and John,

Thanks for refining my point, which was stated too simply. Ahmadinejad seeks moral equivalency, which many are ready to grant him (see this page, for example). And his flamboyant anti-Americanism (couched, of course, as opposition to the "excesses" of the Bush Administration) plays well, not only across the globe, but also at home.

Joe and Michael: Those are thoughtful points. It is true that American leftists would cringe and squirm under a regime that resembled Ahmadinejad's Iran. But it is also true that the real essence of what A'jad was saying yesterday was an argument for a kind of moral relativism/equivalence that the left must support in order to defend their own arguments. I think A'jad knows he's doing this. I think he is very cleverly using their arguments against them. He's saying, "Yes, America. You're thinking about democracy is correct. Now leave us alone and let us be democratic. This is what WE choose." And they are powerless to argue against him. As I said, the most they can muster is indignation over his claim that Iran hasn't got homosexuals. Why shouldn't "scholars" be free to pursue "holocaust-denial studies"? In the logic of today's American university, he's right to point out that there isn't a very good argument against it. That's why the "logic" of the left and today's American university is so dangerous and should be abandoned.

Here is a splendid example of moral equivalency, offered up by a national newsmagazine:

A good indication of the imbecility of a significant part of the population: both the intellectuals as well as those who slurp up this Schweineri.

Believe it or not, Joe K., too I think that his attempts to establish moral equivalency are fairly pathetic, but I also thought it was rather cheap and, frankly, lazy for you to draw IMmoral equivalency between Ahmadinejad and Hitler. Surely the comment thread for that post should have gone further than the first comment before you fell victim to Godwin's Law!

Even the Economist noted this year that "A good rule in most discussions is that the first person to call the other a Nazi automatically loses the argument."

Yeah, Ahmadinejad isn't at all like Hitler. He hasn't committed mass murders of any Jews--yet. getting very bad MSM/press reviews for his remarks. He made one big "mistake," in my view, which cost him dearly: attacking homosexuality. Nothing riles the MSM and liberals so much as the refusal to give liberal-style "tolerance" to them. I don't think for a moment that he would have been so trashed by MSM (and even by Congressional Democrats) except for that.

So my questions are:

1. Is the liberal "tolerance" of homosexuality the issue America really wants to use to demonstrate the superiority of liberty and equality?

2. Any successful political figure knows that the character of his audience is his first consideration. So, is A. so stupid as not to know that -- of all places, at a premier US university -- he should not attack "gays"?

3. If he is not so stupid, then it was deliberate. Then who was his real core audience -- the US or Iranians and Asian Muslims?

4. If he saw the need to give such a speech in order to appeal to his own people -- does this indicate that he is in some trouble at home?

All just musing on my part, though some mullahs have been critical of him. I would not entirely dismiss the possibility that he has some difficulties holding his position in Iran. Perhaps the Columbia speech was mainly meant to bolster him at home.

Ahmadanejad is completely harmless. He has no ICBMs, and in conventional war Israel would defeat Iran in about 12 hours - not that the latter matters, since Israel's interests are not the same as the U.S.'s and Israel is more of a liability than ally. This stuff about Ahmadanejad is just all propaganda put forward by insane neocons drunk on hubris. I have a feeling divine retribution is only around the corner. I pray that Christian Americans will be spared the wrath.

Dennis: Ahmadanejad intentionally chose homosexuality as his topic so that leftists and neocons (which are the same thing) will run to its defense and demonstrate to the rest of the world how decadent the U.S. truly is.

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