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Ahmadinejad gives a speech

President Mahmood Ahmadinejad of Iran addressed the United Nations in New York ahead of the big Palestinian push for statehood.  Al Jazeera reports that the speech was met with a walkout, as the United States, Israel, and various European Countries left their seats during the speech.  Obviously, Ahmadinejad is upset with the United States’ role in the Israel-Palestine peace process.

He also attacked the US for its history of slavery, causing two world wars, using a nuclear bomb against “defenseless people,” and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes on Asian, African and Latin American nations.

Ahmadinejad, who has called into question the Holocaust, raises extreme points that are generally ignored.  Still, there are people who assume similar positions regarding international affairs as Ahmadinejad, so his points must be heard and understood.  The general view of US policymakers is that Ahmadinejad is an interloper with devious, self-serving intentions, and so no effort is made to engage him.  Is this the best practice, or should the United States be more interested in creating a dialogue with the Ahmadinejad types?  The US doesn’t have any diplomatic relations with Iran.  Is that good policy?

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2 Responses

  1. I’m no diplomat, and I haven’t done much study on the history or practice of diplomacy. However, I say it’s bad policy to ignore Ahmadinejad and to close the diplomatic option toward Iran. The main argument I’ve heard against engaging with Ahmadinejad is that to do so would legitimize him as a leader, but whether we like it or not, he is indeed president of an increasingly relevant country, a reality we can’t ignore. Besides, as you mentioned, other individuals and groups commiserate with Ahmadinejad’s views – it makes no sense to close our eyes to this fact. I’d be interested to hear people’s opinions on the worst that could happen by opening the diplomatic channels between the U.S. and Iran, because I’m not convinced that the consequences would be worse than the current situation.

  2. The two things that stick out in my mind are that 1). It is very hard to spy on a country when you have no embassy/consulate there, and 2). In my opinion Iranians agree that they do not want American interference in their country’s internal affairs, so if we engage with Iran, it must be done transparently and honestly and within the confines of solving issues that are external to Iran.

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