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Columbia U. Dean Invites Ahmadinejad to Speak:

He accepted the invitation, but the talk isn't going through, for what appears to be some combination of security concerns and concerns over bad publicity for Columbia.

Who in a position of authority at Columbia would daft enough to invite Holocaust denier/genocidal maniac/most notorious and powerful anti-Semite of the current age/etc. Ahmadinejad (who, by the way, I saw on t.v. claiming today claiming that the 35,000 people who protested his speech at the U.N. were actually one hundred paid Zionist stooges) to speak? Lisa Anderson, dean of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.

Where have a I heard Prof. Anderson's name before? Ah, yes. Columbia President Lee Bollinger invited her to serve on a committee whose purpose was to whitewash investigate charges that some of Columbia's Middle Eastern Studies professors (including, according to this article, at least one of her own former students) had engaged in unfair treatment of Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel students.

Res ipsa loquitur.

P.S. I'd like to believe it was just a coincidence that Ahmadinejad's speech was originally scheduled for tomorrow, with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah starting early that evening, thus making it impossible for a large percentage of Jewish students who would be going home for the holiday or otherwise preparing for it to protest.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Columbia and Ahmedinejad:
  2. Columbia U. Dean Invites Ahmadinejad to Speak:
BobN (mail):
In one of his interviews, Ahmadinejad implied (or outright said, I don't remember) that he has met and spoken with many Americans who share his skepticism about the Holocaust. Don't you think it would have been useful for him to face an auditorium of folks who think he's full of *hit on that particular point (among others)?
9.21.2006 4:26pm
Meryl Yourish (www):
It's no wonder Ahmadinejad was downplaying the protest, David.

The mainstream media has effectively ignored it completely. None of the major media outlets covered it. At all.

Not. One.

35,000 people protested Ahmadinejad's policies, and the mainstream media never thought it worth mentioning.
9.21.2006 4:56pm
DummydaDhimmi:
If we were in the 1930s, and if there had been a U.N. in New York at that time, and if Hitler had visited the U.N., he would have been deluged with speaking invitations.
9.21.2006 5:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
At least one the former victims from the Iran hostage crisis identifies Ahmadinejad as one of his captors. What are the pros and cons of arresting Ahmadinejad while he is on US soil? Not doubt he enjoys a UN diplomatic status while he is visiting the US, but should we let that stop us? For one thing Iran does not feel it needs to conform to international norms regarding diplomatic status. This does not seem to bother countries like France, Germany, Russia and China who continue with trade and aid to Iran. While these countries would protest our arrest of Ahmadinejad—so what. What are they going to do about it? It would also cause a crisis for the US in the United Nations, but again so what? It should be painfully clear by now that the UN is useless except as a forum to bash the US and Israel. Does any one really take the UN seriously any more? This might be a good opportunity for the US to withdraw from the UN and let it collapse. I know the usual refrain is "we can't stoop to their level." I submit this is a losing strategy, and does nothing but communicate weakness.

Now Iran would consider it an act of war. Of course it was an act of war to storm the US embassy in Iran and take the personnel captive. Would they do any more than we did, which was nothing?

At a minimum, we should limit Ahmadinejad's movements within New York City, say to the UN and his hotel. There is something unseemly about avowed enemies of the US running around New York trying to score propaganda points. Limiting his movements or even arresting him sends a message that the kissing has to stop. It should stop now.
9.21.2006 5:04pm
Justin (mail):
Genocidal maniac? Does someone want to fill me in on when Ahmadinejad committed genocide?

I think this is unfortunate. One certainly does not have to agree with Ahmandinejad to feel that his viewpoints are useful and interesting to learn. Ignorance of potential enemies in the name of Bernstein's scary theory of political correctness is a rather stupid policy.
9.21.2006 5:53pm
volokh groupie:
In the case of ahmadinejad however there may be some dispute as to whether he is merely a political enemy or something worse. His calls for the destruction of israel and a world without the US certainly seem to suggest that. However, considering columbia has had as its president juan cole and awarded doctorates to ted rall and some even further left it seems as though that would be a tenuous argument.

I want to weigh in on Prof. Anderson--she was khalidi's thesis advisor and had an almost embarrasingly deferntial speech and question and answer session with qaddafi last year. However, to be fair, she is in charge of the world leaders forum and has invited prominent leaders regardless of political views--as her invites of talabani, musharraf and chavez amongst others last year showed. I think she likely just thought that having ahmadinejad speak at columbia would be a great thing from an academic and 'intellectual' perspective while maybe forgetting some of problems that would come with inviting such a hateful viewpoint
9.21.2006 6:09pm
Peter Wimsey:
What are the pros and cons of arresting Ahmadinejad while he is on US soil?


I would answer the question, but I can't think of any pros.
9.21.2006 6:18pm
Rob42 (mail):
"Who in a position of authority at Columbia would [be] daft enough to invite Holocaust denier..."

As a former Columbia student, I feel confident in answering "the entire administration."
9.21.2006 6:27pm
orson23 (mail):
I'm "defferential" enough to want nothing ever to do with Columbia
University, as a graduate student.

A predictable embarrasment to American higher education. It ought to be marginalized.

That no such campaign has yet emerged against Columbia speaks volumes about academic intellectual corruption.
9.21.2006 6:49pm
Revonna LaShatze:
I'd like to believe it was just a coincidence that Ahmadinejad's speech was originally scheduled for tomorrow, with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah starting early

Oh good heavens. The man is in town this weekend. They didn't time the UN meeting to coincide with your religious holiday.

I suspect Ahmadinejad has proven far less easy to pigeonhole as a "monster madman" and therefore it would be easier to silence him-- or accuse him of genocide, rather than listen to him and keep the door open for dialogue.

"Asked about his threat to wipe Israel off the map, he argued that his criticism of Israel had been misinterpreted as a rejection of Jews. "These Zionists are not Jews — this is the biggest deception we have faced," he said. "They are a power group, a power party. We oppose any group that seeks raw power."

"We announce and declare loudly that you will be condemned by the rest of the world if you displace people from their homes."
...
"When you look at the Security Council, we see that some members of the council are, in fact, party to many conflicts around the world," Mr. Ahmadinejad said. Though those countries created the problems, he said, under current arrangements "they nevertheless sit in judgment of world affairs."
---------
That's the real danger. That he can come across as an intelligent man, unlike Chavez, with legitimate concerns.
9.21.2006 7:04pm
ehd68:

"Who in a position of authority at Columbia would [be] daft enough to invite Holocaust denier..."

As a former Columbia student, I feel confident in answering "the entire administration."


To be fair, Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who was not aware of Ahmadinejad's invitation until after the fact, responded well to the situation, saying, "I happen to find many of President Ahmadinejad's stated beliefs to be repugnant, a view that I'm sure is widely shared within our university community."

Perhaps Bollinger's view is not widely shared throughout Columbia, but he deserves credit for standing up and denouncing Ahmadinejad's rhetoric.
9.21.2006 7:16pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"One certainly does not have to agree with Ahmandinejad to feel that his viewpoints are useful and interesting to learn."

Well, it certainly depends on how its done. He tends to make very propagandistic speeches, they are easily found in print or on tape, the only reason to invite someone who is going to spew propaganda is if you'll throw true hardball questions. The problem with Columbia and other universities inviting these kind of leaders is that they don't.
9.21.2006 7:26pm
SeaLawyer:

Genocidal maniac? Does someone want to fill me in on when Ahmadinejad committed genocide?

Justin,
The only reason he hasn't tried to wipe out the Jews yet is becuase he doesn't have the power to do so yet. Of course you can stick your head back in sand and pretend that Ahmadinejad is a good guy.
9.21.2006 7:28pm
NeoConTheoConRightReactionaryZionist (mail):
In a way, it's like watching a road runner cartoon. Ahmadinejad plays the American media and gulls them over and over and over again. I've heard it said that there is a sucker born every minute. My corollary is that most of them in the media.

This iranian is the most dangerous man in the world. He is a religious fanatic but knows how to appeal to the American left and play to their prejudices.
9.21.2006 7:30pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The guy is a head of government of a rather important nation, fer cryin' out loud. It doesn't matter if he tortures kittens &posts the video on the web---his opinions are newsworthy.

And whatever happened to showing the bad guys our great institutions? As the commenter upthread noted, A. might do well to see an auditorium full of smart, polite people who think he's full of it.
9.21.2006 8:00pm
An Anonymous Coward (mail):
"Oh good heavens. The man is in town this weekend. They didn't time the UN meeting to coincide with your religious holiday."

Is this because you think these people are dumb and that the way things are planned are not very very carefully choreographed? Sheesh.

Justin - dude - you scare me.

"I think this is unfortunate. One certainly does not have to agree with Ahmandinejad to feel that his viewpoints are useful and interesting to learn. Ignorance of potential enemies in the name of Bernstein's scary theory of political correctness is a rather stupid policy."

In the real world, we "learn" to fish or cut bait. Do you understand the difference? Can you make that call? Your apparent lack of spine suggests "no" is the appropriate response to both.
9.21.2006 8:06pm
Mark Field (mail):
Posted by "An Anonymous Coward":


In the real world, we "learn" to fish or cut bait. Do you understand the difference? Can you make that call? Your apparent lack of spine suggests "no" is the appropriate response to both.


Someone please tell me this is irony.
9.21.2006 8:14pm
jim:
I must express genuine puzzlement at Professor Bernstein's views about the way we should respond to Ahmadinejad. In an earlier post he seems to criticize journalist Mike Wallace for being willing to interview the Iranian president, and especially for pointing out some of his 'positive' qualities. Here he seems to say that Ahmadinejad should not have been invited to speak at Columbia.

On both accounts, Bernstein offers as justification for his position the fact that the Iranian president is a holocaust denier and probably an anti-Semite. I will grant that Ahmadinejad is a dangerous, hateful and perhaps insane man with views that are both counterfactual and morally repugnant. Still, I do not see how that supports the conclusion that we should not be interested in him. If anything, I am more curious about Ahmadinejad, knowing that he holds both power and an irrational worldview. I should think that since Bernstein takes an interest in world politics that he would share that curiosity.

And yet, he blanches to hear Mike Wallace describe that the Iranian leader is self-assured, smart and charismatic, saying that such a statement isn't "balanced." I fail to understand this response. That Ahmadinejad is an insane anti-Semite isn't news to most people; that he is intelligent and charming is news, and surprising news at that. Wallace's statement isn't biases toward anything but being informative. It seems as if Bernstein is upset because the obvious has not been stated.

Similarly I should think Bernstein would understand why people would be interested in hearing Ahmadinejad speak. I don't feel that the Iranian president has any right to speak his hate, but he should be allowed to do so because it serves our interests. As a libertarian, I fundamentally feel that the marketplace of ideas works — thus there is no real risk that allowing Ahmadinejad to speak will cause his hateful ideas to be successful. With such small risks from letting him speak, the benefits that come from learning about one of the most important world political actors seem to outweigh the consequences.

I wonder, does Professor Bernstein refute the idea that the marketplace of ideas works? Does he feel that people must be told that Ahmadinejad is evil, because they cannot arrive at that conclusion independently? Does he believe that laws preventing people from denying the holocaust would be an effective solution? These positions seem unlikely from someone with Bernstein's background, but appear to be the implication of his statements.

Or alternately, does Bernstein believe that the actions of Wallace, Columbia, etc. somehow endorse or support Ahmadinejad's views? If so, I fail to see the reasoning behind this. Universities often invite, and their students often attend, a variety of different speakers without being seen as endorsing the views of those speakers. All that is communicated by inviting someone to speak is that the speaker or his message is somehow socially relevant. Unarguably, it is socially relevant if the president of an aspiring nuclear nation is a raging anti-Semite. It is even more so the case that journalists are not seen as advocating the views of those they report on.

In short, I ask, does Mr. Bernstein believe we should deprive ourselves of important information out of some sense that it is more important to sit in judgment than to look after our own interests?
9.21.2006 9:11pm
liberty (mail) (www):
jim, you say "It seems as if Bernstein is upset because the obvious has not been stated."

I agree. The "obvious" in this case and similar cases in the past, must be stated or it is often not understood. Do you know much about the reception that communist leaders have received in America or that NAZIsm received back in the 1930s? Often the media (and academia) when discussing those world leaders forgot to point out the "obvious" and instead stressed the intelligence and charisma of those leaders and pointed out their obvious good intentions and wit and correctness in certain of their positions (such as the evils of the market or the promise of eugenics). Looking back, it is shocking and embarrassing that these leaders received the reception that they did - we cannot imagine treating them as warmly and speaking as well of such evil leaders. Surely today our media would not paint a glowing picture of someone like Stalin. We would not speak of the promise of fascism on college campuses. Right?

Often, after some of the evils of communism would come out these same media (and academic figures) would explain that they did not need to mention some of these "knowns" and would instead let these intelligent and important leaders speak for themselves, and stress some of what is "not known" such as their charisma and wit and importance.

But this wise focus on these "unknown" characteristics did not help lead America toward recognizing their danger, in fact that media led us to disengage in the Vietnam War and at other times and tended to convince America that these leaders were not dangerous, but rather America was the danger and the market was the danger and government was the answer.


"Or alternately, does Bernstein believe that the actions of Wallace, Columbia, etc. somehow endorse or support Ahmadinejad's views? If so, I fail to see the reasoning behind this."

How about the fact that they do not ask tough questions of these leaders? The fact that they often speak out against the US government but never against the governments that these leaders represent? Carefully consider whether their actions and words do not support the contention that they do endorse the views of their guests.
9.21.2006 10:58pm
Justin (mail):
SeaLawyer,

I'm not sure that your prediction is entirely correct. I'm also not sure that someone who, theoretically (instead of just saying things because he's a politician with an antisemetic electorate) would love to see all the jews at the bottom of the sea, I still think describing him as a "genocidal maniac" is completely absurd if he's never committed nor attempted genocide.
9.21.2006 11:34pm
Justin (mail):
Ehd86,

U'm sure Columbia, a school with a 20+% Jewish population, a view towards homosexuality that would have Red America blush, and indeed while I was there an institution that would show pornography as a movie exhibit, has just a ton of people who can't find many of the things Ahmadinejan repugnant.

I mean, since I think going to war with Iran would be the most absurd thing (and having opposed the Iraq war as well), and believing that understanding the middle east is essential to peace in that region, I must be such an antisemite that when I go to the synagogue on Yom Kippur I will say the prayer of repentence with extra force on my chest, or perish for my wicked, antisemtic thoughts.
9.21.2006 11:40pm
hey (mail):
I see no downside to arresting Ahmadinejad. It's not like the Iranians could treat US diplomats any worse.

Ideally we would release him in Ramadi and let the Sunni guerillas deal with him. Round up Chavez et al as well, close down the UN and start vigorously applying US force as needed around the world. But then I wanted to reply to 9/11 with a heavy nuclear bombardment of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and major centers in Saudi Arabia.
9.22.2006 12:02am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Lee Bollinger talks a good game. As in "talks".
He was in charge of U-Mich during the begining of the arguments over affirmative action.
He and all his minions denied it was going on, looking right at people they had to know knew better, and lied.
When a prof named Carl Cohen used FOIA to force the U to admit what they'd been doing all along, Bollinger &Co. did what such institutions always do. They went from denying to insisting it's a heck of an idea without spending so much as a word of apology for lying most bodaciously and officially for years right in our eyes.

If Bollinger says something, it might be true, or it might not be true. There's no way to tell from the fact that he said it.
9.22.2006 12:28am
volokh groupie:
for what its worth the online poll on the columbia spectator site (the school's newspaper) which was likely largely voted upon by students has had about 80% of respondents say they didn't want ahmadinejad to come.
9.22.2006 1:03am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Justin, Ahmedinijad and his pals are busy wiping out the Bahai's in Iran.

I don't suppose that's strictly genocide, since Baha'1 is a voluntary religious association.

So he's a homocidal maniac. There, does that make you feel better?
9.22.2006 2:12am
jim:
liberty, thank you for your response. That does help me understand the position. If I may address some of your points:

I am aware that communist leaders visiting the United States were largely treated with warmth or indifference and that even at the time there were those who complained about this. I see this as supporting my point, however, because ultimately we won those battles. Communism and fascism have lost the war of ideologies permanently and now live only in that remote place were failed ideas go wither and die — academia. I believe that we won those battles not in spite of the fact that we let those bad ideas and their proponents speak for themselves, but because of it. If the public had truly been long deceived because we failed to state the obvious, I might agree with you, but that doesn't appear to me to be what happened.

As to Vietnam, I am not convinced that the media's failure to state communism's obvious flaws was the primary factor, or even a significant factor, in the decision to withdraw. I recognize, however, that your view is legitimate.

With regard to "tough questions" I again demur. I don't think that the tough questions are always the best ones. If the point is to draw out information, not to try to best the other man, then tough questions are only likely to be useful when you and the interviewee share enough common ground. Inevitably you ask the good guys the tough questions and you ask the insane guys which direction is up.
9.22.2006 2:16am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Revonna, I don't think Ahmedinijad is going to come across as very intelligent, but he has been smart enough to throw pixie dust in the eyes of such as you after his 'wipe Israel off the map' gaffe.

In fact, and despite the lies of such as Juan Cole, his remark about wiping Israel off the map was meant exactly and literally and is not just one rather loud-mouthed Iranian's hyperbole. It is the standard slogan of the student revolutionaries. In 'Nine Parts of Desire,' Geraldine Brooks quoted one of Ahmedinijad's revolutionary friends (a woman, as it happens) in almost exactly the same words.

That book was published in 1994, and so far as I can tell, no one ever objected that Brooks had misquoted her source or taken her remark out of context or twisted it.

The Iranians have made it as clear as Hitler made it -- they are out to murder all the Jews.

Just listen.
9.22.2006 2:49am
liberty (mail) (www):
jim,

I am glad you are so optimistic and believe that we have won the battle of ideas and that bad ideas go to academia to die. However, these ideas started in academia and have generally remained there, only coming out to help with revolutions and then often climbing right back in - even in places such as the USSR. Most of Marxism was lost on the peasants and workers of communist countries, the cliff notes version was banged into heads but still it was mere rhetoric not true ideas.

So, the ideas have always lived in academia and yet their rhetoric has influenced many movements and events at many times over the past 100 years. Just as the ideas of Adam Smith and Bastiat and Locke influenced our revolution and the writing of our constitution - were poured into the document - the ideas of Marx were poured into the revolution in 1917 and were poured into their constitutions, structure and laws. But was that the last time that this new academic trend toward socialism influenced a major event? No! The movement in academia from Smith toward Marx influenced every event of the 20th century and has hardly slowed in the 21st.

Pressure from protests - protests organized and funded by the leading proponents of the communist movement (the ideas of Marx) - was certainly a major factor in our withdrawl from Vietnam. You can argue that it was facts on the ground, the American people driven by the loss of life, and such that finally tipped us, but clearly many or most of our decisions in that war were influenced by politics which was hugely influenced by these ideas. Why did we not drive in harder and with more resolve? The American people did not see communism as a threat and would not support a full fledged war. Why did we not support and fund athe South Vietnam government more at the end, so that they could win against the North? Because congress had no pressure from the American people to keep their word, because the American people did not know why it was so important, because they did not think of communism as a threat.

As to your last point, this would make sense if the audience truly thought of this guy as insane. However, the ideas brewing in Academia largely describe America as a bad guy, the UN and other world institutions as the good guys and most other world leaders and "other" in a morally relative sense that equates their ideas, religions, "preferences" about human rights and so forth to ours. There is no absolute right and wrong, there are no basic human rights to life, liberty and property: this is not the age of Smith, Bastiat and Locke. This is still the historical materialist, morally relativist age of Nietzsche and Marx and Galbraith.

So, you do need to counter the insanity with a bit of good, simple hard questions - such as which way is up.
9.22.2006 9:39am
magoo (mail):
"The Iranians have made it as clear as Hitler made it — they are out to murder all the Jews."

If true, how is it that the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel lives in Iran and, at least by some of their accounts, do so peacably and to the mutual advantage of Iranian Jews and Iranian Muslims? One would think that genocidal maniacs would at least get busy with the Jews within their own country, if that were their intent.

Why does DB use phrases like "genocidal maniac"? Simple. He'd rather spew hate than engage in analysis or serious discussion of facts inconsistent with his worldview. He calls Ahmadinejad a "Hitler" for the same reason Soros and the left call Bush a Hitler.
9.22.2006 10:52am
Jimmy (mail):
No matter how stupid, hateful, evil, and vile a person he may be, the entire point of having a dialogue is understanding where the "other side" is coming from.

If you close off all communication, you turn the opposition into an alien, and will never ever succeed at promoting your own agenda. The only solution at that point would be a genocide to silence the "other side" forever and keep them away. Any successes we've had in the world have come from communication and not alienation.

Look at North Korea and Cuba for parallels. China and Russia used to hate us a lot. Even though Russia has backslid into authoritarianism for the past decade, and China still enjoys its human rights abuses and Industrial Revolution abuses - we can see that there is a future for those groups. But when we close off ties to the other two, only the people end up suffering in abject poverty while the kleptocrats sit high on the hog.

Our policy with Venezuela has now driven him directly into Iran's arms. Chavez's own poor people put him BACK into office after the coup we supported - and that happened after he tried his own coup years ago and failed! But now that door is closed, after his own father had opened the doors to us many years ago in friendship.

DB, while your characterization of the Iran Prez is apt enough given his public speeches, your vituperation is not useful to anyone, especially the Israelis who have always been treated like aliens by the Arabs around them. You are suggesting we wax our ears to ignore the siren's deadly call, instead of encouraging critical thinkers to pick apart his words and deeds.

They are a case in point - the Western world welcomes Israel into its economy and military endeavors, and a fruitful relationship has blossomed. The Middle-eastern world refuses to communicate with it, and strife is the single result, with bare tolerance being the best case at the moment.

Give the man the podium. Give him the rope to hang his misguided words with. Are you about to tell me the students can't figure out his game, and see him for a hypocrite and all the rest? Stop telling us what is good for us, like an overbearing parent. That is what rankles so many people about Bush. He takes the "I know better than you" approach instead of ever offering his reasoning or evidence up for empirical review.
9.22.2006 12:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Jimmy. Chavez can make himself look like an idiot, even to college students, without the use of the college's podium.
9.22.2006 1:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
And achmedwhosits, too.
9.22.2006 1:03pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
magoo, why did Hitler wait until 1942 to erect the ovens?

Don't mistake tactics for strategy.
9.22.2006 1:05pm
whit:
The hypocrisy of the left in regards to campus free speech, invited speakers, etc. is ASTOUNDING.

When I was in college, I was on the program board (we booked, scheduled, and produced concerts, speaking events, etc.)

I wanted to book Sam Kinison. I was told that Kinison engaged in "hate speech" and various and sundry other bigotries, and would clearly violate campus speech codes.

On the other hand, Angela Davis, and a black panther (whose name escapes me) were perfectly acceptable despite their "hate speech".

Also, witness the banning of "affirmative action bake sales " (pure political speech and not hateful towards anybody and certainly not any individuals), etc.

I am glad to live in a country where there IS open debate (vs. say Canada and several other countries that criminalize holocaust denial), but the double standards on campuses as to who is "appropriate" for their sensitive students to be able to hear is totally one sided. www.thefire.org has a lot of links to cases involving free speech and campus politics.
9.22.2006 1:36pm
Jimmy (mail):
Richard, my point is that there are too many people out there who want to do the thinking for you. That the "dad" would decide what was worth listening to. Having someone as controversial as achmedwhosits would certainly challenge the students to think critically.

Again, my point is this - I feel that our way of life is superior. I want to prove this to those around me. I can make positive statements and offer supporting facts for this. I can also make clear my oppponent's point of view, values, and goals, and through those we are able to compare and see which is superior, and using the words he speaks I can deconstruct his tower of strength - this is standard counterpolitics.

It is not better and superior just "because" I told you, just as you are not a terrorist just "because" I called you one.

Chavez is clearly an idiot, BECAUSE he has said the crazy crap himself in his speeches; he isn't just hiding behind his PR machine. His ideas, opinions, and policies are able to be judged and when we see him on TV, saying batshit crazy stuff, then we don't need to call him names - we can let the record speak for itself.

The Iranian prez has done much of the same thing, and before, where he was a more sinister behind-the-scenes person, he wielded more power. Now that people have heard him speak firsthand and in interviews, we can see the flaws in his armor - the same reason why Bush did so poorly in the 04 debates - he had to speak for himself and defend himself without a press corp and PR machine clanking in the background, and it exposed his flaws.

Even the hateful comments about wiping Israel off the map are able to be exposed to the light and he has less world sympathy due precisely to his public comments! Before, he could hide behind the Rev. Council and the world wouldn't single him out as being out of step with the hostile state's views. Now, he owns those words himself. Let him continue speaking out and looking worse, and it worsens his strategic position in the world. When you hide like North Korea, then everyone is forced to come to you and work from a position of weakness. Notice how the former Iranian prez had a softer tone to his speeches, as he is aware of the dangers of demagoguery.
9.22.2006 1:52pm
magoo (mail):
Harry — I see. The Iranians' current decision not to murder Iranian Jews is just more proof of their diabolical scheme to kill all Jews. I guess the 25,000 Iranian Jews who remain in Iran are just too stupid to figure that out. Have you considered the possibility that Iranian Jews know something you don't (for example, perhaps that Iranian Muslims are not "out to murder all Jews", as you so delicately put it)?
9.22.2006 3:10pm
liberty_at_work (mail) (www):
>>"out to murder all Jews", as you so delicately put it

Why should one speak delicately about a tyrant's desire to eliminate a race of people?

The tyrant has said as much, with as little grace, himself.
9.22.2006 4:45pm
KG:
"Justin, Ahmedinijad and his pals are busy wiping out the Bahai's in Iran. I don't suppose that's strictly genocide, since Baha'1 is a voluntary religious association. So he's a homocidal maniac. There, does that make you feel better?"

Give me a break. I know that Bahais have been persecuted in Iran and I don't back Iran's government, but no more than 300 Bahais have been killed since 1979. That's hardly a genocide.
9.22.2006 4:47pm
magoo (mail):
Liberty -- two points....first, the assertion at issue was not that a "tyrant" wants to murder all Jews, but that Iranians want to murder all Jews...if you're willing to defend the latter, you and Harry are sympatico...second, as for the tyrant, it is a very interesting question whether his stated desire to "wipe Israel off the map" is rightly viewed as a desire to slaughter all Israelis....I would welcome serious discussions of that issue, and you would find them at Heritage, AEI, Brookings, etc, but you won't find them here because DB and his LGF allies aren't interested in debating them....conclusions first, analysis later
9.22.2006 4:57pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
KG, the same could have been said, and was said, after Kristallnacht.

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but if a guy moved into the neigbhborhood and he only occasionally murdered a few dozen people, I don't think I'd just shrug and say, well, let's listen to his explanation. Mustn't jump to conclusions. If we understood where he's coming from, the murders might seem quite reasonable, under the circumstances. And, besides, he could be a lot worse.

And anyway, these are distant people of whom we know nothing.
9.22.2006 5:17pm
liberty (mail) (www):
>it is a very interesting question whether his stated desire to "wipe Israel off the map" is rightly viewed as a desire to slaughter all Israelis

1. You didn't address the point about speaking delicately, though I take the point that Harry was speaking about "Iranian Muslims", I had thought it was re: DB &Ahmadinejad, my mistake.

2. Ahmadinejad has spoken about Judaeism in many more statements than simply the one about wiping Israel off the map. A serious analysis would surely show you that it is not (as he has been spinning this week) that he dislikes Israeli policy, or beleives that Israel stole that land, etc. He is a rabid anti-semite and would like to see Jews murdered.


For example, in this interview it is very clear that he uses "Jew" and "Zionist" interchangably, thereby destroying the claim that he is only against Israel and Zionism and not anti-semitic in general:

"[Question: Are you still saying that the Holocaust is just "a myth?"] ... there are two opinions on this in Europe. One group of scholars or persons, most of them politically motivated, say the Holocaust occurred. ... If it did not occur, then the Jews have to go back to where they came from. I ... Why should [the German people] have feelings of guilt toward Zionists? Why should the costs of the Zionists be paid out of their pockets? ... Let me ask you one thing: How much longer can this go on? How much longer do you think the German people have to accept being taken hostage by the Zionists? When will that end - in 20, 50, 1,000 years? ... Why should you feel obliged to the Zionists? If there really had been a Holocaust, Israel ought to be located in Europe, not in Palestine."

You can create false justifications for his thinking, but he denies the holocaust in order to support his anti-Iraeli and anti-Jewish sentiments, it is all one big conspiracy in his head, very much like the one in Hitler's head.
9.22.2006 7:21pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Ahmedinijad has been elected again and again by large majorities and is said to be extremely popular -- much more so, probably, that George Bush is in the United States.

I go back to the 'good German' trope.

On what grounds do we excuse people who elect and re-elect a notorious mass murderer? Why shouldn't we take these big electoral majorities as reflective of what 'Iranian Muslims' believe and what policies they wish to see fulfilled?
9.22.2006 8:49pm
Revonna LaShatze:

"On what grounds do we excuse people who elect and re-elect a notorious mass murderer?"

Can one be a "mass murderer" in wartime?
Would you want that logic turned around on you?



"Why shouldn't we take these big electoral majorities as reflective of what 'Iranian Muslims' believe and what policies they wish to see fulfilled?

Because we've got enough trouble fighting all the enemy civilians out there right now?

Think of the military before you go seeing another immediate threat that can only be solved by force. The Persian people are no more our "natural" enemies than Israelis are our natural allies.
9.22.2006 9:50pm
Anonymous Reader:
Wow, this thread is knee deep with moral relativism. I feel like after 9/11 when people started asking "why did they do this to us? What did we do?" Or that it's our fault that they hate us. People wake up!! Someone mugs you out on the street, does it matter why they did it? Geez, for such an intelligent group of commenters, I read some very idiotic statements.

Anonymous Reader
9.22.2006 10:07pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Revonna, are you saying Iran is at war with the Baha`i religion?

Or are the Iranian revolutionaries simply murdering helpless and innocent people because they are not Muslims? Just as they would murder you if they got the chance.

I think we should have gone to war with Iran in 1979 when it went to war with us. Not too late, although the price of victory might be higher now than then. Or lower, depending on method.
9.23.2006 12:17am
Allison (mail):
Harry Eagar,

Sorry to be the heavy club, but I liked your reference to Chamberlain and Czechoslovakia, and given the other comments here, I'm saddened that I was the only one who recognized it.

I think your 'good German' point is apt. Berlin was filled with people who found Hitler boorish, annoying, stupid, volatile, and even contemptible. And yet they did nothing. nothing. nothing to stop him. They enjoyed their esteem in the world. They enjoyed their power. They enjoyed the benefits he brought them. And those Jews--well, what did it matter if they disappeared, anyway. Musn't rock the boat.

Only Michael Ledeen seems to believe that Iran's people are any different than Germany's were. They may all hate the mullahs. But so what? Actions matter. Inaction matters as well.
9.23.2006 2:01am
Revonna LaShatze:
Not too late,

Yes Harry.
It is too late.
Sorry to burst your bubble that you can have everything you want, when you want, with no consequences or costs attached. Choose better next time, and look ahead, eh?
9.23.2006 8:38pm
Revonna LaShatze:
the same could have been said, and was said, after Kristallnacht.


Hitler, 1938, Kristallnacht.
They cloud the issues of today.
Talk today's facts.
Making analogies to Hitler and immediacy helped sell the Iraq fiasco. Folks ain't as dumb as you think, Harry, nor as scardey cat either.
9.23.2006 8:41pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Blustering to cover up your reluctance to answer the question about Baha'is is how I read you.

Me, I'd rather not be complicit in mass murder. So put me on record against allowing the Iranian Revolutionary regime to continue to exist.
9.23.2006 9:09pm