Monday, July 08, 2013

Ahmadinejad cites the promotion of Holocaust denial as one his major achievements

Some highlights from Ahmadinejad's farewell speech reflecting on his time as President of Iran:
Outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a farewell ceremony that publicizing his Holocaust denial was a major achievement of his presidency.

“That was a taboo topic that no one in the West allowed to be heard,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech Sunday, according to the Iranian Fars news agency.  “We put it forward at the global level. That broke the spine of the Western capitalist regime.”
What's the connection between promoting Holocaust denial and crippling western capitalism? I have some suspicions about the causal logic that Ahmadinejad may have in mind here, but we will have to leave a closer analysis to people who read or heard the whole speech, and who know Farsi.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks on the Holocaust appeared on the Fars news site in Arabic, but not on its English website, which covered other aspects of the speech. [....]

President-elect Hassan Rohani described Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel remarks as “hate rhetoric” that had brought the country to the brink of war, the German news agency dpa reported
That criticism sounds refreshingly honest and straightforward—in contrast to the disingenuous evasions and strained apologetics that have marked a lot of western commentary about Ahmadinejad over the past decade, including bogus claims that his most appalling and inflammatory statements were being misquoted and/or misunderstood. (I name no names, but the apologists who spread that kind of misinformation, or otherwise made indefensible excuses for Ahmadinejad, included some people who really should have known better.)  So if Rohani really said that, it might be a promising sign. Again, I'd be curious to hear more details from analysts who have seen Rohani's remarks in context and in Farsi.

=> According to another article drawing on the DPA report:
Ahmadinejad also said in a Tehran ceremony organized by the government in his honor that "the name Ahmadinejad is now popular throughout the world." This was not only a success for Iranian foreign policy, he said, but had also improved Iran's image.
I wonder whether he really believes that.  If so, he's pretty much the only one who does.  (A recent Pew Research survey found that attitudes toward Iran around the world are overwhelmingly negative, with the exception of just a few anomalous countries.)  Then again, the human capacity for self-deception knows no bounds.
"I had two missions: to build up Iran and to improve the world," he said, adding that the two goals were "inseparable."

During Ahmadinejad's eight years in office, Iran was isolated not only from the West but also from most of the neighbouring Arab world.

His uncompromising nuclear policy, which other governments feared was being used to produce atomic weapons, led to financial sanctions and an economic crisis that has gripped the country for more than a year.

All six candidates in this year's presidential election and especially Rohani said during the campaign that Ahmadinejad's policies were the direct cause of the crisis.
Of course, the candidates who said that were being a little disingenuous, since everyone knew that many of those policies were not really Ahmadinejad's but Khamenei's—and Khamenei is still ultimately in control. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad was undoubtedly right to claim that his anti-semitic and anti-Zionist ravings helped increase his popularity in the region, even if other factors canceled out any public-relations benefits he derived that way.

At all events, I think it's safe to say that few people, inside or outside Iran, will miss him much. However, the regime he was part of is still there.

—Jeff Weintraub