Rhetorical analysis tames my gut reactions. And in these days, in the face of Iran's turnoil, they tend to be rather strong.
To analyze the rhetoric deploied in a situation, public declarations need to be understood and evaluated by their efficacy as moves and coutermoves of the same game: that which makes for peace or war among nations.
So, with the whole world become a gigantic audience, diplomacy (with its possible corollary: war) is played on a double front: the clashing of forces, and the media.
The US lost a war on the media: Vietnam. It stayed in the American mind as a syndrome of uncertainty, never fully cllarified in its rhetoric.
That master or rhetoric named Ronald Reagan brought to an end victoriously the cold war. With the fall of Berlin's wall we thought it was the end of it. We didn't realize that another war, half cold half hot, was in the making, involving Islam in place of that child of modern western philosophy which was marxism-leninism.
Then there was 9/11. The rest is news.
The key word, at least for a western audience, is peace. We want peace, or perhaps we just want to be left in peace. And if a president realizes that there is a war in act, many of us are brought to think that he is the one to want it.
Let me get back then to my gut reactions. Or better, of my taming of them.
Toward Iran President Obama started with an outstretched hand.
Good move, we could say. This doesn't mean that we nourish any illusion about the Islamic gangsters governing Iran. Showing willingness to peace always works, if not necessarily with the world audience, at least with the American and European one. And it made Obama elected. What matters for him, is no to fall prey of his own rhetoric (as it happened to Jimmy Carter).
Now that the Iranian regime showed to the world its true face, Obama firmly condemned the repression, but always in his usual cool way. Is coolnessa enough? I ask.
Ahmadinejad retorts that he is like his predecessor Bush.
A burning offence for somebody who was elected promising change. What should he reply, to our immodest opinion?
Well, my gut reaction, which in this case might be rhetorically correct, is that he should say this:
Of course I am like my precedessor Bush. Don't take us wrong when in our electoral campaigns we vehemently take the distance from each other. Whatever my desagreement with Bush's implementation of the American agenda, this remains the same: to promote justice and democracy in the world. And you failed in democracy, even by your own standards.
To which I would gutsily add: you gang of killers.