|11-29-2007, 12:59 PM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2004
Bush and Ahmadinejad... Oddly similar?
[...]On different scales, both Iranians and Americans tend to take an imperial view. Both governments demonise the other. They use past resentments to reap political rewards by looking tough.
Yet in both America and Iran, currents of dissent are growing, even inside their administrations. In neither case do the dissenters differ much from their leader's stated objective: for Iran it is to claim a perceived right to nuclear technology; for America it is to perform an assumed duty to stop Iran making atomic bombs. In both cases, critics lambast their leaders for tactics that may take their countries to war.
In some respects, those leaders are oddly similar. George Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are both deeply religious, referring frequently to God's guiding hand. Both are idealists rather than pragmatists, and skilled at folksy populism. Both have replaced dozens of competent officials with like-minded conservatives. And both are now considered, by a large slice of their countrymen, to be bungling and dangerous. The difference is that it has taken Mr Ahmadinejad just two years in power to achieve the unpopularity Mr Bush has gained after six.
There are differences, of course. Mr Bush may be accused of curtailing civil liberties in pursuit of his war on terror. But his government does not drag women off the streets for maladjusting hijabs, the obligatory covering of head and shoulders, or jail student activists as dangers to national security or smear political opponents as traitors or muzzle their speech.
On the other hand, Mr Ahmadinejad may be bombastic but he has not implied he may bomb America—and could not, even if he wanted to. Oceans and an unparalleled armoury separate America from any conceivable enemy, except small bands of terrorists. The strategic view from Tehran, by contrast, is of guns pointing from every direction, at close range, and of potential treachery from within. Only a paranoid fringe in America thinks the country's constitution or the values underpinning it face an imminent threat of being overturned. That fringe is in charge in Iran.[...]