David Rothkopf’s superb Foreign Policy piece, entitled ‘How Not to Lead the World’ is an excellent example of how to analyze yet another round of hate-filled speeches and briefings through a genuinely critical lens.
“But Ahmadinejad, for all the headlines he generates while fulminating and spitting out nonsense about Israel’s lack of legitimacy or Iran’s invincible might, is also illustrative of just how misplaced the term “world leader” is. For one thing, he is not even the real leader of his own country. Instead, true power lies with the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Council of Guardians, and other top religious leaders. Ahmadinejad, for all his bluster, is much more like the country’s top spokesmodel than he is the final word on any of its key decisions. Indeed, to those present at his press briefing on Monday morning, it seemed impossible to imagine this guy — who clearly has a screw loose — actually administering much of anything.”
Indeed, Foreign Policy really led the way this week. Colum Lynch’s ‘A Muted Mahmoud at UNGA’ highlighted the consistent whitewashing of Iran’s human rights abuses through such visits:
“President Ahmadinejad’s mix of attacks against ‘Zionists’ and ‘hegemonic’ powers for their rights abuses fails to distract from Iran’s own appalling rights record,” said Philippe Bolopion, U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch. “His celebration of ‘woman’s sublime role and personality’ is nothing short of an insult for the millions of Iranian women who face severe restrictions including new limits this month on their right to pursue certain university subjects of study. Equally perplexing is President Ahmadinejad’s enthusiastic celebration of the ‘spring of all the justice-seekers’ in light of his government’s support for the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown.”
Standing in stark contrast to these two pieces we find a mass of reproduced drivel from some of the leading media outlets the US supposedly has to offer.
Neil MacFarquhar, in The New York Times doesn’t manage an ounce of criticism in his almost lazy allusions to (and indeed direct quotations of) Ahmadinejad’s speech:
“Mr. Ahmadinejad did say that Iran was being threatened with military action by “uncivilized Zionists” and criticized the enormous amount of money spent on American elections, without naming the United States. He aligned himself indirectly with Occupy Wall Street and similar protest movements, saying the voices of the “99 percent” were not heard in policy making decisions.
But otherwise the 35-minute appearance was a lecture about the need for a fairer world order. As an example, he said later, Iran would soon form a working group to tackle the Syria problem. He concluded by forecasting at length about the peace that will prevail with the appearance of the religious savior awaited by many faiths.”
The AP interview of Ahmadinejad – reprinted all over the world – likewise very quickly became yet another platform for the Iranian president, another uncritical mouthpiece and channel for his views. The piece even starts (yes, this is the very first line!) with,
“After an hour of fielding questions about Syria, sanctions and nuclear weapons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had enough. Now, he said, it was his turn to choose the topic — his “new order” which will inevitably replace the current era of what he called U.S. bullying.”
That is right, the first line starts “after an hour”. Where is the first hour and why are you letting him dictate the interview? You ask the questions, he gives the answers. Apparently not with the AP. This was included as a ‘side note’:
“He also discussed solutions for the Syrian civil war, dismissed the question of Iran’s nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.”
The list goes on. Even Piers Morgan’s interview, which was much tougher than David Ignatius’ pathetic Washington Post attempt, failed to focus on the atrocious human rights record of the current Iranian regime and president (see this well written piece by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran).
Later in the week, Piers Morgan very nearly lost his sense of reality when analyzing Ahmadinejad’s speech, only to be saved by Nicholas Kristof:
“MORGAN: Good evening. Our big story tonight. Ahmadinejad at the U.N. made his final speech as president of Iran. Today’s speech was, for him, relatively low key, dare I say almost reasonable. No walkouts from diplomats this time around, although the U.S. and Canadian delegations stayed away. And Israel’s representatives were also absent because of Yom Kippur
… Nick, President Ahmadinejad is a fascinating character, whichever way you look at him, whatever you think of him, love him, loathe him, he’s a man who commands attention. Oddly today, he just seemed to be on his best behavior. What do you –what do you read into that?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, “NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I mean, you said his speech was a little more reasonable this year. It was reasonable by Ahmadinejad.
KRISTOF: Not by sort of normal conventional standards. I mean, after all he suggested that 9/11 was some kind of dark conspiracy and for him to accuse other countries of nuclear responsibility is a little bit rich. But, you know, I think that he has been under pressure at home, frankly, for this wackiness. A lot of Iranians are just embarrassed.“
Ahmadinejad is luckily leaving the shores of the greatest democracy in the world. Yet our free media forgot to mention something else. During his visits, the Iranian president’s web page posted on Wednesday that he met with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrahkan, another ‘leader’ (but this time homegrown) who is widely known for preaching hatred towards Jews and Gays (and indeed white people in general). Surely this was worth reporting no?