Ahmadinejad is Iran’s Bush?

In an InterPress Service story:

“I was astonished when I was [in Iran]. I actually had more on-the-record conversations criticising Ahmadinejad with Iranian politicians and businessmen than I have here in Washington criticising Bush,” said [Newsweek Senior Editor Michael] Hirsch.

In one interview with an Iranian newspaper editor, Hirsch said that the editor remarked, “You know, one of the things we say around here is that Bush is your Ahmadinejad.”

“They’re similar personalities, both sort of pandering to their conservative religious political base, crudely spoken, not especially masters of their native languages,” said Hirsch.

As for Ahmadinejad’s remarks on the Holocaust:

“[Ahmadinejad] actually crossed an invisible red line that exists inside Iran’s own internal politics,” said Trita Parsi, an Iran specialist and head of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council.

“Criticising Israel was never something the Iranians were sensitive about — they’re quite thick-skinned about to be frank — but talking about the Holocaust was no longer about Israel, and this was something about the entire Jewish experience,” he said. “[Ahmadinejad] caused a tremendous amount of anger.”

It appears that Israeli politicians are also using the rhetoric to their advantage.

“Netanyahu, he has a metaphor. It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and he goes on to imply that Ahmadinejad is Hitler,” said Parsi, referring to the former Israeli prime minister and head of the right-wing Likud bloc in Israel’s Knesset.

“If Iran is Germany and Ahmadinejad is Hitler, who in his or her right mind wants to play the part of Neville Chamberlain?”

It is a poor metaphor. Iran has not sought to expand its boundaries as did Nazi Germany. It was instead Saddam Hussein who sought to capitalize–with much U.S. sympathy–on a vulnerability he perceived following the Iranian revolution. And it is the U.S. that occupies territory (in Iraq and in Afghanistan) on two sides of Iran.

Hopefully all this does not lead to war. “Despite hard-line rhetoric on both sides – and a lengthy story by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker posted on Sunday that suggests the Bush administration is ready for “surgical strikes” against Iran – analysts say diplomacy is the far more likely outcome,” according to the Christian Science Monitor

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