By ROGER COHEN
Published: July 20, 2009
NEW YORK — Allow me to quote the British novelist Martin Amis, writing about Persia in The Guardian: “Iran is one of the most venerable civilizations on earth: it makes China look like an adolescent, and America look like a stripling.”
Iranians, aware of that history, are a proud people. They do not take kindly to being played around with, nor to seeing their country turned into a laughing stock. They do not like the memory of an election campaign that now seems like pure theater, the expression of the sadistic whim of some puppeteer.
So the line I take away from the important Friday sermon of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the two-time former president who believes that the Islamic Republic’s future lies in compromise rather than endless confrontation, is this one: “We shouldn’t let our enemies laugh at us because we’ve imprisoned our own people.”