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Monthly Archives: September 2012

In the Shadow of Ahmadinejad’s Hotel

September 27th, 2012 - 1:48 am

“A new world order” is what some news accounts say Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been calling for during his current visit to the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. But let’s not confuse that with the kind of new world order that policy wonks like to discuss at Washington roundtables. Ahmadinejad is talking about a messianic new world order, quantum leaps removed from normal human experience, and distilled from utopian toxins similar to those that in the 20th century brought us, at staggering human cost, the Soviet Union’s “radiant future.”

Following his remarks earlier in the week that Israel will be “eliminated,” Ahmadinejad delivered a speech Wednesday morning to the United Nations General Assembly in which he put us all on notice, yet again, that what he’s after is — as he defines it — the perfection of man. He went into some detail on how his audience could work with Iran to hasten the arrival of an era of “justice, love and empathy” in which “hearts will be filled with love and thoughts will be purified to be at the service of security, welfare and happiness for all.”

Unfortunately, these are not the ravings of a solo fool. Ahmadinejad comes to the UN as the voice of the Tehran regime. In the event that anyone might dissent from that regime’s agenda for love, purity, and the elimination of Israel, Iran runs terror networks around the world, and for a bit of backup is constructing a handy nuclear arsenal. That’s why Iran is under UN and U.S. sanctions — none of which have stopped Iran’s nuclear program, ended its atrocities at home, shut down its terrorist dealings abroad, or even prevented Ahmadinejad and his massive entourage from visiting Manhattan. It is evidently no bar to Ahmadinejad’s visiting, that just a year ago U.S. authorities uncovered an alleged plot, conceived and funded, as the State Department puts it, by “elements of the Iranian regime,” to bomb the Saudi ambassador in Washington. Nor was there any move by U.S. authorities to kick out Ahmadinejad posthaste, when he was asked by reporters earlier this week if Iran had formally lifted its 1980s religious decree calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie, and — as reported by the Wall Street Journal — Ahmadinejad gave the menacing reply: “Is he in the U.S.? You shouldn’t broadcast this for his own safety.”

With all that in mind, being in Manhattan myself at the moment, I took a stroll Wednesday evening to where Ahmadinejad is staying, in midtown, at the Warwick Hotel. U.S.-provided (and funded) security was tight when he stayed there last year. It is tighter now. In 2011, PJ Media’s Roger Simon and I were allowed to walk through the hotel lobby, and have a drink at the bar. This season, only hotel guests are allowed past the metal barriers and onto the premises.

Indeed, American authorities are providing far greater security for Ahmadinejad in Manhattan than it appears was provided for America’s own ambassador and diplomatic staff at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered on Sept. 11 in what the Obama administration is belatedly admitting was a terrorist attack.

The full extent of Ahmadinejad’s U.S.-provided security is almost certainly not all visible from the street. But late Wednesday evening, with relatively few people out and about, what you could see, simply by walking past the hotel, were at least 25 uniformed New York City cops, 10 more security officers including Secret Service, 18 police vehicles, plus concrete barriers, metal barriers, floodlights, and a metal detector set up outside the hotel’s front door.

There wasn’t much going on when I went by, and some of those familiar with the scene inside the hotel, whom I shall leave nameless, were glad to chat. I heard a few details which I have not confirmed — so take this is as merely the sort of unconfirmed talk that one might overhear by hanging around a security barrier. The scuttlebutt is that the Iranian delegation, which is quite large, is paying something on the order of $75,000 per day for the digs, and this is an entourage that likes to shop. They keep coming back to the hotel loaded down with shopping bags. One of them, perhaps a presidential bodyguard, has been loading up on protein supplements.

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The United Nations In a Snapshot

September 25th, 2012 - 10:24 pm

Just how anti-American is the United Nations? Huge issues abound, but sometimes it’s most easily summed up by the details. For instance, as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struts the stage this week at the UN General Assembly’s annual opening in New York, the web site of the General Assembly is featuring a rotating display of photos, showing familiar scenes at the UN. Among them is a photo of the General Assembly voting board — the photo you see copied below. It shows the upper portion of the board, on which a vote has just been tallied; green for yes and red for no. If you look a little closer, you’ll notice that the vote is a staggering 187 in favor, two against, with three abstaining. Almost anytime you see that kind of configuration at the UN — an overwhelming number voting one way, and one or two voting the other —  it’s a good bet that one of those two is the United States. The other is probably Israel.

What was the General Assembly voting on? The caption doesn’t say. But I think it’s a very good guess that this photo shows the tally for the Oct., 2010 UN vote calling for an end to the U.S. embargo on Cuba, in which the U.S. and Israel were the only two voting against. Does the UN General Assembly devote similar fervor to addressing the continuing human rights violations on Cuba, or Cuba’s long practice of making common cause with some of the worst dictatorships on the planet? No way. Cuba is one of the UN General Assembly’s favorite mascots, with a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and a chronically out-sized role on assorted UN governing boards. No matter what your opinion about the U.S. embargo on Cuba, the fact is, when the officialdom of the current General Assembly went looking for a handful of photos to illustrate the GA web site, what emerged was a snapshot that for almost any UN insider would serve as an instant reminder of just how inconsequential America’s vote has become in the General Assembly — the General Assembly that routinely votes the other way, while raking in 22% of its budget courtesy of American taxpayers.

When Iran’s pro-genocide president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attends the United Nations General Assembly annual opening in New York this coming week, how many Iranian officials will he bring in his entourage?

Far too many, if the numbers reported today by Iran’s Fars News Agency are to be believed. As Fars describes it, the U.S. has denied entry visas to 20 Iranian officials, but that’s out of “the 160 people for whom the Iranian government had demanded entry visas two months ago.”

Let’s do the math: 160 visas demanded, minus 20 denied = a whopping total of 140 visas issued for the Ahmadinejad delegation to the UN General Assembly.

That would be 140 visas allowing entry for officials and affiliates of a regime under UN and U.S. sanctions — a nuclear-bomb-seeking regime implicated just last fall in an alleged terror plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. by bombing a restaurant in Washington, D.C.; a regime whose terror-based rule, networks and ambitions violate the UN’s own charter and threaten America and America’s allies.

That’s 140 visas for a regime that continues to dodge sanctions with shifting, globe-girdling networks of front companies and illicit procurement operations for its missile and nuclear programs. Presumably, U.S. authorities — at considerable expense to U.S. taxpayers — will not only protect Ahmadinejad and his retinue while they are in New York, but also keep an eye on the doings of members of this massive Tehran roadshow, while they enjoy the amenities of Manhattan. But U.S. officialdom didn’t manage to prevent Ahmadinejad himself from recruiting the services of an Iranian-American sanctions violator, Ali Amirnazmi, during one of his previous trips to UN headquarters in New York. Instead, U.S. taxpayers got to foot the bill, rather later, for prosecuting this fellow, once law enforcement eventually caught up with him.

For the U.S. State Department, it is apparently routine to issue scores of U.S. visas for Iran’s massive delegations.  In 2010, when Ahmadinejad made an extra trip to the UN in New York, to attend a summit on nonproliferation (no, I’m not kidding), the U.S. State Department apparently issued 80 visas for that delegation – a number that became public because Iran had apparently requested a total of 81 visas, and when State denied just one of them, Iran wrote to the UN to complain about the lone denial. For State, it’s business as usual to admit scores of Iranian officials to New York every time they fancy a visit to a UN summit. As for New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he’s on record as shrugging off these huge Iranian delegations as distasteful, but an unavoidable part of hosting the UN, which he regards as a boon to New York City’s economy. (Surely New York could more profitably put its resources into welcoming tax-paying honest commerce, rather than gloating Iranian envoys?)

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Rice on Libya: Obfuscating From Behind

September 17th, 2012 - 2:11 am

With an American ambassador murdered abroad for the first time since 1979, it was clear that someone from the Obama administration had to show up on the Sunday TV talk shows to field questions about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But of all the many officials to whom the White House might have assigned the job, why on earth did that special someone turn out to be Ambassador Susan Rice?

Rice is the U.S. envoy to the United Nations in New York, not to anyplace in North Africa or the Middle East. Although President Obama has given Rice the rank of cabinet member, she has no direct responsibility for diplomatic posts in Libya, or State Department security abroad, or investigations into terrorism. America’s murdered ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, reported to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not to Rice. Yet, on Sunday, it was Susan Rice who emerged as the administration’s ubiquitous expert on the Sept. 11 terrorist assault in Benghazi. With dizzying omnipresence, she turned up on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN (maybe there were a few more that I’ve missed, but you get the idea).

Not that Rice called it a terrorist assault. Her omnipresent talking point was that the assault in Benghazi was “spontaneous,” that according to “our current best assessment” it materialized as an ad hoc copycat version of the embassy storming earlier that day in Cairo, all in reaction to the “hateful video.” As she told it to NBC, the armed assault that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans was simply what happened, spontaneously, when the spontaneous demonstration in Benghazi got hijacked by “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters.” Or, as she explained it to CBS, ad hoc events spontaneously turned deadly when “extremist elements” took advantage of the heavy weapons that are “unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution.”

OK, this is clearly the official administration line, in which the blanket description “spontaneous”  – akin, almost, to some sort of natural disaster? — becomes the catch-all for deflecting responsibility for any failures of administration policy or practice. The president of Libya, Mohamed Al-Magarief, may disagree, as he has — calling the attack “preplanned” and saying “I think this was al Qaeda” — but for official U.S. purposes it is now Rice’s vague summation of “spontaneity” that has been thrown like a veil over the horror in Benghazi. Who were the “mobsters”? Do they habitually carry around rocket-propelled grenades in case they run across a spontaneous demonstration? For now, and quite likely for some time to come, U.S. officials can deflect questions about the specifics, on grounds that there’s an FBI investigation going on.

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Guess Whose Ships Have Been Calling at Libya?

September 14th, 2012 - 9:05 pm

No, this is not a conspiracy theory. It’s merely an observation, and a warning. There’s trouble enough in Libya right now, without the added presence in Libya’s ports of ships from Iran.

But that’s part of the current scene. Among the regular visitors to Libya these days are a number of Iranian cargo ships, blacklisted by the U.S., and linked through a web of front companies to Iran’s state merchant fleet , the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL. Since 2008, IRISL has been under U.S. sanctions, for its role in helping Iran’s military with such stuff as illicit procurement for Iran’s ballistic missile program.

This is not to suggest that Iran, or its shipping traffic, is in some way connected to the horrific Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi. We simply don’t yet know who was behind that. But given the record of Iran’s regime as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, its hegemonic plans, and its taste for killing Americans and friends of America, it should stir a certain unease that Iranian ships are calling at Libyan ports. Such as the Parmis, an Iranian container ship that put in to Benghazi on August 30. More in my article on Forbes: “About Those Blacklisted Iranian Ships Calling at Libyan Ports…”


Canada’s Extremely Worthwhile Iran Initiative

September 7th, 2012 - 11:34 am

Among journalists, there’s an old joke:

What’s the world’s most boring headline?

“Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.”

Except, never mind the old jokes, Canada’s foreign policy initiatives are getting awfully interesting these days — and in a good way. Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird just announced that Canada is closing its embassy in Tehran and kicking Iran’s diplomats out of Canada. Why? Because, explained Baird, “Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.”

Among Canada’s reasons:

The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide; it is among the world’s worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups, requiring the Government of Canada to formally list Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

The Canadian government says that all Canadian diplomatic staff have already left Iran, and all Iranian diplomats in Ottawa have been told to clear out within five days.

What a bracing contrast to the recent gathering in Tehran of the 120-member erstwhile Non-Aligned Movement, headlined by the attendance of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and more than two dozen heads of state.

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Clint Eastwood’s Finest Hour

September 1st, 2012 - 1:07 am

Lucky for Clint Eastwood that he has a sense of humor. He’ll need it, if he tries to wade through some of the zanier criticism inspired by his appearance at the Republican National Convention. From the left, he’s being mocked as rambling, strange, and obsessed with empty chairs. The L.A. Times is wondering “Did Clint Eastwood tarnish his film legacy?” Among folks not otherwise dedicated to supporting Mitt Romney, Eastwood also seems to have aroused a lot of oddly charitable concern, that he distracted attention from the candidate, or detracted from the seriousness of the occasion, or wasted valuable Republican airtime.

So far, I’d say the standout bizarre critique is a New York Times piece by a professor of medical ethics, Jonathan Moreno, on “What the Chair Could Have Told Clint.” Moreno begins by claiming that Eastwood, in interviewing an empty chair as a stand-in for President Obama, was appropriating a psychotherapeutic technique developed by Moreno’s psychiatrist father, about a century ago. Moreno goes on to suggest that Eastwood, instead of lampooning the absent president, should have put himself in the chair, and tried to see things from Obama’s point of view. By not doing that, writes Moreno, “Mr. Eastwood wasted an important educational and therapeutic moment from which our deadlocked political system could benefit; putting himself in the role of the other person of whom he is critical and coming to understand that person’s point of view ‘from inside.’”

We can now entertain ourselves by imagining what Dirty Harry would say to that.

Which brings me to the main point. Clint Eastwood has built a film career in which the most iconic moments — those for which he is most often invoked, and acclaimed — involve a character who takes a beating for doing what he sees as the right thing, from Dirty Harry to Gran Torino‘s Walt Kowalski. When Dirty Harry defies the craven officials of City Hall to chase down a killer — “Do ya feel lucky?” — a lot of us cheer him on because with all his gritty, in-your-face unorthodox ways he appeals to something basic in the human instinct for justice. Likewise, when he points that gun and says “Make my day.”

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