Anybody who really thinks that National Public Radio news represents a "liberal" mindset should check out today's interview with President Bush. Among the laundry list of topics skimmed over was Iran. When NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams said, "You said you have proof of Iran's role in attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq...," I thought he was going to ask for some details of that "proof," which press reports have questioned, like this one in the Los Angeles Times:
For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol.
The lack of publicly disclosed evidence has led to questions about whether the administration is overstating its case. Some suggest Bush and his aides are pointing to Iran to deflect blame for U.S. setbacks in Iraq. Others suggest they are laying the foundation for a military strike against Iran.
Before invading Iraq, the administration warned repeatedly that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Those statements proved wrong. The administration's charges about Iran sound uncomfortably familiar to some. "To be quite honest, I'm a little concerned that it's Iraq again," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week, referring to the administration's comments on Iran.
But no, Mr. Williams took Mr. Bush's claims of "proof" on face value, with not the slightest hint of doubt. Of course, any discussion of Iran has to include questions on its "nukular" ambitions (which the NPR transcript neatly renders as "nuclear," of course). The president explains his "diplomatic solution":
And the message that we are working to send to the Iranian regime and the Iranian people is that you will become increasingly isolated if you continue to pursue a nuclear weapon. The message to the Iranian people is that your government is going to cause you deprivation. In other words, you've got a chance to really flourish again as a great tradition. However, if your government continues to insist upon a nuclear weapon, there will be lost opportunity for the Iranian people.
Here's the kicker: That's what's happening now in Iran. President Bush is actually describing not a goal, but the current reality of the growing rift between the Iranian "regime" and the "people," according to not only reports in Montreal's Le Devoir and London's Telegraph but also on NPR's own All Things Considered on Saturday. Iranian journalist Afshin Molavi said:
One of the interesting things that is going on today is a pushback against [Iran's president] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad within the Iranian political elite. There have been petitions signed by Iranian economists directed at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying he's bankrupting and ruining the economy.
[Interviewer Jacki Lyden]: Inside Iran.
Mr. MOLAVI: Inside Iran, yeah. There has been an open letter by 150 members of the Iranian parliament directed at the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying his policies are undermining the Iranian economy and national security. And there is this significant pushback of Ahmadinejad.
Even more to the point, "what limited backing Ahmadinejad had from Iran's supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, [has] evaporated," reports the Telegraph. Please note that in the Iranian theocracry, Ahmadinejad certainly does not have the power of a president as we in the United States define a president, but Mr. Bush has made a punching bag of the puppet, and the media here don't question that.