Thursday, May 11, 2006

Letter from Iran

The Western press, in lock-step with Condi Rice, has already dismissed it as irrelevant and insubstantial, but I found the letter from the president of Iran to President Bush fascinating.

You can read it in full here.

Addressing Bush as "a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asks him "how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist" between the values one professes and the deeds one does. In a polite and somewhat abstract way, Ahmadinejad is asking the American president to explain his apparent hypocrisy. How is it possible that a Christian (and there is much about Jesus the prophet in the Qur'an) can wage preventative war under false pretenses? How can a Christian trample human rights in Guantanamao Bay and in the secret prisons of Europe? How can a Christian support the oppression of Palestinians by Israel?

"If prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph or Jesus Christ (PBUH) were with us today," the Iranian leader asks, "how would they have judged such behavior?"

History will judge us, he tells Bush. "Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment?" He notes that in the U.S. many people are living in poverty, thousands are homeless and unemployment is a "huge problem." The enormous cost of the Iraq misadventure is singled out: "What has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens." And Ahmadinejad notes that Saddam, "a murderous dictator," had long been supported by the West.

As for the current campaign to deny Iran the use of nuclear energy, Ahmadinejad askes why it is "that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime?" America's obsequiousness to the pro-Israel lobby is the blind spot that prevents any solution to the Middle East quagmire. The Iranian argues that "scientific R&D is one of the basic rights of nations." The fact that Israel has long had nuclear weapons pointed at Iran is not mentioned.

Ahmadinejad calls 9/11 "a horrendous incident," and says the "killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world." But he hints at a possible conspiracy on the part of intelligence and security services and wonders why no one has been arrested, tried and convicted for failing to protect the United States from terrorists.

"Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?" he taunts Bush. "Do you think present policies can continue?" The situation has resulted in "an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?"

At the end of the letter, Ahmadinejad asks Bush, as a fellow believer in God, to join him in overcoming the present problems of the world "that are the result of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of the prophets...Will you not accept this invitation?"

I find this letter eminently sensible. But I also thought that Osama Bin Laden made some excellent points in his recent message to the world. When will we learn to listen to our opponents, our foes, our enemies? Jon Stewart had it right when he asked immediately after 9/11: "Why do they hate us so much?" There are reasons, and they have a long history. But in a black-and-white world where we demonize those who think differently, this history is not heard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

.This is quite a challenge for George. We can distrust the message because of the messenger or shoot ourselves in the foot by ignoring the ring of truth in the message.