It is by now a scene so familiar it’s become routine. At your expense, dear taxpayers of the planet — and especially at the expense of all you colonialist, imperialist, capitalist taxpayers of the United States — the United Nations holds a huge gathering. Eminences and excellencies jet in from around the globe, and as they parade across the stage to make their statements, among those invited to the podium is Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Since his “election” in 2005, Ahmadinejad has appeared seven times at the annual openings of the General Assembly debates in New York, and will presumably pop up for an eighth roadshow in Manhattan, courtesy of the UN, this September. He has spoken at a 2008 conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization, in Rome; at a 2010 nonproliferation summit in New York; and of course in 2009 he was a star speaker at the Durban II bigoted conference on anti-bigotry, in Geneva.
And this week, when some 50,000 eminences, professional climate junketeers and other worthies carbon-emitted their way to Brazil for the UN’s Rio+20 conference on “Sustainable Development,” there came, of course, that Ahmadinejad moment. Eighteen minutes and 16 seconds of Ahmadinejad, actually — you can watch it on video here – in which UN authorities announced the “honor” of inviting “his excellency” to take the podium. The current leaders of the Free World — those would be the Canadian delegates — walk out. Maybe some others do, too. Still in the room is an audience that will applaud at the end of Ahmadinejad’s speech, and a presiding UN official who will thank him for it. Ahmadinejad ascends the stage, and with a multilateral backdrop of flags, before a lectern decked out with the UN logo, he preens himself in the world spotlight. Webcast to the world, he addresses the chamber.
That’s the UN. That’s how it works. Never mind that Iran’s government, in mocking violation of sanctions imposed by the UN’s own Security Council, is enroute to producing nuclear weapons. Never mind that Iran’s regime, represented here by Ahmadinejad, sponsors terror networks around the globe, tortures and murders dissidents at home, and has led the modern world in juvenile executions. Never mind that Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe the nation of Israel off the map. At the UN, all excellencies, however unexcellent, are invited to enjoy the prestige of the podium.
Does it matter? Does this routine really do any harm?
Yes, it matters. Ahmadinejad’s speech itself will surely be of interest to specialists, who may find plenty to parse in the exact phrasing of his messianic pronouncements on the coming of a new world order : “The international order must be redesigned to serve both material and spiritual needs of humankind….That day is coming… permanent peace and love… monotheism, justice and love… .”
To me, he sounds like he’s taken his cues from the fictitious General Jack D. Ripper, the deranged author of nuclear apocalypse in Dr. Strangelove. Except this is no Hollywood film. This guy speaks as the face of a nuclear-wannabe regime that has collaborated with al-Qaeda, and whose terror mascots and storm troopers have been in the atrocity business for decades, from Beirut to Buenos Aires to Damascus.