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Iran: President Ahmadinejad and Me

8 March 2012 No Comment

Every passing day brings Iran’s totalitarian regime closer to building the bomb. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently announced that Iran “has joined the club of nuclear countries.” In February, Britain’s Telegraph reported that Tehran’s mullahs had issued a fatwa “sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies,” overriding prohibitions under sharia law. Meanwhile, on the streets of Tehran, “America Cannot Do a Damn Thing!” slogans are increasingly popular. Middle East expert and author Amir Taheri has written that it’s because “Ahmadinejad believes that the Khomeinist revolution needs ‘a second breath.'” A revolution “which can only come if the Islamic Republic takes on the U.S. and defeats it once again.”

But while the international community struggles to find a non-military solution to heading off Iran’s deadly ambitions …

That was the opening of an article I wrote for the Western Standard in 2006. I could easily write the same article today and simply change the date stamp and it would be accurate. I took that photograph of President Ahmadinejad when I was a UN correspondent. It seems odd and chilling to know that I (with my colleagues) have spent more time in a room with Iran’s president than any one from the Obama White House ever has It’s the moments when the cameras aren’t rolling and you see through the smoke and mirrors when you get glimpses of who the person really is. To be sure, Ahmadinejad means what he says — he intends to wipe Israel off the map. Any of us could have told the Obama administration that their smart policy of appeasement with Iran would be an utter failure.

So what has changed in six years? Since 2006, the Iranian people rose up to overthrow the Iranian regime – the largest state sponsor of terrorism and the Obama administration announced it would not‘meddle’ in another sovereign state’s affair, except of course if that state is Libya, Egypt, perhaps Syria and still counting. Since then the Iranian regime has repeatedly announced that it is willing to sit down to discuss their nuclear program, an offer that is always accepted, and accepted once again as recently as this past Tuesday by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany when dealing with Iran.

This is a stall tactic that the regime has successfully used to buy more time to enrich more uranium – a tactic that the ‘international’ community always falls for as they kick the can down the road until the threat from Iran can no longer be ignored.

Since 2006, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became a propaganda tool for the Iranian regime at the expense of the Iranian people and US national security interests, something she had advised against when she ran for president during the democratic presidential nomination contest when then Senator Barack Obama declared he would meet with Ahmadinejad and effectively provide Ahmadinejad with a powerful photo op and propaganda tool.

Check out Ilan Berman today in Forbes: Pulling Back The Veil On Iran’s Parliamentary Elections

Last Friday, Iranians went to the polls to elect representatives to the country’s legislature, or majles. The results of the poll have gone largely unremarked in the West. Yet, with deepening global tensions over Iran’s nuclear program as backdrop, the outcome provides some important insights into the current political state of play in Tehran—and what we can expect from the Iranian regime in the days to come.

What’s in a number?

Officially, the Iranian government has boasted of a turnout of more than 64 percent—and touted the figure as a rebuke to “enemies” (both domestic and foreign) that have sought to dishearten voters. But that number is deeply suspect; as some observers have noted, Iranian officials themselves let slip far more modest tallies, before correcting themselves and revising the numbers upward. Even if the figure is accurate, however, it falls below voter tallies in the 2009 presidential election, and well below the political participation that typified the country’s political scene in the 1990s, when hopes ran high that the Iranian clerical set might take a more moderate turn.

The reasons the Iranian regime is eager to inflate the numbers are obvious. A high turnout allows Iran’s Supreme Leader to more easily dismiss talk of internal dissent and disaffection, as well as to claim popular confidence in his stewardship. More significant still, in the official interpretation now being touted in Tehran, it provides political leeway for the Iranian regime to double down on its policy of confrontation with the West.