Although iran’s president Mah- moud Ahmadinejad’s address to the U.N. General Assembly was less provocative and insulting than in years past, his comments left little doubt that he and the ayatollahs — they, in fact, run the country — continue to have a skewed view of the world. That does not bode well for the U.S.-led effort to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
As President Obama said in his address to the General Assembly, “Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the unraveling of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”
Obama spoke on Tuesday, Ahmadinejad on Wednesday. Which is why his attack on the West demands attention. He charged that “uncivilized Zionists” were threatening Tehran militarily, while Western leaders were the handmaidens of the devil.
But it was his comment about a new world order that made Iran’s nuclear ambitions all the more troubling. The government insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the economic sanctions that have been approved by the U.N. indicate widespread suspicion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed the General Assembly on Thursday, wants the U.S. to take a more confrontational stance against Iran and to clarify a set of “red lines” that would trigger a military response to the nuclear developments.
But President Obama has thus far steered clear of saber rattling and says the economic sanctions in place are already squeezing the Iranian economy and will bring the government to its senses.
However, Ahmadinejad made it clear that his nation, which is serving a three-year term as chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, intends to play a greater role in global affairs.
“There is no doubt that the world is in need of a new world order and fresh way of thinking,” he said. “The current abysmal situation in the world and the bitter incidents of history are due mainly to wrong management of the world and the self-proclaimed centers of power who have entrusted themselves to the devil.”
Delegates from the United States, Canada and Israel did not attend the Iranian leader’s speech.
Despite Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s attempt to portray President Obama as soft on Iran and turning his back on Israel, the reality is that the White House is proceeding in a responsible manner. It is giving Iran every opportunity to abandon its nuclear ambitions before a military option is put on the front burner.
After U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have claimed more than 4,000 American lives and cost the treasury more than $1 trillion, another military excursion must be mounted with great care.
Just because the Obama administration isn’t ready to draw a “red line,” as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wants, there is no reason for Iran or any other country to conclude that America has turned its back on its chief ally in the Middle East.