Thursday, October 27, 2005

Iranic Quandary

What do you do with a country that openly proclaims that another country should be “wiped off the map"? The man at right is Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (click for a slightly larger view). He is a radical Moslem zealot, widely believed to be one of the principals in the taking of American hostages in Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Here’s what he actually said yesterday:

From the Asia Times:

"Once, his eminency Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini - leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution], stated that the illegal regime of the Pahlavis must go, and it happened. Then he said the Soviet empire would disappear, and it happened. He also said that this evil man Saddam [Hussein] must be punished, and we see that he is under trial in his country. His eminency also said that the occupation regime of Qods [Jerusalem, or Israel] must be wiped off from the map of the world, and with the help of the Almighty, we shall soon experience a world without America and Zionism, notwithstanding those who doubt."

Remember, this is the President of Iran. There are others within Iran with power and influence are aren’t quite so overtly and publicly radical, but there’s every reason to believe that President Ahmadinejad accurately represents the true beliefs and world views of the other Iranian leaders — most especially because without their support he couldn’t possibly occupy the position he now does.

From Strategy Page:

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Moslems everywhere to work towards the destruction of Israel. Usually, such sentiments are not uttered publicly by senior officials, but left to local journalists and junior officials. This statement caused an international uproar, which will soon pass.

So what’s the right way to respond to such a statement from the leader of a country? Condemnation, certainly, and at least from some quarters that condemnation was almost instantly forthcoming. The usual suspects were silent. But what else? My personal take is that such inflammatory rhetoric is unfortunate, and is not helping the progress of peace in the Middle East — but if the rhetoric wasn’t followed up by tangible action, then no response other than condemnation is called for.

But … from what I can read, Iran is following up the rhetoric with action, albeit covert and denied action. Iran stands accused of actively supporting and fomenting terrorism, most especially in Iraq. If we are certain that Iran is a state supporting terrorism, then I believe direct action by the U.S. is called for — to protect our own safety. Then it boils down to what actions can and should be taken, and here I’d have to know a lot more about the situation on the ground over there to be able to venture an opinion. I can only hope that our government is (a) better informed that I, and (b) is actively working on an action program to get Iran under control…

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