News Release

UN Gathering & Private Meeting with Ahmadinejad


Zunes was part of a private two-hour meeting today with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Zunes is Middle East editor of Foreign Policy in Focus, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism.
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Author of the book The UN For Beginners, Williams writes about the United Nations for various publications including The Nation and The Guardian. He said today: “UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon may finally be growing into the job. After nine months of putting his faith in the White House, the U.S. will actually be $2 billion in arrears to the UN by the end of the year, including hundreds of millions needed for the peacekeeping force in Darfur.

“And after giving Israel a pass, he has eventually issued a statement sternly condemning Israel’s threat to … cut off electricity and water to Gaza. Ban-Ki Moon apparently is beginning to be mindful of the concerns of the non aligned countries as well as the U.S. and Israel.

“Ahmadinejad is obviously not a human rights poster boy. But why is he being demonized in this way? Some people want another disastrous war, this time against Iran. Why is India, and now Israel [both non-signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], being allowed nuclear technology by the U.S., when NPT signatory Iran is threatened with sanctions and warfare? Selective non-proliferation IS proliferation.”
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Executive director of the Global Policy Forum which monitors the UN, Paul said today: “There were many protest signs that read ‘Ahmadinejad is Hitler.’ There were also anti-Bush protests, with ‘Bush is Hitler’ signs. It’s sad that people are using this Hitler analogy so loosely and engaging in a one-dimensional discourse around the UN General Assembly session. Columbia president Lee Bollinger betrayed his ignorance on Iran when he called Ahmadinejad a ‘dictator’ — since the Iranian president’s power is actually quite limited. No one is thinking seriously, not even Bollinger, a well-known scholar of the law and free speech.

“At the UN, Bush cynically talked about Burma, Zimbabwe, Darfur and other crises, to position the United States government as the defender of justice and human rights, useful diversions from the violence and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Like most other leaders at the UN, Bush was speaking firstly to his domestic audience, trying to appear the statesman and even the supporter of the UN.

“Bush mentioned Iran only very briefly — a relief since many expected new threats that might lay the basis for military attacks. Another small piece of good news from the U.S. president: He announced that the U.S. would buy grain from local markets following disasters rather than dumping [U.S. grain]. If true, that would be a change from long-standing and very damaging policy, that has ruined agriculture in many poor countries.”

“The UN gathering of the world’s leaders reminds us that they are a disappointing lot. They offer high-flown rhetoric, but their practice is tragically short of what we need. They produce ‘spin’ and a language of power, when we need truth, honesty and justice.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.