Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fundamentalist Pen Pals

Over the weekend, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, sent a 19 page, single spaced letter, to George Bush, President of the (soon to be) Christian States of America. I would say United Christian States of America, but I don't think that's how it will play out. Now, I'm sure that Ahmadinejad, a former teacher, thought that Bush would read the entire letter and reflect on it. I say it's 50/50 that he even got past page 5 - his first quote about it below is a dead giveaway.

I read the whole letter and it uses very calm, reasoned, logical and non-'kill the infidels' language to present many arguments and valid points of view about history and the current state of the world. Some topics discussed are world poverty, the 1953 coup, healthcare, Israel, the importance of tolerant religious faith, Iran's nuclear program as a peaceful technological advancement, etc. Interestingly, he didn't address our "addiction to oil" - hmmm, let's see, Iran sells oil to make money... ah, yes. Overall, the letter reads like an amalgation of almost every article I've ever read on or in The New Yorker: thoughtful, reasoned, sincere and very aware of history.

Read the original scan here in PDF format - from the Wall Street Journal. Kind of interesting, it looks like a mimeograph from 1978....

html format here - from the Hindustan Times.

George Bush said of the letter, "It looks like it did not answer the main question that the world is asking and that is, 'When will you get rid of your nuclear program?'". Though it seems that that's not exactly what the 'world' is saying (nor that rudely), because he went on to say that, "Britain, France, Germany - coupled with the United States and Russia and China have all agreed that the Iranians should not have a weapon or the capacity to make a weapon... There is a universal agreement toward that goal and the letter didn't address that question". Well, not having the capacity to make a weapon doesn't really mean that they couldn't have a peaceful nuclear program. Indeed, Japan has a peaceful nuclear program, with a current total of 55 reactors that in 2003 produced 25% of their electricity.

With enough monitoring and controls, a peaceful Iranian program is perfectly feasible. A large majority of the Iranian people are in favor of a peaceful program - a military nuclear program, not nearly as many. Iran is a nationally proud country that grew out of the Persian empire. Her culture and cities pre-date Jesus Christ by about 2,000 years and the founding of Islam by about 3,000 years. To say that Iran shouldn't be allowed to produce nuclear energy, even with thorough monitoring, is a little insulting. We could even agree to publicly call it "safety monitoring", to allow them to save face. After all, we don't want another Chernobyl.

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