Translated from GegenStandpunkt 3-06
The self-assertion of an ostracized statesman:
Ahmadinejad’s attack on the moral hegemony of the West
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn’t have it easy either. Everything the God-fearing man says, everything he does is demonized. The political representative of a ‘rogue state’ just errs by definition in all his statements and initiatives. However, the Iranian president does not want to accept the permanent humiliation of his nation. He launches a kind of ideological counter-offensive: the pugnacious president becomes increasingly vocal in his criticism of the imperialist ideology that makes the enemy image of his country so hermetic.
Using the ‘Auschwitz lie’ against Israel’s legitimacy
Since December of last year, Ahmadinejad has been making a name for himself by questioning or denying the National Socialist genocide of the Jews. Of course, he is not inspired to make this bold statement out of a love of historical truth. His guiding interest is what the ‘worst crime of the 20th century,’ for which the term ‘Holocaust’ has become commonplace, stands for today among his enemies: For the absolutely indisputable right of the Israeli state to a place in Palestine, for Israel’s blanket authority to defend itself and to expand territorially with the constant use of state-terrorist means, as well as for the duty of all civilized nations to recognize and support Israel in all its violent actions. According to the official interpretation, everything that the junior partner of the American war on terror, which is armed with nuclear weapons, does in terms of violence against the Palestinians and neighboring states is justified as the legitimate self-defense of a people permanently threatened by genocide. Ahmadinejad does not want to let this go unchallenged. He does not want to accept that his Palestinian co-religionists and the entire Middle East should ‘pay the historical bill’ for something they clearly had nothing to do with. Even less does he accept that the genocide committed by German fascists should legitimize the ‘Jewish stake in the flesh of the Arab nation’, which also distinguishes itself as the greatest anti-Iranian agitator and stands in the way of Iran’s ambition to become a regional power. So he sets out to dispute the historical legal titles that attest to the supreme legitimacy of the West’s outpost in the Middle East. According to him, the question of the existence of a Holocaust is completely irrelevant to the historical legitimacy of the Jewish state in the Middle East because, somehow or other, it is suggestive of different consequences:
“If the Holocaust happened, then it is Europe that must draw the consequences and not Palestine that must pay the price. If it did not happen, then the Jews must return to where they came from.” (Spiegel, No. 22/06) Because: “If the Europeans are telling the truth by claiming that they killed six million Jews in the Second World War, why should the Palestinians pay for this crime? Why did the Jews come to the heart of the Islamic world and commit crimes against the dear Palestinians with their bombs, rockets and sanctions ... If you have committed the crimes, then give the Israelis a piece of your land somewhere in Europe or America and Canada or Alaska so that they can build their own state there.” (Ahmadinejad, 12.14.05)
The idea that the people who committed the relevant atrocities and now feel the need for active repentance should bear the territorial costs of reparations – elsewhere he proposes, with a high sense of historical justice, an “area between Germany and Austria” – may indeed be “shocking” for certain statesmen (Foreign Minister Steinmeier), but it is probably not as “insane” as is widely diagnosed. Not one syllable of Ahmadinejad’s argument diverges from the logic with which historically and morally justified legal titles are constructed by states to register their claims as legitimate concerns that must be unconditionally recognized by all others. He fundamentally shares the viewpoint that rights result from history, i.e. that the Jews can also derive legal titles from the Holocaust – if it occurred. However, because he does not want to grant his arch-enemy any rights at all, he feels the need to negate the factuality of the historical basis for Israel’s legal title, the Holocaust. Behind the use of genocide as a categorical legitimization of the Jewish state and as a knockout argument against any criticism of Israel, he discovers Israel’s interest, or that of its Western supporters, in the basis for this legitimization – and from there infers that its histocial basis was a conspiratorial act of fiction: “The myth of the massacre of the Jews was invented by the Western states in order to establish a Jewish state in the middle of the Islamic world.” (Ahmadinejad, December 05) The man is well versed in the popular technique of using ‘history’ as an authority to justify the interest that is being pursued today – so well that he has also mastered it the other way around: anyone who uses a general historical justification for their interest must have invented the facts with which they operate. At the very least, this suspicion is justified, and for the propagandistic presentation of this fundamental attack on Israeli state ideology, he invites a few notorious examples of brown Holocaust deniers as key witnesses to a ‘Holocaust Congress’ in Tehran. He upgrades their delusion, which has become known as the ‘Auschwitz lie’, of never admitting to a historical ‘crime’ that could place any ‘guilt’ on Germany, to a scientific hypothesis, as a contribution to finding the truth within the framework of university research on fascism, thus declaring the fact of the Holocaust to be an open question and himself the advocate of its solution. He expects a great deal from this.
“The roots of the Palestine conflict can be found in history. The Holocaust and Palestine are directly linked. ... The clarification of this question contributes to the solution of world problems. Under the pretext of the Holocaust, a very strong polarization and the formation of fronts took place worldwide. It would therefore be very good if an international and impartial group were to look into the matter in order to create clarity once and for all.” (Spiegel, Nr. 22/06)
Where others polarize the world under the “pretext of the Holocaust,” he wants to pacify it with a group of researchers. This creates “clarity” by exposing the pretext as such – then, together with the Jewish legal title to a place in Palestine, the Israeli state itself must be removed from the map and peace will finally reign in the region. The reactions of the West to this dissenting idea of a Middle Eastern peace process are congenial: the cause of evil in the Middle East is not Israel, but its non-recognition by its Islamic neighbors, the most evil variant of which is Holocaust denial. With this moral counterattack, Western politicians and their media mouthpieces pass the buck without really engaging with Ahmadinejad’s statements. His rejection of the Western-Israeli legal title is simply subsumed under the category of ‘Holocaust denial,’ and because this has long been defined as one of the greatest crimes against humanity and even criminalized in some places, the devastating verdict on the anti-Israeli statement and its author is already perfect – the man is committing intellectual genocide! An American government spokesman: “Outrageous!” Chancellor Merkel: “Unbelievable!” The newly elected President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, no longer wants to make any distinction between perpetrators and interpreters: “A second Hitler!” Israel sees it the same way. Government spokesman Raanan Gissin, with unmistakable reference to the Israeli military machine, which is always ready for battle: “There will be no second ‘final solution to the Jewish question’!” And Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres seconds this with an equally unmistakable allusion to Israel’s 200 or so nuclear warheads, threatening that “Iran could also be wiped off the map.” Even the scholars – hastily invited for an interview with Der Spiegel – find the matter conceptually ‘incomprehensible.’ They are satisfied with equally harsh and empty condemnations. Holocaust specialist Götz Aly: “Iran is making insanity into a state program!” And: “arguments and the simplest logic are no match for obsessive historical constructs.” And where thought remains powerless, the only answer is violence: “there are the usual political and military means.” (Spiegel, No. 4/06) With these exemplary steps of thought, the man of the mind has caught up with what the practical mind of the imperialist already knows: Ahmadinejad’s attack on the legal titles of imperialism are further proof of his highly dangerous malice, which has long been established, and proves once again the need to keep the ‘madman from Tehran’ properly under curatorship.
Ahmadinejad reads the riot act to the ‘devil’
Ahmadinejad’s second initiative for the moral rehabilitation of Iran also represents a “diplomatic bombshell” (Spiegel, No. 19/06). The biggest 'villain' of the 'Axis of Evil' writes an open letter to his American counterpart – who is otherwise hanged and burned in Tehran as ‘the devil’ in the form of straw dolls – after 27 years of radio silence. The uncouth fundamentalist demonstrates just how good he is at diplomatic hypocrisy: In the unifying gesture of a common striving for peace and order in the world and a shared belief in an Almighty, he turns to Bush to raise “contradictions and unresolved issues” that he has identified “at the international level” for discussion in order to open up the possibility of providing a remedy. In plain language, of course, he wants nothing else than to torpedo the political-moral status of the USA, which has been established with great propaganda effort, according to which American policy always represents a deeply justified concern that must be recognized and supported by all nations of good will. To this end, he takes the self-portrayal of American politicians at their word in order to shame their morality by their own standards. One example:
“Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (peace be upon Him), the great Messenger of God, feel obliged to respect human rights, present liberalism as a civilization model, announce one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, make ‘War on Terror’ his slogan, and, finally, work toward the establishment of a unified international community -- a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern, but, at the same time, have countries attacked; have the lives, reputations, and possessions of people destroyed; and on the slight chance [that there are] criminals in a village, city, or convoy, for example, set ablaze the entire village, city, or convoy? … Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around 100,000 people are killed, its water resources, agriculture, and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops are put on the ground, the sanctity of private homes is violated, and the country pushed back perhaps 50 years... On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with. … Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier-mentioned values? Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?”
Contradictions, nothing but contradictions. Of course, it is the easiest exercise in the world to shame the less than ideal deeds of imperialism with the high ideals in whose name they are carried out – every moralist can do that. However, Ahmadinejad is not simply speaking out as such: this is all about an exchange of blows between state moralists. What Bush uses to legitimize his world order policy, Ahmadinejad holds against him as a snubbing of all the values that the American president is constantly talking about, thus morally sidelining him and making himself the true guardian of all the values that are sacred to the civilized community of states. So he turns the tables: while the ideals and values of the Western world affirmatively cited by Ahmadinejad serve to assign Iran and its ‘fundamentalist’ leadership to the ‘Axis of evil,’ he uses them to prove that evil is based in Washington. It is pretty cheap to endow one’s own raison d'état with noble ideals and historically guaranteed rights and at the same time nastily ostracize an unpopular raison d'état – that is part of the toolbox of every ruler. What sets them apart, however, is their ability to gain respect for their own view of things. And that doesn’t come cheap: What counts here, quite mundanely, is the sheer power to make one’s own position valid.
The reactions of the leading nations of the all-powerful West to the Persian post also reveal a high degree of sovereignty in the face of Ahmadinejad’s passionate accusations: They simply ignore them. While the president of the theocracy is “somewhat in the clouds” (FAZ, 5.10) and soars to the highest heights of universality, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dryly states that he has ‘nothing concrete’ to offer. After all, he has not been accused of any moral charges, but rather ordered to plead guilty to the ‘illicit pursuit of weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘an immediate halt to uranium enrichment’: “It does not specifically address the problems we face. There is nothing in it to suggest that we are on a different course than before we received the letter.” The man is simply not doing what the USA expects of him and, on top of that, he wants to influence other members of the family of nations – allies of the USA at that! – in his favor – an insidious scheme: “Ahmadinejad’s aim is presumably to confuse the international community shortly before the meeting of foreign ministers in New York.” (Condoleezza Rice) “I have read the letter and see it as an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the foreign ministers.” (US UN Ambassador John Bolton) While Iran wants to use the letter to open up “new diplomatic channels” (chief negotiator Ali Larijani), Washington considers it a scandal that Iran is even speaking out with its own positions and wants to make them heard. “The letter is a tactical attempt to deliberately influence the discussion in the Security Council on further action against Iran.” (US intelligence chief John Negroponte) All in all, an attack on the West: “an attempt to divide the West.” (Financial Times Deutschland, 6.12) There you have it again: the man proves himself to be a terrorist, even when he writes letters. And by the mere fact that he wants to correspond with Bush on moral issues of world politics, he puts himself on the same level as the supreme world order politician: “Ahmadinejad claims to communicate with the American president on an equal footing, so to speak.” (ibid.) With all his “elaborately polite phrases” (FAZ, 5.10), this is a big insult. Therefore, the most revealing reaction is no reaction at all: the American president does not even think about exchanging views on right and wrong in world politics with the supreme rogue of a rogue state. And maybe even about making a few arguments. This eloquent silence alone makes it clear to the whole world who the supreme mufti is in matters of political morality.