TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Persian Letters

After Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush, his epistle to Chancellor Merkl is now beginning to circulate. A comparison of the two texts might yield interesting results, but this second text, on its own, is disappointingly flat. Is he more gentle addressing a woman? (There is some intratextual evidence to support that hypothesis.) Or is he trying to appeal to the Germans and the Europeans whom he hopes to pry loose from America’s democracy agenda? Not unlikely. What can be gleaned from reading the letter to Merkl? A few symptomatic insights into Ahmadinejad’s mentality and an ideology that must circulate in at least some circles in Teheran.

  • An appeal to Merkl in the sense of establishing a privileged link between Germany and Iran, or between Germany and Islamic world. This is a rerun of the geopolitical vision of the original Islamic fascist, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin all-Husseini, who tried to form an alliance with Nazi Germany. Palestinian nationalism has suffered from his legacy ever since.
  • Holocaust denial, his standard fare, coupled however with a particular animosity toward England (which Ahmadinejad must somehow imagine trapped in a conflict with Germany, as if his historical readings stopped in the world wars).
  • An explicit religious foundation to his analysis, in particular the diagnosis that monotheistic faith is spreading: the “Tendency toward faith in the oneness of God is on the rise.” Is this a barely hidden account of the spread of Islam? The jihadist animosity toward Europe must derive in part from the perception of a European slide out of monotheism into the neo-paganism of secularism.
  • A curious idealism: no references to material scarcity, no reference to economic reform but a repeated invocation of the cultural achievements of civilization, in particular in Germany; he starts, “If it had it not been for Germany being a great contributor to progress in science, philosophy, literature, arts and politics . . .”
  • And an unabashed appeal to Merkl as a woman due to “the advantages that are limited to women, such as stronger human sentiments and certain manifestations of the divine compassion and kindness, specially in the position of a mother and being at the service of the people. . . .” How charming.
  • Finally, and probably most characteristically, the text talks about the fates of peoples but never the rights of the people and certainly never any individual rights. The drama of history, according to Ahmadinejad, takes place in the conflict of nations, but individuals apparently have no claim on rights. His Iran must be the model of the future for the jihadist agenda.

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