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    Middle East
     Sep 26, 2007
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'Hitler' does New York

By Pepe Escobar

CBS reporter: But the American people, sir, believe that your country [Iran] is a terrorist nation, exporting terrorism in the world. You must have known that visiting the World Trade Center site would infuriate many Americans.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad: Well, I'm amazed. How can you speak for the whole of the American nation? You are representing the media and you're a reporter. The American nation

is made up of 300 million people. There are different points of view over there.

The new "Hitler", at least for a while, has lodged in a prosaic midtown Manhattan hotel. Contrary to a plethora of demonizing myths, this Persian werewolf did not evade his abode to eat kids for breakfast in Central Park. Instead, he turned on a carefully calibrated public relations charm offensive. Whatever his polemical views, for a now-seasoned head of state like Ahmadinejad to turn astonishing US disinformation on Iran, the Middle East and US foreign policy for his own advantage ended up as a string of slam-dunks.

Articulate, evasive, manipulative, the Iranian president - even lost in translation - was especially skillful in turning US corporate media's hysteria upside down consistently to paint those in the administration of President George W Bush as incorrigible warmongers. Both at the National Press Club, via video-conference, and live at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad even had the luxury of joking about fabled Western "freedom of information" - as so many are still "trying to prevent people from talking".

He scored major points among the target audience that really matters: worldwide Muslim public opinion. Contrasting with a plethora of corrupt Arab leaders, Ahmadinejad has been carefully positioning himself as a Muslim folk hero capable of standing up to Western arrogance and defending the rights of the weak (the Palestinians). The way he deflected US ire on the enemy's own turf will only add to his standing.

At the United Nations this week, a remix of 2002 couldn't be more inevitable: it's the same soundtrack of tortuous diplomacy with the bongos and congas and special effects of war beefing up the background. By going on preemptive public relations, Ahmadinejad was clever enough not to commit the same mistake of the previous, "invisible" Hitler, Saddam Hussein.

He was also clever in preempting ear-splitting rumors of a next war: "Talk about war is basically a propaganda tool." One of his key points may not have made an impact in the US, but resonated widely around the world, and not only in the Muslim street: "We oppose the way the US government tries to rule the world"; there are "more humane methods of establishing peace". He assured that no Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq, adding that "regional countries in the Middle East don't need outside interference".

On uranium enrichment, he repeatedly stressed that it is Iran's right, as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to conduct a "legal" and "peaceful" nuclear program. "Why should a nation depend on another?" But if the US would engage in peace talks, so would Iran: "International law is equal to everyone." As for the US and France, they "are not the world" - a reference to both the Bush administration's and the French saber-rattling. "France is a very cultured society, it would not support war." Humanitarian imperialist French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was summarily brushed aside: he needs to attain "higher maturity".

On Israel, Ahmadinejad said, "We do not recognize a regime based on discrimination, occupation and expansionism," and he said that country "last week attacked Syria and last year attacked Lebanon"; pretty much what most of the Middle East agrees with. He may have granted that the Holocaust did take place, but the world needs "more research on it". The Holocaust is not his main point: it always serves as an intro to one of his key themes - why should the Palestinians pay the price for something that happened in Europe? He said he wanted a "clear" answer. No one deigned to provide it.

To put in perspective the Iranian hostage crisis in the early days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he said one would need to "go back to US intervention in Iran since 1953". His hosts preferred to change the subject. Humming non-stop in the background noise was the "wipe Israel of the map" myth. No one had the intellectual decency to point out that what he really said, in Farsi, in a speech on October 2005 to an annual anti-Zionist conference in Iran, was that "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". He was doing no more than quoting the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - hoping that an unfair (toward Palestine) regime would be replaced by another one more equitable; he was not threatening to nuke Israel. Warmongers anyway don't bother to check the facts.

You've got to change your evil ways
US corporate media's treatment of the new "Hitler" seemed to have been scripted by the same ghostwriter lodged in the same (White) House. On 60 Minutes, the Columbia Broadcasting 

Continued 1 2 

Iran, Israel ratchet up tensions (Sep 25, '07)

Iranophobia hits Ground Zero (Sep 22, '07)

1. Iran, Israel ratchet up tensions

2. National extinction and natural law

3. The funds are flowing    

4. The making of Vietnam's oil giant 

5. How Iraq won its 'freedom' 

6. Silver and gold salvation  

7. Russia bolsters ties with Iran  

8. Iranophobia hits Ground Zero

9. The year of unmitigated gloom

10. China, US delicately juggle Taiwan 

(24 hours to 11:59 pm ET, Sep 24, 2007)


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