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Another brick in the anti-Iranian wall

Reported by Chrish - September 7, 2006 -

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appeared on FOX's Big Story yesterday 9/6/06 to explain his reasons for ordering state agencies to withhold support services for Iran's former president, Mohammad Khatami, who has been invited to speak at Harvard University (and four other major universities ). Romney's decree and labelling Khatami as terrorist fits nicely with the White House(FOX) agenda of demonizing Iran at every turn, hence the appearance. But Khatami is not terrorist and comes in peace, to avert further violence and destruction in keeping with his support for Dialogue among Civilizations.

The US or the individual states usually provide security and necessary increased traffic control for visiting heads of state, but Romney (already running for president) does not want the people of Massachusetts to shoulder the bill this time. He is fine with the people of Boston/Cambridge taking on the whole burden, however. It was not mentioned if officials in Virginia, Washington DC, and New York City were taking a similar hard party line.

Romney called the invitation by Harvard "a disgrace" and ordered state agencies to decline support services for Khatami's visit. Romney is hoping that by withholding enough support services, Khatami will decide to go somewhere else. His problems with Khatami: he has expressed support for Hezbollah, called for the destruction of Israel (wrong), jailed dissidents (he did not), and has developed nuclear technology (he has not, though he wholeheartedly supports Iran's right to develop nuclear energy independently).

But diverse numerous sources paint a different picture:

"... Ahmadinejad's strident anti-Israeli statements on the eve of the demonstration were harsher than those issued during the term of the reformist Khatami and harkened back to Khomeini's fiery speeches."

"Ahmadinejad's uncompromising tone represents a dramatic change from that of former president Mohammad Khatami, a mild-mannered cleric whose favored topic was "dialogue among civilizations" and who led an effort to improve Iran's relations with the West. "

"As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, who came to power in August and replaced Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who advocated international dialogue and tried to improve Iran's relations with the West."

Romney also bemoans the dates of Khatami's appearances, September 10th and 11th, and says that "a person of that nature," "a person who calls himself a moderate but at best is a moderate terrorist - but there's no such thing as a moderate terrorist. A terrorist is a terrorist, and he supports terrorist groups like Hezbollah, the destruction of Israel - this is a person who should not be welcomed to the United States, and should not be feted by Harvard University, or any other university. Of course we believe in free speech, but free speech is not welcoming a person to your campus, providing escorts to them, and particularly doing so on the anniversary of the most tragic terrorist event in the history of our nation."

John Gibson, in a rare moment, asked a very good question of Romney: if Romney wants to be president and dealing with Iran in 2008, is it such a good idea to deal one of their few liberals "a slap in the face" like this? Romney says he always believes in talking, even with your avowed enemies, BUT putting out the welcome mat for someone whose actions belie his words, that demonstrate his hate for the principles we love, is a different thing. He says we should talk to "true moderates" and reject radicalism.

Romney, through ignorance or deliberately for political posturing, is portraying Khatami as an unapproachable, unreasonable lunatic. Khatami's bio is well represented in these clips from Wikipedia:

Khatami is regarded as Iran's first reformist president, since the focus of his campaign was on the rule of law, democracy and the inclusion of all Iranians in the political decision-making process. However, his policies of reform led to repeated clashes with the hardline and conservative Islamists in the Iranian government, who control powerful governmental organizations like the Guardian Council, whose members are appointed by the Supreme Leader. Khatami lost most of those clashes, and by the end of his presidency many of his followers had grown disillusioned with him.

During Khatami's presidency, Iran's foreign policy had entered into a new phase; moving from confrontation to conciliation. Khatami's worldview and his notion of foreign policy was different from his predecessors'. In Khatami's notion of foreign policy, there was no "clash of civilizations", he favours a "dialogue among civilizations". The detente policy of Khatami had created a congenial atmosphere for expanding relations with the world, and its relations with the major powers (Iran's) was improving.

Romney's rude unwelcoming, applauded by the hard-line right in America, exemplifies the unwillingness to find peaceful solutions to the problems facing us. Taken with the scoffing at current Iranian President Ahmadinejad's reasonable offers to engage and debate Bush, we can see there is no sincerity in the administration's claims to exhaust all diplomatic avenues before resorting to sanctions and the inevitable military force.

Romney wants the US to "get tough" with Iran, imposing strict sanctions, which will require getting China on board. We can do that by using our "leverage", threatening them with closing our markets to them (comment: subtly of course, and hope they don't call our loans, er, bluff) and by scaring them silly, too, letting them know they (and Russia) are not immune from jihad.

Should he be elected in 2008 Romney would continue the meme that we should "exert every possible resource we have" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear technology. (It was interesting to note that throughout this interview, it was always "nuclear technology" and not "nuclear weapons." (This last bit sounded more like an audition before Cheney (always watching FOX, as we know) to be the party's nominee in 2008 - whomever they pick will get the might and the money behind them; all others will be squashed.)

But there's hope for the next generation, , as evidenced by this editorial in The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virgina, another stop on Khartami's visit.