Tehran-The surprise victory of the arch-conservative religious hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Presidency in Iran has given pause to Middle Eastern scholars the world-over, and in Washington especially.
The President, The Vice-President and the Secretary of Defense were all reached on Saturday afternoon for their comments on the turn of events in Iran. All three were on a bicycle ride around suburban Washington.
"You're looking a little tired there, Don. Feeling OK?" said the Prez.
"Damn shorts riding up my crack again. Gotta yank ‘em out," said Rumsfeld, panting. "Can you all turn around while I do that? Thanks."
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this guy Ahmadjani or Ahmadinejadi or whatever his name is," said Cheney. "A real bad, twitchy feeling. Real twitchy." Cheney took a drag off of his water bottle, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. "You know that feeling of mine, right Don?"
"Sure, Dick. I know that one, yes," said Rumsfeld, still panting.
"How about you, Mr. President? Do you know that one?"
"Uhh, yes. Yes, I remember that one, Dick Cheney." He paused for a moment and finished off a bottle of Propel. "You scare me sometimes, Dick Cheney."
"Good," said Cheney. "We had better get back to the office. Pronto." They all rode off then with nary a word to the reporters on scene, many of whom were also on bikes. An empty bottle of Propel lay on the ground.
It is said the true levers of power in Iran rest with the unelected clerics lead by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei himself succeeded the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself in 1989. Ahmadinejad, who holds a PhD in Traffic and Transport Technology from Tehran University, was a student there during the seige of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Rumors circulated through Iran that Ahmadinejad played a crucial role in that uprising; he has consistently denied it. During the campaign he was supported by the clerics and the military establishment. His rhetoric has stoked fears that he would effectively erase what few political reforms and social liberties had been gained over the last 8 years when students swept the reformer Mohammed Khatami in to the Presidency.
"What is democracy, really, anyway?" said Ahmadinejad during his acceptance speech in front of supporters at the Tehran Hilton. "It's a western concept. We did not have the revolution in order to have democracy. We don't design roads by committee, Praise God. And while the concept of an ‘election' is interesting to me, and has proven useful, I can tell you this: the road to the next one will be long and winding."
During the campaign, Mr. Ahmadinejad made it clear that improving relations with Washington would be a low priority for his new administration. He vehemently criticized his opponent Mr. Rafsanjani's conciliatory stance with respect to Iran's nuclear program. "To the infidels I say this: you are begging for our oil-all of it-and you would leave us none. That is why we need Nuclear power. We have our needs too, you know."
Iran is the fourth-largest oil producer in the World, with fully 9% of the globe's proven reserves. It also has the second largest natural gas reserves in the World.
"My mission is to create a role model of a modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic society, with excellent roads and nuclear power," said Ahmadinejad. "With respect to our nuclear technology, we have nothing but the most peaceful intentions, I assure you. Our nuclear plants will be as safe as our roads.
"Traffic in Tehran is abominable, my friends. I must start my walk home soon else I'll be late for my dinner. Good night."