He’s finally left New York, but not before a final round of grandstanding — hosting a media dinner at New York’s upmarket Barclay Intercontinental and holding a three-hour meeting with religious leaders at the UN Church. During the past four days in Manhattan, Ahmadinejad has enjoyed a publicity tour to die for. And dying is exactly what Americans have been doing at the hands of Iran’s regime, from the 1983 bombings of the U.S. marine barracks and embassy in Beirut, to the Iranian-backed terrorist attacks on our troops in Iraq.
Today, one of my colleagues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Walid Phares, sent around a note pointing out that the rewrite crews at the Iranian state news agencies have gone to work — as expected — revising the realities of Ahmadinejad’s exchanges in all these splendid New York venues. Walid points out that in the story about his Columbia speech by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, the critical introduction by Lee Bollinger has been — snip — cut right out. What’s left is an account of his reception, to a standing ovation, Iran is a peace-loving nation, more applause, etc, etc.
Walid concludes, and right he is, that in Iran all this “will help the authoritarians to accentuate the oppression of the civil society.”
It’s a good bet that was always the main point of this roadshow, though clearly Ahmadinejad also enjoyed the chance to gloat on camera.
And in the end, why all the attention? There are just two things that set him apart from the queue of dictatorial thugs and their envoys now rotating through their annual turns on the UN stage. He personifies a regime which since its inception has systematically used terrorism as a tool of state policy; and that same regime is making nuclear weapons. Apart from that, he’d be just a grinning creep in a zip-front jacket (Yep, it’s time to start worrying that after this year’s Ahmadinnerjacket Show, the guy competing for next year’s spot at the Columbia World Leaders Forum will be … Kim Jong-Il).