Pen and Sword: A Letter From Iran

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Via Le Monde,
translated text of the letter from Ahmadinejad to Bush

This week,
for the first time in 27 years, an Iranian leader has written directly
to an American president. As
Juan Cole notes
, the letter from Iranian
President Ahmadinejad to George W. Bush is either badly translated,
or, equally likely, an accurate reflection of Ahmadinejad’s own
muddled thoughts. (As evidenced by his less-than-towering intellect,
embrace of rabid fundamentalism, ascension to power through a fixed
electoral process, and incessant appeals to the worst instincts
of his people, Ahmadinejad is in many ways a Persian Dubya.) But
the fact of the letter is important in itself, almost a “Nixon goes
to China” moment for the Iranian leadership.

It is worth
noting here, yet again, that despite the attempts by Bush and the
corporate American media to turn Ahmadinejad into another Saddam,
he is, in fact, not the ruler of Iran, he is not the dictator of
Iran, he has very little real power — and no power at all over Iran’s
armed forces or its nuclear program. Iran is ruled by the Ayatollah
Khamanei and his Supreme Council of clerics. But herein lies the
importance of the Ahmadinejad letter: it would never have been sent
without Khamanei’s approval. It does represent an unprecedented
public step for the Iranian regime.

(There has,
of course, been much backroom dealing between the two nations' leadership
in the past decades – such as the Reagan-Bush Administration
dealing illegal arms to the fundamentalist regime in the Iran-Contra
scam, and, of course, the
clandestine “October Surprise” negotiations

in 1980 between candidate Ronald Reagan’s campaign team and the
Khomeini regime that was holding American hostages. These secret
talks, confirmed by some of the Iranian principals involved and
directed, according to eyewitness testimony, by then-VP candidate
and ex-CIA chief George H.W. Bush, were aimed at preventing the
Iranians from releasing the hostages before the 1980 presidential
election. [Robert
Parry has the whole story here
.] It goes
without saying, of course, that such secret dealings by private
citizens with foreign governments is high treason. And Iran’s agreement
to abide by Bush’s request to prolong the suffering of the American
hostages and their families by several months was very likely the
deciding factor in Reagan’s elevation to power. So there is your
“conservative movement” for you, your “morning in America”: the
conservative ascendancy was founded on high treason and has now
culminated in an unprovoked war of aggression and a self-declared
presidential dictatorship above the reach of law.)

A good deal
of Ahmadinejad’s letter is a religious rant that Bush will doubtless
feel quite
at home with
: “The Almighty has not left
the universe and humanity to their own devices. Many things have
happened contrary to the wishes and plans of governments. These
tell us that there is a higher power at work and all events are
determined by Him.” These lines could have been lifted directly
from any boilerplate Bush speech. But amongst the Bush-like blather,
there are also a few substantial points made, most notably the one
we mentioned above: that Iran has the right, by treaty, to enrich
uranium for a nuclear energy program.

There is also
the point — again, almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media
— that Iran has denounced, over and over, in every way possible,
any intention to develop nuclear weapons. Khamanei has issued a
fatwa against such a move, calling it un-Islamic, raising the prohibition
to the highest possible level in the theocratic regime. Ahmadinejad
also denounces — yet again — any act of aggression and the taking
of innocent life, and reaffirms — yet again — the Iranian people’s
condemnation of the September 11 attacks, a spontaneous outpouring
of sympathy for America that, in those brief, post-attack days —
before Bush and his gang began cynically exploiting the tragedy
to pursue their long-held
goal of “full spectrum dominance”

made it seem that the world had indeed been changed.

The letter
represents yet another move by Tehran to call Bush’s bluff. The
superheated rhetoric of Bush and his embattled minions — desperate
for war or rumors of war to stave off the Dear Leader’s inexorable
slide into the black hole of Nixonian poll-number oblivion — have
raised the intensity of what should be a knotty but manageable diplomatic
challenge to a dangerous pitch of bellicosity entirely unwarranted
by the reality of the situation. (Then again, when has the reality
of a situation ever deterred the professional fearmongers of the
Bush Regime from unwarranted bellicosity?)

First there
was Ahmadinejad’s
declaration in Baku last week
that Iran
would be quite willing to limit its nuclear energy program according
to guidelines laid down by the UN through the International Atomic
Energy Agency, within the structure of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty which Tehran signed many years ago, like the United States
(and unlike Bush’s brand-new bestest buddy, the outlaw nuclear weapons
state of India, whom Bush has handsomely rewarded for its wanton
proliferation). Ahmadinejad’s declaration went virtually unreported
in the Western press, of course — unlike the statement from Tehran
a few days later, reiterating Iran’s long-held position that it
will withdraw from the NPT if the UN punishes it for its entirely
legal and treaty-supported enrichment of uranium at a level far
below that required for the development of atomic weapons. This
statement was treated as a new “threat” and yet another sign of
Iranian “intransigence” and “defiance” of the international community.

(Bush, and
his yappy lapdog, Tony Blair, have re-defined “defiance of the international
community,” you see. It no longer means breaking (or “unsigning”)
solemn treaties or, say, launching unprovoked wars of aggression.
No, “defiance” is now defined as acting in accordance with international
law in a way that George W. Bush doesn’t like. Or heck, maybe it’s
just acting in accordance to any law whatsoever — no matter what
you do — that Bush doesn’t like, given
his now-open disdain for legal restrictions of any kind

Now comes the
letter, another bluff-calling move: “If you’re really worried about
the nuclear program, we’ll try to allay those concerns — unless
you break the NPT by forbidding us activities which are allowed
by the treaty. If you really think we’re such a danger to you, an
implacable, unapproachable Other that can only be dealt with by
threats of force, then we’re willing to talk directly with you.
So who then is the aggressor here? Who is really causing the problem?”
These are subtle maneuvers, as might be expected from the inheritors
of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. (The subtlety is not
Ahmadinejad’s, of course, but the nation’s true leaders who, despite
their fervent Islamic faith, do see themselves as the heirs and
continuers of Persian civilization.) They are not Saddamite thugs.
They also aren’t admirable men, by any means (although their harsh
regime is less repressive than the state run by the Bush Family’s
friends and business partners, the Saudis). But while they needn’t
be embraced, lauded, supported or fawned upon, they should be dealt
with seriously, soberly, with genuine engagement and negotiation
toward a peaceful resolution of any conflicts.

Bush now has
an opportunity for some diplomatic bluff-calling of his own. He
could match this overture with some equally dramatic gesture, a
call for direct negotiation, even a summit. Why not? American presidents
used to meet and negotiate with Soviet leaders who were pointing
hundreds of nuclear missiles at the United States; why not meet
and talk about a situation that is infinitely less threatening —
or in fact, poses no real threat to the United States at all? There
are dozens of actions — or even mere gestures — that Bush could
use to see if the Iranians are sincere about a peaceful settlement
and a weaponless nuclear program.

But there is
no chance — zero, zilch, zip — that Bush will make any move at all
to lessen the tension. We will probably never know if Iran’s nuclear
ambitions are peaceful now because the Bush gang is taking every
possible step to goad Tehran into leaving the NPT and girding itself
for the coming war by seeking nuclear weapons. They are moving systematically
to cut off every possibility of a peaceful solution — save the abject
surrender of Tehran. The Bush Regime’s insistence that any Security
Council resolution on Iran’s program contain the draconian
“Chapter Seven” strictures
— which allow
for military action in response to non-compliance — give glaring
indication of Washington’s true intentions. They want war — or else
they believe that by ratcheting up the war fever to intolerable
levels on the diplomatic front (along with the covert ops they are
now running inside Iran), they will force the Iranian regime to
crumble on its own, after which the Americans can march in — at
the head of an “international coalition,” no doubt — to “restore
order” and receive the hosannas of the grateful population.

This won’t
happen, of course. So we will, in the end, if
Bush has his way, have war
. It is therefore
incumbent upon us all to do whatever we can to keep this swaggering
fool from having his way, and his war. Let’s close by giving the
last word, via Juan Cole, to the Iranian dissident Shirin Ebadi,
winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her resistance to the Iranian
theocracy. Her words present a clearer vision of what will come
than the bloated fantasies of the Bush Regime’s puerile strategists:

“The only beneficiaries
of the war are people who sell arms. As a Muslim Iranian, I state
here that I do criticize the government of Iran. But this does not
mean that America has the right to invade Iran. And if America has
not learned its lesson from Iraq and thinks of invading Iran, notwithstanding
all of the criticisms we have of our government, we will defend
our country to the last drop of our blood. And we will not let an
alien soldier set foot on the land of Iran. If American speaks of
globalization, this doesn’t mean that the whole world is seen as
one village and Bush is seen as the only sheriff of that village.”

12, 2006

Floyd, Global Eye columnist for the Moscow Times, is the
author of Empire
Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime

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