Bush speaks of his "higher father", and he and the religious right are outspoken in their contempt of Islam and their desire to hurry the "Second Coming" along. Now, compare Bush and the religious right to President Ahmadinejad, and the similarities are striking.
[Via Telegraph Group] But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad - recently described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" - and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.God, help us all. I'm not a theologian, but from what I've learned over the years I've spent in church, Jesus will come like a thief in the night, unannounced and unexpected. (Matthew 24:42-44) That's what makes these men so dangerous - they're trying to manipulate God for their own purposes.
In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September. [...]
The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return. [...]
All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government but widely believed - is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.
Iran's dominant "Twelver" sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.
He is said to have gone into "occlusion" in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.
This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.
Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable. [...]
The main rift is no longer between "reformists" and "hardliners", but between the clerical establishment and Mr Ahmadinejad's brand of revolutionary populism and superstition.
Its most remarkable manifestation came with Mr Ahmadinejad's international debut, his speech to the United Nations.
World leaders had expected a conciliatory proposal to defuse the nuclear crisis after Teheran had restarted another part of its nuclear programme in August.
Instead, they heard the president speak in apocalyptic terms of Iran struggling against an evil West that sought to promote "state terrorism", impose "the logic of the dark ages" and divide the world into "light and dark countries". [Emphasis mine.]
The speech ended with the messianic appeal to God to "hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace". [...]