U.S. and Iran: the hidden similarities

Not long ago our beloved President Bush laid out his brilliant new strategy to win the war in Iraq. In stark contrast to the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq study group which suggested engaging the war-torn nation’s neighbors diplomatically, Bush has instead opted to provoke Iran and Syria by denouncing their supposed efforts to destabilize the region.

Rather than explore any opportunities for cooperation, he announced the deployment of another carrier group as well as patriot missiles to Iran’s borders.

Soon after, Marines raided an Iranian consulate in Iraq’s Kurdish region and detained a number of diplomats, an action eerily reminiscent of Iran’s 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Teheran which resulted in a protracted hostage crisis. While many commentators appear shocked by Bush’s apparent openness as he postures for a confrontation with Iran, his counterpart in Teheran seems just as hell-bent on provoking a showdown.

While CNN correspondents debate how to pronounce the name of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he has been busy touring Latin-America building support for an anti-U.S. “coalition of the willing to bet George Bush isn’t crazy enough to attack us.” Iran’s ongoing efforts to produce a nuclear weapon continues to be a source of conflict as were its recent war games in which it displayed fancy new weapons it claims are a match for the U.S. military.

While both Bush and Ahmadinejad seem intent on out-threatening one another in what is shaping up to be a colossal clash of egos, one wonders where each gets the idea he isn’t completely alone on this. As the November elections proved, U.S. politicians with hawkish ideas are about as popular as” well, the President. Jesus could come down tomorrow and anoint Bush as the new Son of God and his approval ratings still would be hard-pressed to top 30 percent. Confidential White House sources even claim Laura Bush is “considering seeing other, more emotionally secure men.”

Believe it or not, Iran’s Ahmadinejad isn’t much better off with his public. Last month Iranian voters humbled Ahmadinejad by voting in a landslide for his political opponents in elections for key municipal councils. In one critical race, his most powerful rival, centrist ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, overwhelmingly won a seat on the Assembly of Experts, manhandling a cleric seen as Ahmadinejad’s spiritual mentor. Despite efforts to energize the base with a Holocaust denial conference (read: gay marriage amendments) the elections delivered a humiliating blow to a president seen by many Iranians as having exhausted his credibility.

Just before the election, Iran’s parliament even tried to shorten Ahmadinejad’s term by introducing legislation that would call for presidential elections to be held almost a year and a half early. Did you hear that Congressional Democrats? I’ll bet you had no idea you could even do that.

In Iran, a country not exactly known for its political satire, jokesters have caught up with the unpopular president. Text messaged jabs, most relating to Ahmadinejad’s purported lack of personal hygiene, were circulating through the country until one was accidentally sent to the enraged President. As a result, a senior official with the country’s mobile phone network was fired and several others arrested and accused of being foreign spies. And we worry about wire tapping. Even in Bush’s wet dreams he doesn’t have that kind of power.

As it turns out, we may have a lot more in common with the people of Iran than we thought. Both of us utterly distrust our nut job leaders and have no interest in a war with one another. What better motivation for the two beleaguered chiefs to engage in diplomacy? They can discuss how to keep from being eaten alive by their enraged constituencies. If they still refuse I recommend a UFC-style, no-holds-barred death match, just between the two of them. If these two numbskulls want to have it out, then so be it – but they had better not try to take the rest of us with them.

Send comments to Jon Bosscher at [email protected]