First of all, Ahmadinejad's power in Iran is a somewhat limited role. He is still merely the puppet of the Ayatollah Khamenei - perhaps tandamount in import to a gnat on the butt of a buffalo. And for one of those rare instances, I am in concurrence with the NY Times article by Michael Slackman, pointing out the chain of command and nuances of power that exist in Iran. Why the heck do we bother giving him so much press?
Unlike in the United States, in Iran the president is not the head of state nor the commander in chief. That status is held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, whose role combines civil and religious authority. At the moment, this president’s power comes from two sources, they say: the unqualified support of the supreme leader, and the international condemnation he manages to generate when he speaks up.
“The United States pays too much attention to Ahmadinejad,” said an Iranian political scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “He is not that consequential.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad’s power stems not from his office per se, but from the refusal of his patron, Ayatollah Khamenei, and some hard-line leaders, to move beyond Iran’s revolutionary identity, which makes full relations with the West impossible. There are plenty of conservatives and hard-liners who take a more pragmatic view, wanting to retain “revolutionary values” while integrating Iran with the world, at least economically. But they are not driving the agenda these days, and while that could change, it will not be the president who makes that call.
“Iran has never been interested in reaching an accommodation with the United States,” the Iranian political scientist said. “It cannot reach an accommodation as long as it retains the current structure.”
As for the whys on the misplaced notoriety and headlines, I guess we'd have to ask those geniuses in the media who pick the stories, then... all of them simultaneously... slamming them down or throats 24/7. sigh...
INRE the fervor over the Columbia U invitation to speak. I stood with the opinion that it was in poor taste to give this man a platform, however it was within their rights to do so... but not without repercussions. It was also notable that the same university uninvites Gilchist of the Minutemen, and bans the ROTC from the campus... but free speech again raises it's value for the foreign Iranian president.
Obviously this is not a place I'd want my kid to attend.... talk about inconsistent and misplaced educational values.
But that aside, they did it. And I suppose to redeem his poor decision to the world, Lee Bollinger introduced Ahmadinejad with a lengthy tirade and critique.
Now I'm no fan of the Iranian weasel, but this behavior still bothered me. It was like extending a dinner invitation under the guise of friendship and open conversation, only to find out you're the main course for cannibals. Poor behavior for the host country.
And this same attitude was seized upon by the Iranian press.
TEHRAN, Iran - Iranians on Tuesday called the combative introduction of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the head of Columbia University "shameful" and said the harsh words only added to their image of the United States as a bully.
In a region where the tradition of hospitality outweighs personal opinions about people, many in Iran and elsewhere thought Columbia University president Lee Bollinger's aggressive tone - including telling Ahmadinejad that he exhibited the signs of a "petty and cruel dictator" - was over the top.
Nice goin', Columbia U. Altho many erroneously believe that the US was beloved by the int'l community until Bush took the oath of office, it just goes to show that just about anything the west does hinders it's reputation with Islamic countries run by despots. Once the invite was extended, Columbia was damned if it reneged, or damned if it went thru. In the future, they should confine themselves to education and stop dabbling in foreign diplomacy. Because they sure didn't do the US any good....
As the the value of the man speaking anyway.... well, the logic escapes me. Bizarre that after so many campaign promises and "words" by politicians, we still havn't learned that words mean nothing, deeds mean everything. So whatever Ahmadinejad said, or did not say, at Columbia U or the UN means absolutely nothing in the scheme of things. One need only see the failure to implement of his own campaign promises in Iran.
Of course, we can compare the same words vs deeds test to our own politicians. And speaking of America's disconnected elite, Congress decided to show a rare moment of "getting along" by a bipartisan vote to tighten Iranian sanctions and designate Ahmadinejad and Khamenei's army a terrorist group. Vote in the House? 397 to 16.
Now wonder who those 16 were.... any guesses?