The text of Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush. It’s a fascinating read, although I don’t believe it gives as much insight into Ahmadinejad’s thinking as others have claimed; it’s written in the format of the old exchanges of letters between Christian and Muslim kingdoms during the Middle Ages, a fashion which led to the development of the high points of both Christian and Muslim apologia. (i.e., arguments for why X is better than Y meant to genuinely convince believers in Y)
The contents themselves are somewhat interesting. There are attacks of the form “how can US policy X be consistent with Christianity,” where X includes the invasion of Iraq, support for Israel, and American opposition to Latin American and African regimes. Next there’s a bit on 9/11, with questions about failures of American intelligence and security and hints that the US government was complicit in it. (For those who haven’t heard this before, it’s a popular rumor in the Islamic world, along with the belief that the Jews were in on it)
The fact is, there are some very good points in this letter, and there are some that are total crap. Most fall somewhere in between. Tradition would require that Bush respond in kind (allowing, of course, an arbitrary amount of ghost-writing; even in the Middle Ages kings and caliphs weren’t all masters of discourse), and frankly it would be quite straightforward to respond and skewer those arguments fairly thoroughly. The thing which I find most important about this letter is that it opens the door for a new form of discourse between the countries that may have much more of a chance of influencing matters than the American political team may realize: if Ahmadinejad is as serious about the tradition as this letter suggests he is, then rational argumentation may hold sway over him when it comes in through the appropriate channels.
(And, one may hope, our people would understand the virtue of writing such a letter both in English and Farsi, and adding appropriate honorifics and tropes where needed. A good medievalist in government would be quite helpful)