Iran's nut-job President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again. Last fall, you'll recall, the Iranian leader said that Israel "must be wiped off the map," a remark that brought outrage and condemnation from the international community. He also questioned whether the Holocaust actually happened.
Ahmadinejab apparently thinks a few people missed comments the first time around, so he repeated them today, in an Iranian-sponsored conference on the issue of Palestine. For openers, he stated that Israel is "headed for annihilation." Then, he turned it up a notch or two, announcing that "Palestine will be freed soon." Let the record show that Mr. Ahmadinejad's definition of Palestine includes not only the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel as well.
The Iranian President likened "the Zionist regime" to a "rotted tree" that can be blown away in a single storm. And, for good measure, he against questioned the veracity of Holocaust and described Israel as a "permanent threat" to the Middle East.
After his earlier announcement that Iran had successfully enriched uranium, Ahmadinejab must be feeling his oats. Such rehtoric is a bit remarkable, considering that Israel has at least 200 nuclear weapons that could be used against the Iranian regime, while Iran is still at least a couple of years away from acquiring the bomb.
But there is a method to Ahmadinejad's madness. First of all, he genuinely believes what he says, and so do his followers. Besides, as Fidel Castro has proved for 40 years, there's nothing like an external bogeyman to keep the public's minds off such depressing issues as double-digit unemployment and non-existent economic growth. Beyond that, Ahmadinejad is hedging that neither the U.S. nor Israeli is prepared to strike (yet), and he has little to fear from the IAEA or the UNSC. Initial reports from Tehran indicate that IAEA Director Mohammed El-Baradei was quite coordial in his initial talks with Iranian leaders. There is no reason to believe that El-Baradei will "lay down the lay" during his visit, and it's even less likely that the UNSC will take decisive action after it receives the next IAEA report on 28 April.
In 1936, another madman judged--correctly--that the west was unprepared to move against him. So he articulated his plan and went about fulfilling it, while the British and the French hemmed, hawed, and pinnedl their hopes on futile diplomatic efforts. Seventy years later, Ahmadinejad sees the western democracies in a similar funk, and he also plans to take full advantage of it. In fact, the situations are so distressingly similiar that I'm waiting for a latter-day Chamberlain to fly to Tehran, emerge with a scrap of paper, and "declare peace in our time."
Now, go home and have a good sleep.