He followed up on his previous assessment of Iran’s election candidates, this time focussing on the winner, Ahmadnejad. It’s almost as though he were trying to bolster his argument that we should have been hoping for a Rafsanjani win.
But I was struck by his characterisation of America’s view of Iran:
‘Abroad, the Americans were the least surprised by the result. They assume anyway that Iran is a country seething with hatred for the US and determined to dominate the region by threat and undercover terrorism.’
Well, certainly they often take that view of Iran’s ruling class, but it seems to me a very ingrate sort of comment given that the US offers succour to all manner of dissidents from Iran. Since they’re not as infamous as Iraqi counterparts such as the tarred Chalabi, perhaps we can still find sympathy for them and interest in the views of those for whom the US has provided refuge.The point here is that the US rather assumes that under the dead weight of the Mullahs there are many people lying powerless who have no animus against the US and see them instead as a flickering lantern of hope.
Simpson goes on to say ‘Iranian politics are as complex and sophisticated as any I have observed around the world.’
Now, I could accept ‘complex’, and can understand a columnist’s desire for snappy duplicates to make his sentences sing, but ‘sophisticated’?
When was the last time the US’s politics was described by the BBC as ‘sophisticated’? (a challenge for fans of Justin Webb, I feel. Funnily enough, in this by now quite well known article, he says that the US is complex- in its heart-, and… unsophisticated (-in many respects).
Examples of Iranian political sophistication, here.
I suppose I mention the US because some might say that, as both the US and Iran have the death penalty, that makes Iran as worthy of the ‘sophisticated’ epithet as the US. Even granting that point, which I wouldn’t, still only leaves us with ‘as worthy as’– a slight problem for the Justin Webb fraternity (or the John Simpson one– ed– and by the way this doesn’t mean all Beeboids should think alike, but that the use of totemic language should be minimised and strictly weighted by factual evidence– also ed). Indeed, if I opposed the death penalty and considered all governments who allowed for its maintainance to be cause for branding a country unsophisticated (which I don’t), it still leaves the ticklish problem of how one squares Simpson’s view with the reality that as a proportion of their population, the Iranians (officially) execute far more people (in public, too) than does the US.
And, of course, it’s what they execute them for which is often horriffic…
Finally, Simpson says that ‘The best the British, French and Germans can do is persuade Iran to be more cautious and tactful in following its nuclear ambitions. Ayatollah Khamenei may see the sense of that.’ , which goes to reinforce the point that Simpson does not regard the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons as an extremist position.
He has foregrounded this comment by saying that ‘Iran believes it lives in a difficult neighbourhood, with Israel, China, Russia, India and Pakistan’– which seems on the face of it a fair enough point. But which of these exactly threatens Iran in a nuclear fashion? Who has an interest in nuking or invading Iran? Answer, none- and again he ignores the Israeli issue, which, if Rafsanjani is a moderate, makes you almost tremblingly curious as to what Ahmadnejad has in his locker (my own suspicion is they wanted a dog with a louder bark, who has a reputation for biting).
But, a country’s elite which flays its people, imprisons political opponents, executes many publicly, organises ‘interesting’ elections outside all scrutiny, and on top of all this sees its salvation in the ultimate psycho’s wet dream, the nuclear option, is to be regarded as too sophisticated to bother except with diplomatic pillow talk?
That’s why the BBC remains a gift to the moonbat left, singing an incoherent lullaby of appeasement.