Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wartime Safe Harbor: Oil Stocks?

Few people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but it's important to criticize him based on objective data and correctly translated statements. His statement about calling the Holocaust a "lie" has received massive airplay in the Western media. However, if readers review Al-Jazeera's translation of Ahmadinejad’s statements, it does not appear he was calling the Holocaust a lie--he was calling it a false pretext. There is a world of difference between “false pretext” and a “lie.” Of course, without a link to an actual speech, I am speculating, just like all non-native Farsi speakers are speculating when they repeat the hearsay that Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust.

In any case, if Mahmoud wanted to deny the Holocaust, Katie Couric gave him the perfect opportunity to do so in a 2009 interview–and he didn’t take the bait. If Mahmoud really doesn’t believe in the Holocaust, why didn't he just come out and say so during the interview?

If you are buying oil stocks (COP, XOM, etc.) and oil ETFs (USO, USL, etc.) because you believe Ahmadinejad's statements about the Holocaust support a military action, you may want to consider the following argument:

1. Most Americans aren't native Farsi speakers.

2. Because most Americans aren't native Farsi speakers, they rely on other people to interpret Mahmoud's statements.

3. Most Americans rely on major Western media outlets to interpret and translate Mahmoud's statements.

4. Most major Western media outlets are profit-driven and tend to emphasize hyperbole to attract the most "eyeballs."

5. If two interpretations exist, major Western media outlets will probably emphasize the more exaggerated interpretation to attract the most "eyeballs."

6. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad either said that the Holocaust is a "lie" or a "false pretext."

7. A "lie" and a "false pretext" are not the same things. For example, an employee may allege that his company's stated reason for termination--being late to work--is a false pretext to cover up its real reason. Calling the employee's lateness a "false pretext" does not mean the employee wasn't late--just that being late isn't the real reason for his termination. It's different than saying that the company is lying or the termination itself is a lie.

8. If Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was a false pretext for x, y, or z, it does not necessarily mean that he denied the Holocaust.

I will point out that Iran has existed for approximately 3,000 years and has not invaded another country in several centuries. As a result, I'm not losing any sleep over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or any of his idiotic statements. I'm more concerned that Congress and the Western media are exaggerating a so-called "Iranian threat" based on inflammatory interpretations and little hard evidence of a direct threat to Americans. The last time we allowed the media and our government to hype up a so-called threat, we lost 5,000+ American soldiers and our prestige.

Also, Iran has a history of giving safe harbor to Jews (read up on Esther, for example), so there is no ingrained history of tension between Jews and Iranians. Like Glenn Greenwald, I prefer to look at actions more than rhetoric when it comes to judging threats or making judgments. Will cooler heads prevail in 2010? Only time will tell, but if the Iranian response to Neda's killing is any indication, the Iranian people will overthrow their government soon enough. I predict that the ruling clergy will demote or oust Ahmadinejad to save themselves. I also predict Ali Larijani will gain greater influence in the coming years.

Bonus: Here is the transcript from Katie Couric's interview with Ahmadinejad.

FYI: if you want to castigate Ahmadinejad, HERE is the best link to use. Remember: I never said Ahmadinejad hasn't made idiotic, venomous statements in the past, just that we must question hearsay evidence and not rely on poor translations. Truth should always be the highest goal, especially when dealing with people the government wants to discredit.


Adam Rogoyski said...

He has been calling the Holocaust a myth for years. He requested and had held a conference on this subject. And he has been known to repeat the "wiped off the map" rallying cry of the 1979 revolution which he was a part of.
Go read any article by Nazila Fathi of the New York Times. She has been reporting on Iran for years.

K_Yew said...

@Adam: actually, here is the best link to refute the premise behind my argument:

I wasn't saying Ahmadinejad didn't spew crazy, vile crap elsewhere--I was cautioning against making assumptions based on hearsay, especially from non-native or biased speakers.