Please Read the Letter

It will only be a matter of time before the media starts distorting and twisting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York into yet another display of his supposed instability. Since his election in 2005, he has come to the United States a few times, and each time has been painted as an aggressive and dillusional man. He was denied the right to lay a wreath at the Ground Zero memorial in 2007, and is not allowed outside of a 25 mile radius of Columbus Circle in New York City.

Yesterday, President Ahmadinejad spoke before the UN General Assembly, followed by a question and answer session with the press. His speech featured the usual Ahmadinejad lines against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the unconditional support for the Israeli government. He spoke about the crimes commited by the "Zionist" regime and the support given by "bullying superpowers." These are all things he discusses each time he visits the United States, and yet they never quite seem to get through to the people.

He also predicted the collapse of the American and Zionist empires, something that I'm sure will be interpreted as threats against both countries. However, Ahmadinejad has, in the past and on this trip, expressed Iran's feelings that these countries don't need any outside help. They are and will continue damaging themselves enough, and Iran has no interest in engaging in warfare with either of them.

These important facts, though, are either forgotten or ignored by American media. The fact that the supposed hawk Ahmadinejad has, on numerous occasions, expressed his country's desire to help establish peace in Iraq and has reached out to the United States on several occasions is buried deep beneath soundbites used to demonize him. It has already been forgotten by the masses that it was Iran who, when the Iraqi government went over our heads earlier this year. helped broker a ceasefire with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

While here, Ahmadinejad also sat down with Larry King for an hour interview that should help his image in the US, but will no doubt be picked apart into little clips that Bill O'Reilly can point at and say, "See? Be afraid of him." In the interview, Ahmadinejad calmly responded to the same questions posed to him everytime he visits the United States, regardings things like the Iranian nuclear program and his supposed line on destroying Israel. He set Larry King straight on Iranian US relations, pointing out that all hostility has stemmed from the US. His own country has publicly stated their desire to have friendly and respectful relations with the United States, but all letters and messages go ignored. Ahmadinejad stated several times the wrongs perpetrated against the Palestinians by the Israelis -- the taking of settling of other's lands and forced migration of the rightful owners. The darkly comic fact that this is precisely what the United States did to the Native American's, I'm sure, wasn't lost on Ahmadinejad. He set King straight on nuclear weapons as well, declaring as the Iranians have numerous times, that they do not want to build a weapon. In 2003, two years before Ahmadinejad was elected, Ayatollah Khameini issued a fatwa against the building, stockpiling, and using of weapons of mass destruction. Ahmadinejad reiterated their religious aversion to nukes, as well as stressing that the time for them was gone. Now is a time for reason and culture, not weapons.

Overall, I was once again amazed at President Ahmadinejad. It was his visit last year, at Columbia University, that sparked my interest in the controversial figure. Since then, I have been amazed at the flaws in public debate regarding him, and the demonization based in little more than soundbites and rumors. Each time he visits the United States he handles himself wonderfully, remaining calm under fire and never once swaying from his platform. Throw what you want at him, but he sticks by what he says. More than can be said for most American politicians. Not only does he stand by it, but what he says makes sense. He is one of very few leaders on the global playing field willing to call the United States out for what they have done in the past and present. Always with that smile of his, he reminds us of the crimes those we have supported committed against his own people. I'm always reminded of my countries own pettiness when Ahmadinejad is quick to reiterated that Iran has no problem with the American people. They are good people, he has said on numerous occasions. He wants to talk to them, and engage them. Come to Iran! See for yourselves! And yet that distinction between the people and the government is something we American's cannot make.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our next president can put aside false accusations and differences and begin the diplomatic process with Iran. It would benefit the region, as well as our international image. And, above all else, would give much earned respect to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an elected dignitary who is currently treated like little more than a terrorist.

1 comment:

bodelou said...

wow! ive finally found someone in my generation who knows what they are talking about when it comes to politics and foreign issues. thanks, nice blog

My Zimbio
Top Stories