In the Shadow of Ahmadinejad's Hotel
"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.
Ahmadinejad himself, I was told -- caution, once again, I have no idea if this is accurate -- has plush quarters, but sleeps in the bathtub, surrounded by sandbags. Is that simply a joke among those tasked with ensuring the safety of this messianic tyrant? Or is it the truth? It's a strange vision, but less strange than a lot of the established facts.
The UN General Assembly opening is a weird scene at the best of times, a mix of political theater, gridlock, pomp, flags, and here and there the reports of dictators paying their six-figure bills with bagfuls of cash.
These are not at all the best of times. In midtown Manhattan, Iran's messianic and genocidally inclined head of state is tucked up --whether in bed or in the bathtub -- in his heavily guarded hotel. Courtesy of UN scheduling, he has just been showcased on the UN stage on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, scheduled to speak a day later, faces a UN gang that relentlessly seeks to marginalize and delegitimize Israel. What he needs is a clear show from the U.S. president that America really does have his back. But America's president doesn't even have time for a face-to-face. He's out of here. His main sit-down in New York consisted of campaigning as "eye candy" while bringing a picnic basket of White House napkins and beer to Barbara Walters on The View.
Where is this all going? Usually I like strolling down Sixth Avenue on a warm evening in early autumn. Wednesday night, when I left the area of the Warwick Hotel, I was full of unease. I had the sense of looking in on an unnerving sliver of history -- a UN gathering where the most memorable act of America's president was to hand out White House gift souvenirs on daytime TV, while Iran's messenger dispensed threats from the heart of Manhattan. It feels like a time of growing shadows. Churchill had a phrase for it: the gathering storm.
Image and thumbnail made courtesy image from Shutterstock / Andrey Armyagov