Sunday, December 17, 2006

Seeing Iran

It is important to see Iran clearly: to understand this important country. Right now the West is misunderstanding Iran in two different directions: on the one hand, the provincial President Ahmadinejad and his unworldly clerical backers lead us to forget that Iran is a large, sophisticated country, with ancient cultural, literary and, yes, political traditions, multiple social strata and factions and a worldy, sophisticated educated class. On the other hand, President Ahmadinejad also causes us to fear Iran as a looming, dangerous menace, perhaps even worthy of full-scale attack in the eyes of the belligerent Bushies, rather than the semi-impoverished country that imports 40 percent of its oil, that has no navy or air force, that it is. The solution is to stop dancing with Ahmadinejad and the rest of the fundamentalist Quixotes who precariously hold power for the time being, to disdain his Holocaust denial, for example, as the rank idiocy that it is, and to speak to cosmopolitan Iran directly. In the end this sophisticated people will work through their historically inevitable experiment with Islamic government and will evolve a modern government that is worthy of the proud history of the Persian plateau.

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