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Know Your Enemy, Help Friends Know He's Their Enemy, Know Your Enemy's Friends:

If you want to defeat the enemy (e.g., the Iranian regime), it seems to me you should:

1. Know Your Enemy: The more you learn about him, the better you'll be at figuring out his tactical and strategic weaknesses, and those of people like him.

2. Help Friends Know He's Their Enemy: Often, some of your fellow citizens don't grasp how bad your enemy is. If you can get him to indict himself in front of them, they may learn.

3. Know Your Enemy's Friends: Some others among your fellow citizens might underestimate your enemy's dangerousness, because they're unaware of how many people support him. The applause for Ahmadinejad at Columbia, which some have pointed to as evidence of Columbia's error in inviting him, strikes me as quite valuable -- it shows that even in the U.S., Ahmadinejad has supporters, which helps show how dangerous he and his people really are.

Of course, there is a countervailing factor:

4. Avoiding Giving Your Enemy a Chance To Make More Friends: It would be good to avoid giving Ahmadinejad free propaganda opportunities, through which he could mouth friendly-seeming banalities. But it seems to me that the Columbia's World Leaders Forum is in general not a great propaganda outlet -- and this is especially so when President Lee Bollinger asks questions that help show Ahmadinejad's true nature.

So here, even more than in most situations, it seems to me that the interests of giving students more information coincide with the national interest. A commenter to my earlier post writes, "Ahmadinejad is our blood enemy. He should be defeated or, optimally, killed. We waste time that would be better spent accomplishing one or the other by listening to him." I don't think it's either-or -- I think that listening to people like Ahmadinejad, especially in forums such as the Columbia forum, will indeed help us defeat them (and, where helpful and appropriate, kill them).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Columbia and the First Amendment:
  2. Know Your Enemy, Help Friends Know He's Their Enemy, Know Your Enemy's Friends:
  3. Ahmadinejad Speech:
  4. Ahmadinejad Speech at Columbia:
great unknown (mail):
Today's wars are fought primarily in the arena of public relations. Giving an enemy a platform is akin to letting him walk into an army base with heavy weapons.

It may be that the comments made and the questions asked at the Columbia forum ultimately resulted in a net lost battle for Ahmadinejad, but as you noted, it also served to rally supporters.

A totally different issue is, why invite Ahmadinejad and censor the leader of the Minutemen? In an intellectually honest academia, wouldn't all of your arguments apply equally to both?
9.24.2007 8:00pm
John A. Fleming (mail):
There's yet another countervailing factor: don't give your enemy the opportunity to assess the attractiveness of his ideas and the depth of support for them among your friends.
9.24.2007 8:12pm
Nessuno:
Regarding point number 4, I think Volokh is vastly understating the propaganda value of the event, especially in light of Iran's non-free media.

Remember, only the most involved readers (and thus the people least likely to be moved by any one speech) are even going to be aware that the Columbia event was a "World Leaders Forum" rather than the common "honored speaker" type of event. What people will hear and know is that a prestigious American university honored Ahmadinejad with an invitation, wishing to hear his views. That alone gives those views more weight.

The most important aspect this whole debate is how the Columbia event effects the vital people at the margins, or fence-sitters. Condoleezza Rice made a rare good point today, pointing out that the real danger in Columbia's invitation is how it will effect fence sitters in Iran, not people here in America who really do have free access to both sides of the debate.

Iran's state controlled media won't let Iranians hear Bollinger's speech. They won't hear the derisive laughter in response to Ahmadinejad's "we have no homosexuals in Iran" line. And they won't hear the tough questions.

What they will hear is the loud applause from Americans when Ahmadinejad names the U.S. as the source of world terrorism. They'll hear the applause when he makes all his propoganda points.

So how does one take this when one is in Iran, strugling perhaps to gain more freedom from the regime or inching toward resisting Ahmadinejad's support of terrorism and anarchy in Iraq and Afghanistan? That is by far the most important question.

Mr.Volokh's primary mistake in his analysis is viewing the Iranian debate only through the prism of American free speech. One can't use the typical American free speech arguments citing of an open marketplace of ideas, or free speech being an antiseptic, or any other theory of free speech when one of the parties in the conversations doesn't actually have free speech.

In the end, Ahmadinejad came here and used our institutions to further the suppression of his people at home, to run up the score on one side of a debate while refusing the other side the right to speak or even hear any meaningful response.

How can Columbia's decision to let this happen possibly be good for free speech principles? It can't.
9.24.2007 8:19pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Imagine if, in addition to vast armies, a terrifying secret police, a highly efficient propaganda machine, and the fanatical support of most of his people, Hitler also had been allowed to give a guest lecture at Columbia. Giving Americans a chance to hear Hitler in Hitler's own words would have helped drive his evil home. We needed more Americans to hear Hitler in Hitler's own words in 1935, not fewer.

The same with Ahmadinejad. The fact that a few people in the audience cheered him demonstrated why more people need to hear how evil this man really is. And there's not better evidence than his own words.
9.24.2007 8:23pm
KeithK (mail):

Giving Americans a chance to hear Hitler in Hitler's own words would have helped drive his evil home. We needed more Americans to hear Hitler in Hitler's own words in 1935, not fewer.

Do you really think so? I think it just as likely that a master orator and propagandist like Hitler might have been able to sway more Americans had he had the opportunity to speak here. Or else those who supported non-intervention could have found many reasons to rationalize away the danger.

It's very dangerous to give your enemies an even footing in the propaganda war.
9.24.2007 8:39pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
It seemed pretty clear that the university hand-picked the students who would receive tickets (600 out of 800 people in the auditorium), if not to ensure applause then to "balance" the audience in the room. Virtually noone watching the simulcast applauded. The people who would applaud did not seem to constitute a large member of the community and they were considerably overrepresented in the auditorium.
9.24.2007 8:42pm
FC:
Anyone who doesn't know what Hitler thought then or Ahmadinejad thinks now is willfully ignorant. There is no need to bring such people into the public debate.
9.24.2007 8:42pm
wooga:
I was going to comment, but Nessuno expressed my position more effectively than I would have. So, "seconded."
9.24.2007 8:45pm
anonymous1347142:
YOUR enemy Volokh. We're not all Zionists. I am appalled at the permanent enslavement of millions of Palestinians, and the death of 650,000 Iraqi civilians.

You Zionists need to understand that you don't speak for America.
9.24.2007 9:00pm
anonymous1347142:
By the way, Kudos to the Columbia students, who cheered when Ahmadinejad politely responded to Bollinger's classless introduction, and who cheered when Ahmadinejad criticized the apartheid state of Israel. The truth finds its way out.

Regardless, America can't afford another war to appease AIPAC and people like Volokh. The dollar is at an all time low, due to printing money for a war we can't afford. Sorry AIPAC, we need to part ways.
9.24.2007 9:03pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Anyone who doesn't know what Hitler thought then or Ahmadinejad thinks now is willfully ignorant. There is no need to bring such people into the public debate.


You underestimate how little effort it takes to be ignorant about foreign policy. I would suspect that most Americans remain unwillfully ignorant of what Ahmadinejad thinks. Same with Hitler in 1935.

Heck, I wonder what percentage of Americans even knows who Ahmadinejad is.
9.24.2007 9:04pm
Mark F. (mail):
These Hitler comparisons are tiresome. In the late 1930's the Germans had the best and biggest military in the world. Iran has no such thing, and they are abiding by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (which Israel has not signed) according to the IAEC.

If Americans were not in Iraq, where we have no business being, nobody could even make the unproven claims that Iranians were somehow involved in killing U.S. troops and their 5th rate military is no threat whatever to the United States.

U.S. interventionist policy, which started with the CIA's overthrow of the Democratically elected Iranian regime in the 1950's and the installation of the thuggish Shah, is now pushing us towards an absurd war.

You people are crazy. Always need some imagined enemy or another.

Ron Paul in 2008.
9.24.2007 9:06pm
Fub:
Nessuno wrote at 9.24.2007 7:19pm
Iran's state controlled media won't let Iranians hear Bollinger's speech. They won't hear the derisive laughter in response to Ahmadinejad's "we have no homosexuals in Iran" line. And they won't hear the tough questions.
I have heard that even the great firewall of China leaks. Maybe the whole magilla has already found its way into Iran. Once it does, which eyes and ears notice it will be more difficult for the mullahs to control.
9.24.2007 9:07pm
Fub:
Public_Defender wrote at 9.24.2007 8:04pm:
You underestimate how little effort it takes to be ignorant about foreign policy. I would suspect that most Americans remain unwillfully ignorant of what Ahmadinejad thinks. Same with Hitler in 1935.
Most, yes. But Dudley Pelley's Silvershirts numbered well over ten thousand members around 1935. They fell apart rapidly as knowledge of the Third Reich's actions spread in the late 1930s.
9.24.2007 9:21pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Crap. Lost one. Try again.

Ahwhosits can be understood without being viewed. Those who are ignorant aren't going to stand in line for tickets and those who do aren't ignorant.

They do it for cheap thrills--"Frisson" in French, I believe.

Some like the opportunity to cheer an enemy of the US. Which they did.

We generally see Hitler shrieking in stock footage, veins bulging. That was the end of the speech(es). It's said that he began his speeches as if he was your new best friend stopping by with some good advice and sage observations. The sort of thing you'd have thought of, if he hadn't beat you to it by a moment or so. The emotional overload was at the end.

He once said the blood and carnage of three centuries stands in no possible relation to any conceivable progress Europe has made. So no European ruler would want war.
True. Ought to be true--follows, anyway. Didn't count him.

He could be convincing, obviously.
9.24.2007 9:36pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
There is an ignorant assumption that Americans would have been repelled by Hitler in the 1930s. The fact is that Hitler was a mesmerizing speaker who had the ability to sway masses of people, even those who never became part of the Nazi party. He knew how to pick his enemies. His speeches were filled with the same kinds of claims you hear today on the Left: our leaders lie, it’s all about oil, Jews control American foreign policy, Rumsfeld is a war criminal. Think I’m kidding? Check some of other comments on this website.

There is an infantile assumption that in a battle between truth and lies, truth automatically wins. That is a totally unsupported assumption which is belied by all the great tyrannies of history. It is also a cop-out for people who don’t want to stand up in a battle between right and wrong.

And if you respond with that old chestnut about “what is right and what is wrong?” I’m afraid that you are part of the problem, not the solution. One man’s terrorist is not another’s freedom fighter.
9.24.2007 9:49pm
Gaius Marius:
I am glad that Columbia U allowed Ahmadinejad to speak if only it allowed us to study our prey up close before commencing the final hunt.
9.24.2007 10:09pm
Justin Levine:
Professor V. - I think the problem in your thinking stems from your bias as a creature of the university system. Your individual points are all valid, but we no longer live in a world where universities have monopolies as learning centers. Thanks to the Internet that provides news, blogs, videos and transcipts of speeches, we can learn all that we need to about our enemies, our friends, and the friends of our enemies. Did you really learn anything new about Ahmadinejad in his Columbia speech that you didn't already know? If you did, then I respectfully suggest that you simply haven't bothered to read enough.

Since the speech gave us nothing new in terms of knowledge, the only thing left was a propoganda victory for Iran's President since it gives him stature as a legitimate world leader.
9.24.2007 10:23pm
Public_Defender (mail):

There is an infantile assumption that in a battle between truth and lies, truth automatically wins.


Not automatically, but usually, and that's one of the basic assumptions of Western democracy. I agree that many Americans don't see Ahmadinejad for the dangerously evil slug he is. That's why he needs to speak in places Americans can hear.

The only way Ahmadinejad can win the war of ideas in the US is to hide what he stands for. And if we can't win an open war of ideas against Ahmadinejad in the US, we have much, much deeper problems than who gives a speech at Columbia.


And if you respond with that old chestnut about “what is right and what is wrong?” I’m afraid that you are part of the problem, not the solution. One man’s terrorist is not another’s freedom fighter.


I'm not going to make that argument about Ahmadinejad. But, as you pointed out, others have. His speech here has given his ideas a podium and has allowed more Americans to see what he really stands for.

Sometimes one man's terrorist really is a freedom fighter (for example, Mandela was a freedom fighter to any thoughtful person but a terrorist to Reagan and P.W. Botha), but sometimes a terrorist is just a terrorist.

Letting Ahmadinejad speak makes it more clear that he's just a terrorist.
9.24.2007 10:31pm
Shlomo Argamon (mail) (www):
There's also another countervailing factor.

5. Avoiding Giving Your Enemy A Propaganda Victory To Increase His Side's Morale. By hosting Ahmedinejad at Columbia, he can count coup in front of his people and the Muslim world that shows his strength and the Western World's weakness. As other commenters have noted, Al Jazeera and Iranian TV won't show any of the bits that challenge him or might embarrass him. But the very fact that he was invited to speak in one of the intellectual inner sancta of the enemy (a concept which many in Western academia deride as anachronistic) gives him bragging rights. And by that token, makes it that much less likely that his government will moderate its stance, or that the Iranian people will take matters into their own hands and work for a change. After all, what support can they expect from the West who now invite their oppressor to speak at their temples of learning?

Instead of Bollinger's intro, they should have shown the video of the two teenagers that were recently brutally executed for (alleged) homosexual acts (and other trumped-up charges). I think that keeping it all at the level of words allows him, a skilled speaker and double-talker, to hope for influence where he should have none.
9.24.2007 11:10pm
Shlomo Argamon (mail) (www):
There's also another countervailing factor.

5. Avoiding Giving Your Enemy A Propaganda Victory To Increase His Side's Morale. By hosting Ahmedinejad at Columbia, he can count coup in front of his people and the Muslim world that shows his strength and the Western World's weakness. As other commenters have noted, Al Jazeera and Iranian TV won't show any of the bits that challenge him or might embarrass him. But the very fact that he was invited to speak in one of the intellectual inner sancta of the enemy (a concept which many in Western academia deride as anachronistic) gives him bragging rights. And by that token, makes it that much less likely that his government will moderate its stance, or that the Iranian people will take matters into their own hands and work for a change. After all, what support can they expect from the West who now invite their oppressor to speak at their temples of learning?

Instead of Bollinger's intro, perhaps they should have shown the video of the two teenagers that were recently brutally executed for (alleged) homosexual acts (and other trumped-up charges). Let's see Ahmedinejad answer that! I think that keeping it all at the level of the spoken word allows him, a skilled speaker and double-talker, to hope for influence where he should have none.
9.24.2007 11:10pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
The assumption that truth always wins is one of the assumptions of Western democracy? I know it’s a cherished myth among college professors, except when they are proclaiming that they are proclaiming their own “truths” in pursuit of a higher good.

But since truth does not always win, in fact it’s not even a given that it wins more often than not, should we simply go out armed with this childish assumption and no other?

To take an example that everyone does not need a long memory to recall, it was not pure, unadulterated truth that freed the Duke lacrosse players, but lots of money and damn fine defense team. Truth was left far in the dust by people with a different objective.


And the part about American seeing Ahmadinejad for what he really is as the result of his speech at Columbia; please tell me that you are not serious. Ahmadinjad did not come to Columbia to convince the American people. And I doubt if the American people – at least those who have open minds –have changed their minds about the little gangster.

He has his supporters, and the audience was filled with them. Want to bet how many changed their minds about who is the worse menace, Bush or Ahmadinejad? Even a Jewish Lesbian who knows she would be killed in Iran prefers Admadinejad to Bush.

Ahmadinejad came to Columbia because it gave him a platform and prestige. He can show to his supporters that he can come to the heart of the “Great Satan” and be cheered.

And no, terrorists are not freedom fighters. Terrorists are terrorists. Freedom fighters do set off car bombs in markets. They don’t roast children and serve them to their families; they don’t rape women in front of their families; they don’t blow up busses filled with civilians.

Regarding the sainted Nelson Mandela, he signed off on the “Church Street Massacre” in which a bomb was set to blow up at rush hour to kill men, women and children. Let’s not even mention “necklacing” and avert our eyes from the torture in the ANC camps? War is a rough sport with all sorts of brutality. One need only go back to our own civil war which was carried out with an eye toward starving out the Confederacy by destroying livestock and crops. But we never descended toward the indiscriminate murder and deliberate targeting of civilians.
9.24.2007 11:21pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Correction: Freedom fighters don't set off car bombs in markets.
9.24.2007 11:24pm
Steve2:
I'm still trying to figure out what makes Ahmadinejad any more my enemy than his ideological counterparts from the U.S. I mean, as far as I've been able to tell, you swap the name "Allah" out with "Jesus" and ignore foreign policy towards Israel and there's universities in the U.S. that were founded and still push the same principles Ahmadinejad stands for. What makes a speech by him any more dangerous to me than a substantively identical lecture from a Liberty University professor or campaign speech by Brownback?
9.24.2007 11:26pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> I'm still trying to figure out what makes Ahmadinejad any more my enemy than his ideological counterparts from the U.S.

It would be helpful to provide support for the proposition that there are no relevant differences. (I'll stipulate that there are similarities, such as both wear pants.)
9.24.2007 11:36pm
Publius Endures (www):
I don't get the fuss. So the President of an American university filled with naive college kids who admire this idiot invited him to speak. Why? Because the university knew there would be an audience (ie, a market) for the speaker. If there's enough of a market for a speaker, why not invite him? Isn't that the basic principle behind free speech?
More to the point, one of Ahmadinejad's most hideous distortions has been his claim that the West doesn't really have free speech. By inviting him to speak, and giving him a platform, Columbia showed him he was wrong - but the President's remarks and the questions asked also showed Ahmadinejad that free speech goes both ways. Worse for him, our idea of free speech meant that he had to face the ridicule of the students for some of his more idiotic statements.
As far as I'm concerned, the bigger propaganda coup for Ahmadinejad would have been if he was prevented from speaking. As it turns out, he was able to claim some success if only because we turned his speech into such a controversy- for an egomaniac like him, that controversy validated his role as a legitimate player on the world stage. If, however, the media and American public had just ignored him and his speech, he would have been forced to the realization that he is really just the illegitimately elected President of a Middle Eastern backwater that was once one of the world's great civilizations.
9.25.2007 1:10am
Montie (mail):

He has his supporters, and the audience was filled with them. Want to bet how many changed their minds about who is the worse menace, Bush or Ahmadinejad? Even a Jewish Lesbian who knows she would be killed in Iran prefers Admadinejad to Bush.


In academia, sometimes it is easier to discredit the believers than change minds. Sure, there is going to be the Marxist vegan performance artist who still thinks that Admadinejad is just grand. However, he is going to loose a bit of credibility when he says, "Those Republicans are the most intolerant people on Earth."

Very similar to the way that Steve2 is discrediting himself now.
9.25.2007 1:12am
肿瘤 (mail):
9.25.2007 4:55am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm not going to make that argument about Ahmadinejad. But, as you pointed out, others have. His speech here has given his ideas a podium and has allowed more Americans to see what he really stands for.
How does allowing a politician to give a speech allow people "to see what he really stands for"? Is there some rule that when foreign leaders come here, they suddenly start telling the truth?

Allowing a politician to give a speech allows people to see what he wants people to see he stands for -- not what he actually stands for. Showing news footage of what happens in Iran allows people to see what he actually stands for.
9.25.2007 6:06am
Public_Defender (mail):

To take an example that everyone does not need a long memory to recall, it was not pure, unadulterated truth that freed the Duke lacrosse players, but lots of money and damn fine defense team. Truth was left far in the dust by people with a different objective.


Not true. The more Nifong and his people spoke, the more the holes in their story became clear.

And your support for the Confederacy and opposition to Mandela speaks volumes. It's an easy call between living under Bush and living under Ahmadinejad. But an African American might find life under Ahmadinejad less evil than life under the Confederacy.


Ahmadinjad did not come to Columbia to convince the American people. And I doubt if the American people – at least those who have open minds –have changed their minds about the little gangster.


I don't think he would necessarily change the minds of Americans, but a lot of Americans have probably never given the guy a thought. That's a problem. One solution--introduce more Americans to him.

And again, if we can't win a battle of ideas with Ahmadinejad at an American university, we have a lot more problems than Columbia's speaker's list.
9.25.2007 8:23am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Public D. You're presuming Ahwhosit was interested in and fighting a battle of ideas. A battle of ideas would require, for starters, hearing his real ideas and hearing him defend them when challenged. Didn't happen. Wouldn't happen. The least important part of the whole thing was his talk. For him, the most important part was his demonstration to his homies that the west will, figuratively speaking, not sell but give him the rope to hang us--are weak and self-destructive--and that he has supporters among the next ruling class--God help us. So they can get adventurous.

Pretty much what the fascists and nazis got out of Oxford Union '33.
9.25.2007 8:35am
Anderson (mail):
The WaPo's wrapup concludes with this:

"Let him speak -- let him open his mouth," said Pearl Atkins, 74, a Manhattan resident who lost relatives in the Holocaust. "This is America; people get their say here, not like in Iran. He only makes himself sound more stupid with every word anyway."
9.25.2007 10:43am
wfjag:
“KNOW YOUR ENEMY, HELP FRIENDS KNOW HE'S THEIR ENEMY, KNOW YOUR ENEMY'S FRIENDS”

Dear Professor Volokh:

Although the title of your posting fairly follows some of the teachings of Sun Tzu, you missed more significant lessons. Ahmadinejad's target audience was not the U.S., and certainly not liberal academia. His target audiences are in the Mideast, and Muslims who have immigrated to the U.S. and Europe, but, who have not assimilated their cultures. His object was to obtain some background footage to use in his propaganda. He succeeded. See, e.g.,

www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0709252616013529.htm

Islamic Republic News Agency

“IRI President addresses students at Colombia University”

Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.

On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.

Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.


See also,
www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0709252042114806.htm

“President Ahmadinejad meets Jewish rabbis in New York”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Monday afternoon met with a group of Jewish rabbis who gave him a silver grail as a sign of friendship.

[and]

The president said the future belongs to the monotheist faiths and that liars would be eliminated.
He stressed that all followers of divine faiths were responsible to promote monotheism and defend peace, justice and brotherhood.


Pres. Bollinger is a fool. His words will not be translated into Farsi or Arabic, but his picture as the person introducing Ahmadinejad will appear widely. This will “prove” to the Muslim world that Iran’s policies enjoy wide-spread, if not nearly universal, support in the US.

Freedom of speech does not require providing a forum for someone to repeat lies or spread propaganda.
9.25.2007 12:55pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Richard Aubrey,

I have seen nothing but bald speculation saying that speaking at Columbia in any way increases Ahmadinejad's support in Iran. Do you have any actual evidence to support that assertion?

By contrast, I see lots of evidence that many Americans don't get just how evil this guy is. Letting him speak at Columbia puts his ideas in front of more Americans than when he speaks in Tehran. I think that's a good thing.

It's funny, on this issue, many conservatives show little confidence in their beliefs and in Western civilization generally.

In my work, when I have a strong case, I want opposition. I want to show the decision maker how weak my opponent's position is. Generally, I find that my strongest arguments come out of the mouth (or pen or keypad) of my opponent.

And I love Pearl Atkins' quote.
9.25.2007 1:07pm
r78:

There is an infantile assumption that in a battle between truth and lies, truth automatically wins. That is a totally unsupported assumption which is belied by all the great tyrannies of history. It is also a cop-out for people who don’t want to stand up in a battle between right and wrong.

Yes, that is why you have to lie to be right and why truth is alway wrong. At least if you want to win. Or something like that.
9.25.2007 1:42pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Cambridge U. Press has made available the diaries of several leading appeasers of the '30s (previously available but only in archives in the UK), and I have been reading them for insight to 21st c. appeasers.

The idea that the scales will fall from the eyes of the defeatists if only evil is presented in their faces is a laugh.

The surrender monkeys, I judge from reading the private thoughts of A.L. Kennedy, Collin Brook, Lord Allen etc., will be with us always, and many fine young men (and women, now) will be killed by their stupidity, cowardice and slick rationalizations.

Ecrasez l'infame!
9.25.2007 6:18pm
Jon Burdick (mail) (www):
1. Know Your Enemy: The more you learn about him, the better you'll be at figuring out his tactical and strategic weaknesses, and those of people like him.

Unless, of course, in the process of getting to know your enemy you radiate more useful data at him than he does at you ...
9.25.2007 10:30pm
Mac (mail):
I'm still trying to figure out what makes Ahmadinejad any more my enemy than his ideological counterparts from the U.S.

His ideological counterparts in the U.S. don't have access to an entire nation's oil wealth and contacts with North Korea among others to buy the necessities of nuclear weapon making capability and to implement same.
9.26.2007 1:47am
Mac (mail):
wooga:
I was going to comment, but Nessuno expressed my position more effectively than I would have. So, "seconded."


Agreed. Thirded?
9.26.2007 1:48am
Public_Defender (mail):
Now that Ahmadinejad has spoken, do any of the critics of Columbia (including Nessuno) have any evidence to back up their claim that this was an internal propaganda victory for Ahmadinejad? Or do we just have to rely on your bald, unsubstantiated assertions?
9.26.2007 6:39am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Public_Defender?:


The more Nifong and his people spoke, the more the holes in their story became clear.



I call bullshit. I have followed the Duke non-rape story very closely and Nifong’s story was believed by most – including the reporters for the NY Times who claim to have read the evidence and stated that his case was compelling, just before it fell apart. There were a few important exceptions like K.C. Johnson who blogged at Durham in Wonderland. What blew the case up was a defense lawyer who had done his homework and cross examined the person who did the DNA testing and finally got an admission that Nifong has suppressed exculpatory evidence. To this day the “Duke 88” still maintain that they were right.


And your support for the Confederacy and opposition to Mandela speaks volumes. It's an easy call between living under Bush and living under Ahmadinejad. But an African American might find life under Ahmadinejad less evil than life under the Confederacy.



My comment was not support for the Confederacy. It was a reflection on the reality of war. If you want to educate yourself on this issue, you may want to pick up a copy of Grant’s “Memoirs” in which he provides in more graphic detail that I used just how the Union armies stripped the Shenandoah Valley to deprive the Confederates of foodstuff. His description of Sherman’s “March to the Sea” was equally gripping and is sure to offend modern sensibilities. As I was reading this I was reminded that winning “hearts and minds” is a distinctly modern idea of war fighting. The Civil War was all about killing the enemy and starving him out until he had no more will to fight.

I am equally clear-eyed about all the other modern icons. In an era when the founding fathers are regarded by many as evil, slave owning, dead white men it’s always amusing to see that for some, certain Liberal heroes must remain unsullied by reality.

A final point, an “African American” no longer has the option of Ahmadinejad or the Confederacy. That issue was settled over a century ago, and good riddance. But given the choices he has today, I don’t believe many would choose the latter day Hitler. What is tragic is that the end of colonialism and the hated white rule has not led to the results that many had hoped. The tragedy in Zimbabwe under the rule of Mr. Mugabe is simply one of the more egregious examples where people – black and white – are now much worse off than under the white supremacist regime that preceded his.

I would hope that at some time reality will trump ideology and mistakes can be admitted by all sides. If not for ourselves, do it for the children.
9.26.2007 8:00am
Mac (mail):
Moneyrunner4,

Excellent post. Probably falling on deaf ears. I know, as a recovering Liberal, it is so hard to let facts interfere with one's beliefs.
9.26.2007 2:09pm
wfjag:
Public_Defender wrote
"Now that Ahmadinejad has spoken, do any of the critics of Columbia (including Nessuno) have any evidence to back up their claim that this was an internal propaganda victory for Ahmadinejad? Or do we just have to rely on your bald, unsubstantiated assertions?

Let's see if I can give you a few places to look:

http://kamangir.net entry on Sept. 23, 2007:

"Popular Ahmadinejad Critic Website Closed Off

Following a complaint filed by the government of Ahmadinejad against the opponent website Baztab, its office was sealed off by the Judiciary [Persian]. A newspaper close to Ahmadinejad writes, “Rezaei, the owner of Baztab, when failed in finding a job in the government, turned into an unjust and offensive critic [Persian].” In its last post, Baztab asserts that the ban has been the result of a seven-month pressure by the government [Persian].

To know how popular Baztab was, it is enough to compare it with the leading state-run news agency Farsnews and the national television (Alexa). Note that while Baztab is filtered in Iran, the two others are conveniently reachable. Many of the drops in the popularity of Baztab coincide with previous bans on the website
."

Kamangir identifies himself as an Iranian student living in Canada, ethnic Persian Muslim who's an agnostic.

FYI: He also did a blog "Thank you Columbia University" -- apparently he thinks that it was good for the world to see Ahmadinejad for what he is. And, "no," I don't think he's a fan of the Iranian Pres.

Check also the Islamic Republic News Agency to see how it is reporting the story at http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/

On Sept. 25:

MP blasts Columbia University president , which includes the statement ". . . the offensive behavior of Columbia University chancellor towards President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad betrayed the US administration's weakness in facing Iran." and "Nations around the world will support right words if they hear them, he noted."

Ahmadinejad's speech was report in 10 articles. They purport to be a verbatum report of his speech, questions asked and answered. Reports on what he said in the US MSM seem to differ in some respects from what the Islamic Rep. News Agency report -- and I've read or listened to reports on NPR, CNN and Fox, so I haven't confined myself to one source. Maybe it's the difference in Farsi/English translations, and maybe its just the US MSM. Or, maybe there was some editing by the IRNA. Without an official transcript and translation, that's hard to tell.

Sept 25 IRNA article: Certain US media keep Americans away from truth, president This was an address to "US Muslim leaders." "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that the US has turned to a large prison where the media are keeping the American people away from truth. "

And, another Sep. 25 article: Ahmadinejad urges Western media not to tell lies about Iran "Speaking to the Washington-based US National Press Club in a video-conference from New York, the Iranian president said, "Iranians are the freest and the most intellectual nation in the world and are well informed of the daily news." "

In the ?Sep. 25 article: President Ahmadinejad addresses students at Columbia University (Part 10)
"“I think that if the U.S. administration, if the U.S. government puts aside some of its old behaviors, it can actually be a good friend for the Iranian people, for the Iranian nation.

For 28 years, they've consistently threatened us, insulted us, prevented our scientific development, every day, under one pretext or another.

***

And since then, we've been under different propaganda, sort of embargoes, economic sanctions, political sanctions. Why? Because we got rid of a dictator? Because we wanted the freedom and democracy that we got for ourselves? That, we can't understand.
"

[No mention of the embassy take over or holding of hostages for 444 days, or the Americans currently held by Iraq, or the American scholar recently released.]

In the Sept. 25 article: IRI President addresses students at Colombia University:

"Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.

On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.

Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth
."

[No mention of criticisms in Pres. Bollinger’s remarks]

And, the Sept. 24 article: Ahmadinejad's bouquets of flowers at Ground Zero enlighten public opinion:

"“Member of Parliament (Majlis) Kazem Jalali said on Monday that President Ahmadinejad's bouquets of flowers in Ground Zero, New York, would help enlighten public opinion of the American people.

Jalali told IRNA that President Ahmadinejad planned to lay wreath at the Ground Zero as sign of Iranian sympathy with families of terror victims.

The hegemony powers have always showed unreal image of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the world public opinion, he said, adding that although they have made their all-out efforts to this end, Iran attained good status in the international community.

Jalali, the rapporteur of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission in the Majlis also noted that they are afraid of Ahmadinejad's speech for Americans and the world leaders.”
"

[No mention of objections to Ahmadinejad going to Ground Zero]

And, in the Sept. 24 article: President Ahmadinejad arrives in New York:

“He said the Iranian and American nations are on freindly terms and have many common viewpoints. He said the Iranian nation and most of the American nation support peace and justice and oppose the US government policies”

So the day before he arrives in NYC, a fairly popular Farsi language website is closed by the Iranian government. Coincidence? And, reading the IRNA articles, it appears that all is sweetness and light on the part of Iran -- just can't understand those sanctions since apparently nothing happened in 1979 -- and it's the US media that's responsible for all the troubles between Iran and the US. As my Grandma used to say "He's so good that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth."
9.26.2007 7:56pm
Ricardo (mail):
One thing that people have missed is that Iran is not North Korea -- people do, in fact, have access to outside media (not legally but in reality). Illegal satellite feeds are supposedly pretty common especially in Tehran so I don't think anyone here (at least anyone who does not speak Farsi and is currently not in Iran) can claim that this was a propaganda victory at all.

Certainly within our own borders, there may have been people who vaguely and naively admired Ahmadinejad as some kind of populist hero of the Third World who stands up to Bush -- now those people can see for themselves what a semi-literate clown Ahmadinejad is.

Finally, it is important to note that while many dictators are very charismatic and capable of electrifying a crowd, they also employ a lot of energy into controlling the exact circumstances of every speech with handpicked supporters, a dramatic entrance and well-timed pauses for applause. The fact that Ahmadinejad was not on his own turf and was not able to set every term of his appearance put him at a disadvantage and, I think, a severe one.

I would imagine he regrets his incredibly stupid remark about gays in Iran now. If he were giving a speech in Tehran, he would probably just as soon avoid the subject of homosexuality.
9.26.2007 11:31pm