As with The Stoning of Soraya M., Iran is unsurprisingly averse to the spotlight being thrown on it by Iranium. The Iranian embassy managed to get a showing of the documentary at the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa temporarily canceled, until the Canadian minister of national heritage stepped in and got the show up and running again.
Then, again unsurprisingly, the Film Society promptly received threats and two suspicious letters. “Once we started to receive threats from the public and threats of public protest,” an archives spokeswoman said, “we deemed the risk associated with the event was a little too high.” Clare Lopez, who had been scheduled to lead a discussion of the film afterward, wrote, “It is a telling indicator about the vulnerability of the Iranian regime that the mere scheduling of this film, which is not yet even released to the public, should elicit such thuggish threats of violence.”
Thuggish threats of violence, of course, are Iran’s stock-in-trade. After last month’s nuclear talks in Istanbul broke down due to the preconditions Iran demanded, Ahmadinejad said, “The uncultured Zionists and some power-hungry people in Europe and the U.S. are not interested in a good resolution of the issues”– by which he means, of course, that the boorish West aggressively refused to allow the Iranian mullahcracy to hold the world hostage to its insanity. “The world should know,” he warned, “that this nation stands up to bullying and will put the bullies in their place. You cannot make Iran back down an inch from its course as it is now a nuclear state.”
Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s defense minister, echoed this with similarly direct bluster: “If America and England do not change their behavior and do not make fundamental changes to their policies, they will suffer a fate worse than Hitler and Saddam.” Apparently he didn’t get the memo about the new language of civility in the political sphere.
For our part, the West has dithered impotently with sanctions and civility for too long. In 2008, President Obama swore that he would “do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — everything.” Replace the word “everything” in that sentence with “nothing,” and the sentence will then clarify not only his administration’s efforts, but those of previous administrations as well. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Obama has decided we must live with — in other words, risk perishing at the hands of — a nuclear Iran.
Had Obama done everything in his power to support Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution protesters and a true democratic uprising, a possible regime change might have made all this concern unnecessary now. Pundits eyeing the collapse of the Mubarak regime are claiming that Obama may become known as “the president who lost Egypt” (neglecting to mention that, as far as our allies go, he has already lost Israel and England); in fact, he, like Carter, is already “the president who lost Iran” — a second time.
(Speaking of Egypt: As the former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Brotherhood-backed Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohammed ElBaradei repeatedly stonewalled international efforts to put the brakes on Iran’s ambitions; as recently as last month he dismissed the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. If ElBaradei ends up holding the reins of power in Egypt, the threat to Israel of a hostile, nuclear Iran becomes all the more substantial.)
As Iranium director Alex Traiman told me, “the weapons themselves do not represent the depth of the danger. Rather, they are the final component of an extreme ideology that has been backed by extreme actions for three decades. … And to let Ahmadinejad, [Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei and company cross the nuclear threshold could literally be catastrophic.”
With the eyes of the world focused on the turmoil in Egypt and the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood there, Iranium is a disturbing and necessary reminder that Iran remains the truly imminent and terrifying threat to American interests and world peace.