Wednesday, August 16, 2006
About Two Presidents
What did I think I knew about the President of Iran before last Sunday? I'd read that he was a popular person among the rural and poor people in Iran and had the reputation of being honest with the people's money and not corrupt. I'd also read that he was a fundamentalist Muslim and shared a Muslim belief in Armageddon. Apparently the Muslim belief is similar to the Christian belief, except that the person returning to rule the world is a Muslim and not Christ.
I had the opinion that he was the Iranian equivalent to our own President, George W. Bush. Mr. Bush is also popular among rural people in parts of our country. He is a fundamentalist Christian who believes in Armageddon. It seemed to me that the two Presidents shared the belief that perhaps the current unrest in the Middle East is a precursor to Armageddon, which is going to start almost any day now.
The Mike Wallace interview revealed a man quite different from George Bush. Mr. Ahmadinejad has thought a lot about the situation the world is in at present. Many of his opinions expressed in the interview have been written about by Americans and others. For example, even the most ardent defender of Israel must admit that the existence of Israel in the midst of a region that was Muslim and Arabic in nature before 1948 has been an irritant. Advocates of all opinions have different views on how to resolve the irritation. Mr. Ahmadinejad has one extreme view: dismantle the government of Israel. He doesn't say what is to be done with the Jews now living in Israel, so I don't know whether he would allow them to stay in a united Israel+Palestine with a representative government that would tilt toward the Arab majority. Perhaps he would have them forcibly deported, or even driven into the Mediterranean Sea by an army of angry Muslim fanatics. Another extreme view, expressed by the late Rabbi Kahane, is to make life so miserable for the former inhabitants of Palestine that they would simply go somewhere else and abandon any claim they have for the territory to become the recreation of Biblical Israel. A less extreme view is to buy them out, or bribe them to leave.
There is a lot of difference between the two Presidents. I can't imagine Mr. Ahmadinejad leading a horde of angry Muslim fundamentalists rampaging through Jewish Israel with drawn scimitars, cutting off the heads of all who refuse to acknowledge Allah and His Prophet Muhammad. I also can't imagine Mr. Ahmadinejad speaking of his enemies as "hating our freedom" as the reason for their opposition, the way Mr. Bush does. Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to be a pleasant and intelligent man. Of course, people used to say that about Hitler, also.