The not-so-mad mind of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
By Victor Davis Hanson
Ahmadinejad at his fall
conference: 'The World without Zionism'
's president may be evil, but he understands the Western postmodern mind
all too well
"The skirmishes in the
occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of
years of war will be defined in Palestinian land. As the Imam said,
must be wiped off the map."
's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Given his apocalyptic rhetoric, we can understand why President
Ahmadinejad might want an arsenal of nuclear missiles. He'd be able to
shake down a constant stream of rich European emissaries, threaten the
Arab Gulf states to lower oil production, neutralize the influence of the
United States in the region — and, of course, destroy Israel.
In all his crazed pronouncements, Ahmadinejad reflects an end-of-days
view: History is coming to its grand finale under his aegis. Indeed,
President Ahmadinejad magically entrances even his foreign audiences into
stupor. Of his recent United Nations speech, he boasted: "I felt that
all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there. And for 27-28 minutes all
the leaders did not blink."
So the name of the haloed Ahmadinejad will live for the ages — but only
if he alone takes out the crusader interloper in
. The Shia may be the dispossessed of the Muslim world, but, as the
messianic figure the Great Mahdi come to earth, Ahmadinejad can do
something for the devout not seen since Saladin expelled the infidels from
But for now, barring divine intervention, Ahmadinejad's task poses two
small hurdles: getting the bomb and preparing the world for
Oddly, the first obstacle may be easier. An impoverished
pulled it off.
anything it cannot get from rogue regimes. Ultimately,
will probably veto any punitive action of the United Nations.
Impotent European diplomats will always defer to such an important global
figure, "ruling out" force to stop the Iranian nuclear industry
as they offer money and trade deals if
will just act sanely.
has a growing anti-war movement, and 180,000 of its troops are busy
birthing democracy in
. And the unpredictable George Bush has less than three years in office
But the second part of readying the world for the end of the Jewish state
True, the Middle East's secular gospel is anti-Semitism, broadcast hourly
. In these places, state-run media boom out tired sermons about "pigs
and apes." And, again,
don't much care what happens to
, as long as its demise does not affect business.
But the West is a different matter. There the history of anti-Semitism
looms large, framed by the Holocaust that nearly destroyed European Jewry.
So raising doubts about that genocide is now Ahmadinejad's aim just as
much as targeting downtown Tel Aviv. Holocaust denial is a tired game, but
his approach is different.
He has studied the recent Western postmodern mind, nursed on its holy
trinity of multiculturalism, moral equivalence and relativism. As a
third-world populist, Ahmadinejad expects that his own fascism will escape
scrutiny if he just recites enough the past sins of the West. He also
understands victimology. So he also knows that to destroy the Israelis, he
— not they — must become the victim, and the Europeans the ones who
forced his hand. To quote Ahmadinejad:
"So we ask you: If you indeed committed this great crime, why should
the oppressed people of
be punished for it? If you committed a crime, you yourselves should pay
Ahmadinejad also grasps that there are millions of highly educated but
cynical Westerners who see nothing much exceptional about their own
culture. So if democratic
has nuclear weapons, why not theocratic
? "Your arsenals are full to the brim, yet when it's the turn of a
nation such as mine to develop peaceful nuclear technology you object and
resort to threats."
Moreover, he knows how Western relativism works. So who is to say what are
"facts" or what is "true" — given the tendency of
the powerful to "construct" their own narratives and call the
result "history." Was not the Holocaust exaggerated, or perhaps
even fabricated, as mere jails became "death camps" through a
trick of language to take over Palestinian land?
We laugh at all this as absurd. We should not.
Money, oil and threats have brought the Iranian theocrats to the very
threshold of a nuclear arsenal. Their uncanny diagnosis of Western malaise
has now convinced them that they can carefully fabricate a Holocaust-free
reality in which Muslims are the victims and Jews the aggressors deserving
of punishment. And thus Ahmadinejad's righteously aggrieved (and nuclear)
can, after "hundreds of years of war," finally set things right
And then a world that wishes to continue to make money and drive cars in
peace won't much care how this divinely appointed holy man finally
finishes a bothersome "war of destiny."
Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian at the Hoover
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