I had never heard of Ahmadinejad until he was elected president of Iran in late 2005. Then his speeches started getting international coverage, and it seemed like what he was saying came straight out of the pages of Prayers for the Assassin [ed. linked in the sidebar and here]. He blamed the Jews for everything, threatened to eradicate Israel, and, most interesting to me, he spoke of the imminent return of the Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam and the creation of a Caliphate (a major theme of Prayers) which would dominate the world. Ahmadinejad made it clear that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to achieve his spiritual and political goals. Most of the American press quickly pronounced Ahmadinejad a fool, a nut, a puppet of the Mullahs designed to frighten the gullible. I thought the press and the politicians were wrong then, and I think they’re even more wrong following the release of the 18-page letter Ahmadinejad wrote to president Bush a few weeks ago. Commentators on the left, right and every spot in between have found the letter risible, with Jon Stewart having perhaps the most fun with the flowery language used by Ahmadinejad to address Bush — “As your Excellency is aware…” Funny stuff, to be sure, particularly if you overlook the fact that Persian is a 2,000 year old language with a tradition of poetic imagery. Not to be a buzz-kill, or anything.
Rather than a source of entertainment, I consider Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the most intelligent and dangerous foe the US faces. Not the Mullahs who currently hold power in Iran, and whose machinations put him in office. My reasons for concern about Ahmadinejad are based on the character and deportment of the man himself, his religious beliefs, and the “true” recipient of the letter ostensibly written to Bush. The common US media portrayal of Ahmadinejad as a grandiose bumpkin and the letter as mere rambling is a dangerous mistake. I would remind those making such assessments that Hitler appeared ridiculous for a long time, a skinny little man with a toothbrush moustache and a look of perpetual constipation. Idi Amin was also considered a buffoon, a late night comic’s easy joke. Ask the dead how funny these men are.
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Ferrigno's book is a must read. The companion website is awesome.