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September 24, 2007

Fearful Nation

I genuinely don't understand the quaking fear over Ahmadinejad's interview at Columbia. When did America become so weak, so insecure, that we mistrust our capacity to converse with potentially hostile world leaders? Do we really believe the president of Columbia is so doltish as to be outsmarted by a former traffic engineer from Tehran? Do we really see no utility in publicly grilling prominent liars in such a way that their denials lose credibility? What do we have to lose from a foreign leader, even a hostile one, somberly laying a wreath at the site of a tragedy? When did we become so afraid? And for all the conservative talk that a loss in Iraq will diminish our reputation for strength and thus harm our security, how must it look when some three-foot tall Iranian firebrand keeps trying to dialogue with us and we keep dodging his calls?

September 24, 2007 | Permalink


When did we become so afraid?

Who is this "we" you're talking about? My understanding is that most of this talk is coming from the same bedwetters who are sure we're in the midst of WWIV and that the Iranians are developing mullahs with laser beam eyes.

to dialogue

That's a crime against humanity.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Sep 24, 2007 9:23:30 AM

The thing I found weird was the universal condemnation of the proposed WTC wreath laying.

Wouldn't that media event have rather obviously advanced American foreign policy goals? I mean, seriously, shouldn't forming a global coalition against terrorists murdering mass numbers of civilians for political aims pretty much be our primary foreign policy goal?

Posted by: Petey | Sep 24, 2007 9:27:22 AM

ahmadinejad's visit and the jena marches are the first hopeful developments in a long while.
... freedom cant be stifled forever. if it cant come through the door, it will find a window.

i hope he has an excellent visit here.
perhaps the university can help to do what our government wont.

Posted by: jacqueline | Sep 24, 2007 9:40:45 AM

This one time where "manufactured outrage" seems the most accurate description. No one, really, seems to offer a coherent explanation of what's wrong with Ahmadinejad going to Columbia, just that... you know he's Ahmadinejad and that's, well, bad. As a 9/11 New Yorker I really don't even see the big deal of having me visit Ground Zero, though he does not deserve some 5 cent tour all the way into the construction pit, I can't see why not showing it to him helps or proves some point. I don't think anyone should mistake his going to Columbia for a real breakthrough (sorry jacqueline), he's not likely to say something all tha different from what he's said and having his ideas challenged isn't probably going to make a big difference, either. But the "outrage" over his appearance seems far more to be about selling papers and trying to work people into a froth than about anything specific. What odd times we have these days.

Posted by: weboy | Sep 24, 2007 9:56:57 AM

Anybody see the NY Post headline this morning?

Posted by: mq | Sep 24, 2007 10:19:20 AM

Petey is right - the uproar about the wreath laying was incredibly stupid. My God, one of the reasons Ahmadinejad's party lost in the last Iranian elections was the perception that he was too hardline - so he comes to NYC and the U.S. media and politicians help to prove that being conciliatory is hopeless. I mean, it would be sinister and stupid if we actually were going to attack Iran, but I don't think the U.S. - which, at the moment, claims it doesn't have the soldiers to replace a friggin' criminal band of security men in Iraq, Blackwater, to guard its diplomats, thus giving us one metric of current U.S. power - is going to. Instead, it is all the most childish posturing imaginable. It is as if the governing class is determined to broadcast to the world that we have learned nothing since 9/11.

Posted by: roger | Sep 24, 2007 10:45:42 AM

But -- he's a three foot tall firebrand in a Member's Only jacket. Those of us who lived through the eighties quake at the coolness of the label.

Posted by: Klein's Tiny Left Nut | Sep 24, 2007 10:50:01 AM

It is as if the governing class is determined to broadcast to the world that we have learned nothing since 9/11.

As if? It's a fact. They have learned nothing. Michael Gordon is still a stenographer for the administration. Time magazine hired Bill 'William the Bloody" Kristol. You get the point.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience | Sep 24, 2007 10:50:48 AM

Really, crystallizing the issue of Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia into that of free speech versus a platform for hate seems like such a distraction. Should we not be asking: If the President of the United States is allowed to speak, then why not the President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Israel? It is the nature of our system that leaders do horrible things... Perhaps we should be discussing a fundamental change in the system.

Posted by: Leyna | Sep 24, 2007 12:07:51 PM

I think the answer is fairly simple - Bush, his thugs, and the dwindling group of people who slavishly support him work from a well-known modus operandi - they'll go to great lengths to attack those who disagree with them on any point, no matter how small. Most of the time it works (see Senate, United States), but Ahmedinejad is clearly not falling for it. He refuses to play their game and show his belly when the Republicans and their media machine attack.

And when the M.O. doesn't work, Bush and his minions go into panic mode. The bottom line is this - someone has come along who refuses to play the game by Republican rules, and that is scaring the living daylights out of them all.

And no, I don't have a crush on Ahmedinejad, not even a slight one. It just amuses me to no end when someone refuses to play reindeer games with the GOP attack apparatus. They're truly stumped when this happens, and that makes me laugh - I imagine the looks an their faces are similar to that of a hero in the movies who hits someone with their hardest punch and the guy doesn't fall down.

Posted by: Stranger | Sep 24, 2007 1:29:23 PM

Did Americans pee their pants when Khrushchev visited the US?

Posted by: croatoan | Sep 24, 2007 4:27:21 PM


Why don't you demonstrate ONE person who is "afraid". I know the absence of capacity to do that hurts your so-called case; and inventing "fear" helps; but you are obligated to provide example, if you are to call yourself honest, aren't you?

Posted by: MD | Sep 24, 2007 4:47:35 PM

Do we really believe the president of Columbia is so doltish as to be outsmarted by a former traffic engineer from Tehran?

Actually, yes.

Posted by: CU alum | Sep 24, 2007 5:47:17 PM

To "CU Alum" --

If the president of Columbia is "so doltish as to be outsmarted by a former traffic engineer from Tehran," then maybe there's a certain social utility to putting that on display too.

Posted by: Jorge | Sep 24, 2007 6:49:23 PM

Ezra: I don't think fear was the emotion. And I think an empty lecture hall would have been a better thing than a bunch of chuckleheads who want to see Ahmadinejad stick it to Bush. What do your readers stand for, I wonder?

Posted by: slickdpdx | Sep 24, 2007 7:55:05 PM

Where you see quaking fear, I see disgusted anger.

Posted by: Jim Treacher | Sep 24, 2007 8:10:58 PM

Maybe after Iran nukes Isreal - we can then allow Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath? Wouldn't that be special?

Posted by: Mike | Sep 25, 2007 9:56:02 AM

god, you people are dense. I don't mean that rudely, I just see education as a needed course of action.

Posted by: Jason | Sep 25, 2007 12:06:38 PM


You're comment, "Maybe after Iran nukes Isreal - we can then allow Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath? Wouldn't that be special?" would only be analogous if Iran were respnsible for 9/11. They weren't, so your comparison is invalid.

Posted by: david | Sep 25, 2007 7:10:38 PM

As the de facto administrator of the Security Fix blog, I've spent many an hour deleting spammy links left in the comments section -
- comments that usually lead back to the same kinds of Web sites you most commonly see advertised in junk e-mail.

Posted by: Garri Azz | Feb 16, 2008 3:40:02 AM

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