A guest post by Oded Ben-Joseph, a freelance Tel-Aviv based writer.
Once again, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regales us with his annual view of the world, using the always willing UN General Assembly as a platform. One can only surmise from its content that those righteous souls in the UN must be in increasing despair, clinging to the several scraps of his political rhetoric which seem in tune with their charter.
Perhaps those UN policymakers are committing Neville Chamberlain’s error, thinking more about those charter terms that vow to practice “tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good Neighbors,” conveniently setting aside the further clauses meditating on what ideals those neighbors should subscribe to, or even (considering the state of most of the UN member states today) merely aspire to aspire to:
“Reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”
Unlike many other critiques of Ahmadinejad, there is no hint intended here of a comparison with Hitler. Chamberlain was only mentioned as a point of thought about his modern counterparts, not alluding to his historical foe. The said comparison would be absurd, if only for the reason that Hitler was Nazism and Nazism was Hitler. Without him, Nazi Germany would either not have materialized at all or would crumble much earlier.
Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, more than a leader, is a faithful representative of a wildly popular movement of thought (whether through choice or fear), which either directly supports or fails to resist certain, shall we as neutrally as possible say – inconsistencies – common in the Mideast, where inconsistency kills.
Perhaps it is dishonorable for the millions of living and dead victims to use the word “inconsistency”, but I’m trying to use language as neutral as possible, hoping that facts will shine forth even more brightly this way.
War commemorations vs. celebrations
In his speech, Ahmadinejad recognizes that “despite the general longing and aspiration to promote peace [Glad to hear it], progress, and fraternity, wars, mass-murder, widespread poverty, and socioeconomic and political crises continue to infringe upon the rights and sovereignty of nations, leaving behind irreparable damage worldwide…”
He later asks, “Who provoked and encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade and impose an eight-year war on Iran, and who assisted and equipped him to deploy chemical weapons against our cities and our people” [?]
Well said! So good of him to mention the Iran-Iraq war, “the longest conventional war of the twentieth century”.
Ahmadinejad’s doublespeak knows no boundaries here. If indeed the war was forced on his country, the most neutral observer might find it curious why Iran actually celebrates the war’s beginning – as they have been doing annually for the last 31 years – rather than the end.
Again, repeating: in Iran they mark the start of the Iran Iraq war – the bloodiest conflict in the history of the region, which resulted in about a million dead, suicide brigades of Iranian children marched to clear battlefield mines, long bouts of ballistic missile battles between Iranian and Iraqi cities, and widespread chemical weapons use that killed and maimed hundreds of thousands.
In short, one week of this war produced more suffering to its hapless participants than 10 years of the Israeli-Arab conflict (pick any decade or even the whole lot of them).
Most countries that celebrate wars (an admittedly questionable practice, I’m sure even non-pacifists would agree) nevertheless commemorate their end, their result: peace, or at least the beginning of the end – an indication, perhaps, that although nationalistic militaristic sentiment exists, there is also a wish that it would have attained its goals peacefully.
Iran didn’t even clearly win, at all: the war concluded in a stalemate. What, then, might the most neutral postmodern live and let live liberal thinker ask, are they celebrating over there? Not all questions have to be answered, I hope. Another one: what concepts, about war and violence, are likely form in the mind of millions of Iranian children taken to watch such parades?
On slaves and salvos
Onwards to slightly happier matters, Ahmadinejad begins a series of questions meditating on the topic of world evil, all which seem to have the same answer, such as:
“Who abducted forcefully tens of millions of people from their homes in Africa and other regions of the world during the dark period of slavery , making them a victim of their materialistic greed [?]”
Is Ahmadinejad hinting that slavery in Africa is over and done with – at least the kind perpetrated by his favorite Satans?
Today, others, and some not so others, continue the tradition. And one must be thankful for that mention of “other regions of the world”, in some of which slavery didn’t exactly abate into the pages of history, either. Where is it that women get death sentences for adultery? Happily, Iran promises not to execute people under the age of 18.
“Who imposed colonialism for over four centuries upon this world. Who occupied lands and massively plundered resources of other nations, destroyed talents, and alienated languages, cultures and identities of nations?
There are so many any eligible contenders from East and West, that only from reading elsewhere in the speech one gets the gist that Ahmadinejad is not talking about the Ottoman Empire.
“Who imposed, through deceits and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over sixty years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and on countries of the region”?
Ahmadinejad’s humanitarian solution to it was not referred to in his recent speech for some reason, as perhaps he was apprehensive that it might stretch his luck with the UN’s moral elasticity, which might have its limits (if only there was some indication of what they were.)
In any case, the explanation by the Iranians and their western apologetics that the phrase “erasing a country off the map” doesn’t exist in Farsi can’t erase certain slogans vividly painted on long-range missile launchers in Teheran military parades.
Who governs the governors?
The speech continues in its Q&A format:
“It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then.”
“Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world [Better than the way the speaker runs his backyard, evidently]. Is it acceptable that they call themselves the sole defender of freedom, democracy, and human rights, while they militarily attack and occupy other countries?”
Ahmadinejad really should have named “they”, otherwise it is rather confusing as to whom he is referring in some paragraphs – perhaps to Iran’s terror attacks on other countries, or its Hizbullah columns occupying Southern Lebanon and potentially all of it?
Eventually the culprits are named more closely: “Can the flower of democracy blossom from NATO’s missiles, bombs and guns?”
A very good question!
Perhaps the insinuation here is that this flower can flourish in light of Iran’s leading humanitarian projects (centrifuges for peace?), persecution of gays or legal luminosity of its “civil justice” system, with Sharia judges so omniscient that they arrive at the correct verdict in 120 seconds per case?
Even military tribunals in Israel take at best months to conclude, sometimes years.
Ahmadinejad also complains that “They tolerate no question or criticism…”
The speech closes with sentiments everyone should agree with, hopefully even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
“The idea of creation of the United Nations remains a great and historical achievement of mankind. Its importance must be appreciated and its capacities must be used to the extent possible for our noble goals.”
“Let us salute love, freedom, justice, wisdom, and the bright future that awaits humankind.”
Well said. One can only hope that, in the future, the UN will start advancing towards those liberal goals by insisting on harboring in its midst only member states whose regimes show the barest minimum of inclination towards them.
But, if you really think all of the above has been regurgitated here just as a smokescreen to distract you from Israeli crimes, I gladly offer you this deal: you support throwing out the ten worst human rights offenders out of the UN, and I’ll support throwing Israel out. Israel has little or nothing to lose (the end of prejudiced UN resolutions perhaps), and the UN has a lot to gain – such as the moral credibility of its founding charter.