September 20, 2009


Reading Iran by the Letter (David Ignatius, September 20, 2009, Washinton Post)

Ahmadinejad defies not only the United States but the entire system of international relations that was created in 1945 at the end of World War II. He sees the world "at the threshold of entering a new era." He wants a "reorganization" of the United Nations, the Security Council, global media networks and other institutions. "The existing mechanisms are not capable to meet the present needs of mankind," said Iran's message this month proposing negotiations.

There's an echo of Robespierre or Mao Zedong in his talk of a new order that enfranchises the dispossessed. It's a personal kind of messianism. "I congratulate you," he wrote to Barack Obama a day after the November presidential election, warning in the same breath that "the nations of the world expect an end to policies based on warmongering, invasion, bullying, trickery [and] the humiliation of other countries."

Ahmadinejad's most peculiar epistle was his rambling May 8, 2006, letter to President George W. Bush. "For some time now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena," he began. Noting that he was once a teacher, he went on to prod Bush like a nettlesome inquisitor, asking how he could call himself "a follower of Jesus Christ" and yet pursue aggressive policies.

The Iranian president is even a "truther," insisting that there was a hidden hand behind Sept. 11, 2001.

Iran's Khamenei signals easing in election tension (NASSER KARIMI, 9/20/09, AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader warned government supporters on Sunday against accusing opposition members of wrongdoing without proof, an indication that the Islamic government may be easing up on critics of the June presidential election. [...]

"We do not have the right to accuse without any proof," Khamenei said in a speech marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in which he urged the judiciary and security forces to pursue offenders within the bounds of the law.

Most Iranians favour ties with US but distrust Barack Obama: Poll (AFP, 9/20/09)
Eight in 10 Iranians also say they consider President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the country's legitimate president despite mass protests following the disputed June 12 vote, according to the survey by (WPO).

63% of the 1,003 people surveyed across Iran favoured restoring diplomatic relations with the US, a position at odds with the stance taken by Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. [...]

But despite Obama's outreach to Muslims around the world, only 25% of those surveyed believe he respects Islam, while 59% said he does not.

Obama and Ahmadinejad: The Politics of Face Time (HELENE COOPER, 9/20/09, NY Times)
It was just over two years ago that Barack Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois with aspirations to the presidency, famously pronounced during a Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C., that he would be willing to hold direct talks, without preconditions, with the president of Iran.

This week, President Obama will have the chance to do just that, when Iran’s fiery, diminutive, Israel-bashing, legitimacy-challenged president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joins Mr. Obama and other world leaders who are descending on New York City to speak at the first United Nations General Assembly in the new kinder, gentler, Barack Obama era.

And guess what? Administration officials will be doing everything in their power to make sure the two don’t get within spitting distance of each other.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2009 7:26 AM
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