- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to our country was met with ill will and debased insults that can be charitably termed abominable. It is profoundly disturbing evidence of the stupefaction induced in our people by the recent reigns of politicians.

Let me explain. When our people were yet reasonably enlightened, we were confronted at the United Nations by a man with several million times more military powers than Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose ideology was no less opposed to our own, who supported conflicts with and deaths of our far-flung military personnel, and making advanced weaponry for the use of our adversaries. Unlike the Iranian president, this other man actually shouted, “We will bury you” while pounding his lectern with a shoe. In today’s emotive milieu, how would such be received?

Well, even back then it did cause a major backlash. The man’s name was Nikita Khruschchev, premier of the Soviet Union, home of several thousand 20 megaton nuclear ballistic missiles, all aimed at us, not Israel. His treatment of Jews was, however, deplorable. He also presided over the barbaric Soviet prison system, which killed lots of prisoners in the manner ascribed to the Iranian justice system by Wesley Pruden — like germs in a petri dish. (Pruden on Politics, Sept. 25).

But back before we became collectively stupefied, we found a unique opportunity, we fully exploited. Mr. K wanted to see some of the U.S.A., just as did Mr. A.

We, and President Eisenhower and even Vice President Richard Nixon recognized that the very best thing we could do — too good to be true — would be to bring Khruschchev in and let the man see who we are and what we do and how we live.

Nixon himself led his new friend Nikita every wonderful place we could think of. Sure, Khruschchev continued to play tough guy, and even ground down John F. Kennedy when they first met.

But pretty soon the sheer facts and truths of his exposure to the American Life rid him of his communist fantasies until he was nearly a teddy bear, initiating many back channel warming actions with President Kennedy. These got him retired by the hard-liners behind him. Since then, no Soviet leader was ever allowed by his own on such a trip until Mikhail Gorbachev, whom we treated very well, and when he got back home the Soviet Union went away for good.

For all his kooky ideas, President Ahmadinejad seems the “tyrant” most open to dialogue ever. Remember that he wrote a multipage letter to our own “tyrant,” which was dismissed with a note given the media deriding it as “not worthy of our attention.”

We had the brains in 1959 to invite a man far less open to dialogue to tour the United States as our graciously-treated guest and seeing it as manna from heaven. And it wasn’t even propaganda. It was truth — it was us. Once he saw it, he knew his finest play would be to raise his own people’s standard of living and expectations to model our own. This surpassed even Sun Tsu’s exaltation of the best war victory wherein not a shot is fired.

All we have the brains to do now after two decades of presidential half-lies and fear-mongering is to throw cinderblocks at the head of the guest. A guest who is an opponent but clearly wants to know us better. This encounter offered propaganda manna from heaven, but we couldn’t see it because we’re now as dumb as a stump and as rational as angry Palestinians. “Oh everyone just look what they’ve done to us — to our boys.” Without seeing how disturbing to them might be our sending an invasion army into a neighboring state, that would be to them as Canada is to us, based on a pack of, shall we say, errors.

The point is that despite all provocations we can still win without fighting when handed such an obvious and perfect chance to mold the enemy’s leader’s head by submerging it fully in the American Life. It was plain as day before the Bushes and the Clintons got here.

So, the damage is done. How do you imagine Mr. Ahmadinejad sees us now? God knows he tried to discourse with us and we showed our most decrepit estate.

P.S. I don’t think withdrawal is the answer, nor that Kennedy would. The best move seems to me to be like a kind of blockade — go to the borders and don’t let insurgents or explosives in from any side. Then let the Iraqis work it all out themselves.

PETER VELIS

Chevy Chase

Mr. Velis has been a reader of The Washington Times since Day One.

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