The fact that a man has a brown skin does not mean that he is not a thoroughly nasty piece of work. Nor does the fact that he runs a country that was treated shabbily by the West. And especially not the fact that he is a Muslim.
So it is odd that so many people in Britain are anxious to find excuses for Muhammad Ahmadinejad. Or perhaps not. One thing about Britain is that you can take the most disgusting politicians in the world and you will find someone in Britain who will apologise for them: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, apartheid, the Greek colonels, Pinochet, Mugabe (till he became unfashionable), Castro, Chávez, the list is endless. There is always someone in Britain who will stand up for a strong leader of his people.
I am prompted to write this by the sympathy being shown to the thoroughly nasty man who is running Iran these days, Muhammad Ahmadinejad. Did he call for Israel to be wiped from the map, or merely from the pages of history? My views on the controversy have been put on Tony Hatfield's blog. To summarise: What he said about Israel is irrelevant; it is what he does that counts. And what he is doing is building Iran up as a nuclear power with the intention that it should take over the Middle East. Now, it may well be inevitable that Iran, with its peculiar history in recent decades and its unquestionable strategic position should feel ambitious. It is perfectly true that the geopolitical stupidity of the Bush administration has surrounded it with hostile states. Nevertheless, a diplomatic solution is being tried as Bush tries to prevent his legacy from being totally disastrous. Nothing will be decided of course until the new US president has taken office, and a big dance is taking place to influence the media. The Guardian seems to have decided that the time is right to give a breath of air to this dictator. I disagree. Once upon a time there was a European politician who said that he had no further territorial ambitions in Europe. Many people believed him, or wished to do so. They were mistaken.
Jonathan Steele’s article is entitled Lost in translation. It ends with this:
Let me give the last word to Juan Cole, with whom I began. “I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no.”
I suppose that nothing has been lost in quotation so…
Note the assumption that Ahmadinejad’s hostility to Israel would lead to a military attack. I see no suggestion here that diplomacy might be tried, and might just find a peaceful solution. Mr Cole is saying no but it is not clear what he is saying no to, as the question that he poses is both loaded (it assumes that military option is inevitable) and dual: ‘The question is whether … and whether…’ An accomplished military attack is a fact but pre-emptive warfare is waged against a threat, so the logic of his argument falls to pieces. How about this:
“I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities might lead to a military attack that could not be averted by diplomatic means, and whether therefore pre-emptive action, supported and legitimated by the United Nations, might in those circumstances be justified.”
The prevalent idea in the West, or rather in Britain, that warfare is the only way of dealing with Iran is mistaken and malevolent. But doesn’t it just suit Ahmadinejad to have the West think that way? You bet it does!
I have described here how Ahmadinejad once made an obscene proposal to the Germans that they should support him in his genocidal designs on the Jews.