You have to think that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never seen Cabaret. Either that, or he saw it and thinks nobody else did. The Iranian president’s declaration this weekend that “the future belongs to Iran” sounds uncomfortably close to “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” that creepy moment in Cabaret when national pride lurches suddenly into murderous nationalism, and the viewer realizes that all the happy, rosy-cheeked peasants of the Fatherland will be even more happy when they can send millions to the ovens in Auschwitz.
Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric has always had a certain apocalyptic tone, and his latest pronouncement doesn’t seem to be raising many eyebrows. Just like with Kim Jong Il, we roll our eyes and laugh. The man’s a nut. But this man is not kidding. He really does think the future belongs to Iran and its fellow travelers; he really does think, as Hitler did, that the world would be better off without a large number of Jews. He wants these people gone. All he’s waiting on is the means.
He’ll have it soon enough. A nation with the world’s third-largest oil reserves does not need nuclear energy to keep the lights on, but the program appears to be priority one. So it’s for something else. If you think that’s a paranoid fantasy, watch Cabaret again. Ahmadinejad is no Hitler; he doesn’t have the public-speaking skills and hasn’t yet figured out the best way to annihilate his domestic and foreign opposition. But it’s only a matter of time. We shall see. In any case, when you say that the future belongs to you, it seems to preclude the future belonging to anyone else. I don’t think we can blame Israel too much for being concerned about this sort of thing.
All of which leads me to topic 2: the dopey “hiker” recently released by the government of Iran. Sarah Shourd, making up for 20-some years without access to a CNN microphone, made up for it Sunday by praising — at considerable length — the government that she says imprisoned her unjustly and kept her locked up for more than a year. Talk about Stockholm Syndrome. Pretty soon Sarah and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will be going out for dinner and a movie. The really unpleasant part of the tale is that Sarah ends up making Iran’s strongmen look like reasonable, laid-back dudes.
There is so much wrong with this story. Seriously: Who goes hiking anywhere near Iran in 2009? She never heard of a certain well-publicized war? She never heard of Glacier National Park? I think it’s more likely that Sarah and her hapless fellow hikers were gathering material for a Facebook post and a book deal and it blew up in their faces. I think she represents the kind of dumb-ass dilettante who takes insane risks to get on Oprah: rich kids who are so relentlessly mellow and peaced-out that they are genuinely stunned to meet people who aren’t. Exhibit B: Lori Berenson, the young sort of-Marxist who discovered too late that Peruvian authorities might appreciate non-citizen militants even less than the other kind.