Ahmadinejad is crazy, but Iran is no Nazi Germany

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse in Iran,

By Alec Brandon

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse in Iran, their president calls for a second purge of the nation’s intellectuals:

Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country’s universities, urging students to return to 1980s-style radicalism.”Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with a group of students.Ahmadinejad complained that reforms in the country’s universities were difficult to accomplish and that the educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years. But, he added: “Such a change has begun.”

Purging a nation of its human capital is unlikely to do much for it in the long-run.In related news, my favorite, Fareed Zakaria has a great column (via Yglesias) where he sets the Iran fear-mongerers straight:

To review a bit of history: in 1938, Adolf Hitler launched what became a world war not merely because he was evil but because he was in complete control of the strongest country on the planet. At the time, Germany had the world’s second largest industrial base and its mightiest army. (The American economy was bigger, but in 1938 its army was smaller than that of Finland.) This is not remotely comparable with the situation today.Iran does not even rank among the top 20 economies in the world. The Pentagon’s budget this year is more than double Iran’s total gross domestic product ($181 billion, in official exchange-rate terms). America’s annual defense outlay is more than 100 times Iran’s. Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are real and dangerous, but its program is not nearly as advanced as is often implied. Most serious estimates suggest that Iran would need between five and 10 years to achieve even a modest, North Korea-type, nuclear capacity.Washington has a long habit of painting its enemies 10 feet tall—and crazy.

The fact that Ahmadinejad is calling for such a radical social revolution only adds to Zakaria’s point.