The United Nations played host to the latest version of the president of Iran’s road show yesterday. This was a subtly different Ahmadinejad than we’ve seen addressing world leaders in New York heretofore. His trademark mixture of insufferable smugness and blustering defiance was on display to be sure, but this speech was more about the former than the latter and that’s something of a change. It appears that there’s no need to spew much vitriol at the president of the United States any longer, for the leader of the Great Satan has rendered himself all but impotent without much Muslim assistance. Why would Ahmadinejad waste his breath denouncing or threatening the paper tiger currently occupying the White House?
Instead, Ahmadinejad used the global stage that the UN provided in order to show the world that nobody understands the problems confronting humanity better than he does. Religious scholar, champion of the poor, master of geo-politics, economic guru – these are but some of the many facets that define the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and if you have any doubt about that, just ask him.
Ahmadinejad, if not quite declaring Islam victorious, seems more confident of the final outcome than ever. He said that the era of capitalism is coming to an end, after “one hundred years of domination.” Selling Adam Smith short by a couple of centuries, Ahmadinejad would – in typical fashion – later contradict his confused understanding of world history by asserting that the Western powers were responsible for ravaging the rest of the world through colonialism and slavery. The fact that colonialism and slavery were features of Western societies before the “one hundred years of domination” seemed to be entirely lost on him.
The solution to the world’s problems, he declared, was to turn to God, a sentiment that tens of millions of Americans would agree with in the broadest of terms. But of course when Ahmadinejad speaks of God, he’s really referring to the only acceptable version of the Deity that Islam tolerates. He parroted the Qur’an’s assertion that the people who refuse to accept the God of Muhammad deny the most obvious of truths because of selfishness and greed. Every prophet was confronted by similar unbelievers, were they not? Moses had Pharaoh and Jesus had the Pharisees. What’s the analogous group when it comes to Muhammad? Well, that would be us: we stubborn, egotistical Westerners who can’t bring ourselves to understand that God appointed a succession of prophets and that it is our duty to keep up with the program.
He asked the UN to proclaim 2011 the year of nuclear disarmament, and even helpfully provided a slogan: “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none.” The first half of that couplet has a certain attraction, especially in the third world countries desperate for cheap power. But, it makes no sense in a nation like Iran, where the billions that Ahmadinejad has invested in his nuclear program could have provided so much cheap power if it were used to turn its vast oil supplies into domestic electricity and gas. The Iranian president is as comfortable with the Big Lie as any Democrat and he repeated it once again: his nation has no interest in building nuclear weapons. The sanctions that the UN has imposed as a result of his nuclear ambitions clearly chafed however, no matter how ineffective those measures have been. Ahmadinejad chided the UN for maintaining its five nation security council and mused about how much more effective the body would be if only Iran had veto power too.
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