No Attack on the Foundations of the West Should Go Unanswered
On Wednesday in New York at a gathering of media people at the Museum of Television and Radio and yesterday at the Bradley Foundation’s 2006 Symposium I brought up President Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush, translated and posted at the Council of Foreign Relations web site.
The Council’s Robert McMahon says “[t]he rambling letter repeated criticisms of U.S. policy and of Israel, but many believe that more important is the fact of the correspondence itself'”the first by an Iranian leader to a U.S. president in nearly twenty-seven years.” Moby posted the letter in its entirety, noting that “apart from his anti-zionism he makes a lot of very salient and relevant points,” and that “it’s a long read, but it’s worth taking 10 minutes to read what really is a very remarkable document.” Moby adds that “my posting this letter here does not mean that i’m endorsing it, although he does make a lot of great points.”
The Hudson Institute’s Hillel Fradkin has read the letter and understands its significance. In the cover story to this week’s Weekly Standard, “Reading Ahmadinejad in Washington,” Fradkin persuasively argues for political elites to pay attention:
Neither the Bush administration nor its many critics appear to appreciate the significance, ideological and practical, of the letter. Nor do they appear to appreciate the remarkable boldness of Ahmadinejad personally. For the formal characteristics of the letter as well as its substance have ancient and modern analogs–letters of Muhammad to the Byzantine, Persian, and Ethiopian emperors of his day warning them to accept Islam and his rule or suffer the consequences, and a letter from Khomeini to Mikhail Gorbachev along similar lines. Thus, Ahmadinejad presents himself as the true heir of Muhammad and Khomeini and may even be suggesting that he is a founder himself. At the least, he presents himself as the spokesman and leader of Islam and the Muslim world in its entirety, transcending the Shiite/Sunni divide. Both this boldness and this claim are consistent with the whole series of pronouncements and actions Ahmadinejad has taken in the brief period since he was elected last summer. But the letter, in its form and substance, raises this to a new and much higher level of clarity and power as well as menace.
I did not sense that many participants in yesterday’s or Wednesday’s gatherings had actually read the letter. Certainly MSM accounts of its content did not provide the crucial details, especially the Iraninian’s president sweeping indictment not just of President Bush, America or even the “Coalition of the Willing,” but also of the U.N., all international organizations and finally, liberel democracy itself:
Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems.
We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point ‘”that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: ‘Do you not want to