Iran’s poi­son pen

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The re­cent let­ter to the Amer­i­can peo­ple from Iran’s apoca­lyp­tic Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad is a strange mix of left­ist rhetoric and Is­lamist ex­hor­ta­tion. The jour­nal­ist Ken­neth Tim­mer­man points out a fas­ci­nat­ing and fright­en­ing pos­si­bil­ity: That this let­ter is some sort of pre-war dec­la­ra­tion by Iran in keep­ing with a long tra­di­tion of such dec­la­ra­tions in Is­lamic state­craft. Of course, it’s also pos­si­ble that this let­ter is just an­other act of in­tim­i­da­tion — the quixotic rant­ings of a de­luded Is­lamist. Ei­ther way, this is more ev­i­dence, were any needed, that no peace-lov­ing per­son should want to see this man’s fin­ger on a nu­clear trig­ger.

Viewed in its his­tor­i­cal con­text, as Mr. Tim­mer­man does, a case can be made that the let­ter is a threat against the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Re­call the May 2006 let­ter to Pres­i­dent Bush urg­ing the pres­i­dent’s con­ver­sion to Is­lam. That let­ter, as he wrote in The Wash­ing­ton Times on Dec. 3, “left the Bush White House shak­ing their heads with won­der­ment.” But it is part of “a well-es­tab­lished Is­lamic tra­di­tion when deal­ing with an en­emy just prior to war,” he writes. “If they refuse, then the Mus­lims are ‘jus­ti­fied’ in de­stroy­ing them.” The Prophet Muham­mad did it to the Per­sian, Byzan­tine and Ethiopian rulers in 625 A.D. be­fore his con­quests, the prac­tice’s ap­par­ent pro­gen­i­tor.

Now comes an­other let­ter, ad­dressed “Noble Amer­i­cans,” which de­mands “jus­tice” from the Amer­i­can peo­ple. It cov­ers the usual Is­lamist talk­ing points: the sup­posed need to with­draw troops from Iraq, the Zion­ist dom­i­na­tion of the United States and the in­jus­tice of the con­flict be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans. It also adds a few novel twists: Flat­ter­ing the re­li­gios­ity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple (call­ing us “God-fear­ing and fol­low­ers of Divine reli­gions”) and a di­rect ad­dress to the Demo­cratic vic­tors of the midterm elec­tions, who are warned: “Now that you con­trol an im­por­tant branch of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, you will also be held to ac­count by the peo­ple and by his­tory.”

The clear­est ev­i­dence Mr. Tim­mer­man sees of a threat is the end­ing Ko­ran ci­ta­tion (28: 67-68), which is pre­ceded by pas­sages about the de­struc­tion of “in­fi­del” towns. The quoted pas­sage reads in part: “But those who re­pent, have faith and do good may re­ceive Sal­va­tion. Your Lord, alone, cre­ates and chooses as He will, and oth­ers have no part in his Choice.” A few lines in the pre­ced­ing pas­sages, not in­cluded in the let­ter, we re­print here: “We never de­stroyed the towns ex­cept when their peo­ple were un­just.” And: “they shall see the pun­ish­ment; would that they had fol­lowed the right way!” This, fol­low­ing a let­ter which de­mands “jus­tice,” is cer­tainly sug­ges­tive.

The real-world sig­nif­i­cance of this par­tic­u­lar let­ter can be puz­zled over. The regime’s gen­eral hos­til­ity can­not.

We live in a world where the best-case sce­nario makes this just more Ira­nian blus­ter, an echo of a tra­di­tion of poi­son-pen pre­cur­sors to war on “in­fi­del” na­tions and their rulers. The fact that a merely rhetor­i­cal threat should be the bet­ter op­tion is it­self in­dica­tive.

Iran’s Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad views him­self, and wants to be viewed, as heir to Muham­mad at the mo­ment the Hid­den Imam is about to reap­pear. All bets are off if and when a nu­clear weapon is in this man’s hands.

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