Challenge declined: the Bush/Ahmadinejad nondebate
White House rejects Iran debate | | The Australian
THE White House today rejected outright an offer from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to hold a televised debate with US President George W. Bush...Mr Ahmadinejad overnight offered Mr Bush a live television debate as he shrugged off the threat of sanctions ahead of a looming UN deadline for Iran to halt sensitive atomic work.
"I suggest we talk with Mr Bush, the president of the United States, in a live television debate about world issues and ways out of these standoffs. We would voice our opinions and they would too," he told a news conference.
The debate "should be uncensored, above all for the American public," said Mr Ahmadinejad"
President Bush yesterday declined an invitation to a TV debate by Iran's President Ahmadinejad. This was probably a wise move since Ahmadinejad, in addition to being quite a sharp politician is, apparently a pretty smart guy--indeed an engineering nerd prone to nose-bleeds. As he himself notes on his blog.
Even though I was very playful those days, but was aware of my school & education. I was a distinguished student. From that time, I was interested and attached to teaching. I used to teach my friends and others in their houses. The last year of my high school, I prepared myself for university admission test-conquer. And later on that year, I took the test. Although I had nose bleeding during the test, but I became 132nd student among over 400 thousand participants. I was admitted for civil engineering major in one of the technical universities in Tehran. That was three years before the revolution. Even though the revolution was taking place and I was involved in certain activities against the illegitimate regime of the monarch in Iran-the mercenary & puppet of U.S. & Britain- but I was aware of my education and did not give it up.
Reading Ahmadinejad's blog, a political item directed at his base, was illuminating not so much about Ahmadinejad's own psychology as it was about the motives and interests of the "base" to which he was aiming to appeal, in particular "why they hate us." The picture he paints is of a body of people oppressed by a Westernized elite under the Shah, and subsequently humiliated by Western powers, the US and UK in particular, intent on forcing Western culture on them while depriving them of access to Western technology. Iran's nuclear program, he argues, will put Iran on equal footing with world powers as a force to be reckoned with.
The appeal to national pride and the rhetoric of communal honor isn't surprising or unfamiliar. It's the same jingoistic line demagogues everywhere, and in the US in particular, take to command the loyalty of the peasantry. I suppose it appeals to some urge for transcendance--identification with some cause beyond oneself, whether a nation, a football team, a religious tradition or a street gang and a gut level commitment to promoting interests that go beyond, and even conflict with individual interests.
That quest for transcendance, and for "dignity" and "honor" through identification with a nation or people, is one of the dividing lines between educated, cosmopolitan elites and the masses. The Iranian masses care intensely about getting nukes--not, as far as I can see, because they want to blow up Israel, or even because they believe they need them to defend themselves, but because they are after dignity, honor and national recognition, just as the American masses care about the US's position as "leader of the free world."
It all seems childish and wasteful, but not entirely pointless I think. Most people have little opportunity for individual achievement: they work to eat and eat to work, sleep, excrete and copulate. Their only chance to get beyond the brute business of survival and procreation, to achieve "dignity" or "honor," is through identification with the nation, the church or the football team, by identifying with their achievements, stature and status. Maybe that's one of the things that privileged people, who take opportunities for personal achievement for granted, don't get.