Limitations of a Western View

Noam Chomsky compared the Iranian response to a hypothetical U.S. response, should the Iranians have invaded and occupied Canada and Mexico, just as the U.S. has invaded and occupied both Iraq and Afghanistan. Gilad Atzmon offers what is perhaps a more apt comparison in light of the recent capture and release of 15 British sailors, pointing out that “[i]t was [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad who has pardoned the enemy, it was Ahmadinejad that evoked some prospects of a peaceful future.” He continues:

Brits and Americans should ask themselves whether they can recall Bush or Blair meeting with any of the many illegally detained Guantánamo Bay inmates. Brits may also want to ask themselves when was the last time their Prime Minister was seen chatting with Abu Hamza* or anyone like him. My usual Ziocon critics would obviously blame me for equating here ‘innocent’ naval personnel to ‘murderous bloodthirsty terrorists’. I would suggest to them to bear in mind that it is ‘us’ who label others as ‘terrorist’ as much as it is ‘us’ who generously label ourselves as ‘innocent’. I may as well voluntarily suggest to my possible critics that within this so-called ‘cultural clash’, it is again ‘us’ who launched an illegal war, it is ‘us’ who are legally and morally responsible for the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is ‘our’ democratically elected governments that support the Israeli atrocities in Palestine. It is ‘our’ leaders who happen to be the terrorists who fail to talk to the so-called enemy. It is ‘our’ leaders who fail to offer any hope for peace. Instead they just prepare us for many more conflicts to come. More importantly, I may suggest to my critics that in the eyes of an Iranian, the captured naval personnel are part of an invasion army that destroys Arab and Muslim States.

I wonder how the majority of British people would feel about a bunch of Iranian naval commandos operating in the English Channel, stopping every Western vessel and searching its belly for some potential military goods. I wonder as well how most Brits would feel about the democratically elected Iranian government interfering with the British Parliament’s recent decision to spend dozens of billions of Sterling on a new Trident, a weapon designed for the indiscriminate killing of millions of people. Obviously there is no need to elaborate on these rhetorical questions, the answers are clear. The vast majority of Brits wouldn’t accept anyone interfering either with British politics or with the Kingdom’s territorial waters. Yet, for the majority of Westerners, constant intimidation and destruction of Muslim or Arab States seems to be nothing other than business as usual. . . .

The President whom some of us call ‘Islamofascist’, believes actually that the Iranian people are equal human beings. Thus, he genuinely believes that like more or less every Western country, his country and his people have the right to benefit from atomic energy and nuclear research. Is it that outrageous? I may suggest that considering Western governments are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about atomic energy, it is basically impossible to produce any sufficient ethical argument against Ahmadinejad on that matter. Moreover, bearing in mind the Israeli nuclear might, there is not a single moral argument for preventing any of Israel’s neighbours from having at least a similar deadly capacity.

Ahmadinejad doesn’t shy off. He says what he believes to be right. He believes for instance that if the Europeans feel guilty for their past crimes against the Jews, it is the Europeans who should face their past and take responsibility for the Jews rather than dumping them in the Middle East at the expense of the Palestinian people. Again, this thought is rational as well as implacably ethically grounded. Whether we like its implication or not is a different matter. Ahmadinejad may be seen by some as a Holocaust denier, yet as far as I can see, he is one of the very few statesmen who manages to internalise the real meaning of the Holocaust. He says No to racism. Accordingly, he believes that Israel, the ‘Jews only State’, a racially orientated nationalist entity, has no right to exist as such. Ahmadinejad has never called for the liquidation of the Israeli people but rather for the dismantling of the Zionist apparatus. Again, I see nothing ethically wrong with that.

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