Religious bigotry and bias has caused infinite pain and horror throughout the history. Wars have begun and much blood has been shed in the name of God. Our time is also filled with religious or religion related conflict and misery. The conflict between India and Pakistan is one prime example. The occupation of Arab lands by Israel because of an ancient “rights” derived from a holy book another example. By far the deadliest results have come from the adoption of religious agenda by governments; state sponsored holy agendas!
Manifestations of this phenomenon range from full scale theocratic rule, like the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the take over of a democratic and modern government establishment such as the United States of America by right-wing religious fanatics. And although a Western government such as United States is perceived to be modern, tolerant and sophisticated, when taken over by a religious agenda, it shows behavior that is no less fundamentalist and backward than that of Ayatollah Khamenei's in Iran.
Looking more closely and comparing Bush Administration's policies and stances vs. Ayatollah Khamenei's theocratic rule, and peeling away the top cosmetic layers of robe and turban vs. suit and tie, although from two different religious platforms, the two regimes? motivations and tactics become horrifyingly similar!
Immediately after George W. Bush took office amid controversy and suspicion as to his legitimacy in January of 2001, it became crystal clear that he represents the interests and political agenda of the farthest right wing of the American politics with an agenda that is aligned with Evangelical Christian leadership. This is not something that Bush or others in his administration have tried very hard to hide or misrepresent. President Bush has proudly announced that he considers prayer a solution to many problems, which is fine except he has integrated this belief into his day to day operation as a president!
He is reported to have asked foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries to kneel down and pray with him in the Oval Office and elsewhere. In fact he has commissioned programs to fund faith-based organizations and churches as a solution to social ills and problems that government finds itself ill-prepared to address. This shows President Bush to be an extremely religious man who is indeed governing with a religious agenda and doctrine. This is not very different from Seyed Ali's theocratic rule. Khamenei also rules with a religious doctrine and involves his religious stance in the decisions he makes as a political leader.
On the other hand, since September 11, 2001 the Bush doctrine has eclipsed and muzzled all other voices of moderation in this country. This is further complicated and entangled by forces of political restriction coming from other religiously motivated lobby groups and organizations such as the ultra powerful pro-Israel lobbyists and Jewish pressure groups who have teamed up with the Evangelical Christian right in hijacking Washington's political levers. Any opinion or action that is significantly different from that of Mr. Bush or even slightly critical to Israel is ridiculed and pushed aside.
The environment promoted by the Bush backers has created an atmosphere in which politicians, journalists and broadcast personalities have found themselves limited by a hush hush code of silence. This code has claimed victims such as Bill Maher who had his ABC talk show cancelled because of being critical of government official line in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. Though not as brutal and widespread as Khamenei's treatment of journalists in Iran, the post 9/11 environment in which the press has had to operate in the US feeds from the same dogmatic and fundamentalist motivations and involves some of the same tactics as in Khamenei's Iran.
The cornerstone of Islamic Republic's domestic agenda since its inception has been a constant drive to stir up excitement and uproar against internal and external enemies of the country and Revolution, aiming to keep people up in arms and in constant turmoil. All this is enforced while blaming economic and social shortcomings on these real and imaginary enemies. In the meantime, economic, social and moral decay has reduced one of the richest and most resourceful countries in the world to the level of a third-rate theocracy with a frustrated population, who is ready to explode!
The September 11 attacks, on the other hand, proved to be a God sent for George W. Bush who in the space of three quarters converted the biggest budget surplus in the American history to one of the highest deficits ever recorded and actually got away with! So, for a president with less than 35% approval ratings who was struggling to find a calling and purpose for his presidency, Osama Bin Laden's wrath seemed quite timely, as do Mr. Khamenei's custom made daemons! I read in several articles after 9/11 that President Bush has finally found his voice and legacy in the war against terrorism.
Don't be surprised if the preservation of this newfound voice drags American boys to another faraway land in search of nokhod seeyah – black beans (a Persian expression referring to sending someone on a wild goose chase!) On the foreign policy front the Bush administration's action and policy is unbelievably similar to Seyed Ali's. The Bush government complains about Islamic Iran's assistance to the Islamic terrorist groups, which Khamenei proudly admits. After all, they are helping fellow Muslims in time of need.
The American government's unconditional and all out support of Israel, on the other hand, can also be explained only from an Evangelical Christian set of motives. All indications are that if the United States was to stop supporting Israel tomorrow morning, no harm will come to the American homeland or the strategic economic and military interests of the United States. Israel, as an ally, has not brought anything to Americans but trouble and headache.
So, why is America willing to go to war in order to continue supporting Israel? Is it because Israel shares common democratic values with America. Not at all! Every other country in the Middle East and Aisa considered an Ally by America is run by the most horrible dictatorships in the world; Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, the list goes on. And these are allies that US has shown willingness to drop like a hot potato if things get too hot to handle; example, the Shah of Iran!
So, what is it with supporting Israel to no end? Well, besides the Jewish lobby, because the Bible says so! The Bible says that Jews are the chosen people and the land they have occupied forcefully is theirs by the word of God! That is why the Evangelical Christian interests in the US have offered their unconditional support to Israel. And a government representing the religious right must do accordingly. This of course is a very religious and fundamentalist idea for which the United States is supporting Israel to the tune of 3 billion dollars a year (billion with a B).
Seyed Ali Khamenei's alleged support of a Muslim population under siege by sending a boatful of light missiles and old guns earlier this year is of course of the same nature, although it has Mr. Bush upset and becomes another reason to put Iran in the so called Axis of Evil. This appears to be a textbook example of hypocrisy but it is the type of position that one expects Ayatollah Khamenei to take, right? Similarities between the theocratic regime of Mr. Khamenei and the policies of Mr. Bush are too many to count. If only George W. and Seyed Ali would recognize that they are both cut from the same cloth, may be they could put aside their superficial differences and end the rift that is causing nothing but hardship and loss for their two peoples!