The universality of extremists

Iranian "hard-liners" sound just like America's neocons when opposing negotiations.

Published November 8, 2009 12:09PM (EST)

The Washington Post's David Ignatius today notes the irony that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is being criticized by his country's "hard-liners" for supporting a deal with the U.S. over nuclear issues:

The prospect of a deal with the Great Satan produced a political frisson in Tehran. . . . Critics chided Ahmadinejad for giving away the nuclear store. . . . Khamenei joined in the attacks last week, warning that negotiating with America would be "naive and perverted."  The leader was implicitly criticizing Ahmadinejad, who had characterized the Geneva deal as an Iranian victory. . . .

But reading the Iranian press, you get the sense that for Iran's ruling elite, engagement with America remains a bridge too far. "America is still the Great Satan. Negotiations are meaningless," thundered the hard-line weekly Ya-Lesarat.

That, of course, is exactly what American neocons have long been screaming about negotiations with Iran -- that they're crazed, untrustworthy Persian Hitlers who shouldn't be negotiated with and that Obama is being "naive" or worse by trying.  It's so striking how identical is the mentality of America's "hard-line" right-wing extremists and those in Iran.

Ignatius also claims, correctly, that the Iranian regime relies on anti-Americanism to sustain its legitimacy because the constant demonization of a foreign enemy unites the population behind the government.  Of course, the continuous demonization of foreign enemies has also long been the favorite tool of America's political leaders for the same reasons.  That's because exploiting foreign threats for domestic political gain is a virtually universal tool of governments.  That, of course, is exactly why the belligerence and threats towards Iran long advocated by America's Right has as its prime beneficiary the very Iranian mullahs they claim to oppose. 

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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