So everyone's favorite Holocaust-denying psychopath has caught the correspondence bug. Personally, I think he should start a blog.
In the letter, which I read because I really don't want to do prelim-related stuff right now, he sounds... remarkably less psychopathic. (Except for that little bit where he says something to the effect of "let's assume for a minute, strictly as an exercise, that the Holocaust actually happened." And that quixotic rant about the American media.) He writes some good things and makes some good points. But that doesn't make him any less of a hypocrite.
Bush is planning to relegate the letter to File 13. I wouldn't. Not replying makes A-Train look like the good guy and makes Bush look like he's rejecting an honest overture. My strategy? Call his bluff. Ahmadinejad needs to be encouraged to put his money where his mouth is. I'd write back to him something like this:
I read your letter. In it, you relate to me your desire to build a world where peace and justice reign supreme. This is a vision I share with you. As you said, the followers of Jesus Christ, Mohammed, and Moses (peace be upon them all) all seek to build such a world.
Your criticisms of America's past actions are well taken, especially with respect to your nation. The West has not been kind to your nation, and I understand that. There are many things that our country has done that future leaders have regretted. I am sure that many of my policies will fall under the same category, as will many of yours.
You accuse me of failing to live up to our nation's high ideals. This is perhaps true. But as Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) once said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
You claim to believe that "the killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world." Yet you give material support to groups such as Islamic Jihad, who recently slaughtered over twenty innocents in Tel Aviv. You decry the banishment of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, yet it is this same banishment that you seek to inflict upon the Jews who have made the shores of the Mediterranean and the hills of Jerusalem their home. You criticize me for the prisons in Guantanamo, but your regime routinely imprisons those who simply disagree with its policies. Is this - any of this - consistent with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
How, Mr. President, can you claim to pursue peace while you contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and support terrorists? How can you claim to respect your brothers in the Book while denying the Holocaust, seeking the destruction of Jewish homes, and encouraging the spread of anti-Semitism? How can you serve the cause of human rights if you do not afford such rights to your own citizens? And how is any of this serving God?
Your knowledge of history is extensive. Your obsession with it, however, is self-defeating. We cannot take back that which we wish had never happened. We cannot offer restitution for wrongs long past. We cannot concern ourselves with what should have been. We can only look at our present situation and determine what we can do now to pursue justice.
And so it is in this spirit, Mr. President, that I offer you a shovel, that we may bury our hatchets once and for all. To work towards peace, we must not build nuclear weapons but seek to disarm ourselves and our friends. We must not saber-rattle regarding Israel, but help create a situation where Jews, Muslims, and Christians of all colors can live together in peace in our shared Holy Land. We must, as Gandhi once said, become the change we wish to see. And if that change is peace, justice, and brotherhood, then we must become peaceful, just, and brotherly to ourselves and to those who we perceive as our enemies.
One of our Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, once said this: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." Mr. President, the bonds between our nations are surely strained. But let us not continue to sink into recriminations. We are both but men - we cannot be perfect purveyors of God's will. Though we will both falter, I believe strongly that by burying the bitterness of the past and working together peacefully, we can help create a world of which God and all our prophets would be proud.
If he's bluffing, such a letter would make him look like the bad guy for offering an olive branch and then withdrawing it. If he's serious, we have ourselves a resolution. It's a win-win situation.