Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad in NY

Iran's president spoke at Columbia University today, opening a sluice chute of supposed "controversy" over whether the event should be allowed to happen. My own feeling is that it is better to be speaking than bombing or shooting at each other; perhaps this is why the neo-conservatives who favor war with Iran are so upset with the event, as it does not directly further their cause. It is why they try so hard to generate controversy around the mere fact that he has come here to speak, since he is a figure they want to demonize.

An awful lot of the accusations employed against Ahmadinejad as a justification for war have little substance behind them. For one thing, the president is the highest elected official in the Iranian system, with powers that are limited to some domestic areas, not international affairs. He does not have control over the Iranian military, for example. This calls into question the relevance of what Ahmadinejad has to say about international concerns, Israel included, since he has no real authority on the subject; it also leaves accusations of "dictatorship" open to question, since Iran's president is at least directly elected (unlike the religious clerics who make the central decisions affecting the country) . These are things the neo-cons and other right-wingers invariably omit when they beat their drums for war.

It's also interesting to learn that Ahmadinejad was denied a visit to ground zero when Iran (along with many other countries) expressed sympathy with the US after 9/11, and the Iranian people held candlelight vigils for the victims.

Here is a transcript of the Columbia talk.

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