Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently visiting New York City to address the United Nations. The ever-provocative Ahmadinejad is sure to find an excuse to give another inflammatory quote or interview while he's here. But, beneath the bluster, he will represent Iran amid ongoing nuclear negotiations, global concerns over human rights abuses, and U.S. pressure over two American hikers still held in Iran. Here are the predictions, proscriptions, and reports regarding the visit so far.
'Ominous Statement' on War with U.S. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reports on a breakfast meeting attended by Atlantic Editor-in-Chief James Bennet. "According to James, Ahmadinejad provided a glimpse into his thinking when Joe Scarborough asked him if he would consider it an act of war if the U.S. allowed Israeli warplanes to overfly Iraq on their way to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. 'Do you think anyone will attack Iran to begin with?' Ahmadinejad asked. 'I really don't think so. The Zionist regime is a very small entity on the map, even to the point that it doesn't really factor into our equation.' He continued -- in a way that clarifies for me his fundamental misunderstanding of just about everything -- 'The United States has never entered a serious war, and has never been victorious.' And, in what James reports was his most ominous statement, Ahmadinejad said, 'The United States doesn't understand what war looks like. When a war starts, it knows no limits.'"
- How U.S. Journalists Should Talk to Ahmadinejad The Guardian's Massoumeh Torfeh says American "interviewers seem unable to get away from a fixed set of questions and a specific mindset they have of Ahmadinejad." However, "if we are to avoid having another regional dictator," reporters should instead ask him about his plans and ambitions within Iran for the rest of his presidency. "In recent weeks he has raised - to unprecedented levels - his confrontational style against the ruling clique in Iran. ... He is even dismissive of Iran's leader, Ali Khamenei."
- Calls Stoning Case 'Propaganda' The New York Times' Joseph Berger notes Ahmadinejad's statement on "the sentence to death by stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman convicted of adultery in 2006 and accused in recent weeks of playing a role in murdering her husband. The sentence, which provoked an international outcry, was halted almost two weeks ago. Mr. Ahmadinejad contended that the woman was never sentenced to stoning and that her case was 'news that was made up' as propaganda by American politicians and the media. He also wondered why the case of 'one lady in a village in Iran should suddenly become such a big issue for American officials. ... The propaganda behind it was big, and then those same murderers of people become supporters of human rights,' he said sardonically."
- 5 Reasons He's Good for the U.S. Esquire's Thomas P.M. Barnett frames the treatment of Ahmadinejad's visit as an over-reaction to what will simply be "another round of comic relief." Barnett also considers the anti-Ahmadinejad hysteria short-sighted and says that the president is actually a good thing for the U.S. He lists five reasons (click through to see each explained). "He might still help us with Afghanistan. ... He doesn't get the sanctions. ... His baiting of Israel will only stall the nuke buildup. ... He's handing over the real local authority to thugs. ... His accidental comedy always backfires."
- NYC Taking Security Seriously The New York Post's Larry Celona, Joe Mollica, and Annie Karni report, "The Hilton Manhattan East has been turned into a sealed fortress to house Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-- with ramped-up security forces standing guard amid specially installed bulletproof windows, airport-style metal detectors and powerful anti-terror weapons. ... A stunned female hotel guest added, 'It's crazy in there!'"