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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Straussian

The sanguinity of some people on the Left -- and the paleo, non-interventionist Right -- towards dictators and religious extremists continually astounds me. Last week, I wrote about one, minor instance of the credulity with which Matthew Yglesias continually evinces whenever he writes about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements regarding Israel. For an example of the latest iteration of this condition on the political Right, read Michael Moynihan of Reason magazine on Pat Buchanan, who has outdone his own, low standards with a column arguing that without British and American intervention in World War II, Hitler would not have carried out the Holocaust. 

Now enters Justin Logan of the Cato Institute, who goes out of his way to find a quote purportedly showing that Ahmadinejad doesn't really mean it when he says that Israel is "a black and dirty microbe," that it "will soon disappear off the geographical domain" or that the hidden Imam "will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world." Like Yglesias, Logan also believes that what Ahmadinejad really wants is a binational Palestine, like Tony Judt or the late Edward Said, in which only the political entity of Israel as a Jewish state would cease to exist. Unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinehad is something of a Straussian, you see, and must convey this vision in abstruse, esoteric language that only people like Yglesias, Logan and maybe Robert Dreyfuss can decipher. "But the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union did not involve the genocide of the Russian people, or even any military action against the USSR," Logan writes, comparing Ahmadinejad's prophesied end of Zionism to the (relatively) peaceful dissolution of the Soviet empire.

Never mind the fact that a "binational Palestine" with a Palestinian Arab majority would likely result in the mass murder of Jews (given the unmistakable agenda and track record of Hamas, which the Palestinian people duly elected and which rules the Gaza Strip), this willful misrepresentation of Ahmadinejad's many, many statements over the past three years to the contrary represents something truly insidious on Logan's part. For his edification, Jeffrey Goldberg has compiled a handy list of Ahmadinejad's most outrageous statements regarding Israel, the annihilationist meaning of which can only be misconstrued by the ignorant, those nonchalant about the physical elimiation of the Jewish state, or those who want it and manifest that desire by explaining away the ravings of a murderous, Islamic supremacist. I won't speculate as to which of these three impulses motivates Yglesias and Logan. The baleful effect on the English language and understanding of the Iranian regime is all the same.

People like Yglesias, Buchanan and Logan should explain why they are so charitable to people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while imputing the most nefarious of motives towards those Americans whom they ritually slander as "warmongers." 

--James Kirchick