Craving for Attention

The medial hype before and after the couple of interviews given to several mainstream media in the U.S. by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his visit to New York on the occasion of the 65th General Assembly of the United nation causes very much mixed feelings. Whether it is worth to talk with the villain at all has not become clear. Torrents of words and rants have left  Charlie Rose on Monday almost speechless, at least tired. As BBC’s Jon Leyne had put it, Ahmadinejad’s spin makes hard talk for less informed interviewers almost impossible. He frequently turns the table and starts attacking. Honest interviewers will have to agree to the numerous double standards in international politics. But Ahmadinejad is also frankly lying about so many details such as the stoning sentence for Ms. Ashtiani, the catastrophic economic situation in Iran, the effect of sanctions, freedom of speech and the human rights situation, the fate of opposition figures, et cetera. He is a master of blaming the West for its hypocrisy while stealing away from critical questions. I suppose his admission which he made in the interview with Christiane Amanpour that “stoning is an ancient method” of executing a culprit “that needs to change” was his most surprising news. Otherwise, the circus during his New York visits look alike each year.

And so are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responses. I do not believe that she in fact called the Iranian opposition for another attempt of regime overthrow. Rather, in her interview with Amanpour last Sunday, she delivered the usual ill-prepared rant when encouraging “responsible civil and religious leaders, to take hold of the apparatus of the state.” That the regime in Tehran has relied on the pasdaran and paramilitary basiji when millions of protesters took to the streets after the disappointing ‘re-election’ of Ahmadinejad last year does not mean that Iran has got closer to a military rather than religious dictatorship, something what most have in fact feared some time ago. Currently, there are no obvious signs for such a development.

That officials in the U.S. would be able to talk with Ahmadinejad is, after this year’s publicity tour, more unlikely than ever. The man craves for attention, but TV moderators showed tiredness of his tirades which in fact become more and more elaborated. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has categorically barred any dialogue about Iran’s nuclear program with western powers until sanctions are lifted. Ahmadinejad, who would probably like to sit with President Obama in direct talks, seems to have understood this time. And Obama certainly doesn’t want to make a fool of himself.


Last update September 22, 2010.


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