Iran and the U.S. -- more alike than not?

Last week, Iranians elected hardline conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as their new president. Despite the fact that there's no love lost between the Bush Administration and the Iranian leadership, Juan Cole noted that the two men's campaign styles suggest they may be "soul mates."

The similarities are eye-opening, to say the least. Iran, just like the U.S., is bitterly divided between two sets of ideologies, one seeking to clamp down on freedoms and move the country further right, and one fighting for liberty and more opportunities for everyone.

And just as fraud was the lingering accusation in last year's election (one that re-elected an archconservative president by a historic margin, and widened the Republican Congressional majority), the Iranian landslide also faced accusations of vote-tampering and intimidation (which, just as in the U.S., were denied and eventually faded into the background).

Jim Lobe, writing for InterPress Service, takes Cole’s "soul mates" meme one step further, by examining the personal similarities between the two leaders.

Like Bush, Ahmadinejad "wears his religion on his sleeve," according to [professor Gary] Sick, who also noted that the president-elect apparently has never traveled outside his own country and has no personal foreign-policy experience, just as Bush had none before his 2000 election. Bush's first public post, of course, was governor of Texas; Ahmadinejad served most recently as mayor of Teheran.

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