Barry Rubin, the prolific analyst whose every essay is well worth reading (not to mention his books), has a new blog, The Rubin Report. Here’s a piece from today’s selection that hones in on the dysfunctional (or should I say, counter-functional) relationship between a demopath (Ahmadinejad is among the finest) and a dupe. It’s a classic clash between PCP and HSJP.
SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2009
The Unbearable Lightness of Wishful Thinking: Ahmadinejad and the “Two-State Solution”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos of ABC. He knew what he was saying but others want to insist on refusing to understand him.
First the relevant exchange:
STEPHANOPOULOS: If the Palestinian people negotiate an agreement with Israel and the Palestinian people vote and support that agreement, a two state solution, will Iran support it?
AHMADINEJAD: Nobody should interfere, allow the Palestinian people to decide for themselves. Whatever they decide….
STEPHANOPOULOS: If they choose a two state solution with Israel, that’s fine.
AHMADINEJAD: Well, what we are saying is that you and us should not determine the course of things beforehand. Allow the Palestinian people to make their own decisions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if they choose a two state solution, if they choose to recognize Israel’s existence, Iran will as well?
AHMADINEJAD; Let me approach this from another perspective. If the Palestinians decide that the Zionist regime needs to leave all Palestinian lands, would the American administration accept their decision? Will they accept this Palestinian point of view?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’ll ask them. But I’m asking you if Palestinians accept the existence of Israel, would Iran support that?….
STEPHANOPOULOS: If the Palestinians sign an agreement with Israel, will Iran support it?
AHMADINEJAD: Whatever decision they take is fine with us. We are not going to determine anything. Whatever decision they take, we will support that. We think that this is the right of the Palestinian people, however we fully expect other states to do so as well.
And how did the Israeli online service of Yediot Aharnot newspaper, YNet News, play this? Here’s the headline: “”Ahmadinejad ‘fine’ with two-state solution.”
Well, not exactly. He refused to say that. All Ahmadinejad said was that he would support what the Palestinian people decided. What does that mean?
First, he personally believes that they would never accept a two-state solution so there’s nothing to worry about in that respect.
Second, of course, he knows that Hamas would never agree to such a thing and Hamas already controls how people vote in the Gaza Strip. One might presume that if a referendum was held there, the vote would be “100 percent” against a two-state solution. In addition, Hamas and others opposing a two-state solution would get between 30 and 70 percent of votes in the West Bank. A lot of Fatah supporters would also vote against it. The exact numbers aren’t important because whether the number is the higher or lower figure such a proposition would always be defeated.
Third, any two-state solution would only be made by Fatah. Iran supports Hamas. If Fatah and the Palestinian Authority were to make a deal with Israel, Tehran would still back Hamas in overthrowing that government, using the deal to portray its rival as treasonous. Once Hamas took over the state of Palestine, it would tear up all the agreements and invite in the Iranian military.
So in effect Ahmadinejad just said that he would never accept a two-state solution but why put that in clear words when the dumb Westerners can be left to interpret it as they wish.
But Ahmadinejad also put a little bomb in the interview which no one seems to notice. Let me repeat one of his answers:
AHMADINEJAD; “Let me approach this from another perspective. If the Palestinians decide that the Zionist regime needs to leave all Palestinian lands, would the American administration accept their decision? Will they accept this Palestinian point of view?“
What’s he saying here? “All Palestinian lands” might sound like saying the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem to Western ears, but everyone in Iran and among the Palestinians knows this means: all of Israel plus all the territories it captured in 1967.
So here’s what the Iranian president is saying: Suppose the Palestinians vote that they want all of Israel, would the United States accept that? The answer, of course, is “no” and so, Ahmadinejad is saying: I’m the one in favor of democracy and you’re against it.
(According to him, of course, Israelis have no rights to a state so they don’t get to vote.)
Ahmadinejad has built his own career on regarding the West as extremely stupid, cowardly, and easy to fool. Many or most of his colleagues in the Iranian regime agree with him.
I could write at this point that the one exception was when in the mid-1980s the United States was appearing ready to attack Iran unless it ended the Iran-Iraq war. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did so but I think he was misreading American intentions (albeit to the credit of U.S. policymakers in pulling off that bluff).
Still, I’m tempted to say that up to now that the Iranian leaders’ assumption has never proven to be wrong.