December 16, 2005
In Iran, Arming for Armageddon
WASHINGTON -- Lest you get carried away with today's good news
from Iraq, consider what's happening next door in Iran. The wild
pronouncements of the new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
have gotten sporadic press ever since he called for Israel to
be wiped off the map. He subsequently amended himself to say that
Israel should simply be extirpated from the Middle East map and
moved to some German or Austrian province. Perhaps near the site
of an old extermination camp?
there were no such camps, indeed no Holocaust at all, says Ahmadinejad.
Nothing but ``myth,'' a ``legend'' that was ``fabricated ... under
the name `Massacre of the Jews.'''
the usual reaction from European and American officials, who,
with Churchillian rage and power, called these statements unacceptable.
That something serious may accrue to Iran for this -- say, expulsion
from the U.N. for violating its most basic principle by advocating
the outright eradication of a member state -- is, of course, out
of the question.
To be sure,
Holocaust denial and calls for Israel's destruction are commonplace
in the Middle East. They can be seen every day on Hezbollah TV,
in Syrian media, in Egyptian editorials appearing in semiofficial
newspapers. But none of these aspiring mass murderers are on the
verge of acquiring nuclear weapons that could do in one afternoon
what it took Hitler six years to do -- destroy an entire Jewish
civilization and extinguish 6 million souls.
knows where Iran's nuclear weapons will be aimed. Everyone knows
they will be put on Shahab rockets that have been modified so
they can now reach Israel. And everyone knows that if the button
is ever pushed, it will be the end of Israel.
But it gets
worse. The president of a country about to go nuclear is a confirmed
believer in the coming apocalypse. Like Judaism and Christianity,
Shiite Islam has its own version of the messianic return -- the
reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. The more devout believers in
Iran pray at the Jamkaran Mosque that houses a well from which,
some believe, he will emerge.
unexpectedly won the presidential elections, he immediately gave
$17 million of government funds to the shrine. Last month, Ahmadinejad
said publicly that the main mission of the Islamic Revolution
is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam.
And as in
some versions of fundamentalist Christianity, the second coming
will be accompanied by the usual trials and tribulations, death
and destruction. Iranian journalist Hossein Bastani reported Ahmadinejad
saying in official meetings that the hidden imam will reappear
in two years.
So a Holocaust-denying,
virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of
acquiring weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is
not only near, but nearer than the next American presidential
election. (Pity the Democrats. They cannot catch a break.) This
kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about
starting Armageddon than a normal person. Indeed, with millennial
bliss pending, he would have positive incentive to, as they say
in Jewish eschatology, hasten the end.
To be sure,
there are such madmen among the other monotheisms. The Temple
Mount Faithful in Israel would like the al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem's
Temple Mount destroyed to make way for the third Jewish Temple
and the messianic era. The difference with Iran, however, is that
there are all of about 50 of these nuts in Israel, and none of
them is president.
we've come to a messianically inclined leader in America was a
secretary of the interior who 24 years ago, when asked about his
stewardship of the environment, told Congress, ``I don't know
how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns;
whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources
needed for future generations.''
Watt's domain was the forest and his weapon of choice was the
chainsaw. He was not in charge of nuclear weapons to be placed
on missiles that are paraded through the streets with, literally,
Israel's name on them. (They are adorned with banners reading
``Israel must be wiped off the map.'')
worse. After his speech to the U.N. in September, Ahmadinejad
was caught on videotape telling a cleric that during the speech
an aura, a halo, appeared around his head right on the podium
of the General Assembly. ``I felt the atmosphere suddenly change.
And for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not
blink. ... It seemed as if a hand was holding them there, and
it opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic Republic.''
to deny this certifiable lunatic genocidal weapons have been going
nowhere. Everyone knows they will go nowhere. And no one will
do anything about it.
2005, Washington Post Writers Group