Sunday, September 23, 2007

Focus on the Iranian Threat

The outrage at Columbia University's speaking invitation to Iran's President Ahmedinejad is fully understandable (see here, here and here).

There may be strong grounds for denying the Iranian leader a platform to spew his vile hatred of the West. Yet, Ahmadinejad - for all his derangement - is a major international player, and the world community has an interest in hearing what he has to say, especially at the United Nations, and even at Columbia (whose administration just doesn't get it).

Folks should not lose sight of the big picture, though.
The Oxford Medievalist reminds us of the nature of the Iranian challenge:

Mahmoud is an apocalyptic madman Jew-hating president of a regime bent on spreading its Islamist revolution throughout the Middle East and, eventually, the world.
I'm reminded of Iran's revolutionary aspirations by today's Los Angeles Times, which reports on this weekend's military parade in Tehran, a show of force coinciding with Ahmadinejad's visit to New York:

Iran showed off its armaments Saturday at annual army celebrations meant to highlight the oil-rich nation's military self-sufficiency and prowess in the face of international sanctions and U.S. hostility.

Iranian-made Saegheh fighter jets, which some military experts say are based on U.S. F-18s, screeched across the sky over Iranian-made armored personnel carriers and Ghadr missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000 miles.

"All these arms and equipment have been manufactured in Iran by Iranian experts," an announcer declared on state-controlled television.

Military commanders and political officials assembled for the military parade near the tomb of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said they were undeterred by the possibility of U.S. or Israeli military attacks or increased economic pressure on Iran. The Islamic Republic is at odds with the West over its ambitions to acquire advanced nuclear technology and its alleged support for armed Islamic groups.

"Those who believe that through rotten means, such as psychological warfare and economic sanctions, they could hinder progress of the Iranian nation are wrong," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to arrive in New York today and to address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Iran and the U.S. are engaged in a struggle over influence in the Middle East. Tehran accuses Washington of destabilizing the region by backing Israel and occupying Iraq. The U.S. accuses the Islamic Republic of pursuing nuclear weapons and supporting anti-American militants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
The Times piece notes that American officials have not ruled out military action to eliminate Iran's threat to regional and global security, and in that lies the significance of the Ahmadinejad visit.

Allowing the Iranian leader to denounce the U.S., Israel, and the West will likely bolster the case against Iran's peaceful intentions. One of the best lessons emerging out of the recent MoveOn scandal is that
free speech has the powerful value of exposing despicable views to popular repudiation. In the case of Iran, the sanctions regime against Iranian nuclear development has proved ineffectual. While the U.S. delays a decisive showdown, Iran continues its bid for regional domination, and its ultimate campaign for the destruction of Israel.

Let America and the world hear what Ahmadinejad has to say this week in New York. All the while, no one should take their eyes off the big picture - a military showdown is coming, and we have a compelling interest in hearing the continued dissemination of Ahmadinejad's propaganda and warmongering. His rants will bolster the already compelling case for a preventive war to remove the Iranian threat.

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