The shame of the United Nations is not that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was able to take the podium and make outrageous statements about the terrorist attacks of 9/11, it was that only about 30 nations joined the United States in walking out.
We supposed diplomats at the U.N. are becoming inured to the almost childish antics of men like Ahmadinejad, who are the diplomatic equivalent of a Balloon Boy or a Paris Hilton. They crave attention and pander to their base. Four years ago it was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who took the stage a day after President George W. Bush and said. “it still smells of sulphur.” He peppered his attack on U.S. imperialism with devil references that would have earned a high school orator a rebuke from his forensics coach.
Still, Ahmadinejad took offensiveness to an another level when he claimed most people in the world believe the United States was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and said the United Nations should set up a study committee.
Ahmadinejad, a notorious Holocaust denier, seems to be getting an early start in trying to rewrite the story of 19 radical Islamists who took over four airplanes and killed 3,000 people on the ground and in the planes.
A day later after his speech, Ahmadinejad put on a pitiful performance in which he pretended to be nothing other than an honest seeker of truth. “I did not pass judgment, but don’t you feel that the time has come to have a fact finding committee?” he asked at a press conference. The I’m-not-saying,-I’m-just-asking-a-question defense is the last refuge of a coward.
Ahmadinejad wants to have it both ways, and so do most of the spineless diplomats who sat in their chairs and listened politely to what President Barack Obama described as hateful speech.
When U.S. diplomats walked out, they were joined by the delegations from all 27 European Union nations and those from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Costa Rica. The Israeli delegation wasn’t present to join the walkout.
Ahmadinejad’s statement shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s suggested before that there was no comprehensive investigation of 9/11 and that the United States used the attack to its own ends and as an rationale for supporting Israel.
Where were the others?
But his statements of Thursday, coming in the forum that they did, should have brought universal condemnation from U.S. partners in security and trade and from those nations that are the beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid every time tragedy strikes.
It can only be hoped that this time even those nations that did not join the walkout at the United Nations see Ahmadinejad as a man whose rantings and ravings cannot be ignored.
Perhaps, Ahmadinejad has himself strengthened the argument for stiffening economic sanctions against Iran until it complies with U.N. monitoring designed to keep Iran from building a nuclear arsenal.
Ahmadinejad said during the news conference that he thought Iran would be able reopen contact next month to set a framework for negotiations on the issue with the five permanent members of the Security Council — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China as well as Germany.
Everyone of those nations should now be on the same page — a page that reads: “The world can’t tolerate another nation with nuclear weapons, and certainly not one run by the likes of Ahmadinejad.”