Reality check

IRAN’S new President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, has unveiled his new cabinet. Iran watchers were after all right in prophesying that the new leader, demonised as a hardliner by the Western media, would choose men and women moulded in his own mirror image. Like Ahmedinejad, the new ministers identify with the ideals of Islamic Iran.

Without getting sidetracked by totally misleading adjectives like hardliners and moderates, what should concern the world, particularly this part of the world, is what direction Iran will take under President Ahmedinejad and his team. And, more importantly, if Iran’s new leaders are conscious of changing geopolitical realities and formidable challenges confronting Iran today.

Ahmedinejad’s rhetoric during the presidential election campaign can be forgiven as political expediency. But now that he is the president of a big nation of 70 million people, he should be more restrained and reasonable in his words and actions.

Iran’s toughened stance on the issue of its nuclear programme goes to underscore the confrontationist approach of the new leader. The totally unnecessary confrontation with the West and the United States over the issue does not inspire confidence in the leadership of President Ahmedinejad. The collision with the West could lead to retaliatory economic and political action against Iran.

Can the already isolated Iran afford economic sanctions and, possibly, military action? We are not talking about the regime or its immediate supporters. At stake is the future of a nation of 70 million people. As their leader and CEO of Iran, Ahmedinejad should think long and hard before throwing Iran on a dangerous collision course with the rest of the world. Can his people, already paying the price for decades of economic mismanagement, afford a full-fledged showdown with the West? Is the new leader serving Iran’s and its people’s best interests by chasing the chimera of nuclear power particularly when many in the country are still denied the basic amenities of life such as food, water and security?

Iran’s new leaders, elected representatives of the people, mustn’t forget that eventually they will have to account for their actions. They must take into account all possible consequences before embarking on a risky and costly adventure.

President Ahmedinejad and his ministers, instead of pursuing the delusions of grandeur, would do well to address themselves to the job for which they have been chosen. Iran needs to make a fresh start, not by acquiring military muscle but by helping its people become self-reliant, prosperous and at peace with themselves. The new leaders would best serve their country and people by mending Iran’s ties with the world and restoring its rightful place in the comity of nations.

More news from OPINION