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The United Nations played host to the latest version of the president of Iran’s road show yesterday. This was a subtly different Ahmadinejad than we’ve seen addressing world leaders in New York heretofore. His trademark mixture of insufferable smugness and blustering defiance was on display to be sure, but this speech was more about the former than the latter and that’s something of a change. It appears that there’s no need to spew much vitriol at the president of the United States any longer, for the leader of the Great Satan has rendered himself all but impotent without much Muslim assistance. Why would Ahmadinejad waste his breath denouncing or threatening the paper tiger currently occupying the White House?
Instead, Ahmadinejad used the global stage that the UN provided in order to show the world that nobody understands the problems confronting humanity better than he does. Religious scholar, champion of the poor, master of geo-politics, economic guru – these are but some of the many facets that define the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and if you have any doubt about that, just ask him.
Ahmadinejad, if not quite declaring Islam victorious, seems more confident of the final outcome than ever. He said that the era of capitalism is coming to an end, after “one hundred years of domination.” Selling Adam Smith short by a couple of centuries, Ahmadinejad would – in typical fashion – later contradict his confused understanding of world history by asserting that the Western powers were responsible for ravaging the rest of the world through colonialism and slavery. The fact that colonialism and slavery were features of Western societies before the “one hundred years of domination” seemed to be entirely lost on him.
The solution to the world’s problems, he declared, was to turn to God, a sentiment that tens of millions of Americans would agree with in the broadest of terms. But of course when Ahmadinejad speaks of God, he’s really referring to the only acceptable version of the Deity that Islam tolerates. He parroted the Qur’an’s assertion that the people who refuse to accept the God of Muhammad deny the most obvious of truths because of selfishness and greed. Every prophet was confronted by similar unbelievers, were they not? Moses had Pharaoh and Jesus had the Pharisees. What’s the analogous group when it comes to Muhammad? Well, that would be us: we stubborn, egotistical Westerners who can’t bring ourselves to understand that God appointed a succession of prophets and that it is our duty to keep up with the program.
He asked the UN to proclaim 2011 the year of nuclear disarmament, and even helpfully provided a slogan: “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none.” The first half of that couplet has a certain attraction, especially in the third world countries desperate for cheap power. But, it makes no sense in a nation like Iran, where the billions that Ahmadinejad has invested in his nuclear program could have provided so much cheap power if it were used to turn its vast oil supplies into domestic electricity and gas. The Iranian president is as comfortable with the Big Lie as any Democrat and he repeated it once again: his nation has no interest in building nuclear weapons. The sanctions that the UN has imposed as a result of his nuclear ambitions clearly chafed however, no matter how ineffective those measures have been. Ahmadinejad chided the UN for maintaining its five nation security council and mused about how much more effective the body would be if only Iran had veto power too.
Though he tried very hard to appear statesmanlike, Ahmadinejad couldn’t help but lapse into being Ahmadinejad, which is to say that the crazy bubbled over at times. Talking about the 9-11 attacks for example, he declared that there was little evidence that Islamic terrorists were involved. Instead, he revealed his version of the true nature of the attacks:
[S]ome segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view.
The supposition that the American economy was in decline in 2001, or that toppling the Twin Towers, attacking the Pentagon and crashing an airliner into a field in Pennsylvania was the formula to fix our supposed fiscal ills is certainly a unique view of history. How those attacks strengthened our position among our tenuous allies in the Arab world, or how 9/11 “saved” Israel are two equally mysterious concepts. The events of September 11, 2001 emboldened Islamic fanatics rather than cow them. And the only people who benefited economically from the attacks were those Muslims “in the know” who sold short on United and American stocks. The rest of us dealt with a recession.
The “plight” of the Palestinian people is never far from the Iranian president’s aggrieved heart, and he once again cried crocodile tears over their fate before the UN. Ahmadinejad doesn’t care about Palestinian refugees any more than he cares about the tens of millions of his countrymen wallowing in poverty in Iran while the mullahs live like royalty. Palestinian refugees are however useful pawns that can be played as he pursues his ultimate goal of destroying Israel. He said that Palestinians are being “deprived of food, water and medicine in their own homeland,” although he did not complain that Hamas or Hezbollah lacks for AK-47s, mortars or RPGs. Ahmadinejad rather stuck to the script, even if he didn’t call for the outright destruction of Israel this time. Instead, he said that Palestinians should be awarded jurisdiction over their “homeland,” which sounds a little nicer than “nuke Israel,” even if it achieves the same result.
Ahmadinejad’s true feelings and motivations were revealed on the cover page which accompanied the official transcript of his remarks. This quote appears on it: “Oh, God; hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness.” Shia’ Muslims believe that Al-Mahdi is the legendary “twelfth Imam” who has been in hiding for over a millennium, but who will reappear to lead the righteous to victory over evil when the world is in chaos. Appealing to Al-Mahdi is therefore to wish for chaos – a world in flames which only the ultimate holy-warrior can rescue. Ahmadinejad is a fanatic who longs for that kind of righteous victory, but his contradictory, disturbing and delusional remarks before the UN have revealed once again that he yearns for the chaos that must proceed Islam’s ultimate triumph.