I don't think who a person's ancestors were is as important as who the person is, but each ethnic group's 'first president' is a matter of some note.1 As important as President-Elect Obama's ancestry is, to some, Barack Obama has achieved another first. Before being sworn in.
President Ahmadinejad congratulates President-Elect ObamaHeads of state sending congratulations to the winner of an American presidential election is usually a pleasant routine. In the case of President Ahmadinejad, though, it's the first time an Iranian President has congratulated an American president-elect since - well, ever.
It hasn't happened since 1976, when the Shah was kicked out of the country and the Ayatollahs started popularizing the "Death to America" slogan.
This diplomatic first could mean quite a few things, including:
- President Ahmadinejad has oil to sell
- Barack Obama is viewed as a
- Soft touch
- Open-minded leader
- Gullible newbie
- Peace, love, and siblinghood2 are at hand
- Something completely different
President Ahmadinejad's Advice to President-Elect ObamaA translation of the whole letter is available at the Washington Post. Here are some excerpts:
"...I hope you will choose to honor the real interests of people and justice and equity over the insatiable appetites of the selfish minority. Use this chance to serve to the extent you can. And leave a good name behind for yourself...."
"...In the sensitive Middle East region, in particular, the expectation is that the unjust actions of the past 60 years will give way to a policy encouraging full rights for all nations, especially the oppressed nations of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The great civilization-building and justice-seeking nation of Iran would welcome major, fair and real changes, in policies and actions, especially in this region...."
This is going to be an interesting four years.
In the news:
- "Translation of Ahmadinejad's Letter"
Washington Post (November 6, 2008)
- "IRAN: Ahmadinejad congratulates, cautions and advises Obama"
Los Angeles Times (November 6, 2008)
- "Ahmadinejad welcomes Obama change"
CNN (November 6, 2008)
1The next big "first" I'm looking for is the first Japanese, Chinese, or Vietnamese president. Or, for that matter, the first Hmong in the Oval Office. I'm not holding my breath, though. These things take time.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.
2Can't say "brotherhood:" that wouldn't be politically correct.