Oh how Mahmoud loves that UN stage. And four sets of binding UN sanctions on Iran since 2006 are no bar to the UN podium. Right now, for the sixth time in six years, Iran’s Bloviator-in-Chief, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is attending the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He’s scheduled to speak Tuesday at the UN’s conference on central planning for the planet, a.k.a., the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. He’s also due to speak Thursday afternoon, among the lineup of heads of state on the first day of this year’s General Assembly debate (which isn’t so much a debate as a parade of potentates, strutting the stage).
But that doesn’t begin to convey Ahmadinejad’s zeal for UN speaking platforms. When he finishes his double whammy UN performance this week, he will have racked up seven speeches from UN stages over the past two years alone. Along with his General Assembly speeches of 2008 and 2009, that would include his histrionics on the UN stage in Geneva (the April 2009 Durban Review bigots’ conference on bigotry); his trip to the UN stage in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009, Climate Debauch); and his appearance at the UN’s New York headquarters earlier this year (May 2010, Nuclear Nonproliferation review). And of course in June 2008, making his first trip to Western Europe, he made use of the stage at a UN Food Summit in Rome to launch one of his trademark attacks against Jews.
Each of these visits tends to be quite a production — replete with TV interviews, press conferences, receptions, dinners with select diplomats and journalists, and an entourage of many dozens, shacked up with massive security in a five-star hotel — this week, at the Hilton.
Early in this game, in 2006, when Ahmadinejad was making his second trip to the General Assembly’s annual opening in New York, there were various suggestions for how to handle it. Some said, arrest him. Some said, expel him. My view was that the best compromise would have been to simply move the UN — lock, stock and perorating Ahmadinejad — to Iran. Let the Iranian government pick up the tab, save American taxpayers billions in the process, and Ahmadinejad could declaim there daily, to his heart’s content.
Obviously that’s not going to happen. The UN isn’t going anywhere, especially with U.S. taxpayers now picking up the lion’s share of the tab for the UN’s current $2 billion-plus renovation. But maybe there’s another way to address Ahmadinejad’s evident affinity for the place. Don’t let him leave. Keep him at the UN. Just keep him there, year round.
Surely Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon can find Ahmadinejad a UN sinecure — preferably one he can’t refuse. Perhaps the UN could build him his own special stage, and put him on display, daily, as one of the talking exhibits featured in the UN Guided Tours — “Early 21st Century Messianic Despot: Discovered Intact at the Hilton Hotel, 2010.” It might bore the visiting schoolkids silly. But think of the endless interview opportunities for CNN, ABC, and MSNBC! If Ahmadinejad insists on becoming a fixture of the UN stage, well, the least we can do is extend a helping hand. I’d wager a lot of Iranians back home would be delighted with the new setup.