Monday, September 24, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not crazy, but his speech irritated me today

The problem that I have with Iran is not that I view them as a threat to my country (USA) or the Middle East: it is that Iran is the second most despised government in the world (behind #1 Israel, and slightly ahead of #3 North Korea in just about every international opinion poll).

I would expect a more conciliatory approach from a leader of a widely despised government (internal human rights, suppression of free speech, an economy that is so bad that their educated population leaves in great numbers, etc.) I don't think that any rational person really views Iran as a real security threat (although Iran is a convenient political issue in my country), but I have real problems with their internal (to Iran) behavior. Re: nuclear power technology in Iran: as long as they continue to be a member in the IAEA and allow inspections, that is good enough for me, but I understand the arguments of other people who don't feel comfortable with this. Unfortunately, incompetent foreign policy by the Bush administration has certainly given Iran more influence in their part of the world, but that is something that we now have to learn to live with - no taking back mistaken actions and policies, and "doubling down" on the bad bet of attacking Iraq, by attacking Iran, would be a horrible mistake (a long shot neoconservative wager that is a true nightmare scenario for the whole world).

I would like to make a more general point:

The world has become a much safer place over the last several decades, based on fewer civilian deaths and a decreasing general level of violence in the world. Also, compared to the constant threat of nuclear annihilation during the cold war, things are definitely looking good right now: something we should be grateful for.

One reason the world has been progressing into a safer place is globalization and interlocking economies. If it were up to me, looking out for the welfare on my own country (USA) but also caring about all people on this planet, I would have more trade, talk, student exchange programs, tourism, etc. with all countries in the world (OK, I don't really don't want to go on a vacation to North Korea, but you get the general idea). The better the flow of ideas, dialog, tourism, and education abroad programs, the better off the world is, and for that reason I would like to commend Columbia University for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak and answer questions today. Ahmadinejad did not make a good impression on me, but I was still glad to hear him. You can bet money that some politicians will try to make political mileage out of this, but they will be acting out of self interest, not for the general good.

8 comments:

Anjan said...

hi there,

good to know what you think.

"just about every international opinion pole"

you might want to poll some of the 2.5 billion from India and china and see what percentage believe the same as the "internation" ?

"I would like to commend Columbia University for inviting Ahmadinejad to speak and answer questions today."

+1


BR,
~A

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Hello Anjan,

I thought that both polls that I have read polled people in 100+ countries, so I would very surprised if India and China were not represented. I would like to see a breakdown on this issue by country - I will take a look.

Many of my friends think that I am too optimistic, but I do expect the world to get more and more peaceful as there is more economic parity between countries, more trade, etc. An equal playing field, where people's prosperity is determined by their talents and work ethic...

Wish me luck with that prediction :-)

Best regards,
Mark

The Absurdist said...

Although you may feel that Iran is not a security threat, there is sufficient reason for a rational person to believe that they are: capturing of British navy personnel, ambushing of US troops, supplying arms to insurgents, arming of Hezbollah, inflammatory and emotional public outbursts from their head of state, possible pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Bush administration presented a flimsy case against Iraq - it never sounded convincing and it baffles me how our representatives in Congress fell for it – but this doesn't mean the Bush administration, as incompetent as it was during the Iraq occupation, is wrong about Iran or other areas of the world. We need to be wary, within ourselves, of believing something is true because it is agreeable to us and false because it isn’t.

Peter Lawrey said...

Imagine you are in Iran, and a country which has involved itself in your political affairs before, decides to invade a country first to the east then to the west of your country for no reason that you can understand. No-one tries to stop them. They start saying that your country is evil. Might that make you nervous? Might you not vote in someone with extreme views with religious conviction.

Ahmadinejad might not appear entirely sane, but sadly, as a world leader his is in fine company.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

to: The Absurdist: I enjoyed your web blog.

to: Peter: Sure, in the past we acted stupidly - but our country has a history of not getting "the empire thing" right. We should give up aspirations to rule the world. re: people in Iran: I have sympathy for them, as I also have sympathy for Israeli citizens, Palestinians, North Koreans, etc. - common denominator is that these are all governments that I very much don't like, the the people who live under these governments have my best wishes.

vahid said...

Hi Mark...
First of all, sorry for my poor English. I live in Tehran-Iran. I see these happenings closely. Unfortunately, the Ahmadinejad is our president( he is selected, not elected!). But when you hear about Iran and it's policies, please make difference between Iran's government and people of Iran.
He is not popular in Iran at the moment. He wants return Iran to more than 1400 years ago. I don't kidding ! He is an terrible Ideologue. I want to warn you about nuclear Iran . Because It can destroy all of the Middle East(specially Israel). He and his friends are crazy about power . You cant' understand? He denied any problem in Iran. Any problem !! In his point of view, we live in the Heaven! Why ? Cause we have a holly leader!! If you have any Idea which is not adapted to their vision ,you are a Anti-leader . Any Anti-leader must go to the Hell . Do you see? It's a very simple, straight and evil logic, of course . Human rights is forgotten in Iran, please check CNN,BBC, or any other media which you like. In August more than 40 people hanged ! Some of them was student , but our government told they were criminals!
As far as I know most of Iranian people believe the Holocaust. They are not anti Israel. They like Humans without any border or boundaries ,just like any other person.
I hope we can join with International community as soon as possible.
Sorry for long comment…
Regards.

Mark Watson, author and consultant said...

Thank you Vahid - I appreciate your comments.

Kaveh Shahbazian said...

As an Iranian I should say this government has nothing in common with Iranian culture!
We (Iranians) believe that this gov is supported by US and UK to turn our country to ash for being easily raided (Oil, Gold, Saffron, ...).
When Israel wants to push Palestinians back, uses Iran's gov to support hamas! You think this is very science fiction, don't you?
But this is real!
Why we choose this stupid guys as our governments? We have not! They torture and kill any oppositions!
See! Every country with a lot of Oil fields is a 3rd-world and left-back one!
Think about it!
We are very tolerate people and we do not want to make harmful actions!
But until there is Oil; there will be things that I hate (like war)!
Cheers!