I heard most of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. (OK, I mostly heard the voice of the translator, with Ahmadinejad's voice in the background.) I subsequently read the transcript of his speech, as well, as provided by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and posted on the Global Security web site. The following are a few of my reactions to his speech, which I cheerfully admit are colored by my broad scale reading, watching, and following of world and international news.
Ahmadinejad has become slicker since last year. The speech he gave then could be fisked in a rather straightforward manner. Even when his specific statements were true, the context in which he placed them turned them into lies. For example, Ahmadinejad said
The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. Despite the establishment of the lawful Government and National Assembly of Iraq, there are covert and overt efforts to heighten insecurity, magnify and aggravate differences within Iraqi society, and instigate civil strife.
There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability. Numerous terrorists were apprehended by the Government of Iraq, only to be let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers.
What he did not say was that the efforts to "instigate civil strife" are largely funded, armed, and directed by his own government in Iran. He also did not mention that the terrorists who were "let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers" were released at the request of the government of Iraq under the formal claim by Iran that they were diplomats of Ahmadinejad's government.
This year Ahmadinejad was not as directly dishonest. This year he spoke in broader generalities to limit his hearers' ability to catch him on specifics, and twisted those generalities in a manner that would do MoveOn.org proud. Talking about Iran's nuclear weapons development program, for example, Ahmadinejad said
After three years of negotiations and attempts to build confidence, the Iranian nation came to the firm belief that the main concern of these powers is not the possible deviation of Iran's nuclear activities, but is to prevent its scientific progress under this pretext.
And, if this trend continues there will be no possibility for Iran to enjoy its rights, not even in the next 20 years. Therefore, Iran decided to pursue the issue through its appropriate legal path, one that runs through the IAEA, and to disregard unlawful and political impositions by the arrogant powers.
In the last two years, abusing the Security Council, the arrogant powers have repeatedly accused Iran and even made military threats and imposed illegal sanctions against it. However, by the grace of faith in God and national unity, Iran has moved forward step by step and now our country is recognized as one with the capacity for industrial scale fuel cycle production for peaceful uses.
Previously, they illegally insisted on politicizing the Iranian nation's nuclear case, but today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the Agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary Agency matter.
In this manner, Ahmadinejad announced to the United Nations that his government's nuclear program had passed what many nuclear analysts consider the "point of no return." In their judgement, no embargo or blockade can any longer prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons. The only ways left to stop Iran's nuclear weapon development are (1) to destroy their nuclear facilities or (2) to get the Iranian government (or its successor) to abandon its nuclear program as Libya and South Africa did.
That's really scary, but it's not the scariest part. The scariest part was when Ahmadinejad said
I would also like to announce that unlike the monopolistic powers, the Iranian nation is ready to offer to other members its experiences in the form of educational programs and based on its obligations under the Agency's Statute and under its supervision.
Thus did Ahmadinejad, which claims Iran "has fulfilled all of its obligations", announce that Iran intends to violate its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and spread nuclear technology to other countries. He did not state that Iran would also provide nuclear technology and materials to non-state entities, but one would have to be a complete fool to simply assume it would not.
There is also a major difference in the religious references in the two speeches. In last year's speech, Ahmadinejad began with a rather traditional Muslim introduction, saying
I praise the Merciful, All-Knowing and Almighty God for blessing me with another opportunity to address this Assembly on behalf of the great nation of Iran and to bring a number of issues to the attention of the international community.
and he closed that speech by saying
0, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.
This year he opened with a rather specific prayer for the return of the Mahdi, the savior hoped for by the Hojjatieh splinter sect of Shi'ite Islam (to which Ahmadinejad belongs, along with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr), saying
"Oh God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness"
The quotation marks around this prayer appear in the transcript as provided by IRNA. In a similar vein, Ahmadinejad closed his speech saying
I wish for a bright future for all human beings and the dawn of the liberation of and freedom for all humans, and the rule of love and affection all around the world, as well as the elimination of oppression, hatred and violence. A wish which I expect will be realized in the near future.
This sounds nice. Who could object to a bright future, with liberation and freedom, with love and affection, and with the elimination of oppression, hatred and violence? Only those who recognize the truly Orwellian use of the language by Sunni and Shi'ite extremists alike. To these extremists, the height of freedom the bright future without oppression, hatred and violence is represented by a Sunni or Shia version of the government of the Taliban. That is not a vision that any sane person would accept, or that any rational person would describe in such terms.
And look at his final sentence fragment: "A wish which I expect will be realized in the near future." Ahmadinejad expects the return of the Mahdi in "the near future." This is chilling. The Hojjatieh believe the Mahdi will return only when the world contains enough oppression, misery, tyranny, and sorrow to warrant his coming. As a result, they believe in spreading evil and creating chaos as their way to hasten his return. (See The Two Trees of Jihadism.)
These elements, and a lot of the rest of the speech, seem to be a call to Islam. In Islamic history, and apparently in the Koran, a call to Islam is required before an enemy is attacked. If the enemy submits, they are to be accepted and are not to be destroyed; if the enemy does not surrender and convert, their destruction is commanded. The call to Islam is, in such cases, the same as a declaration of war. (To be fair, Iran declared war against us years ago. It's just that we have ignored their war against us including, to a significant degree, the proxy war Iran is waging against us in Iraq.)
The call to Islam is exemplified by, among others, the excerpts from the speech given just below. When reading them, it is worth keeping in mind (as with the "bright future" above) that a large number of words and expressions mean quite different things to these people than to normal folks. The government of Iran, for example, regards opposition to it and its mullahs as obedience to Satan. And, too, these people are well practiced in the art of taqiyya.
The only sustainable way to the betterment of mankind is the return to the teachings of the divine prophets, monotheism, respect for the dignity of humans and the flow of love and affection in all relationships, ties and regulations, and to reform the present structures on this basis. ... Monotheism, justice and compassion for humans should dominate all the pillars of the UN and this organization should be a forum for justice, and every member should enjoy equal spiritual and legal support.
Nations are inherently good and can co-exist peacefully. They should endeavor to serve their own people; others that do not need them. Is it not high time for these powers to return from the path of arrogance and obedience to Satan to the path of faith in God? Would they not like to be cleansed of their impurities, submit to the will of God and believe in Him?
In this important gathering, I have to remind them of the following words of the Almighty which have been mentioned in the Holy Quran: "Do they not look at the powers and governments which came before them? If the people of the past had actually possessed something, they would have kept it and would not have let you possess it now. God destroyed them because of their sins and nobody could protect them against the will of God".
They have to know that thoughts and methods based on oppression and injustice are doomed to failure. Do they not see the signs of vigilance and resistance based on monotheism, philanthropy and the justice-seeking spirit of the nations of the world? Do they not notice that we are nearing the sunset of the time of empires? I hope that this invitation will have a practical answer.
The last excerpt makes the call to Islam "this invitation" explicit. "Do they not notice that we are nearing the sunset of the time of empires [i.e., of those Iran considers enemies]?" With Ahmadinejad's history, this is unlikely to be merely an historical observation. Given the beliefs of the Hojjatieh sect to which the leadership of Iran and its subsidiaries belong, it is doubtful that this is a hoped-for result they are waiting for God to produce. Under these conditions, this question reads like a notification and slightly veiled threat of new aggressive activity. That new activity might be something like the activity in the mid-17th century in southeastern Europe, but with more reach and Iran's new weapons.
UPDATE: James Lewis at American Thinker has noted many of the same things I've commented on here. He carries his analysis further, and makes specific projections and recommendations. Read his whole article.
One more thing: The statement Ahmadinejad made in his speech, as part of his call to Islam, that made me laugh out loud and made me decide to write this was when he said
Faith in God means believing in honesty, purity, justice and compassion for others!
It's not that this statement is false. The statement is true. It's just amazing that Ahmadinejad said it, because it raises the question of who or what it is that he has faith in. Given his personal record and that of the government he now leads, and by his own statement, the one thing that's sure is that it's not God.