President George Bush's most recent remarks on Iran, as usual fact-challenged and unhelpful, have finally made the transition from the politically contrived to the downright stupid. The media rushed to question the White House on Mr. Bush's comments, made in an interview to Radio Farda, the U.S. government radio station that broadcasts into Iran in Farsi, specifically on the president's clearly false assertion that Iran has "declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people--some in the Middle East." The White House backtracked somewhat, claiming Mr. Bush "shorthanded his answer" according to national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe, and although that explanation falls far short of convincing, few seem to be concerned with the implications of what Mr. Bush said, but more specifically to whom he said it.
This wasn't a speech to the American people, or to a section of the electorate that might be swayed into believing we must confront Iran militarily. It wasn't a speech to allies, and it wasn't part of a political campaign of fear. No, Mr. Bush's words were to the Iranian people. His words undoubtedly came as a surprise to Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has final say on all matters of state, and who has in the past not only denied Iran's quest for weapons of mass destruction but has also actually issued a fatwa specifically banning the development and use of nuclear weapons. (Ayatollah Khamenei, presumably a religious and Allah-fearing man, does not issue fatwa's lightly.) But more importantly, there is not an Iranian alive who doesn't know about the fatwa, or doesn't know that his or her government has spent the past five years adamantly denying that they are developing nuclear weapons. However, Mr. Bush said to those Iranians that their government has not only "declared" that they want a nuclear weapon, but that they want to use it "to destroy people"? Get this: some in the Middle East, and so presumably some elsewhere. Huh? What exactly are the Iranian people supposed to think? That Mr. Bush is an idiot? That he's a liar? Maybe they're thinking, "oh my gosh, it's worse than we thought. Could he actually bomb the crap out of us because he actually believes his own nonsense?"
Radio Farda is a propaganda station, and uh, propaganda doesn't work if it's patently false, George. If the idea was to get the Iranian people on your (or our) side, if the idea was to convince them that their government is acting foolishly and dangerously, then you just scored a big fat zero. Might as well stop funding Farda and save some much needed bucks, for whatever little credibility it had inside Iran (and believe me, it was always slight) just got thrown out the window. So what exactly was the point of George Bush's statement? And what are the implications? Well, only Georgie knows what the point was. And as for the implications, for Iranians who were the intended audience, it was simply that we really do have an idiot with his finger on the button.