Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Ahmadinejad the "Nuke Toting Loony" the Media Portrays Him to Be?

Reading the Washington Post or the New York Times one would automatically draw the conclusion that Iranian President is a nuke toting Israel hating loony, waiting to blow up the world. Reality could not be further from the truth. We encourage our readers to view Dr. Ron Paul's video (enclosed in the post above)where he exposes the neocon strategy to once again manufacture a fake "threat", this time of nuclear armageddon, and take the country down the path of war with Iran. Just as a fake "WMD" threat was manufactured and blindly supported by the U.S. and U.K. media, in the lead up to the Iraq invasion, this time is no different.
History is once again poised to repeat itself but with much more disastrous, if not catastrophic consequences. A war with Iran will be a dangerous escalation that may draw in China, Russia and even India as all these countries have deep entrenched oil and gas interests in Iran, and will not view a western takeover of their economic interests lightly. Not only that, the war may set in the final act for democracy to vanish in America. As we have seen with 9/11 and the Iraq invasion, during times of war a fearful people easily give up their democratic privileges and civil liberties (think the Patriot Act). Coupled with a rapidly vanishing middle class (greatly impoverished due to the massive economic crisis), American society will soon be divided into only two classes: the poor masses governed by a small class of privileged ultra rich elite. Moreover the poor will be so worried about putting food on their table that they will have no strength to fight for "quaint ideas" like democracy and civil liberties. To uphold those you need a vibrant and thriving middle class.
Now we do not make this last point lightly. Off late there have been increasing media reports about "democracy being a "quaint" concept no longer applicable in present times, where our problems are global in nature and require almost a Chinese style dictatorship a.k.a, a world government, to implement the new laws and changes. e.g. the global warming debate which needs a global consensus. (We will address this point in greater detail in another post).
We begin our analysis of Ahmadinejad first by dispelling some often cited Iranian hate rhetoric. Consider the first one: Most Americans have seen on their televisions, Iranian people demonstrating in the streets chanting "Death to Israel", "Death to America".
While the slogans are most definitely a reality the sentiment behind it is probably much more mild than its english translation suggests. Rick Steves who made an PBS documentary on Iranian culture (we enclose the video in our third post of the day), has an excellent post on his blog, where he tries to make sense of this rhetoric. He describes an incident while being driven through the congested streets of Iran, when his guide (who was also the car-driver) suddenly exclaimed "Death to Traffic":
As we were struggling to drive away in a horribly congested street, our guide made a telling aside. He declared, “Death to traffic.” Then he said, “Because we can do nothing about this traffic, we can all say ‘Death to Traffic’.” Did he mean kill all those drivers that were in our way? Does Iran really mean death to the US and Israel? Or is it a mix of international road rage, fear, frustration — and the seductive clarity of a catchy slogan? This quirky cultural trait might be worth looking into and trying to understand.
We encourage all our reader to read Steve's blog post titled "Death to America...Death to Traffic". Readers are also invited to watch his interview with Fora TV.
Enclosed below are some pertinent and truly eye-opening excerpts from Ahmadinejad's excellent interview with Diane Sawyer of ABC News (the full interview transcript can be accessed here). In addition, Diane has done a great job as an interviewer, simply by allowing Ahmadinejad to speak freely - a quality in extreme short supply with most commentators who choose to frequently interrupt their guests and air their own personal views (a.k.a. the last interview of Ahmadinejad with the egotistical Larry King).
We would also like to point out that although the Iranian political system has many flaws, and Ahmadinejad like all politicians is no saint and does indulge in rhetoric and hyperbole, nevertheless he seems to make a lot more sense than Obama, Bush or Cheney ever did. We invite our readers to judge for themselves if Ahmadinejad appears to be the crazy loony as the media has portrayed him.
DIANE SAWYER: There is a news story critics of Iran saying this is the smoking gun. There is a news report out of England, a document which purports to show that Iran has been testing a neutron initiator which is a trigger for a nuclear weapon, has no civilian use and they now say this is the document that proves it -- have you been testing a neutron initiator?
AHMADINEJAD: First of all, I would like to express my greetings to the good people of America and I hope that the American people and other nations of the world live in full health and security. I hope that the efforts that are being made in Copenhagen lead to positive results for the betterment of the human society. As far as your question is concerned, I think that some of the claims made by the American and other Western statesmen about our nuclear issue have turned into a repetitive and tasteless joke. They always come up with papers saying that they have got documents. These are all baseless talk. From our point of view, they are of no legal value and not worth paying attention to. Even we are not ready to investigate them.
SAWYER: Would you like to see this document? Is it a joke?
AHMADINEJAD: No, I don't want to see them at all. I don't. Because they are all fabricated bunch of papers continuously being forged and disseminated by the American government. They are of no legal value for us. There is a fact that we should proclaim. The U.S. government is looking for domination over the Middle East region and the world. Its policies are double standard and discriminatory and we oppose these policies. We say this clearly that the nuclear issue and other issues of this kind are just pretexts. It will be good if the U.S. statesmen have got some honesty and speak their mind. They want to dominate the Middle East region, over this political region and over this energy region. The Iranian nation and the Iranian government are huge obstacles. They should have the courage to announce this to the nations in a manly manner. They always come up with these fabricated papers, documents, and excuses -- one day they say it is nuclear, another day human rights. They have become repetitive for us now -- like a repetitive joke that is not funny anymore.
[Firecracker Report: If one is skeptical about the U.S. government forging Iranian nuclear documents, one only has to recall yellow cake from Niger, WMD smoking gun and Powell's photographs of chemical storage tankers at the U.N.]

SAWYER: So this is not true?
AHMADINEJAD: They are fundamentally not true. All the American claims are not true -- not only this one, but also the previous ones. We have got written documents from the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency] indicating that these claims have not been true.

SAWYER: Many journalists have tried to get a yes or no answer and I'm going to try one more time. Will you say to the American people, tonight, that Iran will never weaponize nuclear material? There will be no nuclear weapon in Iran, ever?
AHMADINEJAD: We have got a saying in Iran which says, "How many times shall I repeat the same thing?" You should say thing only once. We have said once that we don't want nuclear bomb.
AHMADINEJAD: We don't accept it -- finish. We have said it time and again that we don't accept bombs. If the American government is worried about bombs, it should disarm itself first so that the world understands that they are honest.
AHMADINEJAD: [Obama and I] We had talks in Vienna. We proposed exchanging of fuel. I announced that in my trip to New York I was ready to enter a debate with him. We were expecting substantial changes by him, but his behavior makes us worried. Not only his decisions aren't going to lead to any change, but they will even exacerbate the status quo.
SAWYER: Speaking of help, a question if I can about the three American hikers who say that they accidentally wandered into Iranian territory looking at waterfalls. These young people, Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd. You said that you were going to do your best to set them free and to hope that it happened as soon as possible. Are you still going to do your best to set them free?
AHMADINEJAD: Yes, but I have got a question to you. How do you know they have accidentally crossed into Iran? How do you know they were looking for waterfalls and forests? Who has told you this?
SAWYER: Do you have evidence that it was not accidental, young people on a hike, on a vacation?
AHMADINEJAD: Who has told you this? Who has told you this? Are you a judge?
SAWYER: By all examinations...
AHMADINEJAD: Permit me. Have the intelligence agents told you this? It is a judge who should identify whether they have entered accidentally or intentionally. I don't distinguish this and you don't distinguish this. I announced that we don't like anybody to be imprisoned, but if somebody commits a violation, a judge should investigate it. There is law.
SAWYER: Their mothers and their families, in enormous anguish, have asked can they go to see them, can they speak to them by telephone. Will you help arrange that?
AHMADINEJAD: We aren't happy about it either. We are unhappy about all prisoners. We are unhappy about all prisoners. In America, there are 3.5 million prisoners. We are unhappy about all of them. They are also away from their families. But a judge should make the judgment.
SAWYER: A question in the news overnight Mr. President. We have heard in the news that Iran has taken over an oil field in southern Iraq near Basra, Oil field No. 4, has this happened? Did you order it?
AHMADINEJAD: I haven't received such news. It might have been produced by the media. Some Western media fabricate the news and then they use it as their substantiation.
SAWYER: Would you disapprove? Would you reverse it?
AHMADINEJAD: I haven't heard such news.
SAWYER: A question also about Iran and as I said we hope so much to be able to return ourselves and see what is happening but we see the videos on the Internet, we see the Twitter calls from the protestors in the street, we see the signs that say "Death to Dictator." You have said that any one in Iran can express their point of view, that it is fully permitted. Are you saying these demonstrators in the next few days can go to the street in any number they want, and they can protest and they will be safe?
AHMADINEJAD: Do you think such a thing exists in America? Can the people there come to the streets whenever they want, say whatever they want?
SAWYER: You can apply for a permit, yes?
[Firecracker Report: Yes folks, in America you need a permit to even have a demonstration - what kind of freedom is that?]
AHMADINEJAD: Are you sure?
SAWYER: And they can go to the street and express their opinions, yes?
AHMADINEJAD: Are you sure?
SAWYER: If you apply for a permit...
AHMADINEJAD: During Pittsburgh meeting, there was a demonstration by 1,000 people. The police beat them and attacked them with tear gas and boiling water. A large number of people were arrested. Did they have the permission to demonstrate or had they come there without permission? Did they have the permission or not?
SAWYER: But thousands of people are allowed to come out and criticize the government, routinely.
AHMADINEJAD: It is the same in Iran, but my question to you is, those people who were beaten in Pittsburgh, were arrested and attacked with tear gas, what were they saying? What was their demand? Was it against the law or was it legal? Why were they beaten?AHMADINEJAD: In Iran we have got freedom, more than what there is in America. SAWYER: More?
AHMADINEJAD: They are free to speak and demonstrate. Yes, we have got elections in Iran. Whoever wins the most votes forms the government. Some people oppose the government. This is natural. There is no problem. They speak their mind.
SAWYER: But as you know, human rights activists, Amnesty International says 4,000 people were arrested among the protesters, that there have been executions, some of them, mass executions of protestors, striking fear in their hearts.
AHMADINEJAD: These things have to do with the judiciary. We have got laws. There is the judge. These people have got lawyers. These are not political questions. They are judicial and legal questions. In our country, we have got a detailed process of legal investigation. There are five stages of investigation with a review stage included. Of course, the judiciary has not yet announced anything. In Iran, the judiciary is independent. I would like to repeat my question to you. Were human rights considered in relation to those people who were beaten up in Pittsburgh and inhaled poisonous gas, tear gas? There are 3.5 million prisoners in America. Has the legal process been applied in relation to them or have they been arrested illegally? In proportion to the population, the number of prisoners in America is five times as much as that in Iran.
SAWYER: But not political prisoners...
AHMADINEJAD: Do the American people [simply] commit more offences [than average] or [are] human rights [being] violated [here]? Which one is true?

SAWYER: I think if I may ask one final question. You have three children; a daughter and two sons. ... Grandchildren? Too young?
AHMADINEJAD: Yes, I have got one grandchild, 5 months old, from the daughter. One son and one daughter are married now...
SAWYER: When they grow up, when this 5 month-old-baby grows up, do you hope he will ... what do you hope will be his friendship with America? America's friendship with Iran? What to you is the dream when he grows up, these two countries together?
AHMADINEJAD: We believe that if the American government changes its behavior, we don't have to wait until that child grows up. We can do away with the problems just now. But I can assure you that if the American government doesn't improve its behavior, even in 50 years time, we will have the same situation in Iran, generations after generations will remain the same. The majority of the 25 million people who voted for me are young. And most of those people who didn't vote think like me. Regarding the issue of the need for improvement in the American government behavior, the majority of the Iranian nation agree with each other.
Not only the Iranian nation, but all the nations of the world are united. Everybody wants American to change its behavior, to mend its behavior. Why did they invade Afghanistan? Why did they invade Iraq? Why are they threatening Iran? What do the American forces want in the Middle East? Why are they there? Do we have military forces in your region? Do we have warships, fighter jets, and tanks near the American borders? We don't. It is America that has. Why does it have? Why does it intervene in our region? Have the American interventions improved the situation in our region? Has security been established in the Middle East region? Has terrorism been controlled? Have narcotics been controlled? Or has the situation been worsened?
What has been the result of the American intervention in our region been other than killing, insecurity, and growth of terrorism? They should announce this so that everybody knows. The American government should report on its eight years of aggression on Afghanistan and Iraq. What has been the outcome? They should say, so that we know. They should report to the world. Why don't they report? Do you know that approximately 1 million people have been killed? Do you know that approximately 4 million people have become refugees? Do you know how many women and children have been killed? That the infrastructures of Afghanistan and Iraq have been destroyed? How many American and non-American soldiers have been killed? Who is going to answer for all this? Why has all this happened? What has been the outcome?
Politics is not a joke so that some American politicians come and make decisions like playing a game. It is about the fate of human beings, the lives of human beings, the security of human beings. The 1 million people who have lost lives, had wishes in their lives. They have got families, parents, children. They are human beings. Who is going to answer for all this? We don't like this situation to continue. We feel bad. Why should people be killed? Why should American and European soldiers be killed in Afghanistan? For what? What is the purpose of this war? They should say it clearly what the goal is. What has been the outcome? You cannot run the world like this. We object to this way of running the world. We oppose these policies. We oppose killing people.
And we announce that the American government should change its behavior. They are dealing with Ahmadinejad, not even with Iran. They are dealing with all the nations of the world. You should know, in South America, in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, the vast majority of nations are against the American policies. In this Copenhagen, there have been so many demonstrations, by groups of people. Who were they objecting to? To Iran or America? About the issue of environment, they are opposing the behavior of the American government. We oppose these policies and we announce it very clearly. We have already announced that we are ready to help these wrong policies improve. Mr. Bush was somebody who was only looking to kill. He had such a psychological condition that he enjoyed killing. He was killing the people. But Mr. Obama declared that wanted to bring changes. Where are these changes? What has changed?
SAWYER: Do you believe that President Bush wanted to see people killed?
AHMADINEJAD: It was definitely the case. Then why was he killing the people? Even he was threatening to kill in relation to Iran. I am asking you. Who is responsible for the killing of 1 million people? Why can I not tolerate to see one person being killed. We become very sad when we hear the news of someone having been killed. We try our best to prevent this. Why was he encouraging bombarding and rocketing? Why did he use weakened uranium bullets in Iraq? Do you know how many people have become ill as a result of this in Iraq? I am talking about ordinary people, women and children, not combatants. Why did he not prevent it? If somebody doesn't like something, he would stop it. He would stop killing. They bombarded a wedding celebration in Afghanistan. Eight hundred people were killed. Mr. Bush didn't even apologize. He didn't apologize for the fact that 1 million people were killed. What do you think?
SAWYER: Mr President, I have so many questions, but I am told that you must go. Just one quickly, what do you most hope for in 2010?
AHMADINEJAD: We hope there is peace in the world and wars and occupations come to an end. Animosities come to an end. The new Christian year is approaching. It is the birth of Jesus Christ. Christ is the prophet of peace, the prophet of friendship, the prophet of brotherhood, the prophet of integrity and honesty, the prophet of defending the oppressed. Of course, I would like to congratulate the new year to the American people and hope that we follow the Christ. If somebody says he/she is a Christian, they should follow him. We believe in Christ. He was a prophet of God, a clean human being. If Christ comes back today, we would follow him and we will put his instructions into action.
I would like to ask a question. Which part of the behavior of the American government corresponds with the culture and teachings of Jesus Christ? They should answer themselves. If Christ was here today, would he not punish the American statesmen for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Would he not resist them? He would definitely resist them. He wouldn't allow anybody to occupy and invade. He wouldn't allow the innocent people to be killed. We believe Jesus Christ is the prophet of God and try to follow him. Once again I would like to congratulate the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ to you and the American people.
SAWYER: Thank you again, Mr President, for your time. And hope to see you in Tehran.

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