Update: U.S. walks out on A-jad.
When Ahmadinejad was ushered to the podium of the General Assembly to speak, the U.S. delegation walked out, leaving only a low-ranking note-taker to listen to his speech, which indirectly accused the United States and Israel of major human rights violations. The Iranian president spoke hours after French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned the assembly that allowing Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons would be an “unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world.” Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened tougher sanctions against Iran if the country remained intractable on the dispute over its nuclear program. Iran insists the program is purely peaceful, aimed solely at using nuclear reactors to generate electricity. But the United States and key European nations believe the program is a cover for an Iranian attempt to produce nuclear weapons.
Allahpundit’s got the speech vid.
While A-jad lies about his commitment to “human rights” onstage at the U.N., watch our latest dispatch from Columbia yesterday–an interview with Iranian activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi:
Update 5:00pm Eastern. A-jad has begun his U.N. rant. After his requisite homage to the 12th imam, he decries the “enemies of humanity” who are threatening women.
Oh, the gall. Flashback:
Update 4:30pm Eastern. As A-Jad prepares to take the stage again, Congress passes a denunciation resolution…and takes steps to divest from terror.
Update 1:00pm Eastern. Soros stooge alert…
About a dozen anti-war protesters were arrested Tuesday morning during a peaceful demonstration of President Bush’s speech before the U.N. General Assembly.
The arrestees were among about 400 protesters opposing the Bush Administration’s war in Iraq, and its incarceration in Guantanamo Bay of more than 300 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Many in the crowd wore orange jumpsuits in solidarity with the Guantanamo detainees.
The arrested demonstrators were taken into custody by police after kneeling on the sidewalk in an act of civil disobedience at the rally near the United Nations. One of them, 58-year-old Bill Ofenloch said they were trying to serve an “arrest warrant” on Bush for “high crimes against humanity.”
Members of the anti-war group Code Pink performed a bit of street theater where a person wearing a Bush mask was arrested.
“What do we say?” shouted Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin. “Arrest the criminal!”
Update: 12:08pm Eastern. Lunchtime viewing…Check out the first of our video reports from Columbia yesterday.
Update 11:50am Eastern. Here’s the vid of the Cuban kabuki dance.
Update 11:15am Eastern. Quote of the morning from Rich Lowry…
Liberals like to say of the Bush administration’s allegedly militaristic foreign policy that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Likewise, if the only tool you have is dialogue, everyone looks like a reasonable interlocutor.
Update 10:19am Eastern. Bush has concluded his brief speech touching on Myanmar, education, disease, and freedom. The Cuban delegation walked out when Bush raised human rights issues and the Castro regime. Bush ended with a challenge to the farcical Human Rights Council.
His speech seems to have been eclipsed by the news that Venezuelan thug-in-chief Hugo Chavez won’t be attending the U.N. session this week. Must be tired from his partying with Kevin Spacey.
One thug gives a shout out to another:
The Venezuelan leader, who is expecting a visit from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad later this week, said he spoke by phone with the Iranian leader on Monday after his tense showdown at Columbia University in New York.
“I congratulate him, in the name of the Venezuelan people, before a new aggression of the U.S. empire,” Chavez said, adding that it seemed Ahmadinejad was the subject of “an ambush.”
President Bush will address the United Nations at 9:45am this morning. He’s trying to ensure that today does not become Mahmoudapalooza, Part II. There’s a reception tonight for world leaders and Ahmadinejad’s invitation got “lost in the mail.” Too bad his Columbia U. invite didn’t get lost in the same batch:
President Bush will address the U.N. General Assembly this morning at 9:45 a.m. EDT. Bush wants the U.N. to uphold its pledge to fight for freedom in lands of poverty and terror, and plans to punctuate his challenge by promising new sanctions against the military regime in Myanmar.
Bush is expected to mention Iran in his speech—but only briefly, citing Iran in a list of countries where people lack freedoms and live in fear. The White House wants to avoid giving any more attention to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose splash of speeches and interviews has dominated the days leading to the U.N. meeting…
… His speech, said White House spokesman Dana Perino, is about “upholding the promise of the U.N. founding.” Bush aides say that by design, the address will stick to broad themes.
What it is not about, Perino said plainly, is Iran…
… Behind the scenes, the U.S. is aggressively pushing for a new round of Security Council sanctions against Iran for its defiance on the nuclear issue.
Bush did not expect to cross paths with Ahmadinejad in the U.N. building.
The Iranian leader also would not be attending the president’s reception for fellow world leaders at his hotel in the evening.
“Lost in the mail,” Perino said of Ahmandinejad’s invitation.
Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post gets to the heart of why Columbia U. failed yesterday:
Iran is experiencing an unprecedented wave of political executions and death sentences — more than 300 since January, according to the Boroumand Foundation — and there is renewed pressure on the media.
In that atmosphere, it was deeply naive to imagine that the Iranian president would enter into a “vigorous debate” with students who were deploying their “powers of dialogue and reason,” as Columbia University President Lee Bollinger stated before the event, or that he would answer the appropriately aggressive questions Bollinger put to him — which of course he didn’t. (To a question about persecution of gays, Ahmadinejad responded: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”) All things being equal, Columbia would have done better to ignore him, instead of feeding the media circus that serves his purposes. It’s not as if he is deprived of a platform in this country: Only last week, he ducked and dodged his way through a long interview on “60 Minutes,” and his pronouncements regularly appear in media of all kinds.
Nevertheless, it would have been wrong, once he’d been invited, to ban Ahmadinejad from speaking: To do so would have granted him far more significance than he deserves and played right into his I’m-the-real-democrat-here rhetoric. Instead, the university should have demanded genuine reciprocity. If the president and dean of Columbia truly believed in an open exchange of ideas, they should have presented a debate between Ahmadinejad and an Iranian dissident or human rights activist — someone from his own culture who could argue with him in his own language — instead of allowing him to be filmed on a podium with important-looking Americans. Perhaps Columbia could even have insisted on an appropriate exchange: Ahmadinejad speaks in New York; Columbia sends a leading Western atheist — Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or, better still, Ayaan Hirsi Ali — to Qom, the Shiite holy city, to debate the mullahs on their own ground.
I realize that isn’t likely. But neither is it likely that this past week’s free-speech-vs.-nasty-dictator debate, complete with sputtering New York politicians and puffed-up university professors, achieved much either. On the contrary, it focused attention in the wrong place.
Instead of debating freedom of speech in Iran, here we are once again talking about freedom of speech in America, a subject we know a lot more about. Which is exactly what Ahmadinejad wanted.
We interviewed one of those Iranian-American dissidents yesterday outside the front gates and Columbia and will have a clip up at Hot Air later today.
Meantime, as Mahmoud prepares to deliver his U.N. speech, Iran has released another Iranian-American activist:
Iran has released from jail peace activist Ali Shakeri, the last of four Iranian-Americans imprisoned in recent months after being accused of stirring up a revolution, a judiciary spokesman said Tuesday. Shakeri, a businessman and member of a California-based democracy group, the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, was arrested while trying to leave Iran after visiting family. He was jailed four months ago in Tehran’s Evin prison.
He and three other Iranian-Americans were charged with endangering national security — an accusation they, their families and their employers denied. “He was released based on 1 million rials (about $110,000) bail last night. Shakeri is able to travel abroad if a … judge permits him,” Mohammad Shadabi, a spokesman for the judiciary, told The Associated Press.
The charges against Shakeri have increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, already high over U.S. accusations that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and is fueling violence in Iraq. Iran denies both claims. But in recent weeks, the country has reversed itself on the cases against the four dual citizens. Tuesday’s announcement came as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.
Shakeri’s release comes less than a week after Iran released Kian Tajbakhash, an urban planning consultant with the New York-based Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute, from Evin prison where he had been jailed for four months.
Yes, question the timing.
PJM is tracking Mahmoud in Manhattan, Day 2.
The NYPost blasts Mahmoud’s speech:
As for visiting Ground Zero, he again insisted he only wanted to “pay his respects.” Still, he provocatively questioned the general account of 9/11: “Why did this happen?” he asked. “What caused it? Who truly was involved?”
In his view, no doubt, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda had nothing to do with it. Despite all this, most of Ahmadinejad’s non-responsive – or blatantly disingenuous – answers were met with silence from the audience. When it wasn’t applauding him, anyway.
No kidding: When, for example, the Iranian thug chided Columbia President Lee Bollinger for insulting him – after having invited him to speak – students and faculty cheered for Ahmadinejad. True, Bollinger had slapped his guest hard in introducing him: “You exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” said the Columbia prez. (Which, actually, understates the case.)
“I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions,” Bollinger said. “I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes what you say and do.”
On that, Ahmadinejad did not disappoint. Yet, only once did listeners erupt in a chorus of boos and hisses: when he insisted, in response to a question about repression of gays in Iran, that “we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.” Yes, it was a bizarre day up in Morningside Heights. Ahmadinejad displayed yet again his “fanatical” mindset.
Is there anyone left, outside Columbia, who still thinks he’s got something worthwhile to say?