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Dangerous delusions in the White House

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The 2001 war against Afghanistan appeared as a troubling but largely justified imperial gambit. The 2003 invasion of Iraq looked from the start to be a stupid death dance with a threefold partner of national pride, anti-American hatred and endless sectarianism.

The Bush administration’s aggressive posture against Iran in 2006 raises the stakes even higher: Take the first two parts of the Iraq conflict, add a dash of nuclear apocalypse, and we’re ready for the end-times slam dance.

From his first day in office forward, Bush has been exhibiting a scary messiah streak, although Christians are becoming increasingly divided about the president’s authenticity as a professing member of the faith. All we can say to Bush and his neocon circle is, ‘“That nagging little voice of caution you suppressed during the run-up to Iraq ‘— now is not the time to ignore it.’”

The problem is that the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appears to be a little unhinged himself, judging by his call to have Israel ‘“wiped off the map.’”

Let’s all take a step back from the brink. This thoroughly unnecessary crisis calls for wisdom, humility and compassion towards strangers. The secular among us should appeal to sanity and good conscience. Those who adhere to the three strands of the Abrahamic faith should honestly ask ourselves what their God truly requires of them.

Which brings us to the soul-baring letter from Ahmadinejad to Bush, believed to be the first official communication from Iran to the United States since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quickly dispensed with any notion that the letter might mark the beginning of any thaw in relations between the two countries or an opening to resolve the nuclear impasse.

‘“I think it would be best to say it’s broadly philosophical in its character,’” she told reporters on May 9. ‘“It’s seventeen or eighteen pages, I think, and it is most assuredly not a proposal. Let me be very clear about that.’”

It’s not exactly clear from the letter whether Ahmadinejad holds himself to the same standard as he does Bush. The Iranian president seems to ask his American counterpart if his actions are morally consistent. Bush could ask his opponent the same thing and still find some room for agreement.

The Iranian president elliptically broaches the nuclear question.

‘“Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime?’” he asks. ‘“Is not scientific research and development one of the basic rights of nations?’”

In another passage, Ahmadinejad plays the Abraham card.

‘“Will we be given a role to play in the promised world, where justice will become universal and Jesus Christ will be present?’” he asks. ‘“Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Muslims and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses. All divine religions share and respect one word and that is ‘monotheism’ or believe in a single God and no other in the world.’”

Not that we expect Bush to take our advice, but it seems like a little dialogue couldn’t hurt at this point.

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