Son of the Ayatollah

(U.S. News) Fouad Ajami - Ahmadinejad's primitiveness seems more true to Iran's brutal theocratic enterprise than Khatami's false spring. Ahmadinejad is a faithful son of Ayatollah Khomeini. He hails from the depth of Iranian society; he had his induction into politics through the Basij, a volunteer underclass militia that the merciless Khomeini had established to "deepen" the revolution and supply dispensable young foot soldiers for the terrible war of the 1980s against Iraq. The Basij were fed on a diet of "martyrdom" and sacrifice. Men like Ahmadinejad are no mystery: They are awake at the apocalypse. They are believers and cynics at the same time. They set fires and have a way of walking away from them in the nick of time, leaving the heartbreak to others. What are we to make of Ahmadinejad's millenarianism - the belief he expressed in the return of the Hidden Imam, that apocalyptic moment in history when the wicked are punished and the lowly inherit the Earth? In the same vein, what is one to make of the man's threat to "wipe Israel off the map"?

2006-04-16 00:00:00

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