Saturday, March 21, 2009

Iranians with a Clenched Fist

There are mounting indications Barack Obama's hope the world will join him in being civilized nice and pleasant may not happen, at least not yet. The top Iranian fellow, Ayatollah Ali Khamenai, that's the boss of Ahmed Ahmedinajad, mind you, gave a feisty speech before a crowd of tens of thousands of Iranians, who responded by chanting Death for America.

This is one reason I'm generally in favor of enemies talking to one another: in the good scenario, they talk, find agreement, and cease being enemies. In other cases, they talk, re-affirm for themselves that the other side really needs to be confronted, and carry on with the enmity with new resolve. A win-win situation.

The NYT, however, sees it differently. Their response to the Iranian clarity is to call for America to be even nicer, lest the Iranians haven't yet understood this is the Obama administration, not that horrible Bush fellow. They've dug up an Iranian economist named Saeed Leilaz, dubbed him "a prominent political analyst" - which for all I know he may be, but he certainly isn't the only one around - and he urges the NYT readership not to take Khamenai seriously:

Prominent political analyst Saeed Leilaz said Khamenei's comments did not amount to a rejection of better ties with the Obama administration. Rather, Iran's current hard-line leaders need to publicly maintain some degree of anti-U.S. rhetoric to bolster their own position, especially with their conservative base, he said.

''Iran's ruling Islamic establishment needs to lessen tensions with the U.S. and at the same time maintain a controlled animosity with Washington,'' he said. ''Iran can't praise Obama all of a sudden.''

Khamenei will also likely stand his ground as long as he remains concerned about the United States' ability to destabilize Iran, he said.

For its part, the Obama administration must take practical steps such as lifting a ban on selling Iran spare parts for passenger aircraft or considering unfreezing Iranian assets in the U.S., Leilaz said.

You tell 'em, Leilaz.

Update: Juan Cole explains how Khamenai is actually engaging in constructive dialog. The part about the chanting mob seems to have been dropped in his depiction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the same analysis that we heard during the 1990s when Arafat and other PLO leaders made virulently anti-Semitic speeches.

It was said that Americans don't understand the role rhetoric plays in the Arab world and that Arafat needed to speak the language of confrontation sometimes in order to remain credible in the eyes of his people.

Then he rejected Israel's offer at Camp David and launched a terror war against Israel.