Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Armed with a plastic key to paradise"

Michael Burleigh, writing in The Telegraph, on the nature of the regime in Iran. An excerpt:

Ahmadinejad is unique, not because of his pronouncements about Israel, which he wishes wiped off the face of the earth, but because he actively seeks to bring about an apocalyptic struggle between the righteous and the wicked to accelerate the return of the mahdi or Hidden Imam.

One might think that the prospect of US or Israeli bombs raining down on Iran might sober this visionary. That would be a mistake. Khomeni actually incited war with Iraq in 1980, rejecting Saddam's offers of an armistice two years later.
During the eight-year war, an enormous militia, called the Basij, was created under the aegis of the Revolutionary Guard. Boys aged 12 to 17 were dispatched against the Iraqi army, each armed with a plastic key to paradise, manufactured in bulk in Taiwan. A ghostly pale rider occasionally appeared, whose phosphorous-painted face was supposed to be that of the Hidden Imam, to urge these suicide waves on. Mowing these children down — and perhaps as many as 100,000 were killed — was so traumatic that even battle-hardened Iraqi veterans declined to fire.


alien said...

Let's see - the author of the article asserts that 'Ahmadinejad is unique', and then sets out to prove this by offering an example of what Khomeini did.

Either Ahmadinejad is not unique, and is a clone of Khomeini (although he wields much less political power), or he is unique and therefore an exception to the current Iranian political calculus.

I am disappointed that you would fall for such a cheap rhetorical trick. A close reading of Iran's pres reveals a mounting tide of criticism against Ahmadinejad; given the political situation there, this can only happen with the tacit approval of Iran's supreme leadership. Right now Ahmadinejad is swimming against a tide of national sentiment, not unlike George W. Bush's dominishing pool of public support.

Michael Wade said...

I believe that Burleigh's reference to his being unique concerned his views about destroying Israel and bringing about an Apocalypse. It was not with regard to his total political persona. I'm quite familiar with divisions in the Iranian government but also know that they may not be powerful enough to make a difference. Other dictatorships have had personalities that did not favor extreme steps. Burleigh, as the author of one of best histories of The Third Reich, probably appreciates that.

sey said...

"khomaini actually incited war with iraq"?
first do a fact check, then become a pundit.