Ernie Hemingway explained the problem many years ago. The first thing politicians do to hide their mismanagement, he said, is inflate the currency; the second thing they do is go to war.
Our currency has been inflated and we are at war. The demonization of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which you saw take place in New York City and on American television, is just the first step in preparing the country for a third war.
The president of Columbia, Lee Bollinger, disgraced himself. Instead of introducing his invited guest speaker, he launched a tirade of abuse and insults. Obviously, he was in hot water with some of Columbia's big donors for inviting Ahmadinejad and chose that petty, shabby way of trying to ingratiate himself to the school's angry sugar daddies. All Bollinger succeeded in doing was making Ahmadinejad look good in comparison with him.
Whether you agree with Iran's president or not, he's the wrong guy to try to demonize. First of all, he is not a dictator. He is an elected president with very little power. He has to get past the legislature, and the real power rests with the senior cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei controls foreign policy and is commander in chief of all of Iran's armed forces. The legislature rejected nearly all of Ahmadinejad's recommendations for ministers. When he tried to allow women to attend soccer games, the clerics overruled him.
The claims that Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and has called for the destruction of Israel are false. He has called for regime change, which is something American politicians do every time they find a country whose policies they disagree with. Regime change is a change of government, not genocide. As for the Holocaust, he said it raised two questions: Why put people in prison who question details of the official version, which is what several European countries do? Why should the Palestinians be made to pay for it? Both are good questions.
How American politicians can call Iran a dangerous country and claim that it poses a threat to the U.S. is a mystery. On second thought, it is not a mystery. It just tells you that the politicians think you and I are so stupid that we will fall for the exact same parade of lies and exaggerations that was used to justify the war against Iraq.
Think for yourself. Iran has no nuclear weapons, and its military is designed for defense. It has no offensive capability — no air force, no navy to speak of. Israel, on the other hand, is usually ranked as the fifth most powerful military state on the planet. It has more than 200 nuclear weapons and a superb air force.
Iran has said it has no desire to attack Israel or any other country. It has said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that it has no desire for a nuclear weapon. The head cleric has issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons. And there is not one shred of evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Just remember the lies told to you before Iraq: that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapon; that he had enormous stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. The only thing he really had was oil. That's why we went to war, and that's why the administration wants to go to war with Iran.
I've heard some politicians say that Ahmadinejad has "blood on his hands." Well, our $40 billion worth of intelligence cannot even determine if he was involved in the taking of the American embassy back in 1979. As for blood, American politicians have far more Iranian blood on their hands. We overthrew Iran's democratic government and installed the Shah and his secret police. We sided with and assisted Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran. Tens of thousands of Iranians are dead because of America's foreign policy.
We truly have a corrupt and incompetent government in Washington.
October 1, 2007
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.