Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some questions for the President's next town meeting

Here is a the complete text of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's Letter to U.S. President Bush earlier this week as posted at Tikkun.org.

As Tikkun's prefatory note says, "Despite the White House's one-word denunciation of the Iranian President's letter as 'rambling,' upon closer inspection, this fascinating piece of writing demands far more critical an analysis than that offered by the US government."

[Let me be absolutely clear that I am not defending Ahmadinejad's statements calling for the destruction of Israel or anything else he might be saying, doing, or preparing to do. I'm moved to post this more to expose how misleading the U.S. government and the mass news media have been in reporting on this letter.]

While I must admit that parts of the letter reminded me more of the manic, breathless label of a Dr. Bronner's soap bottle than of a serious diplomatic communication, Ahmadinejad asks a lot of questions that deserve answers. E.g.:

Mr. President,

In countries around the world, citizens provide for the expenses of governments so that their governments in turn are able to serve them.The question here is “what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay forthe Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?”

As your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist – to a larger or lesser extent – in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign – paid from the public treasury – be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?

What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our regionand in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is: Those in power have specific time in office, and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures. The people will scrutinize our presidencies.

Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity andunemployment?

Did we intend to establish justice, or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful – thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs’?

Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them?

Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them?

Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats?

Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it?

Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors?

Did our administration set out to promote rational behaviour, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignityor the force of guns. Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people’s rights?

And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets – or not?

1 comment:

Phil Grove said...

Thanks for posting a link to the text of the letter. I wanted to read the letter as soon as I heard the news reports dismissing it as rambling. It seems like a real attempt to communicate and not just a publicity stunt. Maybe we should all craft long letters to President Bush, rambling if we must, and post them on the web.