The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Ahmadinejad: gains attention, little power

Unsurprisingly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s American visit the last week of September was nothing short of controversial. Why, though? Perhaps it was his desire to visit the World Trade Center, or the statement he made about the lack of homosexuals in Iran. It may be that he fervently called the case on Iran’s nuclear power program closed when he visited the UN.

Whatever the reason, President Ahmadinejad certainly does not censor himself. He has made inflammatory comments as long as he’s made been on the international stage. An especially agitating comment Ahmadinejad has made is about the Holocaust, saying, “they have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions, and the prophets.”

There’s no lack of news covering Ahmadinejad, his actions and statements, but many Iranian political analysts have stated that too much emphasis is being put on how powerful Ahmadinejad is. The truth, they say, is he isn’t that powerful in Iran.

“He is not that consequential,” an anonymous political scientist said to the New York Times.

It seems that people forget (or aren’t even aware) that just because he is president, he is not the head of state. Ahmadinejad has the power to appoint parliament nominees, sign bills. He is presently the highest Iranian official elected into office, and serves the people and their public opinions. The true head of state is the Supreme Leader, presently Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i.

Many people wonder the threat Ahmadinejad poses. President Bush has alluded to ties between Ahmadinejad and Iraq. Ahmadinejad has made threatening remarks about Israel, but the final call regarding foreign policy does not lie with Ahmadinejad, but with the supreme leader.

Within Iran, Ahmadinejad’s popularity is falling, leading Iranian political scientists to further question the American energy put towards Ahmadinejad.
His economic policies have done little; many of his advisors have quit because they do not agree with how he has handled the country, and he has been insulted by other members of the government for his mismanagement of the nation.

Ahmadinejad seems to no longer garner respect in his own country. So why do so many people get riled up by a man whose only influence seems to come from newspaper headlines (as many Iranian political scientists will argue)?

Ahmadinejad is a politician, and if anyone saw his interview with 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, they know he can evade answering questions as well as any other political leader. His country is sandwiched between two countries where America has military presence, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a politician in one of the most destabilized areas on the map.

Then how should America react to this man? There are no clear ties between Iraq and Ahmadinejad, his popularity seems to be waning in his own country, and yet the West is completely infuriated by him.

It is, of course, reprehensible to deny the existence of a genocide as horrific as the Holocaust, but the fact that Ahmadinejad has made such statements shows how blinded people can become due to complexities of politics and religion intertwined.

There is no need to respect what Ahmadinejad has to say; some of it just seems absurd. But there is benefit in listening to what a perceived enemy has to say.

By listening, perhaps Ahmadinejad will cease to evade questions, and American will gain insight into the mind of a man we find so contemptible.

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