And that’s it, America. That’s all you get. You’ve heard a Republican saying some awful things about an ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) and you’ve heard a Democrat who has no problems with a word of that. That equals truth, doesn’t it?
This matter of Ahmadinejad and “wiping Israel off the map” has been a heated issue for three years now. However, according to people who know Farsi, the Iranian leader has never said anything of the kind. In his October 29, 2005 speech, when he reportedly first made the remark, the word “map” does not even appear. According to the translation of Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, Ahmadinejad said that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” His remark, said Cole, “does not imply military action or killing anyone at all”. It’s the distortion of this to imply some sort of extreme violence on the part of Iran that has made the remark sound threatening.
Cole added that the quote comes from an old speech of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and “is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. [Ahmadinejad] quoted Khomeini that ‘the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.’ It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.”
At a December 2006 conference in Teheran, the Iranian president said: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” Obviously, the man is not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place peacefully.
For a word-by-word breakdown of Ahmadinejad’s remark, in Farsi and English, see here:
Moreover, in June 2006, subsequent to Ahmadinejad’s controversial speech, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated: “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”
What’s the proper term to use to categorize a person who is … blindly patriotic, jingoist, an evangelical Christian creationist, gun and hunting enthusiast, National Rifle Association supporter; denies the science behind global warming, with a philosophy of “dig, dig, dig”, and in foreign policy: “bomb”, “bomb”, “bomb”; untraveled, uneducated, ignorant, a devoted book-banner, racist, opposed to equal rights for gays, fanatically anti-abortion, anti-feminist, and has a 17-year-old daughter pregnant and unmarried?
The proper American term is “white trash”. Or, as the honorable governor of Alaska apparently prefers, “redneck” — “Rouge cou” is what she called a business she registered.
And what do you call the person if on top of all that she declares in the year 2008 that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11 and that “a surge in Afghanistan also will lead us to victory there as it has proven to have done in Iraq”? The proper term is “scary”, or perhaps “scary moron”.
And what do you think of this person when you learn that she believes that the war in Iraq is a “task that is from God”? I think this is actually a form of insanity. There are people in institutions all over the world charged with killing others, who insist that they were acting under God’s command.
And if the above is not enough to make you fall in love with the woman, consider that she believes that humans coexisted with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago; and have a look at a video of the vice-president/president-to-be undergoing an exorcism performed by a minister to free her body from “witches”. When we consider the flak that Barack Obama received because his minister is not in love with US foreign policy, imagine what Palin will get for having a minister who performs witch exorcism. Nothing.
So, have we forgotten anything about her charming belief system? Santa Claus? The Easter Bunny? Oh, she must have been kidnaped by a space alien. I hope some day to meet her and have her read my palms, my tea leaves, my aura, my horoscope, and my tarot.
When is a holocaust not a holocaust? When the perpetrators call it a victory.
Although the “surge” has failed as policy, it appears to be succeeding as propaganda. It seems to be the only thing that supporters of the war have to point to, and so they point, and they point, and they point. Allow me to point out that while there has been a reduction in violence in Iraq — now down to a level that virtually any other society in the world would find horrible and intolerable, including Iraqi society before the US invasion and occupation — we must keep in mind that thanks to this lovely little war more than half the population of Iraq is either dead, crippled, traumatized, confined in overflowing American and Iraqi prisons, internally displaced, or in foreign exile. Thus, the number of people available for being killers or victims is markedly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in the country (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) — Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down; and the powerful movement of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has had a cease-fire in effect for many months, unconnected to the surge. On top of all this, US soldiers, in the face of numerous “improvised explosive devices” on the roads, have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down. Remember that insurgent attacks on American forces is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.
Just imagine — If the entire Iraqi population over the age of 10 is killed, disabled, imprisoned or forced into exile there will probably be no violence at all. Now that would really be victory.
No American should be allowed to forget that Iraqi society has been destroyed. The people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their health care, their legal system, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their security, their past, their present, their future, their lives. But they do have their surge.
Politicizing and militarizing sports
A few years ago I wrote in this report:
A TV ad for Anheuser-Busch shown during the recent Super Bowl: An airport, a contingent of US soldiers in uniform is passing through, presumably on the way to or just returning from Iraq; the people in the terminal one by one look up, and slowly realize who’s walking by — It’s (choke) … Can it (gasp) be? … Yes! HEROES!! Real honest-to-God heroes!! The faces of the onlookers are filled with deep gratitude and pride. The soldiers begin to realize what’s happening as the waves of adulation sweep over them, their faces are bursting with matching gratitude and matching pride, their faces say “Thanks.” The screen says “Thanks.” Not a dry eye in the whole damn terminal. In the Soviet Union they might have been a group of Stakhanovite hero workers on the way to the factory.
Last month at the United States Tennis Open women’s final in New York, a woman comes out to sing “America the Beautiful”. Pretty common of course at sporting events in beautiful America. If it’s not that, it’s another well-known hymn to athleticism like “God Bless America” or “The Star Spangled Banner”. But this time, as she finishes singing, dozens of marines in full uniform march out and unfurl an American flag a mile long. The crowd eats it up. Two days later, at the men’s final, same thing plus four jet planes roar past above the stadium.
I wish I had been there. So I could have yelled out: “What the fuck does this have to do with tennis?” Hardly anyone would have heard me above the din of the patriotic orgy, but if anyone did, I would not be surprised if they reported me to the nearest authorities (and in present-day America one is never too far from authorities), and I’d be asked to accompany the authorities to the security office (and in present-day America one is never too far from a security office).
Norman Mailer wrote in 2003, a few weeks before the US invasion of Iraq: “My guess is that, like it or not, or want it or not, we are going to go to war because that is the only solution Bush and his people can see. The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in our lives. … And before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way. … Indeed, democracy is the special condition … we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America already.”
Für meine deutschen Leser
My book Rogue State has a new German edition. This is an updated version of the previous German edition, with a much better translation. You can read about it at:
 Washington Post. September 25, 2008
 “Informed Comment”, Cole’s blog, May 3, 2006; www.juancole.com/2006/05/hitchens-hacker-and-hitchens.html
 Associated Press, December 12, 2006
 Global Research, January 20, 2007, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=NOR20070120&articleId=4527)
 Letter to Washington Post from M.A. Mohammadi, Press Officer, Iranian Mission to the United Nations, June 12, 2006
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNvemHKXZFs. Also see Associated Press, September 25, 2008
 International Herald Tribune, February 25, 2003