Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cole versus Hitchens

In the current internet battle between Juan Cole and Christopher Hitchens, I blame Cole.  Neither Hitchens nor Slate comes out of this looking very good – and who reads Slate anyway? – but Cole let the snakes out on the plane.  Cole may know Farsi, but Hitchens knows Scotch, and can translate any language through the bottom of a glass.  This translation war is a mug’s game.  Even if you could convince everybody of what Ahmadinejad really said yesterday, what do you do about what he says tomorrow?  Ahmadinejad is irrelevant.  He has no real power, his statements have been expressly disclaimed by the Iranian government, Iran has absolutely no power to do anything to Israel, and any attempt to do anything would be instantly met with devastating nuclear retaliation against Tehran.  Concentrating on what Ahmadinejad says or might have said plays entirely into the Zionist ploy of depicting Israel as the victim on the verge of suffering an annihilation which requires it to do the terrible things it does to the Palestinians and other peoples in the Middle East.  It is not a coincidence that MEMRI collects such statements. 

Anything Ahmadinejad says pales into insignificance against Israel calling for the destruction of Iraq and then using its agents in the American government to ensure that such destruction occurred.  The real and not fantasy destruction of Iraq is the issue, as is the issue of the real and not fantasy destruction of the aspirations of the Palestinian people to have their own country.   By getting into this tiff with Hitchens, and in fact by opening the door to this debate by trying to clarify what Ahmadinejad said, Cole leaves everybody with the impression that what Ahmadinejad says is important, which is more ammunition for the Zionist propagandists.