The beginning of a beautiful pen-palship?

In a world dominated by e-mail, there is little excitement over letters, unless they happen to be sent from Iran. And the attention grabs front-page headlines around the world when the author happens to be the Iranian president and the recipient the President of the United States.

In the ongoing diplomatic back-and-forth over Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to George W. Bush reads like the opening salvo of an 18th century intellectual debate on religion, the values of the nation state and the role of its leader.

I’d give anything to read a response from Bush along the same lines. Imagine your kids 25 years from now reading the bestselling collection of letters exchanged by A-bomb and G-Dub (you know, like Henry Miller and Anais Nin).

The blurb on the back would read: “Two great men, two different cultures, two different attitudes towards facial hair, one wicked pen pal friendship. Their exchanges not only chronicle a nuclear standoff, but discuss the merits of religion, baseball, Iranian cuisine, the death of manners and the frat-parties of yesteryear.” A reviewer from the Times would exclaim: “Better than the Bible and the Qur’an put together!”

The text of the letter was released today and it provides for interesting reading. The New York Times does an OK job at summarizing it, but there is nothing like reading the whole thing yourself. If Ahmadinejad wrote this himself, it’s great insight into the mind of the leader of one of the world’s most interesting countries (it has been called a “land of contradictions numerous times“).

Below is an excerpt from the letter — read it in full here or here (*.PDF).

The people will scrutinize our presidencies.

Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment?

Did we intend to establish justice, or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful – thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs’?

Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them?

Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them?

Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats?

Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it?

Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors?

Did our administration set out to promote rational behaviour, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns.

Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people’s rights?

And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets – or not?

One Response to “The beginning of a beautiful pen-palship?”

  1. Heh, your book blurb was laugh out loud funny. Thank goodness I was drinking anything at the time, so my nose is intact.

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