Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad in New York

Andrew Ross, from the San Francisco Chronicle, declares that Columbia University's president, Lee Bollinger, wiped the floor with Iran's President Ahmadinejad during their high-profile theatrics yesterday.

With respect, I think Andrew's view is too US centric.

Ahmadinejad's actions, like Bollinger's, were designed to play to home crowds. Neither men were there to "debate" each other, and therefore there can be no "winners or losers" in the event.

Amhadinejad's stature is clearly improved by his association with Columbia. He can show that he's either building relations with this important ally (more on this later) or he can show how brave he was to walk into the lion's den and stand up to the US.

Bollinger's stature is raised amongst those who sympathise with a University's right to let in and keep out whomever they choose (the ROTC, Rumsfeld, Larry Summers, Ward Churchill etc.) As an added bonus, I'm sure he'll be an even more popular at Manhattan cocktail parties now than he was in the past ("so, what is that Amhadinejad fellow like anyway?")

Iran has made no bones about not wanting to be invaded by the US Army, and that it's counting on the support of the Democrats to protect it from the Republicans and Pentagon. In the Tehran Times, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi states:
“I think that the rational people in the U.S. Congress and the Democratic Party will not allow the current U.S. administration to declare a new war [on Iran].”
Given that Columbia University, and Lee Bollinger himself, take a dim view of the Pentagon themselves, I can see Amhadinejad gambling that they would give him a platform.


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