The U.S. presidential debate, as seen by Iran’s defense minister

October 24, 2012

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi (Islamic Republic News Agency)

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi gave a news conference this morning where, after expressing optimism about the country's long-developing space program, someone asked him about Monday night's presidential foreign policy debate.

Hi answer was, well, revealing.

"While campaigning for U.S. presidency, candidates usually utter some words to please the Zionist lobby, but it does not necessarily mean that they are capable of fulfilling those words," the brigadier general said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

What's funny about this is that, if you substitute "American voters" with "the Zionist lobby," it's actually a pretty astute observation about the nature of American politics. Of course, that's a big difference. Whether Vahidi really believes his quote or just said it to push the official government line, it's an interesting snapshot of the way America's internal political processes can be misconstrued by a world that feels its effects deeply.

Another distinction is that, according to the state news write-up, Vahidi made the statement as part of his argument that "both the U.S. government and its authorities have realized and repeatedly stated that they could not make any military attack against Iran." In fact, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said the opposite of this.

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Max Fisher | October 24, 2012