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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

18,000 pages about an 18-page letter

Finding the Letter
When I heard that the Iranian president had written George W. Bush an 18-page letter, I went right to the web to read it. Surely a community that could post the President's National Guard records (and then post explanations about why they were fake) would be able to get such a thing online, no?

What I found was quite shocking. Here's the story from The New York Times, ABC News, FOX News, The Washington Post, CNN and Ha'aretz.

All of the above articles talk extensively about what was in the letter. They all quote it repeatedly, which means they must have a copy. And yet none of them linked to a copy of it for me to read myself. Ha'aretz, the Israeli newspaper, provided excerpts, but that was it.

I continued digging, and eventually found it at Le Monde and from the BBC. I'm thinking this says a lot about how the media works around the world. The American media feels we have such a short attention span that we couldn't be bothered with reading 18 entire pages of text. Besides, what they think of the 18 pages (and what the various experts they interviewed think) is much more important than what the 18 pages actually say, right? Why should I make up my own mind when they have a full time job making it up for me? The Israeli media is willing to provide a glimpse, but still wants you to rely on their reporting. In Europe, this probably isn't as big a deal, so sure - here's the letter. We'll tell you what we think, but go ahead and read it yourself.

There was a day when websites were proud of their ability to link to source material. Now, many are clearly choosing not to. Luckily for us, Google knows no borders or boundaries. And if it's out there, we'll find it.

The Letter Itself
As to the letter itself, I had a mixed reaction to it. On the one hand, I was dumbstruck with how much I agreed with what the Iranian president had to say. He seemed to be making the same points the Democrats make on a regular basis, but in a more matter-of-fact, "this is how the facts look to me" kind of way. This, by the way, is basically the subject of the FOX News report (yes, that's right - I just agreed with the President of Iran and FOX News in the same paragraph. For those who are dizzy, I'll wait...........OK, better now? Moving on.)

On the other hand, the similarity between the letter and the standard Democratic talking points led me to believe that this effect was calculated to elicit maximum effect from Bush's political enemies here in the United States, and perhaps abroad (we tend to forget that they have things in Iran like web access and CNN, so they hear us criticizing our leaders just as well as we do). Mahmood Ahmadi-Najad has been quoted in the past as saying he needs to "wipe Israel off the map." In the letter, he says it this way:

Are we to understand that allowing the original inhabitants of these lands - inside and outside Palestine - whether they are Christian, Muslim or Jew, to determine their fate, runs contrary to principles of democracy, human rights and the teachings of prophets? If not, why is there so much opposition to a referendum?

Quite the restrained version of the previous quote, huh?

Even a lunatic can appear reasonable if he believes it suits his purposes. I think that might be what we have here. And while my knee-jerk reaction may be to respond with equally constructive dialog, I think the White House is looking a few steps down the road to whether or not dialog with this man is worth the effort, and concluding that it is not.

posted by Brian at 2:05 PM


  • I am far too tired to debate the benefits of diplomacy with you. And I'm inclined to agree just because these guys have such a great track record of screwing up when they try to talk to people.

    Hell, I'm seeing you in 14 hours. I'll save it for then.

    But I will mention -- in the spirit of amusement rather than pedantry -- that you probably meant "elicit maximum effect". Although "illicit maximum effect" is just a great double entendre.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 3:41 AM, May 12, 2006  

  • As usual, we saw each other but didn't come close to discussing it...

    And thanks for the elicit/illicit catch. You're right, the double entendre is sweet, but I fixed it nonetheless...

    By Blogger Brian, at 12:59 AM, May 15, 2006  

  • Well, Brian, you'll just have to become less damned interesting so we have fewer things to talk about.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 4:00 PM, May 15, 2006  

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