Fred on Ahmadinejad

Personally, I thought Fred Thompson hit just precisely the right note on Columbia University’s decision to give a platform to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

I find it ironic that Iran’s president accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University, since students who dissent on Iranian campuses are not met with debate, they are met by a gun and imprisonment. A few months ago, eight college students were imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison for publishing articles and cartoons critical of Iran’s government in a student-run newspaper. The Evin facility has been described as Iran’s ‘most feared prison’ and is known to stone women to death. We need to do our best to empower freedom-loving people throughout Iran.

This, by the way, is the side of Fred that we need to see more consistently. While there are many different problems with giving Ahmadinejad a platform, I loved the way he pointedly ties this to the oppression of campus free speech in Iran (the same line he drew in his response to Michael Moore), which just pierces the hypocrisy of people who pretend like giving this man a platform is somehow advancing the cause of free speech and free inquiry on campus.
Given that we host the U.N., it wasn’t really feasible to deny Ahmadinejad a visa, but the man should not be extended a welcome anywhere. First of all, it should be remembered that the original reason why we don’t have diplomatic relations with his regime is that that regime – including Ahmadinejad personally, as one of the young hostage-takers – violated every norm of basic diplomacy and the most ancient and fundamental precepts of international relations and international law by seizing diplomats and holding them hostage for over a year. Add to that Iran’s longstanding sponsorship of terrorism against the United States and its allies, most vividly in the case of the 236 U.S. Marines killed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah in 1983, as well as Ahmadinejad’s (and the regime’s) longstanding threats against the existence of Israel, Holocaust-denial and plots to build nuclear weapons – none of which the regime has ever shown any remorse for – and you have a man whose appearance here has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with the raw assertion of power by an aggressive, terror-sponsoring tyranny.
For contrast, check out Tom Maguire’s lengthy demolition of two pitiable Josh Marshall screeds taking Ahmadinejad’s side in this controversy. Maguire notes that Marshall’s position puts him even to the left of his own party’s presidential candidates. Note that while Marshall concedes that “we officially don’t like him. And we classify the country he runs as a state sponsor of terrorism,” he is unable to force himself to admit that Iran actually is a sponsor of terrorism, since that would pretty well disintegrate his entire argument.
As Maguire notes, while Iran is not an Al Qaeda sponsor (with Hezbollah on the payroll, that would be redundant) it’s an overstatement to parrot the talking point about how the Iranians have no responsibility at all for September 11:

[W]hen Dr. Marshall says that “[Ahmadinejad] has absolutely nothing to do with 9/11” he is being disingenuous. From the 9-11 Commission we learned that 10 of the hijackers traveled through Iran en route to the US while Iranian border officials waved them through without leaving any eyebrow-raising passport stamps. Now, Ahmadinejad was not in power in 2000/2001, but as the current leader of the Iranian state he certainly bears symbolic responsibility.

Now, this puts Iran more on a par with the Saudis than, say, the Taliban; the conditions that led to September 11, after all, were the result of an entire region’s combination of fanaticism and terror-sponsoring tryannies (which had every incentive to look the other way at each other’s mischief). But it’s certainly further reason not to welcome the Iranian head of state to Ground Zero.

13 thoughts on “Fred on Ahmadinejad”

  1. I’m not impressed with the idea of banning him from the site – which, in reality we couldn’t do – at best, the NYPD would not escort him, but he could pop over to drop his wreath off without telling anyone. After all this, couldn’t you see the weasel do his just to poke us in the eye? As far as everything else – 9/11 was terrorism, he sponsors it, that’s enough.
    All in all, it would annoy me more if he went to go visit the Statue of Liberty.
    The reason I’m not impressed is President Bush’s hand holding, chummy, all around welcome to the Saudis when they visit. Considering it is the home of Wahhabism, the terrorists, and the financing, as well as much of the current AQI terrorists in Iraq – maybe you don’t want to put him on par with them.
    You know the absolute worst part about this? I believe this is exactly what he wanted. It wasn’t to give tribute, it wasn’t to speak about “go home yankee or else” – it was an American outcry about an Iranian politician who wanted to give his respects.
    He was here last year(from what I remember) and didn’t try to visit – his country is worse off now, and this will distract from it. Wonderful.

  2. There’s no better way to contrast the US and Iran than acting like them?
    Great idea.
    We’ve already shown we are superior to the old USSR by spying on our citizens, suspending Habeas Corpus, torturing our enemies, attacking a country that never attacked us, etc.

  3. As seems to be pretty typical of Fred Thompson (and many other politicians off all stripes) in that he said nothing here. The man’s an empty suit.
    Ahmadinejad is exercising free speech in a country that is vastly better than his own. He has he right to say his crapola and everyone within our borders has the right to call him on his B.S.
    I thought the Pres. of Columbia did a hell of an introduction. And, as predcted, Ahmadinejad avoided everything. I’ve read some of the transcript; Ahmadinejad sounds like a babbling fool.
    Addressing Macguire; isn’t every middle-eastern country tainted by the 9-11 hijackers? Tell me, what country in that region is entirely innocent? Oman?

  4. First, last, and everything else, Ahmadinejad is a thug. He wasn’t just involved in the hostage crisis, he was one of the leaders. So while we had to give him a visa, as a visiting head of state for the UN, we could indeed have stopped him from visiting Ground Zero. You could cull from the list of the zillions of cops who would probably volunteer to keep him and his crew from the site.
    Thompson said the right thing. OK, follow up with more than just a speech. He wants to empower freedom loving Iranians? I agree. How does he plan to? As a voter, I want to know.

  5. The solution to the Middle East is very simple, $20 oil. Don’t bother arguing that it can’t be done. The simple act of removing it from the commodity market would solve this nicely. Then every time there was a cloud in the Gulf of Mexico the price would not go up $5. Strategic resources shold not be used in this way. We could cut the price of oil by half over night.

  6. The maddirishman is right. Without the oil, no one would care about the Middle East. Back in 1972 I wrote a paper about this in Political Science class. Not that I was such a good prophet, but it is pretty easy to see.
    If we could get nuclear going again, build our own refineries, make hybrid work, etc.; then no one would have to let these crazy nuts draw us into their issues.

  7. Posted by Crank:
    That’s rather the point, is it not?
    Actually, his point was that Josh Marshall is a doofus. May or may not be the case, but his argument is not compelling.
    He misinterprets the, “looks Arab,” crack, gets his panties in a bunch over some gender exclusive language and makes a nonsensical comparison to Ahmadinejad at Columbia versus Summers at Irvine.
    No one, not a soul on this planet, gets to use Ground Zero as a backdrop. Not cool to have Karzai there, not cool for Ahmadinejad. Marshall was, I think, referring to the policy that some can use it and others can’t. I think it’s horsesh!t for anyone to use this site.
    Too bad Maguire was offended by the, “act like a man,” line. Attacking the language rather than the meaning is the tactic of weakness.
    Rumsfeld and Rice would be welcome speakers anywhere. They may get a cold reception, but neither is lacking for outlets for their points of view.
    The last bit from Frank J about a Thompson administration is the dumbest piece I’ve read in a while. Conservatives just loe to think their guy is a two-fisted barroom brawler. A Thompson administration would continue the same numbnuts policies we have now. Or do you think a new guy with a better camera presence is going to be better than what we have now?

  8. 1. I don’t have a problem with Karzai coming there; his country, too, suffered under the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
    2. The Frank J. thing is a running gag. The latest one compares Fred to Aquaman.
    3. I assume you are aware that Stanford’s faculty is presently trying to get a speaking invitation to Rumsfeld rescinded on grounds that he is beyond the pale of civilization, etc.? They’ve got something like 3000 signatures for their petition. Lovers of free speech all, I assume.

  9. The faculty at Stanford is expressing their free speech.
    Thompson should only be compared to Frankenberry.
    Okay, Karzai is OK at the WTC. How about Hillary or Charlie Rangel. No one should use the site for personal or political gain. This isn’t making a speech at Gettysburg. This is opportunism and exploiting the tragedy for your side.

  10. Check out the hit piece on Fred Thompson, including a few things the media never talks about. To read it go to

  11. Good to see Maddirish & Lee embracing that Free market capitalism that Republicans are famous for.
    What else would you guys like to see regulated?

  12. Maguire notes:
    …10 of the hijackers traveled through Iran en route to the US while Iranian border officials waved them through without leaving any eyebrow-raising passport stamps. Now, Ahmadinejad was not in power in 2000/2001, but as the current leader of the Iranian state he certainly bears symbolic responsibility.
    Since 19 Hijackers got waved through U.S. customs, by the same standard George W. Bush should be awarded 200% of the same “symbolic responsibility.”

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