Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's Going On Here?

[Ahmadinejad at the UN]

from today's New York Times -

UNITED NATIONS — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran made a series of incendiary remarks in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, notably the claim that the United States orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks to rescue its declining economy, to reassert its weakening grip on the Middle East and to save Israel.

Those comments prompted at least 33 delegations to walk out, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, all 27 members of the European Union and the union’s representative, diplomats said.
This kind of childish antics, and I am sorry to use such a tired image, is reminiscent of Hitler. It makes a show of defying and offending the West to no purpose but for the show itself. Had there been any remaining doubt that Iran cannot be permitted to have nuclear weapons that doubt was removed today.

That the United States, the European Union, and the Commonwealth countries were able to act in concert is a considerable accomplishment of both the Obama Administration and of the European Union leadership.

The Times' reporting is ambiguous in that it said "at least" 33 delegation walked out in protest. The EU delegation plus its 27 members makes 28. The US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Costa Rica are 5 more, making 33. How many more walked out? Any? The reporter doesn't say.

Also today, according to to Washington Post the President gave a lengthy interview to BBC Iran in which he said,
He added that the Islamic republic has "a right to peaceful nuclear programs and peaceful nuclear power."
It is not clear how these positions are reconcilable. If Ahmadinejad is someone so irresponsible that all the responsible adult countries of the world walk out on him, how does his government have a right to nuclear programs even with the fig leaf of pretending they are peacefully intended?

The only explanation I can think of is that the BBC Iran interview was an attempt to negotiate directly with the Iranian people without the intermediation of the Iranian government. Or that there is a split within the Administration. With one side taking a hard line and organizing mass walkouts on Ahmadinejad, and another wanting to, as the President said, "to engage" with Iran.

Or perhaps there is no split, but rather two different approaches - tough with Ahmadinejad and his buffoon regime and accommodating with the Iranian people collectively. Actually that makes more sense. Real splits in the cabinet take place only with personally feeble or detached Presidents like Reagan in his second term. Obama is young, vigorous, and apparently fully in charge. When the president is in charge of his cabinet, splits are resolved by the losing parties suddenly being seized by a tremendous desire to spend more time with their families back in Massachusetts, as just happened to departing Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers.

Strangely the Times does not mention the interview with BBC Iran and the Post does not mention the UN walkout. Very confusing.

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