Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Letter to the Wrong Address

Anybody who has taken a letter-writing course even at the high school level would know that there are two issues that must be clear in the mind of a person intending to write a letter to someone, regardless of whether the letter is for business or a personal one. The first is who does he wish to write to and the second is why is he writing, i.e. what does he want to achieve. Not being clear on these two would take a writer onto serious fantasies.

So regarding the letter that president Ahmadinejad has sent to George Bush, one can ask the very same two questions: who is the target audience and what is the goal of this gesture. Based on this, Ahmadinejad should have chosen the language that former president Khatami used in his out reach to the US. His letter was polite, realistic, and invitational to the degree of winning over. In contrast, the new letter is general, badly written, even though honest. It is not appealing, even to those who seriously are critical of US policies. The length of the letter was too long too. Thanks to Guardian daily which provided a summary translation of the letter which has been widely referenced.

Now that it’s done with, I believe Ahmadinejad and his advisers misused an opportunity that existed for the regime and the people of Iran. They used the letter only for one purpose – to attract the attention of the deprived around the world, which is not wrong. But such a letter should have gone to the heads of state of African and Asian states, rather than to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran on its way to Washington.

On the day that the news of the letter reached the international media - and its details were still not available, they did what was right. They considered it important and put time into analyzing the initiative. But when the contents of the letter became available, not only did it not attract George Bush, but it also failed to attract peace-lovers and freedom-lovers who oppose his policies. One can say that even up to that point the letter did not fulfill its intended purpose. And so began the different interpretations about its ultimate goal. The chairman of Iran Joint Chief of Staff for example says that through the letter, we make our righteous voice known to the Satan. Someone else has said that the ultimate goal was not talks with the US. Another person has said that talks were the goal of the letter. Ahmadinejad himself has said two things: that the letter was a prophetic call and invitation, and also that by not replying to the letter, George Bush lost a unique opportunity.

But my audience in this article is not the president and other officials because they only write that they are dictated, and thus open to mistakes. My addressees are those individuals who have been trying to present the president’s gesture as a successful event, even though everything points the other way.

After the words of ayatollah Janati who called the letter “divine” and by comparing it to the letter that the founder of the Islamic regime ayatollah Khomeini wrote to former Soviet president Gorbachev asked that it be included in school text books, other propagandists empty-handedness became clear when pro-government Keyhan newspaper twice headlined that the letter had the impact of a bomb around the world. Ironically, Ahmadinejad’s two earlier remarks had that effect: his calling for the elimination of Israel and denying the Holocaust. Those bombs of course injured Iranians. Contrary to what Keyhan claimed the letter did not create a bomb, or create what it headlined the next day, i.e. 90 percent of Americans have become supporters of Ahmadinejad. These claims only broke Joseph Goebbels “big lie” record while also revealing that these supporters of the president have absolutely no clue as to what is going on around the world or in the US, or the impact of the media. Everybody knows that there is nothing - except the Dollar - known by 90 percent of a people in the West, let alone the 90 percent of Americans who do not even know where Iran is located.

Six months ago I predicted that Ahmadinejad would one day be willing even to travel to the White House, with the difference that Keyhan would say that world arrogance [the name given to the US in Iranian political lexicon] has finally bowed to the leader of pure Islam, meaning Ahmadinejad. But I will be honest in that when I wrote that article I did not think that this group would have the audacity and shame to continue to spread the same propaganda even after it became clear that the US ignored the gesture of its endearing president, meaning that he would not be allowed to go to the White House. The letter was treated so coldly in the West that now the president, his deputy and even Majlis (Iran's Parliament) representatives are pleading the Americans for a response.

The right wing of Iran’s ruling circles always believed that whenever the Islamic Republic gave the green light to the Americans, the Europeans would panic. This was their card for frightening Europeans. Even until two months ago this formula seemed plausible. So what has happened now that the very same US that until a few months ago talked of negotiations with Iran today says there is nothing to talk about with it. Is this change not suggestive?