June 19, 2009
Ahmadinejad and the Price of a HandgunBy Harold Witkov
The Iranian "election" is over and the handpicked favorite of the Mullahs, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has retained his grip on power. The mullahs get whatever they want in Iran. Now that it is clear that, barring revolution, we will be looking at his unshaven mug for years to come, I have been on a quest for the perfect metaphor to best illustrate the type of man I believe Ahmadinejad to be, and what will happen next on the world stage regarding Iran. Try as I might, I was not able to come up with the right personal experience, literary character or historical context.
My metaphor, instead, appeared before me while I was watching a favorite movie scene from the 1966 spaghetti western classic, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
As most already know, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the action saga of three entertaining but very dubious characters in hot pursuit of stolen gold coins during the Civil War. They are The Good, (Clint Eastwood), The Bad, (Lee Van Cleef), and, The Ugly, (Eli Wallach). The Ugly, known by the name, Tuco Ramirez, has a disheveled appearance throughout the film. He is a misfit and a killer, has a long criminal record, and is a liar extraordinaire.
With Tuco serving as my metaphorical Ahmadinejad, the scene is this. Tuco finds himself abandoned in the middle of a desolate area without a horse but survives the long trek to the nearest town. Exhausted, unarmed and not particularly dangerous, he still manages to bully a storeowner into remaining open despite the fact he is closing. Demanding revolvers, Tuco intimidates the man into eventually showing him his best Remingtons, Colts, and Smith & Wessons. Tuco then interchanges the best parts of each pistol (barrel, cylinder, handle, etc.) and forms an ultimate weapon, breaks open a box of cartridges, and performs some very impressive test firing, demonstrating his lethal capabilities in the enclosed yard behind the store. Back inside the shop, after Tuco helps himself to one of the storeowner's sombreros, they have the following conversation:
Tuco: (revolver pointing away) "How much?"
Tuco: (laughing and loosely pointing revolver at man) "No"
Tuco: (cocking revolver) "How much?"
Tuco points cocked revolver directly at man.
Storeowner: "$200. It's all I've got."
Tuco departs with shopkeeper's cash in hand.
Now imagine a not so dangerous Ahmadinejad, the Ugly, arriving from obscurity on to the world stage and bullying the nations of the world and our President to inaction while he develops his nuclear weapons under their very noses. Just as the storeowner stood by and placated Tuco's every demand, our world leaders and our President watch in fear and bewilderment as Ahmadinejad develops weapons of mass destruction unfettered. While the powers that be outwardly rationalize, for our benefit no doubt, that Iran is entitled to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, they secretly hope that Iran can be coerced away from her nuclear weapon path via sanctions and incentives. But what coercion, short of use of force, could entice Ahmadinejad from developing nuclear weapons when it is so obvious the world can be his oyster once he has assembled his ultimate weapon?
As Tuco gets ready to leave the store, he removes the small "closed" sign hanging on the door, tells the shopkeeper to open his mouth, and gently places the sign within; reminding the terrified man, he had better keep his mouth shut. Unlike the storeowner, I, on the other hand, am not so inclined to be silent. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
It is time for our President to stop acting like a bewildered storekeeper in a spaghetti western. Something has to be done soon, or things are going to get Ugly.