If Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was trying to reach across hostile waters to find some common ground with his detractors in the White House, he has a strange way of showing it. The controversial leader penned the first formal communication between the two nations in 27 years, breaking the ice with an 18-page missive to President George Bush that declared that liberalism and democracy have failed, said that the U.S. is hated around the world and claims that the administration is covering up evidence about the September 11 terror attacks.
According to The Associated Press, the letter made only a passing reference to the most central issue that divides the nations at the moment: Iran's plans for its disputed nuclear program (see "As Tensions Mount, How Much Of A Threat Is Iran?"). In response to that issue, Ahmadinejad questioned why, "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."
The Bush administration was quick to dismiss the letter as an attempt to soften the U.S.'s resolve to push a U.N. Security Council vote this week that could impose harsh sanctions against Iran for its refusal to back down on its nuclear ambitions (see "Iran Doesn't 'Give A Damn' About U.N. Pressure On Nuclear Program").
"This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the AP. "It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."
After being briefed on its contents, Bush was equally dismissive. "It does not appear to do anything to address the nuclear concerns" of the international community, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters on Air Force One, according to The Los Angeles Times.
If the letter was meant as an olive branch, it certainly had a lot of thorns. Ahmadinejad wrote that, "liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity," according to a copy obtained by the AP. "Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems."
The Iranian leader also blasted Bush for his handling of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Ahmadinejad suggests that the administration has covered up evidence about the attacks, criticized Bush for its support of Israel and questioned whether the money spent on the invasion of Iraq might better have been spent fighting world poverty.
The letter also contained a warning of sorts, in which Ahmadinejad suggested that Bush should look inside himself and see the increasing hatred of the U.S. around the world and learn the lesson of history that shows how "repressive and cruel governments do not survive. ... How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people's houses destroyed over their heads?" he wrote. "Are you pleased with the current condition of the world? Do you think present policies can continue?"
The letter — sent to the White House through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran — was believed to be the first direct diplomatic communication between the U.S. and Iran since Iranian militants overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979 and took 70 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy for 14 months.