Thursday, July 07, 2005

Demonizing Ahmadinejad

Writing for, William Beeman details the continued neocon smears against the Iranian political process.

After describing the Ledeen/Pipes-led campaign to descredit the recent Presidential election, Beeman then argues that the rhetoric meant to antagonize Iran is counterproductive and irresponsible:

What the neocons and the MEK are trying to hide from the American people is that Ahmadinejad is in fact a departure from the Iranian regime of the past. He is a religious conservative but not a cleric, and he has embraced some of the domestic agenda of Iran's reformers. These include economic development, anti-poverty programs, and anti-corruption reforms—things vital to an Iranian electorate sick of the nepotism and outright theft that has crept into 27 years of clerical rule, liabilities that many saw embodied in Ahmadinejad's rival, Ayatollah Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Ahmadinejad lacks practical experience in legislative matters. He has a Ph.D. in civil engineering specializing in transportation, and ran a tight ship as Tehran's mayor. His modest life style and sober demeanor gained him the trust of many Iranian voters. He might just be a bridge-builder to the world—if the world would meet him halfway.

The danger in attacking him before he even gets started in office is that he, and the Iranian government, may turn further inward, adopting a defensive, defiant posture to the world. The United States should fervently hope that this does not happen. This is why the Bush administration should ignore the naysayers. With patience and care, Ahmadinejad, along with Iran's young and rising generation, can be brought productively into cooperation with the United States. But first, a quarter century of bitterness between the two nations must cease. Rejecting the slander against Ahmadinejad would be an excellent first step.