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MAHMOUD COMES TO TOWN September 24, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq Policy, US Politics.

Well, its a hell of a town, or so it was in the musical, On the Town1..And it is the headquarters for the United Nations. Now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come visiting New York with the intent to visit Ground Zero and speak at Columbia, and if you follow the drift, the strident judgments of his detractors, and the frame applied by ABC Online in its written report, if not the more balanced audio from The World Today, that might seem appropriate.

But really, is Ahmadinejad the Great Satan? One New Yorker can be heard to say on the audio: “Ahmadinejad is bad, but Bush is worse”. My impression, after reading the transcripts of the CBS 60 Minutes interview, is that Admadinejad is a long way more articulate that Bush, and on that basis far more intelligent. He musters the case that opponents, internal and external, would make against the Administration’s foreign policy, and of course regardless of its political leadership, Iran cannot help but be deeply interested in its immediate Iraq and Afghanistan bearing in that the religious, linguistic and ethnic loyalties do not respect borders.

People who spout nonsense can develop extraordinary confidence based nowadays on the illusory predominance of the infotainment industry. The issue as to who should be allowed to visit ground zero is a matter for the Americans, but it is good to see that not all Americans are of one mind about this, as on other issues. A point that Ahmadinejad makes. It seems to me the question for Columbia, is not whether or not to ask the Iranian President to speak there, but whether in what is a global city, whether they can claim to be a university in its full historical sense.

The hometown newspaper reminds us that Ahmadinejad despite his recognition is not at the centre of the Iranian power structure, which it seems has taken shape in part in response to Western interference, from 1953 and before then. Firebrand or not, Ahmadinejad in his interview with CBS did express internationalist orientation as well as pride in Persian culture and history, which he is surely entitled. He is not alone in condemning the treatment of the Palestinians and the behavior of the Israelis, both recent and more far distant, during the course of the unresolved Middle Eastern war. His comments in relation to Israel were distorted through mistranslation.

FURTHER: 25 September 2007 

Juan Cole notes:

The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state. ‘

But how does that work? Why is the right so influential over the infotainment media, journals such as the NYT and the ABC? The power of the right cannot be disproportionate to their means. How can you get away with nonsense?

If nothing else, blogging becomes inevitably an exercise in critiquing sources of news and information.

Footnote 1.:

It seems “helluva town” is replaced by “wonderful town” for the movie to be more morally acceptable. And then the song sounds tame.



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