Friday, December 16, 2005

Did I
Just See
Green Rays
Out Of
His Head?

Roger Simon on Iranian President Ahmadinejad:

To us (relatively) normal folk, it's hard to imagine that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually believes there were green rays coming out of his head (or some such), but if he does, we better start taking some of his threatening statements at face value. Think about it - it's going to be like having a paranoid schizophrenic as head of state, sort of like Caligula but with nuclear arms.

Yes, that's my concern as well. However, I wonder if it's paranoid schizophrenia, or purposeful evil acting through the agent of a human being.

Ahmadinejad is such a bizarre apparition on the continuum of history, even Al Jazeerah sounds worried:

Rhetorical hostilities between Iran and Israel have grown sharper with Iran's defence minister warning that any Israeli attack would provoke a "swift and destructive" response.

"The policy of the Islamic republic of Iran is completely defensive, but if we are attacked, the answer of the armed forces will be swift, firm and destructive," Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Friday.

He was responding to a question about Iran's reaction in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, already under scrutiny as international unease grows over the Islamic republic's nuclear intentions.

"The doomed fate of (Iraqi ex-president) Saddam (Hussein) must be a lesson for officials of the usurping Zionist regime," Najjar added in a reference to the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988 in which around a million people were killed.

A heated verbal exchange has intensified between the Jewish state and Iran over a series of anti-Israel outbursts by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president.

In October the President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and this week he described the Jewish Holocaust as a "myth".

European leaders warned in a draft statement on Friday that Ahmadinejad's statements could be grounds for sanctions against Iran.

"The EU condemns unreservedly President Ahmadinejad's call for the eradication of Israel and his denial of the Holocaust and the European Council is gravely concerned at Iran's failure to build confidence that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful."

Israeli officials and politicians, meanwhile, have openly discussed the possibility of an attack on Iran, either alone or with other countries, that would aim to cripple Iran's nuclear development capabilities. Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad said on Sunday that Israel has not ruled out a military strike against Iran if it advances further toward nuclear weapons.

Israel is also acquiring dozens of US warplanes with long-range fuel tanks that would allow them to reach Tehran and return without refuelling.

Iran denies that it seeks nuclear bombs, saying its programme is confined to electricity generation. But the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said it cannot give Iran a clean bill of health because of incomplete data.

What are we watching here? It seems to me we are entering one of the strangest chapters of human history.