Iran’s bombastic President Ahmadinejad once again has strutted to the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York to denounce, whine about and threaten the United States, the West, Israel and various international institutions. Soon after arriving, Ahmadinejad told the Associated Press that “the future belongs to Iran” and that the United States “must recognize that Iran is a big power.” He proclaimed that capitalism was at the root of much of the world’s economic problems and called for reform of “undemocratic and unjust” international institutions dominated by the United States and the West, “Now that the discriminatory order of capitalism and the hegemonic approaches are facing defeat.”
But the most offensive part of Ahmadinejad’s propaganda offensive was his veiled threat of launching terrorist attacks against the United States if Iran’s nuclear weapons program is attacked. “The United States has never entered a real war, not in Vietnam, nor in Afghanistan, nor even World War II,” the Iranian leader told American reporters when asked about how Iran would react to a U.S. military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. He warned that: “War is not just bombing someplace. When it starts it has no limits.” Ahmadinejad’s blustering reinforced previous Iranian threats to target Americans in retaliation for an Israeli attack. At the same time, he denied that Israel would dare to attack Iran, saying dismissively: “The Zionist regime is a very small entity on the map, even to the point that it doesn’t really factor into our equation.”
But that did not stop him from once again belittling the Holocaust, describing it as “an historic event used as an excuse for war.” He added his usual disclaimer that he was “not anti-Semitic, but anti-Zionist.” Israeli President Shimon Peres criticized Ahmadinejad as a “living declaration against the charter of the U.N.”, noting that the Iranian leader has called for the destruction of Israel, a violation of the U.N. charter. (Meanwhile, a clueless U.N. bureaucrat reportedly praised Iran’s regime today for cooperating with the U.N.)
While Ahmadinejad has used the U.N. as a platform to lob rhetorical bombshells at the United States, Israel and other enemies, the Obama administration passively held its fire, clinging to its failed engagement policy. President Obama, responding to a question at a Town Hall meeting on Monday, downplayed the military option and said that a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “was not ideal.” Such a downbeat declaration unfortunately diminishes U.S. diplomatic leverage in the protracted confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear defiance.
President Obama is expected to stress his continued willingness to engage Iran’s thuggish regime when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that the president will emphasize that the “door is open” to Iran for further talks. This means that the door is open for more diplomatic duplicity and delaying tactics by Iran. And the door will be open for more contemptuous talk from Ahmadinejad, such as his sneering charges about American hypocrisy, while he continues to deny his regime’s blatant violations of Iranians’ human rights.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal