Saturday, March 21, 2009

Unclenched Fist Watch

Barack Obama in his inaugural address said to America's enemies: "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." I guess the mullahs in Iran weren't listening.

However, Khamenei exhibited little will to bend, using his speech to outline a long list of grievances against the United States, including U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. support for Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war against Iran and the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988.

"Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged," Khamenei said.

As he spoke, the crowd chanted "Death to America."

Death to America, eh? Definitely not unclenched.

Obama should have had a more subversive message, straight to the people. Something like: "Overthrow your theocratic dictatorship, you know you want to."

Hat tip: Strack Attack

UPDATE: PBS travel nerd Rick Steves was recently in Iran, and had some interesting thoughts in this Salon interview:
When I came home after the most learning 12 days of travel I've ever had in my life, I realized this is a proud nation of 70 million people. They are loving parents, motivated by fear for their kids' future and the culture they want to raise their kids in. I had people walk across the street to tell me they don't want their kids to be raised like Britney Spears. They are afraid Western culture will take over their society and their kids will be sex toys, drug addicts and crass materialists. That scares the heck out of less educated, fundamentalist, small-town Iranians, which is the political core of the Islamic Revolution and guys like Ahmadinejad.

After all, this is a country that lost a quarter of a million people fighting Saddam Hussein, when Iraq, funded by the United States, invaded Iran. And they remember the invasion like it was yesterday to them. It's amazing: They have a quarter of our population and they lost a quarter of a million people, fighting Hussein. That's a huge scar in their society.

I just feel we underestimate the spine of these people. They will fight and die to defend their values. And their values are not to destroy America and Israel. Their values are to defend their way of life against Western encroachment. Because of recent history, they have grounds to think America threatens them. So it would be dangerously naive to think we could shock and awe them into any kind of submission.

The entire inteview is interesting on a variety of topics. Some of his opinions are not what you'd expect, considering his Mr. Rogers-like persona.

1 comment:

  1. I saw that PBS travel in Iran show. It was very interesting. I back the US on the Iran issue. However, the Iranians have a lot to be upset with. A CIA backed over throw of an elected Prime Minister back in the 1950s. Then they installed a puppet government, the Shah. In the 1980s the US funded Iraq`s war effort against Iran. The US government refuses to acknowledge any of their mistakes in Iran. You can`t blame these folks for being a little upset.