Ahmadinejad: Not really Hitler?

Putting the lie to hawks' claims about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's power, influence and Hitlerian dreams, parties affiliated with the Iranian president face an electoral setback.

Published December 18, 2006 5:15PM (EST)

If you haven't read it yet, Neil MacFarquhar wrote a fascinating piece for this week's New York Times Week in Review on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the way he and his actions have been misinterpreted by the West.

"Iranian experts reject the comparison with Hitler," MacFarquhar says, noting that "President Ahmadinejad, they point out, does not control the armed forces, which lack an air force and a navy anyway. The economy is so decrepit that Iran, a leading oil producer, has to import an estimated 40 percent of its gasoline." One Iranian expert MacFarquhar quotes calls Iran a "third-world power."

And, MacFarquhar notes, there's no shortage of cognitive dissonance on the part of the Iran hawks who are recycling this whole silly "whatever dictator we hate now is the next Hitler" argument:

"There has been a strange reversal in American perceptions ... When the somewhat moderate Ayatollah Khatami was president, talking to him was dismissed as wasting time because the supreme leader was the real power. Now that Mr. Ahmadinejad inhabits the same office, with the supreme leader still holding the same key powers, Mr. Ahmadinejad is being portrayed as the crux."

MacFarquhar has been made to look quite smart by the results of the Iranian election yesterday; early reports suggest that factions that oppose Ahmadinejad are the victors.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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