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Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran’s Radical Leader Hardcover – May 12, 2008
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If there ever is a reason for Americans to sleep with one eye open these days, wondering "what next?" after Iraq and Afghanistan, Ahmadinejad and Co. is it. A must-read for all those who think they know about international affairs, conflict resolution and negotiation; leadership studies and charisma.
Much of the material such as the reverence for the missing Mahdi, the holocaust denial conference, the erratic economic policies, or the rambling letters to Bush and Merkel are familiar from the general media, but because Naji was in Iran while it happened, the picture has a refreshing immediacy. Naji was certainly an eye witness on the opening day of the holocaust denial conference - `Nowhere else in the world could you find such a mixed bag: American white supremacists, European Nazis, fundamentalist Muslims and ultra-orthodox anti Zionist Jews milled around, exchanging handshakes and smiles.' And as he wandered around the centre he lets us know about a model of Auschwitz which was on display, proving large numbers of Jews could not have been killed. He is also thorough, but concise, with his background material throughout the book, so for the conference he gives us the depressing bios of some of the delegates such as David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan or Veronica Clark, head of the Adolf Hitler Research Society, who presented a paper on how Hitler was in fact very lenient with Jewry or Patrick McNally who called the holocaust `a vicious lie.'
It is not surprising that after writing this book Naji has had to leave Iran. For his sharp eye underlines two alarming characteristics about President Ahmadinejad and the other hard-liners. The first is naivety, a lack of planning, a making up of policy on the spot without thinking through the consequences. There is naivety in foreign policy: Naji makes it clear that Ahmadinejad had little idea about the backlash there would be from hosting Nazi lovers at his conference. He wanted to annoy America, but deeply offended the entire world, and so many politicians in Iran that the foreign ministry was hauled before parliament to explain itself. And there was much naivety in economics. Ahmadinejad insisted on a high minimum wage that then ruined small businesses and so threw out of work the very people he was trying to help. He also ordered the banks to cut interest rates to below the rate of inflation, which would make it impossible for them to make a profit. There is even naivety in religion and politics. Ahmadinejad thought he could win the support of women by allowing them into football matches. He was stepping into the territory of the ayatollahs and soon had to back down. The second characteristic Naji underlines is more disturbing. It is that Ahmadinejad - and many who rule with him - live in a make believe world where Iran's economy is flourishing, the `arrogant' i.e. imperial Western powers are retreating before the might of Iran and her allies like Bolivia, and it is the rest of the world that will suffer as the Islamic Republic steps up its sanctions regime on unfriendly countries. This is all disturbing, especially for Iran's citizens who have to live with the reality of rising prices, the impact of sanctions, and the threat of an attack from Israel over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Since this book was published in 2008 Ahmadinejad has had a few reality checks - not just the massive demonstrations after the 2009 presidential elections, or the bruising disputes with the Supreme Leader and parliament which he has lost,but also of course the fact that in 2013 he has to step down.
This is the best biography of AM to date.
It is an excellent political and electoral biography of AM's rise to power and
how this President and the ruling clerical elite manage the entire government and political economy of Iran - at all levels - local to national.
This management style is akin to the Soviet management style in post Stalinism with the predictable economic results.In many ways the look and economic ambience of Iran is like the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
Iran's top economic managemers are clerics, the National Sales Manger is their controlled man - AM - and the middle managers who execute economic policy are Paramilitary forces with little restraint as recent events have shown.
The result is anger at injustice and the great cycle of Iranian revolution is underway again.
A poodle named AM who is sitting on the lid of a boiling pot as the Shah was in 1964.
Who knows how long it takes for a pot to boil over? Unknown
But the pot will boil over and when it does ... it will burn many people as it did in 1905 and 1979.