Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Does Iran's President Ahmadinejad have rabies?

He certainly seems to be fizzing with something these days.

Der Spiegel has the symptoms (internal links in original):
[...] Talk of messianic, apocalyptic visions is becoming increasingly common on the streets of Tehran these days. This phenomenon has, on the one hand, something to do with the fact that it's part of the Shiite worldview. But on the other hand -- and this is what's setting off alarm bells in the West -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is practically promoting such scenarios.

After all, he mentioned the Mahdi, the Promised One, as far back as last September, when he first took to the largest stage in global politics, the podium at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. In his speech before the UN, Ahmadinejad, 49, didn't just take the opportunity to complain about the world's injustices and about countries that have already used nuclear weapons and yet seek to bar others from acquiring them -- creating a system of "nuclear apartheid" in which countries like Iran are at a disadvantage. Before the world's assembled delegates, he also called upon the Almighty "to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one, that perfect and pure human being" -- none other than the Mahdi, or Messiah. [...]

A snap pop-psychology diagnosis: Barking mad. His Napoleon complex and a micro-johnson combine to make him covet big missles and dream of conquest.

It may be easy to dismiss him as a ranting unstable rug-chewer, but he has a goal, and he'll soon have the tools to advance his plan.

He was long underestimated -- far too long -- and now he is doing his utmost, clearly with relish, to ensure that the world gets to know the new Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has only recently embarked on trips abroad, including visits to Syria and Indonesia. He bases his understanding of the world and what it needs on his religious convictions and his engineering knowledge, and he is apparently convinced that the time has now come to send missives out into the world. His condescending, 18- page letter to US President George W. Bush was just the beginning. A letter to Pope Benedict XVI is said to be in the works, and Ahmadinejad has told SPIEGEL that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be the next world leader to receive one of his communications.

In office for less than a year, Ahmadinejad has already transformed himself into a pivotal figure on the world stage. He speaks as if Iran were already the world power he intends it to become. He tells the Jews that they have no right to be in Palestine. He tells the Germans that there is no historical proof that the Holocaust ever took place, while at the same time proposing that the Israelis be resettled on German soil. He preaches to US President George W. Bush about Christianity and the fiasco in Iraq, and he informs America -- and essentially the entire West -- that its concept of democracy and liberalism has failed.

Compromise has no place in this worldview, one in which compromise is a show of weakness. Iran is devoid of any constructive proposals to bring peace to the Middle East. Ahmadinejad issues demands and refuses to negotiate. He has a high opinion of himself and of Iran.

Few heads of state have made as many enemies in as short a time span as Ahmadinejad. The global community's apparent inability to oppose him and set boundaries has only encouraged Ahmadinejad, a tireless provocateur, to conclude that his actions are historically justified. [...]

He speaks as if in a trance, like a man filled with a divine spirit, like a prophet. He strikes up a great cry of triumph, a cry into which he immerses himself again and again and in which he conjures up a great confrontation, be it with Israel, which he insists must be "wiped off the map," or be it with America and all other enemies of Iran, whose "hands must be severed." In Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, the nations of the West have become nothing but "aging lions with matted fur and rotting manes." [...]

Ahmadinejad firmly believes that he has divine Providence to thank for his journey to his current high-ranking position. " Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen," he announced upon winning the election. "if God wills," he added, this revolution will "cut off the roots of injustice in the world." [....]

The article also touches upon many other aspects of the West's relations with this troublesome man. It is well worth reading.