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Why U.S. Neocons Want Ahmadinejad to Win

American conservatives and Iranian hard-liners need each other.

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In short, it bore some resemblance to the presidential election in the United States the previous year.

Given that Ahmadinejad as president has actually done little to support the economically disadvantaged or oppose endemic corruption, combined with the election of a new American president who was actually willing to reward greater moderation, it was widely assumed he would lose badly at the polls this year.

This is why, even before the recent leaks from the Iranian Interior Ministry regarding the blatant manipulation of the vote count, so many people inside and out of Iran assumed there had been fraud on a massive scale.

Iranian Nationalism

Most analysis of Iran tends to exaggerate the country's theocratic aspects in regard to its foreign policy and downplays the role of nationalism, which Ahmadinejad has skillfully manipulated.

In the process, Ahmadinejad has also allowed the mainstream media and opportunistic politicians in both major parties to become obsessed with Iran's nuclear program -- still many years away from producing an atomic bomb -- while hypocritically supporting Iran's neighbors Pakistan, India and Israel, which (like Iran) are also in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding their nuclear programs, and which (unlike Iran) have already developed nuclear weapons.

This obsession has been made easier by Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel rhetoric, although his views are not nearly as extreme as they have been depicted.

For example, Ahmadinejad never actually threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," nor has he demonstrated a newly hostile Iranian posture toward the Jewish state. Not only is this oft-quoted statement a mistranslation -- the idiom does not exist in Farsi, and the reference was to the dissolution of the regime, not the physical destruction of the nation -- the Iranian president was quoting from a statement by Ayatollah Khomeini from nearly 25 years ago.

At that time, however, the Reagan administration was quietly supporting Iran with clandestine arms shipments, so such statements were played down here in the United States. Now that this alleged quote serves a convenient political purpose to exaggerate the supposed Iranian threat, however, it has conveniently been repeated over and over to make the case that, should Iran obtain a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad would somehow launch a suicidal nuclear attack against Israel, regardless of the inevitable Israeli nuclear retaliation and despite the fact that Ahmadinejad would have no control over Iranian nukes or missiles anyway.

This incessant claim that he has "vowed to wipe Israel off the map" keeps emanating from the lips of American politicians of both parties despite Ahmadinejad's subsequent clarifications that it is "not Iran's intention to destroy Israel" and that the future he envisioned of the nonexistence of the Israeli state (the more literal translation) was comparable to the dissolution of the Soviet Union: That is, it is no longer on a map because it no longer exists as a state, not because the country was physically destroyed.

The double-standard on the nuclear issue is but one part of U.S. policy that has allowed Ahmadinejad to play the nationalist card to his advantage.

For example, the U.S. government has blamed Iran for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, yet 95 percent of U.S. casualties have been from anti-Iranian Sunni insurgents.

The U.S. government has focused on Iranian human rights abuses while continuing to arm and support the even more oppressive and theocratic Islamic regime in Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. government attacks the Iranian president's denial of the genocide of European Jews while remaining silent in the face of Turkish leaders' continued denial of the genocide of Armenians.