Roger L. Simon

Good cops and bad cops in Iran and the enviornment

Ahmadinejad, considered the Iranian bad cop, is said to be in (partial) eclipse these days. I don’t know if those rumors are true, but I suspect they don’t matter that much. The Iranian president seems to be doing his job and, more importantly, their nuclear program continues whether hardliners or “traditional conservatives” are running the show. A recent article in the NYT Magazine, apparently endorsing the Ahmadinejad-in-trouble line, curiously didn’t mention that nation’s nukes at all. Perhaps, like Chirac, they wanted to assure us that all is well and that even if the Iranians obtain nuclear weapons they wouldn’t use them. The mullahs are reasonable folks, we are to assume, and all this Twelfth Imam talk is just a side show. The writer of the NYT piece, Laura Secor, went her merry hijab-clad way across Iran (no Fallaci she), taking down notes from mullahs and regurgitating them as if the vevak and taqqiya did not exist.

Well, believe what you will. The message we are being fed now is that we shouldn’t worry so much about Iran and pay attention to what’s really important – global warming. Indeed, it probably is, to some degree or another. But it strikes me that both sides – right and left – are open to accusations of lack of seriousness at the present moment. There is an opportunity to come together over energy independence, which would cut in both directions at once, but not nearly enough people are seizing it. Some right wingers look upon the sanctity of “free markets” with as much religious devotion as Al Gore appears to regard the sanctity of the environment. Enough of this new form of idol worship. What we need is pragmatism and cold hard facts – facts about the environment and facts about Iran. Neither are easy to get.