Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Michael Ledeen, author of, inter alia, The War Against the Terror Masters, has posted an entertaining but also very thought-provoking "reply" (by an anonymous author) to Iranian president Ahmadinejad's crazy letter to George W. Bush. The heart of the proposed response is an appeal to the Iranian opposition:
We also understand the real reason you want nuclear weapons. Of course, you have the dream of being the regional hegemon, and the prospect of your having nuclear weapons already terrifies your neighbors. But you also want them for the same reason as North Korea. Once you possess nuclear weapons, you believe you will be immune, as is North Korea, from external pressure for domestic political reform. You can tell the world to take a hike and to leave you in peace to oppress your own people. This is why Iranians who wish to see a return to genuine democratic, constitutional order despair at the thought of your succeeding. They know they will be finished, that no one will then dare speak up on their behalf.
So this is not really about nuclear weapons; it is about the rights of the Iranian people – your desire to take them away, and our desire to see them respected. We don’t worry about Great Britain, or France, or now India, having nuclear weapons, because they are democracies; they are founded on the “unalienable Rights” of their peoples. People who are free to exercise those rights seldom seek to take them from others.
Iranians are a nationalistic people, perhaps unusually so in light of their history. Iran, after all, has been both the seat of a powerful empire and, more recently, a pawn in the games of great powers, games in which it had no direct stake. Iranian leaders, especially since the fall of the shah, have leveraged this nationalism into domestic political capital. Ahmadinejad is doing this with the nuclear "power" program, asserting that the world, led by the United States, is picking on Iran because of its Muslim piety and opposition to Israel. This reply, which George W. Bush should type up on White House letterhead and pop in the mail, exposes the trap that Ahmadinejad is setting for all Iranians who would choose popular sovereignty over divine.
Read the whole thing, including the theological bits, and then decide whether you agree with Madeleine Albright, who has been on a book tour arguing that President Bush's use of subtly "Christian" rhetorical devices is alienating Muslims around the world. Perhaps it is, but why isn't she more worried that Iran's use of overtly Islamic rhetorical devices is alienating Christians and Jews? It is almost as though she believes that Muslim sensitivities deserve greater deference than Judeo-Christian ones.
I find it incredible that a person, who by her previous accomplishments has demonstrated a high degree of intelligence, can be so morally corrupt. Madeleine Albright's comments prove that intelligence and knowledge of world affairs are far from being synonymous with moral rectitude.
Well, I wouldn't call Albright "morally corrupt." There is truth in her argument: we need the support of moderate Muslims in the war against Islamist terrorism, and we do not want to squander that support by angering them unnecessarily. However, like many Western secularists, she is strangely unwilling to denounce our adversaries for doing the same thing. Now, her answer would be that it is useless to denounce our adversaries for invoking religious rhetoric in the conflict, but she can influence the American electorate to pick somebody the next time who will not do the same thing on our side.
Now, I don't agree with Albright, because I think that we will only win this war in the long run if we "energize the base." We need to stand up for Western values first and foremost, and victory will follow. But most Democrats do not think that way, or have a different idea of "Western values."