Syria accuses US of deadly raid

Syria has accused the United States of killing at least eight people in a helicopter raid in the country’s east, close to the border with Iraq.

The government condemned the act as “serious aggression” and summoned the senior US and Iraqi envoys to Damascus to protest against the raid, the Syrian Arab news agency (Sana) reported on Sunday.

A US military official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press in Washington that the raid by US special forces were targeting al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” AP quoted him as saying.

Syrian state television said American helicopters raided the village of Sukariya, which lies 550km northeast of Damascus, before flying back towards Iraqi territory.

“Four American helicopters violated Syrian airspace around 4:45pm local time [13:45 GMT] on Sunday,” state television and Sana news agency reported.

During the raids, two of the helicopters landed and dropped off eight US soldiers, who then entered a house, Syrian media reported.

“American soldiers … attacked a civilian building under construction and fired at workmen inside, causing eight deaths,” the reports said.

Children killed

The government said civilians were among the dead, including four children.

“Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions”

Syrian government statement
“Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch and immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria,” a government statement said.

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been some instances in which American troops crossed areas of the 600-km border in pursuit of fighters, or aircraft violating Syria’s airspace.

But Sunday’s raid, if confirmed, would be the first conducted by aircraft and on such a large scale.

Akram Hameed, one of the injured who said he was fishing in the Euphrates river, told Syrian television he saw four helicopters coming from the border area under a heavy blanket of fire.

“One of the helicopters landed in an agricultural area and eight members disembarked,” the man in his 40s said. “The firing lasted about 15 minutes and when I tried to leave the area on my motorcycle, I was hit by a bullet in the right arm about 20 metres away,” he said.

Syria TV showed what it said was the injured wife of the building’s guard, in bed in hospital with a tube in her nose, saying that two helicopters landed and two remained in the air during the attack.

US reaction

The alleged attack came just days after the commander of US forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

US Major-General John Kelly said on Thursday that Iraq’s western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a “different story”.

IN VIDEO

US raid on Syrian soil
“The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side,” Kelly said. “We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement.”

However, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Hughes, a spokesman for US forces in western Iraq, said the US division that operates on the Iraqi side of the border was not involved in Sunday’s incident.

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington said he had no immediate information on the reported strike but would check further while the White House and CIA declined to comment.

The US and the US-backed Iraqi government frequently say Damascus is not doing enough to stop anti-US fighters, including those from al-Qaeda, from crossing the border into Iraq.

The area targeted by Sunday’s raid lies close to the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which in the past has been a crossing point for fighters, weapons and money used to fuel the armed Sunni opposition against Iraq’s Shia-led government.

Thabet Salem, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the US had appeared to have taken the building workers for infiltrators.

“The Syrian government will be very worried because from the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003 until now, nothing has happened [in Syria]. There have maybe been a few cases, but nothing like eight people killed inside Syria,” he said.

“It will raise questions as to why this is happening at this moment – towards the end of the current US administration.

“Syria has deployed large numbers [of security staff] and they have checkpoints every four kilometres along the border. The Syrians have, according to my information, stopped five or six thousand people trying to cross the Syria-Iraq border throughout the last few years.”

Iraq security

The raid comes 10 days after Iraqi forces arrested seven Syrian “terrorist” suspects at a checkpoint near the city of Baquba, a base for al-Qaeda fighters, the Iraqi government said.

But last month, Jalal Talabani, Iraq’s president, told his US counterpart George Bush that Iran and Syria no longer pose a problem to Iraqi security.

Syria’s first ambassador to Iraq in 26 years took up his post in Baghdad this month, bringing more than two decades of discord between the nations to an end.

In September, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said she had met Walid Muallem, Syria’s foreign minister, to discuss Middle East peace efforts.

Syrian and American diplomats said the talks touched on Iraq, Lebanon and Middle East peace negotiations.

Ref: Al Jazeera

How the most powerful nation disabled itself – US: security’s bottom line

Just 15 numbers tell the history of the past seven years, in which a once wealthy and relatively secure nation near-bankrupted itself, pursued chimeras and funded chaos-causing wars that left it poorer and less safe then ever before.

Once upon a time, I studied the Chinese martial art of tai chi, until I realised I would never locate my “chi”. At that point I threw in the towel and took up western exercise. Still, the principle behind tai chi stayed with me, that you could multiply the force of an act by giving way before the force of others; that a smaller person could use the strength of a bigger one against him. Now, jump to 11 September 2001 and its aftermath, and you know the tai chi version of history from there. Think of it as a grim cosmic joke that the 9/11 attacks, as apocalyptic as they looked, were anything but. The true disasters followed and the wounds were largely self-inflicted, as the most militarily powerful nation on the planet used its own force to disable itself.

Before that fateful day, the Bush administration had considered terrorism, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida subjects for suckers. They were intent on pouring money into developing an elaborate boondoggle of a missile defence system against future nuclear attacks by rogue states. Those cold war high frontiersmen (and women) couldn’t get enough of the idea of missiling up. That was where the money and the fun seemed to be. Nuclear was where the big boys – the nation states – played. “Bin Laden determined to strike in US” the CIA told the president that August. Yawn.

After 9/11, George W Bush and his top advisers almost instantly launched their crusade against Islam and then their wars, all under the rubric of the “global war on terror”. (As Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld pungently put the matter that September, “We have a choice – either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable, or to change the way that they live; and we chose the latter.”) By then, they were already heading out to “drain the swamp” of evildoers, 60 countries worth of them, if necessary. Meanwhile, they moved quickly to fight the last battle at home, the one just over, by squandering vast sums on an American Maginot Line of security. The porous new Department of Homeland Security, the NSA, the FBI, and other acronymic agencies were to lock down, surveil and listen in on America. All this to prevent “the next 9/11”.

In the process, they would treat bin Laden’s scattered al-Qaida network as if it were the Nazi or Soviet war machine (even comically dubbing his followers “Islamofascists”). In the blinking of an eye, and in the rubble of two enormous buildings in downtown Manhattan, bin Laden and his cronies had morphed from nobodies into supermen, a Legion of Doom. (There was a curious parallel to this transformation in the second world war. As historian John Dower documented in his book War Without Mercy, before Pearl Harbour American experts had considered the Japanese bucktoothed, near-sighted military incompetents whose warplanes were barely capable of flight. On 8 December 1941 they suddenly became a race of invincible supermen without, in the American imagination, ever passing through a human incarnation.)

Homeland insecurity
When, in October 2001, Congress passed the Patriot Act, and an Office of Homeland Security (which in 2002 became a “department”) was established, we were welcomed to the era of homeland insecurity. From then on, every major building, landmark, amusement park, petting zoo, flea market, popcorn stand and tollbooth anywhere in the country would be touted as a potential target for terrorists and in need of protection. Every police department would be in desperate need of anti-terror funding. And why not, when the terrorists loomed so monstrously large, were so apocalyptically capable, and wanted so very badly to destroy our way of life? No wonder that, in the 2006 National Asset Database, compiled by the Department of Homeland Security, the state of Indiana, “with 8,591 potential terrorist targets, had 50% more listed sites than New York (5,687) and more than twice as many as California (3,212), ranking the state the most target-rich place in the nation”.

In the administration’s imagination (and the American one), they were now capable of anything. From their camps in the backlands of Afghanistan (or was it the suburbs of Hamburg?), as well as in the murky global underworld of the arms black market, al-Qaida’s minions were toiling to lay their hands on the most fiendish of plagues and pestilences – smallpox, botulism, anthrax. They were preparing to fill suitcases with nuclear weapons for deposit in downtown Manhattan. They were gathering nuclear refuse for dirty bombs. Nothing was too mad or destructive for them. Every faint but strange odour – the sweet smell of maple syrup floating across a city – was a potential bio-attack. And everywhere, even in rural areas, politicians were preparing to run imminent-danger, anti-terror campaigns, while urging their constituents to run for cover.

So, thank you, Osama bin Laden for expediting the Department of Homeland Security, glutting an already-bloated Pentagon with even more money, ensuring that all those “expeditionary forces” would sally forth to cause havoc and not find victory in two hopeless wars, enabling the establishment of a vast offshore prison network (and the torture techniques to go with it), and creating a whole new global “security” industry to “thwart terrorists” that was, by 2006, generating $60bn a year in business, its domestic wing devoted to locking down America.

When the history of this era is finally written, Osama bin Laden and his scattering of followers may be credited for goading the fundamentalist leaders of the United States into using the power in their grasp so stupidly and profligately as to send the planet’s sole superpower into decline. Above all, bin Laden and his crew of fanatics will have ensured that the real security problems of our age were ignored in Washington until far too late in favour of mad dreams and dark phantoms. In this lies a bleak but epic tale of folly worthy of a great American novelist. In the meantime, consider the following list – 15 numbers that offer an indication of just what the tai chi principle meant in action these last years; just where American energies did and did not flow; and, in the end, just how much less safe we are now than we were in January 2001, when George Bush entered the Oval Office:

536,000,000,000: the number of dollars the Pentagon is requesting for the 2009 military budget. This represents an increase of almost 70% over the Pentagon’s 2001 budget of $316bn, and that’s without factoring in “supplementary” requests to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the president’s global war on terror. Add in those soaring sums and military spending has more than doubled in the Bush era. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since 2001, funding for “defence and related programmes… has jumped at an annual average rate of 8%… four times faster than the average rate of growth for social security, Medicare, and Medicaid (2%), and 27 times faster than the average rate for growth for domestic discretionary programmes (0.3%).”

1,390,000: the number of subprime foreclosures over the next two years, as estimated by Credit Suisse analysts. They also predict that, by the end of 2012, 12.7% of all residential borrowers may be out of their homes as part of a housing crisis that caught the Bush administration totally off-guard.

1,000,000: the number of “missions” or “sorties” the US air force proudly claims to have flown in the Global War on Terror since 9/11, about 353,000 of them in what it still likes to call Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is a good measure of where American energies (and oil purchases) have gone these last years.

509,000: the number of names found in 2007 on a “terrorist watch list” compiled by the FBI. No longer is a Ten Most Wanted list adequate. According to ABC News, “US lawmakers and their spouses have been detained because their names were on the watch list” and Saddam Hussein was on the list even when in US custody. By February 2008, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, the names on the list had ballooned to 900,000.

300,000: the number of American troops who now suffer from major depression or post-traumatic stress, according to a recent RAND study. This represents almost one out of every five soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Approximately 320,000 “report possible brain injuries from explosions or other head wounds”. This, RAND reports, represents a barely dealt with major health crisis. The depression and PTSD will, the study reported, “cost the nation as much as $6.2bn in the two years following deployment”.

51,000: the number of post-surge Iraqi prisoners held in American and Iraqi jails at the end of 2007. The US now runs “perhaps the world’s largest extra-judicial internment camp” (1), Camp Bucca, in Iraq, whose holding capacity is being expanded from 20,000 to 30,000 prisoners. Then there’s Camp Cropper, with at least 4,000 prisoners, including “hundreds of juveniles” (2). Many of these prisoners were simply swept up in surge raids and have been held without charges or access to lawyers or courts ever since. Add in prisoners (in unknown numbers) in our sizeable network of prisons in Afghanistan, at Guantanamo, and in offshore and borrowed prisons; add in the widespread mistreatment of prisoners at American hands; and you have the machinery for the manufacture of vast numbers of angry potential enemies, some willing to commit almost any act of revenge.

Though there is no way to tabulate the numbers, many tens of thousands of prisoners, at least, have cycled through the Bush administration’s various prisons in these last seven years, many emerging embittered. (And don’t forget their embittered families.) Think of all this as an enormous dystopian experiment in “social networking”, a Facebook from Hell.

5,700: the number of trailers in New Orleans, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as temporary housing after Hurricane Katrina, still occupied by people who lost their homes in the storm almost three years ago. They have been found to contain toxic levels of formaldehyde fumes. Katrina was but one of many security disasters for the Bush administration.

658: the number of suicide bombings worldwide last year, including 542 in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than double the number in any of the past 25 years (3). Of all the suicide bombings in the past 25 years, more than 86% have occurred since 2001, according to US government experts. At least one bomber, who died in a recent coordinated wave of suicide bombings in the Iraqi city of Mosul, was a Kuwaiti, Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi, who had spent years locked up in Guantanamo.

511: the number of applicants convicted of felony crimes, including burglary, grand larceny, and aggravated assault, who were accepted into the US army in 2007, more than double the 249 accepted in 2006. According to the New York Times, between 2006 and 2007, those enrolled with convictions for wrongful possession of drugs (not including marijuana) almost doubled. For burglaries, the number almost tripled, for grand larceny/larceny it more than doubled, for robbery it more than tripled, for aggravated assault it went up by 30%, and for “terroristic threats including bomb threats” it doubled (from one to two). Feel more secure?

132: the number of dollars it took to buy a barrel of crude oil on the international market towards the end of May (4). Meanwhile the average price of a gallon of regular gas at the pump in the US hit $3.88, while the price of gas jumped almost 20 cents in Michigan in a week and 36 cents in Utah in a month. As Memorial Day weekend arrived, a time when Americans traditionally hit the road, the average price for a gallon of gas in the state of California crossed the $4 barrier. Just after the 9/11 attacks, a barrel of crude oil was in the $20 range; at the time of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, it was at about $30. In other words, since 9/11, a barrel of crude has risen more than $100 without the Bush administration taking any serious steps to promote energy conservation, cut down on the US oil addiction, or develop alternative energy strategies (beyond a dubious programme to produce more ethanol).

82: the percentage of Americans who think “things in this country have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track”, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. This is the gloomiest Americans have been about the “direction” of the country in the last 15 years.

40: the percentage loss “on a trade-weighted basis” in the value of the dollar since 2001. The dollar’s share of total world foreign exchange reserves has also dropped from 73% to 64% in that same period. According to the Center for American Progress, “By early May 2008, a dollar bought 42.9% fewer euros, 35.7% fewer Canadian dollars, 37.7% fewer British pounds, and 17.3% fewer Japanese yen than in March 2001.”

37: the number of countries that have experienced protests or riots in recent months due to soaring food prices, a global crisis of insecurity that caught the Bush administration completely unprepared. In the last year, the price of wheat has risen by 130%, of rice by 74%, of soya by 87%, and of corn by 31%.

0: the number of terrorist attacks by al-Qaida or similar groups inside the United States since 11 September 2001.

So consider the homeland secure. Mission accomplished.

One last figure, representative of the ultimate insecurity that, by conscious omission as well as commission, the Bush administration has left a harried future to deal with. That number is 387. Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii have just released new information on carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere, and it’s at a record high of 387 parts per million, “up almost 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest for at least the last 650,000 years”. Its rate of increase is on the rise as well. Behind all these figures lurks a potential world of insecurity with which this country has not yet come to grips.

Ref: Le Mond By Tom Engelhardt,e

Inside USA – Lobbying for Israel – 05 April 08 – Part 1

Ref: Al Jazeera

More about Israeli Lobby >

pakistan-and-the-israel-lobby
The Chorus of Slander on Palestine – Our Lobby’s Interes
So Who Is Afraid Of the Israeli Lobby?

AMERICANISM: America is Not at War, America is at the Mall

I recently came across a photo of a handwritten sign in a US military facility in Ramadi, Iraq. The sign read, “America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall.” The sign reflects a perception among many US soldiers and their families that the American people are not sharing in their sacrifice.

It is a perception grounded in reality…, who is really sacrificing? Certainly not members of Congress. We will not wake up tomorrow in harm’s way in Baghdad or Fallujah. …I propose we change this dynamic by raising taxes on nearly every American in order to pay for the war in Iraq.

…It is reasonable to assume that the cost will approach $800 billion by the time Bush leaves office. I will soon introduce legislation to impose a “surtax” to begin paying for future war costs that have not been budgeted and paid for by existing federal revenues. This war surtax is modeled on similar surtaxes imposed during World War II and the Vietnam War to cover war costs.

…My surtax proposal is not an additional tax on income; rather, it is a tax on tax liability.For example, if a low-income taxpayer owes $100 in taxes, he would be subject to an additional 2 percent surtax of $2. Wealthy taxpayers would pay a higher percentage. Corporations, trusts, and estates would also be subject to the surtax.Needless to say, this idea of a surtax makes my colleagues – Democrat and Republican – exceedingly nervous. No politician likes to talk about raising taxes. But somebody, someday, somewhere will pay the hundreds of billions we have borrowed so far for this war.

My conservative colleagues will argue that we should cut spending to cover the costs. That’s nice rhetoric, but it’s not real. Are we going to eliminate the entire departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services? Or how about eliminating all funding for the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Energy, Interior, Treasury, the EPA, and NASA combined?

That’s what it would take to fund just one year of the Iraq war. Some of my fellow antiwar liberals believe that since the war in Iraq is wrong, they do not want to pay for it. But isn’t it also wrong to force future generations to pay for it?I voted against the war in Iraq. I have consistently fought to bring the war to an immediate end and to bring our troops home.

I believe it is the worst political, military, and diplomatic tragedy in our history.But to force our children to pay for that tragedy would only compound it. The war in Iraq has been this generation’s mistake. It should not be the next generation’s burden.We have an opportunity to say to our soldiers and their families that we are in this together; that their fellow citizens are also sacrificing just a little bit.That’s a message worth sending.

US Representative James P. McGovern represents the Third District of Massachusetts.

Ref: Boston

AND NOW YOU CAN BUY THE T-SHIRT

AMERICA THE STUPID (from the inside)


?

http://www.informatics-review.com/FAQ…

http://www.washtimes.com/national/200…

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harr…

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion…

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne…

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/3/…

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/sci…

http://webspace.utexas.edu/cokerwr/ww…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/amer…

http://www.coreknowledge.org

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci…

The Bollinger/Ahmadinejad farce

Imagine the scene: As angry protesters march outside, a nation’s unpopular president prepares to address students and faculty at a prestigious university. Introducing the president, the head of the university is bluntly critical of his guest speaker: “You, quite simply, [are] ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated. . . . I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer [our] questions . . . I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes so much of what you say and do. . . . Your preposterous and belligerent statements . . . led to your party’s defeat in the [last] elections.”

Unfazed, the president rises to begin his speech. His sometimes bizarre remarks generate hoots of derision. But he plows on civilly, though he ducks and weaves when faced with critical questions from the audience.

When the clock runs out, many are dissatisfied with his answers. But everyone applauds the courageous head of the university, who wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power, and everyone praises the student protesters, who exemplified the democratic values of dissent and free expression.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if something like that could happen in our country?

No, no, I mean really happen in our country. Tuesday’s farce in New York at Columbia University, starring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the Unpopular Presidential Guest and Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger as The Man Who Spoke Truth to Power, doesn’t count because it was just that: a farce.

Ahmadinejad was playing to global public opinion, and though he lost some PR points for incoherence and general bizarreness of message (“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals”), he gained some for coming off as a bit more mature than his prissy, infantile host. (“In Iran, when you invite a guest, you respect them,” Ahmadinejad observed dryly.)

Bollinger, meanwhile, was playing to a different audience. After taking a beating for giving Ahmadinejad a forum, he was eager to show the media, alumni, concerned Jewish organizations and a raft of bellicose neoconservative pundits that he was no terrorist-loving appeaser of Holocaust deniers.

In a narrow sense, both Ahmadinejad and Bollinger achieved their goals. Ahmadinejad showed that he could be dignified in the face of crass American bullies, which will play well abroad — and may even buttress his dwindling prestige in Iran. And Bollinger showed that he can be a crass American bully, which, in our current political climate, is what passes for “courage.”

Bollinger’s tactics went down well with the New York media, anyway: The New York Sun rhapsodized about a “Teaching Moment,” while the New York Times expressed the pious hope that “what Americans and Iranians will remember is that image of professors and students, in a true democratic forum.” And Bollinger seemed quite pleased with his own performance. The Bollinger-Ahmadinejad Show was “free speech at its best,” Bollinger modestly explained to reporters.

Sorry, no. “Free speech at its best” is when someone really does speak truth to power, and power stops blathering long enough to engage with inconvenient ideas. If an Iranian professor, inside Iran, had said what Bollinger said to Ahmadinejad, that would have been brave.

Or — stay with me here — if Bollinger had invited President Bush to Columbia and made those same unvarnished remarks to him, and Bush had toughed it out and struggled to answer half a dozen unfiltered, critical questions from an audience not made up of his handpicked supporters . . . . Well, that too would have been free speech at its best.

Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of thing you’re likely to see in America.

It’s odd, because Bush — like Ahmadinejad — makes plenty of statements that, to paraphrase the eloquent Mr. Bollinger, could be characterized as ridiculous, provocative, uneducated and fanatical. (Take Bush’s repeated suggestion of a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, for instance.) And as in the case of Ahmadinejad, some of Bush’s preposterous and belligerent statements contributed to the GOP’s defeat in the last elections.

But so what? Here in the land of free speech, elites — including those at universities — too often collude to keep our own president in his safe little bubble. (Those who forget to pretend that the emperor is fully dressed, such as Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents Assn. dinner or Jimmy Carter at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, are instantly chastised for being “inappropriate.”)

This week, a global audience saw Iran’s “petty and cruel dictator,” as Bollinger called him, courteously parrying questions from hostile students — something viewers won’t see our democratically elected president doing.

So fine, let’s congratulate ourselves for showing Iran just how many freedoms we have in America. But when we get done congratulating ourselves on our fancy freedoms, let’s figure out why we can’t be bothered to put them to use.

Ref:LA Times

Also read iranian-university-chancellors-ask-bollinger-10-questions and
the whole speach

Comments Reg. Bollinger’s Treatment of Ahmadinejad

Embarassed American:
An open letter to Mr. Lee Bollinger:

Thank you, Mr. Bollinger. Thank you for so eloquently showing the Iranian people and government exactly what it means to be an American. Thank you for showing them that Americans are intolerant, spiteful, vitriol-spewing hate mongers. Thank you for showing them that Americans cannot be gracious hosts, even as we invite them to speak at our universities. I would like to know what you expected to gain by your tirade. Did it work? Do you feel better now?
I do agree with one thing that you said – I only wish you could have done a better job representing America.

(Ref: Post Global)

Columbia President Bollinger Introduces Ahmadinejad

Also read iranian-university-chancellors-ask-bollinger-10-questions


2:07 p.m. | Mr. Ahmadinejad began his speech by reciting verses from the Koran in Arabic. Addressing Dean Coatsworth and the audience, he said he was grateful to God for the opportunity to speak in an academic environment.

Mr. Ahmadinejad began: “At the outset, I want to complain a bit about the person who read this political statement against me. In Iran, tradition requires that when we invite a person to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don’t think it’s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims…”

Ahmadinejad Responds to ‘Unfriendly Treatment’

Ref: NY Times

September 26th,
2007
3:37 pm
Today, Mr. Bollinger vigorously strove to keep his name in the media spotlight, despite his lack of importance.
He could have just pointed out that as the president of a university, he has no understanding of tact or the need for diplomacy when dealing with foreign heads of state.
Also, apropos of nothing much, I think he looks strikingly like a leprechaun.
— Posted by Dan Stackhouse
2.
September 26th,
2007
3:44 pm
The event was handled extremely well. As the leader of an important nation, Ahmadinejad should be given the chance to voice his views; and students and faculty — as well as those following the story — should be given the chance to decide that he’s a liar and a nut.
— Posted by Andrew
3.
September 26th,
2007
3:48 pm
As a native Brooklynite and former Columbia student, I’m more than used to abrasive New York types–I’m one myself. But at a serious international dialogue you play by different rules. Bollinger should have simply said, “Sir, there have been reports of X,Y, and Z happening in Iran. Are they true? What do you say to your critics?” Intead, he waded in with a baseball bat: crude, rude, and
an embarrassment all around. It’s easy to win a debate with Ahmadinejad: just
let him babble away. But don’t begin
with a carpet-bombing attack.
— Posted by Peter Heinegg
4.
September 26th,
2007
3:49 pm
“Whether I would’ve invited him on my own in light of this, I’m just not addressing.”
What did Bollinger expect? Columbia (okay Pres., not you specifically, geez) invited a terrorist funding, holocaust revising, advocate for genocide in Israel (ironic, don’t you think), anti-gay, anti-woman, President of a country funding weapons to people killing Americans in Iraq.
Did Bollinger think Columbia was inviting a flower-arranger?
— Posted by Michael
5.
September 26th,
2007
3:52 pm
It’s one thing to offer a thoughtful critique of this leader’s policy, and another to revert to petty name calling as Mr. Bollinger has done. His remarks were not only completely disrespectful; they were immature. Many people will regard them as arrogant. Ahmadinejad most certainly scored points in the world arena; it’s no wonder such an enormous chasm exists between veiws shared by Americans and veiws shared by the rest of the world.
— Posted by Mithu Molla
6.
September 26th,
2007
3:59 pm
I despise Mr. Ahmadinejad’s positions such as his shameless denial of the Holocaust and his shameless lies trying to spin away the existence of gays, or defending the treatment of women and academics as fair, or trying to claim that their nuke program is peaceful. However, I feel that Mr. Bollinger is nothing but a pompous lawyer who likes to hear his own voice. So what, if Mr. Bollinger gave him a headmaster-like dressing down, deservedly so? If they had to give him a forum, they should have limited his speech to five or ten minutes, and asked him to take unscreened questions from the faculty and students of Columbia on the floor for the rest of that session. Also, if we Americans are so eager to treat foreign leaders with such critical scrutiny, how about turning inwards and asking questions of our own leaders who talked about WMD’s and led us to war in Iraq?
— Posted by Jack
7.
September 26th,
2007
4:02 pm
This is getting a little ridonculous. Last week people, including the mayor, the police chief, and folks on this site were throwing a hissy fit that he was even coming to the states, saying how it was an affront to God and decency and the victims of 9-11.
The kind of public reaction that Columbia’s invitation fetched virtually necessitated that Bollinger come down as hard as humanly possible on Ahmadinejad in order to make it clear that he wasn’t “providing a platform for hatespeech” or something. Now we’re throwing the opposite tantrum, saying we shouldn’t have disrespected him so much? Where’s the beef? Where’s the backbone?
— Posted by Russell
8.
September 26th,
2007
4:09 pm
Bollinger’s questions were not concisely phrased enough to pin Ahmadinejad down. Instead of “What about the rights of gays and women?” Bollinger should have asked “Is it the policy of your government to execute homosexuals?” Instead of “Is there freedom of religion?”, a better question is “Is practice of the Bahai religion against the law in Iran?”
Asking such simple, clear, pointed questions with clear yes/no answers would have been more effective than the professional wrestling-style call-out that preceded Ahmadinejad’s speech.
— Posted by Lars
9.
September 26th,
2007
4:09 pm
Why was the name of Columbia University blacked
out on the Lecturn Mr. Bollinger?
Please explain.
Thank you.
— Posted by Paul D.
10.
September 26th,
2007
4:18 pm
Bollinger aside, as a friend put it:
“It makes you think how idiots are ruling these two nation.
One believes Iraq was behind 9/11
the other thinks the holocaust never happened
one thinks Nelson Mandela is dead
the othr thinks homosexuals do not exist in his country….
now…is it the leaders who are the idiots and delusional…or the people who elected them into office?”
— Posted by c eisenhart
11.
September 26th,
2007
4:19 pm
Mr. Bollinger’s allegation that this was freedom of speech at its best is nonsense; the world is well aware of Ahmadinejad’s demagogic views. Donating a platform to the Iranian president’s–by necessity, toned down–propaganda merely helps to legitimize him.
— Posted by Allison
12.
September 26th,
2007
4:19 pm
Bollinger seriously embarrassed himself, Columbia and the nation. What a fool. If you would have told me that he could have gotten up before Mr. Ahmadinejad and made a speech that made him look like the idiot I wouldn’t have believed you, but alas, he did
— Posted by mike
13.
September 26th,
2007
4:22 pm
Mr. Ahmadinejad has much to thank Bollinger for, he couldn’t have asked for a better propaganda speech to show around the world. Thanks for making us look like hypocrites Bollinger.
Yes we have freedom of speech here, but only after we lob 20 or 30 ad hominem attacks at you…
— Posted by mark
14.
September 26th,
2007
4:24 pm
Bollinger was disrespectful to–wait for it–Ahmedinijad? Hmm. During the McCarthy period, the playwright Lillian Hellman was suspected of Communist sympathies because she had been an early opponent of Hitler and Mussolini, as were many Communists. In contrast, most Western liberals were very late to the game (they continually wanted to “listen to” and “engage” Hitler). Surprised by this logic, Hellman asked if it were really possible to have opposed fascism too soon. Bollinger could say the same thing about this bozo. When would it be OK for him to light into Ahmedinijad? After Iran takes out Tel-Aviv? Bollinger owed Ahmedinijad NOTHING but the opportunity to respond. Ahmedinijad refused to do so. Res ipsa loquitor.
— Posted by Richmond
15.
September 26th,
2007
4:28 pm
To underscore the validity of the event, Columbia should have extended an invitation to Borat to debate Ahmadinejad. Then, it might have been worthwhile to see.
— Posted by Nancy
16.
September 26th,
2007
4:28 pm
Bollinger’s comments were a disgrace to American education. He tried to have it both ways and ended up losing any credibility he could have possibly earned by making sharp, legitimate points while not reverting to cheap & petty schoolyard name-calling. He made the freak Iranian president look like a voice of reason in comparison despite his loony statements…
— Posted by Greg
17.
September 26th,
2007
4:28 pm
This is like asking a rapist to tell his side of the story. Free speech is not about giving criminal free publicity.
— Posted by A. Ross
18.
September 26th,
2007
4:28 pm
What’s telling here is that now even Iranians who despised Ahmadinejad, and there are many, sympathize with the petty dictator and his stature and status has been undeservedly raised. The ultimate challenge for America now is to find leadership (academic and gov’t) with the intellect, insight and maturity to actually lead. We don’t really need enemies when we have leaders like Bush and Bollinger shooting their mouths, and our own feet, off.
— Posted by Mangey1
19.
September 26th,
2007
4:31 pm
What is the problem? We do have free speach don’t we? As long as people can talk and share ideas we will have freedom. Lord keep those away from me that would limit what I hear and what I can say!
— Posted by Douglas Pierson
20.
September 26th,
2007
4:32 pm
Why didn’t Mr “I did not extend the invitation to him” Bollinger step aside and let a more civil leader of the group that did extend the invitation do the introduction?
— Posted by Richard
21.
September 26th,
2007
4:34 pm
This was Democracy at it’s best. The President of Iran having his public forum & the President of Columbia University giving his opinion of the Iranian President.
I personally do not agree with anything that Mr. Ahmadinejad says but letting him speak was the right thing to do.
Norman
— Posted by Norman Solow
22.
September 26th,
2007
4:35 pm
Given the fact that President Ahmadinejad started the ramp-up of threats and rhetoric after being elected President and, if nothing else, has even escalated his belligerence of late, I don’t fault Mr. Bollinger at all!
We’ve seen President Ahmadinejad dodge and refuse to answer direct questions from various interviewers. This is typical of a tyrant and a Stalinesque regime, where the mere asking might get you hung.
Did you notice in his UN speech, his half-dozen points or so, the 1st dealt with women? I counted at least 5 times that he used the word “chastity” in describing the ideal woman. No where did I hear that word used in describing men.
Don’t chunk you chadors in Iran, girls!
— Posted by Sid L
23.
September 26th,
2007
4:36 pm
Once upon a time, the Iranian leadership could have soothed themselves with the concept that their policies clashed with the interests of the US government but not with the values of the American people. As of now, the Iranian leadership should be on notice that the disagreement is fundamental and runs much deeper than the policies of an unpopular American President.
While I regret any perceived rudeness from Lee Bollinger, I don’t think that there is a pleasant way to articulate such profound disagreements – the kind of disgreements that are based on the values that in fact justify the very existence of this great University on a day to day basis.
Memo to Sheldon Silver: as the top legislator in the State Assembly, you are a useless piece of junk and parasite who doesn’t understand squat about academic freedom. Why don’t you make yourself useful and drop dead, and stay dead?
— Posted by blacklight
24.
September 26th,
2007
4:39 pm
Bollinger is constantly trying to find windows for escape, first when he comes under intense cticism to invite the president, he becomes the moral policeman of the world in an extremely crude and inappropriate manner and when as expected that backfires he decides to justify himself ,does’nt he realize the enormous damage he has done to the concept of diplomacy and fair play in the hearts and minds of the Iranians who now see the Americans as people of poor taste and sensibilities.
— Posted by Sanjay Verma
25.
September 26th,
2007
4:39 pm
The way Bollinger has treated President Ahmadinejad (the head of a state) just goes to show how inhospitable & unbecoming some people can be. It comes as no surprise considering that Ahmadinejad is a perpetual thorn in the eyes of zionists and those harping the Holocaust trumpet .But what is suprising is that all that happens in the name of being Saviours of democracy & peace .What an ironical illusion ? Shame on you folks .
— Posted by Dr. Abid
26.
September 26th,
2007
4:40 pm
A year from now, we’ll know whether Bollinger’s calculated move payed dividends by comparing alumni contributions with the past year’s. Lee knows the odds.
— Posted by Camilo
27.
September 26th,
2007
4:40 pm
Bollinger was like a guest at a black-tie affair showing up in cut-offs and t-shirt. An utterly disgraceful performance.
— Posted by here and now
28.
September 26th,
2007
4:40 pm
Bollinger, the bully, has confirmed the image of the ugly American in the non-Western world. Furthermore, he has exhibited his utter lack of knowledge of what an academic dialogue is.
— Posted by Brijen Gupta
29.
September 26th,
2007
4:41 pm
The only Hitler that I see attacking multiple countries is Bush. He, his brother Marvin & others caused 911 to get into Iraq to steal their oil. Why else is exxon, BP, Shell, Conoco Oil in Iraq? If a single explosion could bring a building straight down (like on 911), why don’t demo companies use that technique? It is because it is not possible to bring a building straight down with a single explosion. Bush lies, kills, and steals.. all fruits of antichrist. Don’t be deceived.
— Posted by crimson
30.
September 26th,
2007
4:41 pm
Peter Heinegg, you expressed it perfectly!
— Posted by Barbara
31.
September 26th,
2007
4:42 pm
I still can’t understand why anyone thinks Amedinejad
should be allowed to exercise OUR right to freedom of speech. I wouldn’t have let him into the United States. This guy is a terrorist!!!
— Posted by Rod
32.
September 26th,
2007
4:43 pm
It is pretty obvious that Bollinger has political ambitions, and these ambitions framed his unprofessional behavior.
Bollinger is not the type of man who needs to be at the helm of any institution of higher learning in America much less Columbia University.
— Posted by Chuck P
33.
September 26th,
2007
4:44 pm
I can’t wait until President Bush goes to the Middle East and gets ambushed by academics and journalists who grill him on the invasion of a sovereign nation in flagrant violation of international law.
If putting world leaders on the hot seat is the new deference to authority, I say let’s start with Mr Bush.
— Posted by David
34.
September 26th,
2007
4:45 pm
I would have expected more from the president of such a highly regarded institution, but Mr. Bollinger’s statements and accusations against Mr. Ahmadinejad were childish and worded poorly as well as inaccurate. Any 5th grader using Google would have seen the problem with Bollingers statements. It’s too bad, they let a perfect chance of real debate and discussion with a world leader in the spot light, but instead they resorted to parroting the Bush and mainstream media propaganda. I would expect as much from the Bush administration and the controlled media, but I did expect more from a University. Sigh. Guess its time to lower my expectations of these academic institutions now as well. Have we sunk so low in this country, that the representatives of our institutions of higher learning do sound any more educated than that the current Whitehouse administration?
Doug
Minneapolis,mn
— Posted by doug anderson
35.
September 26th,
2007
4:50 pm
Bollinger should resign for two reasons. First, he insulted a head of state. I don’t give lectures on free speech but I do not think free speech justifies insults such as ‘petty dictator’ or ‘ridiculous’. After Abu Ghraib, it is very disturbing to see an Arab leader treated with disrespect by an American leader and lawyer. Second, Bollinger made a wrong statement about the Holocaust that undermines the pro-Israel efforts. Bollinger said: “The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history.” Well, if this is true my dog is the smartest dog that ever existed on Earth. Indeed, there have been so many events in human history that only God would know which one is the most documented. For instance, World War II is an event more documented than the Holocaust, because it includes the Holocaust. Amazingly Bollinger started his statement about the “most documented event” with “The truth is”. When an academic uses this expression, it indicates the highest degree of certainty. Alas, the truth is that by using a wrong argument to fight the views of Ahmadinejad, he just gave credit to all the Holocaust deniers and enemies of Israel. It is deeply disturbing to see the President of Columbia not able to distinguish the right from the wrong and insulting the Arab world. If only the Times could help him resign.
— Posted by Bernardo
36.
September 26th,
2007
4:51 pm
it is obvious that Mr Bollinger over-reacted to the histeria in the american media in a defensive vvay. it is amazing someone of his caliber failed to be articulate ,diplomatic and yet objective . it is easy to be rude , far difficulte to be polite and objective.
— Posted by tavvhid hassanien
37.
September 26th,
2007
4:53 pm
Whether he is guilty of tyranny or not, this was not the proper arena for Ahmadinejad to be allowed to express his political views, considering the controversy surrounding him.
Would Bush be allowed that sort of opportunity in Iran? I think not.
I agree with those that say the UN assembly (or a courtroom) would be more appropriate.
— Posted by W. Reese
38.
September 26th,
2007
4:53 pm
I have a suggestion for Dr. Bollinger: how about inviting George Bush to give a talk at Columbia and have him be introduced by someone whose views are as polar as yours are to the President of Iran? Then have Bush answer questions from the audience without the usual screening that the White House does for his canned events. Bush has as much blood on his hands, if not more, than Ahmadinejad and he takes no responsibility for it.
Personally I think Bollinger came out looking like a fool while Ahmadinejad, well, his statesmanship was best when he was responding to Bollinger’s attitude but suffered from his remarks.
— Posted by Tom
39.
September 26th,
2007
4:54 pm
Eerily enough, the photo of Bollinger that the City Room added to this thread was exactly the headshot I was thinking of, where he looks the most like a leprechaun. Thanks for the weird synchronicity, guys.
— Posted by Dan Stackhouse
40.
September 26th,
2007
4:55 pm
Mr. Bollinger looked more like a guy with a personal agenda. He must be up for reelection. No matter how much one dislikes the other, the norms are respect are not put aside. What is the difference between Venezuelan President Chavez who personally attacked Bush in United Nations last year and Mr. Bollinger…the president of so called ivy league university?
— Posted by John D.
41.
September 26th,
2007
4:55 pm
Bollinger acted like a typical redneck, uncivilized and uneducated.
Ironically, by reporting to such boorish insults he made Ahmadinejad more respectable than he deserved!
I doubt GWB would have been insulted this way in any other country, and God knows he deserves that!
— Posted by Teutonic-1
42.
September 26th,
2007
4:59 pm
Personal attacks have no place in such a forrum. What was the point of inviting Ahmadinejad if you pre-emt him and essentially say that there is no point of listening to him because he is ignorand and liar. I think that Bollinger showed his ignorance and he is an embarrassment to Columbia.
— Posted by Mike S
43.
September 26th,
2007
5:00 pm
Give me a break! Before this event I used to think that it would be difficult to be a bigger idiot than Ahmedinajad; Bollinger proved that it can be done, and in a spectacular fashion.
Bollinger should be ashamed of himself. A non-elected official calling a duly-elected *head of state* a “dictator”. Have you ever run for election, Mr. Bollinger? How about inviting Bush over and asking him tough questions? Oh right! The “elected” President of the US would never answer anything. Who’s the liar now, Mr. Bollinger?
— Posted by Joe
44.
September 26th,
2007
5:00 pm
I found Mr. Bollinger’s introductory comments were disrespectful, stupid, lowly, uneducated and ignorant. You simply don’t treat your invited speaker with such harsh, rude words regardless of your opinions about him. Mr. Bollinger is wrong calling the president of Iran a dictator. He was democratically elected by the people of Iran.
— Posted by Mike
45.
September 26th,
2007
5:01 pm
Americans are often perceived as being rude and arrogant. Instead of rising into the role of an ambassador – Mr. Bollinger chose to shrink into the stereotype.
There is a huge difference between critical dialogue and childish name calling… one explores issues and the other only tarnishes reputations. In his attempt to mettle out ‘tough’ talk – Mr. Bollinger embarrassed not only himself – he embarrased me as an American.
— Posted by Brent from St. Louis
46.
September 26th,
2007
5:01 pm
It’s one thing to act like a total fool and insult a nation’s president like Bollinger has done, its even more insulting to try to justify it later instead of admitting that its was inappropriate to invite a guest speaker and then insult him in such a manner.
Mr. Bollinger, we don’t need lessons in free speach, but you need lessons in good manners.
— Posted by Mikial
47.
September 26th,
2007
5:01 pm
Whether or not Bollinger should have made his remarks — and by the way, I agreed with what he said — is not the issue. Why he made those remarks is the issue, and I don’t think that he made them because he wanted to confront the President of Iran.
I suspect, rather, that Bollinger was reacting to public pressure — and, in particular, pressure from alumni contributers — who believed that SIA should not have invited Ahmadinejad to speak. Bollinger tried to deflect such criticism (”I’ll never give you another dollar, Bollinger”) by vigorously attacking Ahmadinejad. His introduction was made, not for Ahmadinejad’s benefit, but rather for that of the University’s critics. He needed to repudiate the invitation, but without retracting it.
Such is not “free speech,” but rather “forced speech.” I don’t care who insulted whom and, given who Ahmadinejad is and what he’s done, a mere lack of courtesy on the part of a University President could easily be excused. What would be inexcusable, however, would be for the President of Columbia to cave in to pressure tactics.
I’m a three-time Columbia alum — M.A., Ph.D. and J.D.
— Posted by TCMRNY
48.
September 26th,
2007
5:02 pm
We can wheedle about whether Bollinger was putting on a show or displayed the appropriate tack but objectively Ahmadinejad is a scumbag. His stance on rights for women, homosexuals, non-shiites in general and jews specifically is horrible. The reaction that this is somewhow unfair to the Iranian President leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Especially in light of how he uses demagoguery to advance his policies on the ignorant and poor. I’m not sure tact was deserved or appropriate when he was introduced. Should he be allowed to effectively spew his nonsense unchecked b/c he has the podium? But surely it was at least a bit tactless.
— Posted by MF
49.
September 26th,
2007
5:03 pm
Bollinger was suffering from a disease of wanting to prove his loyalty after the shellacking he received by inviting the President of Iran.
Second, the President has been democratically elected therefore the term “dictator” is factually incorrect and therefore Bollinger was the “learned ignoramus”.
Thirdly being the host, Bollinger needed to display finesse & etiquette – something which he publicly displayed he is incapable of. What Bollinger has reinforced is that the US are unwanted guests in Iraq & are bad hosts are well.
Commanding moral leadership has to be earned not demanded ingraciously. Bollinger the academic, needs to realise that he is a mere paper tiger and should be confined to university campuses – any pretensions of trying to occupy any other stage is unwarranted.
— Posted by PKMangalore
50.
September 26th,
2007
5:04 pm
In the USA a common citizen is allowed to ask the tough questions to a head of state in a public forum if he or she wants to, end of story. If you don’t like that, go (back) to Iran where I’m sure it’s illegal.
— Posted by jeema
51.
September 26th,
2007
5:04 pm
In the eyes of onlookers from around the globe, Bollinger and the media frenzy that he succumbed to managed to accomplish the incredible feat of making Ahmadinejad look very reasonable and the victim of irrational anger and closed-minded hate. Shocking.
— Posted by T F
52.
September 26th,
2007
5:05 pm
Calling Ahmadinejad a “dictator” is astonishingly uneducated. He’s essentially an elected figurehead, and ultimate power lies in the hands of the Supreme Ruler, Ayatollah Khamenei. I wonder what sort of reception the Chinese premier could expect on his visit to Columbia.
— Posted by Mo
53.
September 26th,
2007
5:08 pm
As far as I am concerned, if Columbia want to invite him, that’s fine, but why anybody would want to see him is beyond me.
Ignore him like TV ignores streakers. Maybe if people won’t pay attention, he’ll just fade away.
— Posted by Dave
54.
September 26th,
2007
5:09 pm
I don’t agree whit Iran and is President politics but I have appreciate is courage to go to a public debate in a hostile place to defend is ideas – who many “world” Politian’s (George W Bush, Gordon Brown, Ehud Olmert, etc) have the same courage, today, to go on a public and clear debate like this?
About Mrs Bollinger presentation I think, independently about our opinion about the guest, was IS guest and I think this was a kind of “well, Mrs Mr. Ahmadinejad is our guest but I have told him a few true words in is face…” – its not a polite attitude for an Academic from on of the oldest Unite Sates of North America University’s…
— Posted by Alexius
55.
September 26th,
2007
5:11 pm
Based on what Mr Bollinger said at the press conference, it seems clear that the Iranian president and/or his entourage knew exactly what was coming (e.g., sharply worded preface with questions posed). The Iranian president came anyway. What was supposed to happen happened and the Iranian president was apparently still “insulted.” Sure it was a little unorthodox, but no one on that stage should have found it unexpected.
— Posted by M
56.
September 26th,
2007
5:11 pm
I would like to see Mr. Bollinger being invited to Iran and subject to the same verbal attack! I’m sure he will be shitting platinum-plated bricks.
And we wonder why the middle-east hates us Americans? because we are such loud and foul mouthed illeterate petty people. No wonder our jobs are getting outsourced – this is the sad education system (and teachers) that we’re exposed to.
We deserve it….sadly.
— Posted by Black Mamba
57.
September 26th,
2007
5:12 pm
“Petty dictator”??? The president of Iran has little to NO POWER! The power is in the hands of the supreme ruler, who is a cleric and NOT Ahmadinejad. Calling him a dictator made Columbia’s president look like a moron, and his faculty and students applauded when Ahmed called out Bollinger.
— Posted by George Dubyou
58.
September 26th,
2007
5:13 pm
Bollinger, grow up. Your ridiculous treatment of a guest was no doubt telecast globally and certainly did not help the American image. This is not what we need right now. Some voice of reason would have been better from a supposed academic like you.
— Posted by Sam
59.
September 26th,
2007
5:13 pm
Our civility is judged by the way we treat people we have invited.
We want our children learn more than how to add 1+1 and now I am not sure what our children will learn at Columbia University beyond that.
I feel sad that our country now truly needs new, educated and cultured leadership at many level.
— Posted by Anonymous
60.
September 26th,
2007
5:14 pm
I just want the audience to know that Ahmadinejad has a Ph.D degree in engineering from the best school in Iran. Bollinger should not portrayed him as an ignorant person.
— Posted by mohamed
61.
September 26th,
2007
5:15 pm
Mr. Bollinger clearly displayed his lack of elementary courtesy that is required in the modern world. In any society, to dress down a guest in public is totally irresponsible, more so if the guest is a head of state. He should have fought tooth and nail to reject the invitation in the first place. He should consider his immediate resignation as head of a prestigious institution that deserves a better leadership.
— Posted by michael a.
62.
September 26th,
2007
5:18 pm
It is inappropriate to question world leaders no matter what the forum. We should sit silently, and let them – like gods – give us our marching orders.
Instead of facing ideas that we disagree with, we should hide from them or hide them from us. It can only weaken the purity of our will if dare to even hear the arguments of one who thinks differently from us.
When someone tells me something I don’t believe, I do not engage them I put my fingers in my ears and say “la-la-la-la-la-la.”
When a world leader speaks, I sit in rapt attention silently and I dare not question their words. For they are a world leader and I am but a sheep.
— Posted by Will
63.
September 26th,
2007
5:20 pm
Give a megalomaniac and liar the podium and he will lie to make his opponents look bad.
He will take all the truth about wrongdoings and put a positive spin on them. As it in the West so is it in the East.
What were we thinking when we gave the idiot a forum to speak? That we would embarrass and shame him into changing his policies, that is so naive!
The policies of Iran are the policies of the clerics, the policies of Shariah, the policies of militant Islam, these policies and attitudes that they have to maintain because as the potentates of Shiitism they cannot turn back on the murder and blood shed they have promoted the world over through Hamas and all the evil they promote.
To understand the Iranians you need to understand the world vision of radical islamists. The world caliphate of Islam.
Insulting the Head of State of a country bent on the destruction of Western civilization is like
ranting at a speeding train.
— Posted by Chuck Frank
64.
September 26th,
2007
5:23 pm
Should the analysis or discussion of Monday’s event be focused on the rhetoric that flowed from the President of Columbia or the tell-tell words we heard from the President of Iran.
Right now, all across the nation of Iran, there are gay people who literally fear for their lives.
— Posted by Cody Lyon
65.
September 26th,
2007
5:24 pm
Ah Neville Chamberlain where ever you are you’ll be happy to know that nothing has changed here in 2007. Hitler is not in Europe now but in the Middle East. He has a ton of supporters in the US and probably has similar spy networks also. Though he hasn’t moved to state territorial demands he is rewriting history. He is exterminating homosexuals on religious grounds as opposed to Jews on ethnic grounds. Unlike your appeasement policy a local university president castigated him at a local event in the US. Like you though none of the leaders of the have denounced him has a crackpot. I expect a war shortly. I am to old to go this time.
“What darkness lurks in the minds of men”
— Posted by Peace in Our Time
66.
September 26th,
2007
5:25 pm
Perhaps Bollinger should direct his slighted moral authority back at his own country for a while. There’re plenty of things on home turf he can express his self righteous outrage about – I think a bit of humility and a reality-based understanding of the problems would be much more constructive than catapulting boulders around a glass house. Oh, but hang on, this is politics, it’s more about ego and power than solving the worlds ills. Maybe I’ll just put on some popcorn and watch the US dig its own grave, instead. Here’s a spoiler…. *you reap what you sew*
— Posted by michael
67.
September 26th,
2007
5:27 pm
Talking to ones enemies and determining what to do to engage them in the pursuit of global stability is an extremely civilised way of doing business. Intemperate, insulting childlike outbursts by those who should know better only reinforces the widely held international stereotype of the crass, stupid American. Grow up.
— Posted by russell vance
68.
September 26th,
2007
5:28 pm
Bollinger’s show proved his level of ignorance. There are thousands of reports indicating that Ahmadinejad NEVER said Israel should be wiped off the map. Taking the manipulation of the media as facts for someone at the capacity of Bollinger measures the level of intelligence for educated people in America. If this is educated, what is average American? Makes me laugh….
— Posted by Martin S.
69.
September 26th,
2007
5:32 pm
as governor richadson said iraq and plestine are only symptoms . power pride and arrogance is the disease.
— Posted by m.sabir
70.
September 26th,
2007
5:34 pm
Regardless of what the media trumpets as the triumph of good over evil, over 75% of Americans feel very pained by the exchange. Because at least 75% of Americans are good decent people and don’t feel it is right to invite someone to your house and then sucker punch him. Bollinger should have copied the petty tactics of Bush and banned him from Columbia. That would have sat better.
— Posted by Cash Prakash
71.
September 26th,
2007
5:35 pm
There is no credibility left with the American government, media and now university. The world is tired with the “Hitler” thing and the loud and lousy propoganda machine as soon as Uncle Sam needs a scapecoat to hide their failuress shortcomings and stupidity! It’s a shame to see this country’s public insitutions -the media first-ridicule themselves in the face of the peoples of the world. M. Bollinger pandered to “public opinion” as does the NYT. Generally the West has become laughable in their arrogance and lecturing of the rest of the world. Hitler was not a product oi Islam or Persian civilization. He was a European, Caucasian, western educated criminal. So we should stop branding Ahamadinejad, Mugabe or the late Saddam Hussein as “Hitlers”. If there is a Hiteler in today’s world he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. and his blietkrieg just destroyed Iraq. He is “liberating” people by bombing them “to the stone Age”! With the support of his corporate media and submissive people!
— Posted by Fed-up-with-propaganda
72.
September 26th,
2007
5:35 pm
Originally, Bollinger’s stance was that university audiences have the right to listen to controversial speakers in the name of freedom of speech. A laudable objective even if, in the end, nothing new was learned about the Iranian president’s views of the world.
However, he completely undercut that stance by lacing into the Iranian, insulting him and making the world at large aware of what HIS, Bollinger’s, political views were. All of this before the invited speaker had a chance to utter a single word. Not only was this in total violation of academic protocol but it was lacking in common civility. If Bollinger thought he was giving the students at Columbia a model to follow, it was a terrible model and unworthy of the leader of one of this country’s great universities.
He and his dean were totally in control of the event and therefore are accountable for the lamentable results. It is sad that he persists in using the media at this disposal to praise his own performance. This event was not supposed to be about Bollinger, but about the students and their interaction with the President of Iran. If any of his subordinates at Columbia have any influence over him, they should advise him that Columbia can do without any more such theatrics.
As Maureen Dowd had the guts and the insight to write in her New York Times column today: “The president’s irrelevant U.N. speech was a bad combo with the shoolyard name-calling of Lee Bollinger. Even some in the anti-Ahmadinejad audience gasped a bit as Columbia’s president give the meanest introduction in the history of introductions–one that only managed to elevate the creep sitting on stage with his thugs. Once you’ve made the decision to invite a tyrannical leader, you can’t undo it by belittling him in public. Universities are supposed to be places where you can debate and hear dissenting voices; it would haven far better just to hand the make to the students and let it rip.”
Rich
— Posted by Rich
73.
September 26th,
2007
5:36 pm
President Bollinger’s dedication to “free speech” clearly varies from circumstance to circumstance. When the student Young Republicans at Columbia invited the representative of the “Minute Men” to address them on campus, he was met by an unruly student mob who physically drove him from the hall and terminated the event. No apologies from President Bollinger, no invitation to return and present the views of the Minute Men in a secure setting, rather at least by strong implication,
it appears that freedom of speech as interpreted at Columbia is a some time thing depending upon who the speaker is. This standard deserves the label of hypocrisy.
— Posted by Peter Cella
74.
September 26th,
2007
5:40 pm
Bollinger’s ignorance amazes me. University of Columbia Student Union should run a mock election in the university and see how many votes Bollinger gets from the students. I think Bollinger is a dictator in a true sense of the word.
— Posted by John D.
75.
September 26th,
2007
5:40 pm
I support free speech. However, as Ahmadinejad is not a citizen (or even a non-citizen), he is not entitled to free speech. Nobody is entitled to a venue. I have no idea what this euphimistic “academic freedom” is. I know it’s not legal or entitled to anyone. I’d like to see a definition of it.
I think the real question that Columbia did not ask itself was “What value was this debate going to offer?” I believe that if it asked this question, it would not have proceeded with the debate. Columbia is one of the world’s most respected universities. By allowing Ahmadinejad it gave the leader a legitimacy. That legitimacy might not seem important to the West, but to the rest of the world, that says a lot. When the Middle East sees Ahmadinejad being treated badly and citing the Koran at a respected American institution, believe me he will be even more respected.
The invitation also affects foreign diplomacy. When we are engaged in sanctions with Iran, it is contrary to allow the leader to speak at a private venue. What is appropriate is allowing Ahmadinejad to speak at the U.N. regarding those sanctions.
Also, free speech does not mean one must be discourteous.
— Posted by Steve
76.
September 26th,
2007
5:45 pm
Whether we like it or not, Mr. Ahmadinejad is the head of government in Iran. He traveled to the US to attend the opening of the UN. If Columbia thought it wanted to hear what he had to say, then let him speak.
It was completely inappropriate for Mr. Bollinger to interject his opinions into the discussion even before the man had his turn at the podium. If Mr. B had such strong feelings, the session could have been arranged as a debate between them. Then we could have heard both sides of a question in an orderly manner. This format was an ambush of Mr. A and not very “fair and balanced.”
Besides, as someone mentioned earlier, the middle-Eastern way is to be very polite when someone is in your “home,” whether you like the person or not. Mr.A was probably more insulted by Mr. B’s confrontation than a European would be. It is just “not done.” And, Mr B. showed his ignorance by putting his own feelings first and using the opportunity to further his own cause than consider the university’s guest.
I was embarrassed as a native New Yorker and an American by the reception given Mr. A at Columbia. We are better than that.
— Posted by Gerrie Blum
77.
September 26th,
2007
5:45 pm
Hitler was democratically elected. Twice. He was still a dictator.
I’m astounded by the number of posts by people who presume to tell us what “proper” American behavior is toward guests. Many of these posts don’t sound like they were written by Americans or from inside the U.S.
News to world: Left or Right, most Americans don’t care what “the world” thinks. Half the world objects to our Left wing. The other half objects to the Right wing.
Guess why our ancestors left home. They wanted to get away from you!
— Posted by Richmond
78.
September 26th,
2007
5:46 pm
Mr. Bollinger obviously knows his New York-Washington power constituency very well. Ahmandinejad has been declared fair game by the Bush administration and the mainstream media. Bollinger has covered his ass: he now has nothing to fear from Schumer, Liebermann, AIPAC, the neocons and the NASCAR crowd. But who cares? Ahmandinejad certainly doesn’t!
— Posted by wolfram
79.
September 26th,
2007
5:47 pm
Free speech is free speech. In the USA we’re all entitled to express our opinions even if they are disagreeable or insulting. While I disagree strongly with the policies of Iran and think them outright liars in many areas (pursuit of nuclear weapons, denial of the Holocaust, existence of gays in Iran, etc), it is a credit to our country and Columbia that Ahmadinejad was permitted to speak. Whether Bollinger was rude, calculating, or simply honest and forthright in his introduction, he has the right to speak as well. The beauty of our system of free speech is that each person is allowed to form their own opinion based on the unhindered statements of others.
— Posted by DM
80.
September 26th,
2007
5:48 pm
so Bollinger called Ahmadinejad a “petty and cruel dictator”…
now ahmadinejad was elected president in an election where 70% of the iranians voted. He has only been in power 2 years. I assume when Bollinger calls Ahmadinejad “petty and cruel”, its because ahmadinejad has:
a- attacked and occupied another country unprovoked
b- facilitated slaughter of innocent civilians in that country (700,000 dead according to some estimates)
c- used nuclear tipped misiles on that country which resultedi in significantly higher levels of cancer in that country’s population
d- threatened other countries with military invasion
e- established secret torture cells in europe
f- held innocent civilians for years, without trial
oh, wait! Wouldnt that be Bush, Mr. Bollinger?!!
It is as clear as a day that Mr. Bollinger has done a huge disservice to the american people. The gentle and accomodating american people have been made to look like uncouth, uncivilized and mobish – thanks to Mr. Bollinger caving into zionist lobby.
— Posted by nadya
81.
September 26th,
2007
5:55 pm
He seems to be confusing himself as the host as himself as a participant. As a host, having explicitly invited the man (which implicitly validates the importance of what he might have to say), you cannot get up and, before the man has even had a chance to speak, declare that what he is about to say does not have value!
He should have realized there would be plenty of others that would be making that point, and chosen to let the viewpoint be expressed by valid participants, not by hogging the spotlight, tainting the declared reason for the event, and destroying the already incredibly small chance that there WOULD be a civil & free discourse of ideas before it even had a chance to happen!
— Posted by MarkM
82.
September 26th,
2007
5:55 pm
Bollinger said what he did to save face in a feeble attempt to distance himself from what he himself had started…a runaway train. And he was bright enough to say it to a madman with nuclear weapons back home. I would be surprised if there were not repercussions.
Was this about free speech? Only if you are stupid enough to believe that. Can any of us believe that knowing fully well that Columbia refuses to invite conservative speakers because they do not “agree” with their views. ROTC is not allowed on Columbia grounds either for the same reason. One can only assume that the reason Ahmadinejad was invited, was because Columbia agrees with his views. Hey, I didn’t say this–they did by their very actions.
Americans don’t need an explanation of free speech. They need an explanation of why this school funded by state & federal dollars is allowed to remove the ROTC, and even more of a concern, allowed to give their college support to an Iranian terrorist.
— Posted by MichelleH
83.
September 26th,
2007
5:57 pm
Mr. Bollinger pretends to defend free speech, but doesn’t seem to have even listened to what Mr. Ahmadinejad had to say. It is rather frustrating to see the President of an institution of higher learning such as Columbia, not understand that in order to have a dialogue (supposing that this was the purpose of the invitation) one ought to speak BUT also TO LISTEN.
I thought that only the surprisingly weak questions asked matched Mr. Ahmadinejad’s generally weak performance.
Both Presidents appear to have ironically scored propaganda points to their respective audience. Not much was learnt nor accomplished.
— Posted by sylviane
84.
September 26th,
2007
5:58 pm
I find it amazing that anyone who perpetuates gentrification, finds the time to criticize anyone’s wrong doings. I don’t necessarily agree with Ahmadinejad and his theories. I just think Bollinger is hypocritical to make damning statements. Save Harlem
— Posted by Jarret Wade
85.
September 26th,
2007
6:04 pm
The President of Columbia was an idiot to verbally attack a speaker. it is another example of just how rude and arrogant the people of the US can be. Columbia University is a joke if this is the type of people they have at the realm. Let people think for themselves – Ahmadinejad did an excellent job and chaned a lot of people’s views around because ofr once the US people got to hear the “other” side of the story constantly being ignored by the US media.
The US prefers to have stupid Muslim leaders to deal with and when they come across an articulate and sly leader of the Muslim world they hate it, plain and simple.
If Bush were to speak at a university out in the Middle East he would NEVER be verbally attacked before he gives his speech even though he should be considering just how much Muslim blood his policies have spilt.
To the American readers out there – your President is hated just as much as Ahmadinejad is – he is seen as an evil dictator of an imperialist nation – don’t kid yourselves, your President is Ahmadinejad x 1,000,000.
— Posted by Jaqueline U
86.
September 26th,
2007
6:06 pm
Mr. Bollinger flunked International Diplomacy 101. He also fell short in the most rudimentary and universal convention of human behavior, treating one’s guest with courtesy and civility.
Furthermore, Mr. Bollinger’s behavior struck me as cowardly and his outrage as disingenuous. I had a strong feeling that he would have behaved very differently in Iran or for sure would have spared the personal attacks.
If anything, he made President Ahmadinejad look civilized.
— Posted by Yaz G
87.
September 26th,
2007
6:12 pm
Bollinger simply acted as a proxy of the Bush administration. Typical of the incompetents in Bush administration, Bollinger threw away a moment of dialogue that could have built a bridge between Iran and U.S. There was no good reason to insult President Ahmadinejad, especially by making inaccurate statements. Ahmadinejad was elected by the Iranian people and has little or no power compared the powerful and destructive George Bush. Bollinger could have confronted Ahmadinejad about his misstatements and still encouraged a healthy debate, especially as the head of a well known university. Bollinger is pathetic.
— Posted by Simon
88.
September 26th,
2007
6:12 pm
Bollinger’s outburst was uncivilized and demeaning toward a head of state.
Bollinger, as-well the way in which the papers have reported the Iranian presidents arrival to Columbia university has damaged americas already fragile credibility around the world, thats without including what GWB and his band of pirates have accomplished!
What a shambles.
— Posted by adam
89.
September 26th,
2007
6:15 pm
It’s Bollingers of America that make the whole world hate us. President of a prestigious university should know how to or at least learn how to treat President of a foreign country. Bollinger showed he is no less evil than Ahmadinejad.
— Posted by Shawn
90.
September 26th,
2007
6:21 pm
This behavior has been rather indiciative of Columbia University’s faculty and students these past few months. Despite being invited to speak, a Minuteman was bumrushed by left-wing students before he could finish his first word. Dean Bollinger invites the president of Iran to speak but proceeds to lambast him as he introduces him. Columbia has a strange habit of treating their guests. This cannot possibly be the school reknowned for training world-class diplomats–more like circus clowns.
— Posted by Gina
91.
September 26th,
2007
6:30 pm
I’m curious how many of the people damning Bollinger’s remarks have even read or heard what he said. (A full transcript can be found at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/07/09/lcbopeningremarks .html)
Half of his remarks were directed towards the controversy of inviting Ahmadinejad in the first place. While you may agree or disagree with these remarks, they were articulate and well-reasoned.
The second part of Bollinger’s statement was directed towards Ahmadinejad. Maureen Dowd’s comments as describing Bollinger’s speech to “schoolyard name-calling” is cute and folksy and plays well to the readers. Unfortunately, it is also gratuitous and inaccurate.
Ahmadinejad’s view were well known before being invited to Columbia. It would have been academically dishonest if Bollinger did not challenge Ahmadinejad from the outset. In fact, merely giving Ahmadinejad another platform to spew would have been irresponsible.
Let’s consider some of the harshest statements Bollinger used in describing Ahmadinejad: “We at this university have not been shy to protest and challenge the failures of our own government to live by these values; and we won’t be shy in criticizing yours. Let’s, then, be clear at the beginning, Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.”
Bollinger goes on to support his statement, and gives specific examples of how Ahmadinejad has acted. Ahmadinejad chose not to respond to most of Bollinger’s points; in fact, at one point he denied that gays were mistreated in Iran by taking the obscene position that there were no gays in Iran.
With respect towards Ahmadinejad’s positions on the Holocaust, Bollinger stated, “You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.” Again, this is certainly not a harsh criticism given Ahmadinejad’s very public conferences and statements.
Bollinger finished his remarks with, “I am only a professor, who is also a university president, and today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for. I only wish I could do better.”
There is no question that Bollinger’s statements were harsh. But calling him “crude” and “childlike” or accusing him of “petty name-calling?” I think not. In a democratic society at an institution dedicated to the free exchange of beliefs, when addressing the bigoted leader of a fascist theocracy there is a moral duty to confront him in the strongest possible manner. It is evil to pander to and placate a person working towards the destruction of human rights and the continuation of fascism.
If you had the opportunity to bring Idi Amin, Stalin, or Pol Pot to your living room would you invite them to sit down, share tea, and discuss the weather? Or would you have the courage to confront them for the evil they brought to the world?
— Posted by Sam Greenfield
92.
September 26th,
2007
6:34 pm
What balanced debate,what educated comment, what an incredible outcome.These comments should be published on the front page of the newspaper. Invariably the International media seems to report only the sensational views of the fanatics or the U.S. Government/ Military line.
The media latch onto comments like the “U.S. military withdrawl strategy in Iraq is to exit through Iran.” The impression this conveys to a lot of the world is that most Americans are totally insular, uncaring, uneducated and gung -ho.
The American public needs its own P.R.machine.
— Posted by G Rutherford
93.
September 26th,
2007
6:35 pm
I am tired of the Godwinning of every thread of discussion involving Ahmedinajad (”Godwinning” means “invoking comparison to Hitler”, for the unaware).
Firstly: Hitler caused the death of over 6M Jews and another 20M soldiers and civilians all over the world. Comparing Ahmedinajad to such a monster is ludicrous in the extreme; it’s like comparing an annoying housefly to the Enola Gay. Please, people: Stop insulting those who died in the Holocaust, and those who died fighting the Germans, with this inane comparison to Hitler!! You cannot drown out the debate by invoking Hitler whenever you feel like you’re losing the debate.
Secondly, assuming for the moment that Ahmedinajad represented the Government of Iran and it’s flaws, let me ask his detractors this: compare Iran’s record with that of the Saudis. Iran’s minorities and women have **more** rights than their counterparts in Saudi Arabia! How many Jews are there in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Did you know that as a non-muslim, you can be executed for entering the city of Mecca? And I can assure you, gay rights are as non-existent in KSA as in any other Middle-Eastern country. Why aren’t you up in arms against the Saudi Government? Would these same foaming-at-the-mouth fascists be protesting if the Saudi Ambassador came to Columbia?
Iran, where people held candle-light vigils in memory of those killed in 9/11, is villified; Saudi Arabia, whose citizens actually conducted the 9/11 attacks gets praised and its government representatives are invited to the WTC site! Shame on those of who have politicized this tragedy for their own petty gains.
— Posted by Joe
94.
September 26th,
2007
6:35 pm
Ahmadinejab obviously came to the U.S./U.N. to make propaganda points. He is accustomed to being obsequiously handled by the Western media, and not directly challenged. There are many in the West and outside it that want the Western democratic system to fail, whether because they are anti-American, anti-”capitalist” “liberal”-leftists of the sort analysed by Paul Berman in Terror and Liberalism, or outright totalitarians and advocates of violence; the posts on this blog certainly show that. A lot of strange people have posted ridiculous comments. To all of those people, Bollinger gave his answer, not just to Ahmadinejab, and his humiliation of the genocidal and demonizing leader of Iran was entirely correct and deserved. At a certain point one just has to stand up for what is right. Before Bollinger’s speech at the public forum, I too thought Columbia was wrong to invite the Iranian president, but in the event it was the best way to treat that louse. Nor do I agree that Bollinger was merely covering himself due to complaints before the event. His criticisms were too full and precise to be unwilling and begrudged: he believes what he said, as well he should, because his criticisms are valid. If he wanted to cover himself he could easily have done so in a few vague comments lasting two minutes before introducing Ahmadinejab.
I would have liked him to add fuller evidence of Iran’s support for world terrorism. For example, there is the extraordinary inditement in Argentina for extradition of top Iranian leaders for responsibility for bombing a Jewish cultural centre in that country, in which huge numbers died, all innocent of any crime. There are numerous other such crimes directly attributable to Iran. Their terrorism in Iraq is only a part of the story. Support for and actual manipulation and control of Hezbollah, which is directly responsible for frequent terrorist atrocities in Lebanon and outside of it, destabilizing the entire region, could have been elaborated on. Iran is a direct threat to world peace in many ways.
Bollinger was right to make his comments. Good for him, and good for Columbia and the U.S.! As an Australian I am proud of you all. That is the way to handle a bastard who threatens world peace.
— Posted by Tim Tamiger
95.
September 26th,
2007
6:36 pm
It was not only rude of Mr. Bollinger, but also very low taste behavior to use those words against an invited speaker. If you think of him as “petty”, what are you when you say such words from the stage? I think it’s Mr. Bollinger who came across as petty in this matter, unfortunately.
Given this, I would love to ask some thought provoking questions to many of my fellow americans who are going on and on and on..
1. Have you got chance to read the original script of Ahmedinejad’s speech? Please google it and read it.
2. Show me where has he explicitly denied the existence of Holocaust. (He has not).
3. All he had said against USA was that US itselfs sponsors terrorism around the world. Now what’s new in that information? Our own philosophers (Chomsky e.g.) have been saying this. And it’s a well known – well accepted thing around the real world that watches more TV than CNN and reads more news paper than NYTimes/WashingtonPost/LATimes/ or such.
4.As for being anti-gay: Please see the YouTube Video “root of all evil” by Richard Dawkins. You will see much more harmful “religion” based campaign of killing people for their beliefs/behavior/choice/lifestyle such as abortion/aethism.
The part that we would love to overlook is HERE! IN USA that those people live.
Being anti-gay was the norm around the world until recent history. So what’s soooo abnormal in being anti-gay?
I agree, it’s sad. But isn’t it so common? do you think Mr. Parvez Musharraf or any other famed Muslim leader will agree that his nation has a large gay population? (remember that leaders have to also entertain the population in their own country whereever they are speaking)
5. And anti-women???? well !! most of us have an attitude towards women as nothing but a sex-object. is that pro- or anti- women?
Think many issues together before you judge a man, Mr. Bollinger. You are supposedly heading a learned institution of highest calibre in the world.
But alas! I see you have grown shorter than Mr. Ahmedinejad. You in the whole world’s eyes, represented Western Culture on the stage. And you failed miserably.
— Posted by InYourFace
96.
September 26th,
2007
6:39 pm
before one commits a crime i.e. war, murder etc, deep down there is a voice that disagrees with the act. It shows now that Amercians who once invaded other countries for profit, now the Columbia incident confirms that they lack deep-down critical feelings too that has origins in good. Way to go academic Americans. Once a fool always a fool.
— Posted by Middleeast
97.
September 26th,
2007
6:41 pm
The sickening feeling I had when the Bush administration started conflating the 9/11 attacks on the United States with Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship returned yesterday. If we attack Iran or if Iran attacks us or Israel, President Bollinger will have played a hand in it. For this to have come from some hot-headed professor would not have surprised me, but he’s president of the University for Pete’s sake! Ahmadinejad is not the only one with delusions of grandeur.
— Posted by cj
98.
September 26th,
2007
6:43 pm
What was the point of Columbia University to invite him if he was going to publicaly humiliate him before he even spoke. How would mr.Bollinger and others feel if Bush was invited to speak at a foreign university and was introduced the exact same way. The war in iraq was supposed to be for wmd’s, ten thousand innocent lives later and simple as that there were none. Iran has not waged war on any other country. Mind you they were attacked with chemical weapons in the 80’s by Saddam who bought them from his supporters, usa.
— Posted by rick
99.
September 26th,
2007
6:44 pm
I do not think Mr. Bollinger deserves to be a president. He is a shame!
He does not know simple courtecy of inviting guests. I am not sure of his Ph.D. credentials. At least speech looks like jurk.
Shame on you Mr. Bollinger. Step down.
— Posted by Ra
100.
September 26th,
2007
6:45 pm
I find it hard to believe that anyone with half a conscience could defend Ahmadinejad. The man supports terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and wants to wipe Irael off the map (it’s already not on any map owned by Hamas or the Palestinains.) I have no problem with the way he was treated.
Dagw00d
— Posted by Dagw00d
101.
September 26th,
2007
6:48 pm
Bollinger was in hotter water than he could stand so he was vulnerable to doing anything to deflect the heat. Columbia, likely is not so disaffected by the attention it is getting, and yes, it is interesting that Columbia University’s name was not on the podiem. Obviously, there was no desire to have any pictures of Ahmadinejad at Columbia, without a doubt, for all posterity. Seats as President are pretty volatile lately.. Summer, at Harvard is not the only one among them forced to leave for not doing the “pc” thing accurately. For all we know, Bollinger was trying to save his presidency. Now, Look at Bush and the comments he makes, just as disrepectable and outright stupid at times. Ahmadinejad, he’s also trying to save his presidency. He is also trying to save the lives of Iranians who may face the wrath of the US if they do not capitulate to ending their determination to use nuclear activity for energy (as they claim) or for some other purpose, i.e., allegedly for a bomb. Everyone desiring to have nuclear ability for bombmaking purposes is being preventive and if a president, I would think that might fall under the same purview of being obligated to protect your people, just like Bush claims he is doing with all of his actions in the so-called Middle East. Truth is, these leaders, be they the university prez, the US prez, the Iranian prez, etc., are looking out for self and what they hold dear. Who’s more wrong and who is more right? We are in a world of trouble when what we’ll do first is hurl allegations and call one another names! God help us all!
— Posted by Hanan
102.
September 26th,
2007
6:48 pm
Mr.Bollinger exercised his right to free speech and called Mr.Ahmadinejad a petty dictator. This is not a lie. Most people seem to be affronted by a perceived lack of etiquette on the part of Mr.Bollinger. Mr.Ahmadinejad is a man who publicly stated he wanted to ‘annihilate’ israel and is a year away from nuclear weapons. Not the time to smile politely, and offer tea, its about time someone in the political world stood up and said it like it is. Bravo Mr.Bollinger
— Posted by daviid
103.
September 26th,
2007
7:00 pm
I personally learned absolutely nothing from the speech. It wasn’t at all difficult to predict what he would say on a wide range of issues and this held true for me. The only purpose that was served was that of propaganda. Well done Columbia, I hope you’re proud of yourselves for providing a vehicle for this grubby little dictator.
— Posted by Chris Stiegler
104.
September 26th,
2007
7:02 pm
Had Bollinger not used the term “petty dictator” and been more tactfully confronting in his opening remarks, he would have been more effective and less prone to questions related to his policial motives. His recent response in the press to attacks on his motives were were excellent and more akin to the sprit in which his opening remarks should have been presented. Bollinger missed an opportunity due to the style of his opening remarks to better expose Ahmadinejad as the lying spin artist that he is.
— Posted by Dan Parry
105.
September 26th,
2007
7:08 pm
Free speech prevailed even if Mr. Ahmadinejad is reprehensible and an affront. Unfortunately Ahmadinejad embodies a view of America that is all too prevalent worldwide. Bottom line: Ahmadinejad was there at the behest of SIPA and it is a good thing that Columbia students, many of whom will one day deal with overseas leaders and businessmen, experience the full spectrum of world views.
I did think that Bollinger was trying to have it both ways — invite Ahmadinejad and then show his contempt at the invitation. I think direct and pointed questions about Iran policies would have been more instructive.
My final thought: When Ahmadinejad said there were no homosexuals in Iran it struck me that this was the comment that would lose him the most admirers in the US, from among those who view Ahmadinejad as a force against Bush and willing to overlook his other “foibles”.
Ahmadinejad struck me as a very nimble and smart guy. He is rigidly evil, ideologically banal and knows what he is doing.
— Posted by Harry L.
106.
September 26th,
2007
7:08 pm
It was reminiscent of the 1960s episode when City College of New York invited Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett, the epitome of pro-segregation, anti-civil rights Southern leadership, to speak on campus. It had the same result with students and others shouting Barnett down so he could scarcely get in a word of his remarks. I believe the president of CCNY at the time was Buell Gallagher, and I believe he apologized to Barnett for the treatment. It’s the sort of event that seems parallel to this one. Check out the newspaper microfiche for an account of the event.
— Posted by John Simonds
107.
September 26th,
2007
7:15 pm
From the point of view of a non-American, this seems typical. You are very willing to criticise others, calling them “dictators” and targeting one man who wants to wipe Israel of the map. But when you look at America, when they already have wiped Iraq off the map, have more nuclear weapons than all other nations of the planet combined and seem to unfairly target Arab states, one wonders exactly how much hipocrisy is ignored in the fine USofA. So the man doesn’t like Israel and has previously denied the holocaust? If he didn’t bring it up, why mention it? That’s just rude, or dont you show the same accord to people of a different race?
— Posted by Josh Hicks
108.
September 26th,
2007
7:22 pm
I expected more from Bollinger and Columbia than a cheap aping of the cowardly behavior of Bill O’Reilly. Certainly Ahmadinejad has some seriously psychotic and obnoxious views. That doesn’t mean a scholar like Bollinger should sink to his level.
American and Israeli Jews have got to stop letting American war profiteers and their shadowy Saudi backers push their buttons! Those entities don’t care a bit whether Iran and Israel bomb each other into oblivion so long as the weapons sales are good. Wake up, people! Refuse to be terrorized! Stop letting yourselves be manipulated by the fear and hate-mongers!
— Posted by Eileen Coles
109.
September 26th,
2007
7:36 pm
Dr. Bollinger, you did the right thing, morally and politically. And you rose even higher by giving this interview. My respect to you!
For all we know, Ahmadinejad displays all the necessary signs of becoming the next Adolf Hitler. His rethorics is certainly very clear – as that of Hitler was. Ignoring him wouldn’t help, and therefore the invitation to speak was wherease exposing him was the only right thing to do.
I admire your firm yet equanimous stand. I can only wish that the president of the European University which employs me will take a similarly corageous stand in such situation!
— Posted by adriano19
110.
September 26th,
2007
7:41 pm
The problem with Bollinger is that he reserves his anger for officially-designated enemies of the United States, and he’s more than happy to accommodate actual dictators if they’re favored US clients–specifically, Pervez Musharraf. For details, see:
http://www.distantocean.com/2007/09/lee-bollinger-f.htm l
To the Times: it would be interesting to see what Bollinger has to say about this double standard of his; I’d encourage you to question him about it and share his response with us.
— Posted by John Caruso
111.
September 26th,
2007
7:41 pm
2. Show me where has he explicitly denied the existence of Holocaust. (He has not).
Oh, Really?
From the AP 12/14/05
For the third time in a week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday the Holocaust is a “myth” that Europeans have used to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.
Speaking to thousands of people in the southeastern city of Zahedan, Ahmadinejad said: “Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets.”
— Posted by Michael
112.
September 26th,
2007
8:10 pm
There is no excuse, no matter how you feel about Ahmadinejad, if you invite him you treat him like a guest, The behaviour of Mr. Bollinger only confirms the Iranians belief about Americans and is not helping the US in their already tarnished reputation worldwide
— Posted by Suki Tasire
113.
September 26th,
2007
8:17 pm
John Caruso’s point (#112) is well taken. Bollinger’s excoriation of world dictators is selective, following the official line out of Washington. His encomium of Musharraf is an excellent example. Does the public know that our great CIA director, George Tenet, is a product of Columbia’s School of International Affairs? Why doesn’t Bollinger invite him back to Columbia and lambast him for getting us into the Iraq war with the fake intelligence on WMD’s? Do you imagine him inviting Bush to Columbia as a guest speaker and treating him like dirt before the guy has even had the chance to open his mouth.
My advice to Columbia’s Bollinger: stay out of politics and get back to the business of education. You’re way out of your depth.
— Posted by Rich
114.
September 26th,
2007
8:28 pm
Picture this. The year is 2080 and America is long past her prime. War breaks out between an American-led coaltion and another group of countries. The enemy forces defeat the US and occupy its territory from coast to coast.
The general of the occupying forces is camped in Atlanta and is under pressure from his forces to be allowed to raze the city to the ground.
Now if he’s a history freak and has read about how Americans behaved towards Ahmadinejad while he was a guest here, how do you think he would react. Thumbs down or up.
— Posted by Rakesh Krishnan
115.
September 26th,
2007
8:32 pm
I want to make just some remarks about this statement of Ahmadinejad at Columbia
Ahmadinejed said, We do not have homosexuals in Iran of the kind you have in your country.
Obviously he was not saying We don’t have any homosexuals whatsoever in Iran, something which nobody anywhere would believe, not even in Iran. And by implication, he was not telling his audience, I am a plain liar! which the American media alleges him to be saying.
What he was saying is that homosexuality in the US and homosexuality in Iran are issues which are as far apart from one another as two cultural universes can be. They are so dissimilar that any attempt to relate them and bring them under a common caption would be misleading. Homosexuality is not an issue in Iran as it is in present-day American society, he was saying in polite terms.
Homosexuality in the US is a omnipresent social and political issue which crops up in almost every discourse and dabate on matters pertaining to American society and politics. So much so that I think it was a major issue in the last two presidential elections which paved Bush’s way to the White House, and the reason why the Democrats lost these two presidential elections because of the large conservative section of the American public (the red states).
By contrast, homosexuality is a non-issue in Iran and is considered an uncommon perversion (except as a topic of jokes about a certain town). Prom the viewpoint of penal law too it is does not receive much attention as the requirements for a sentence (four eye-witnesses, who have actually seen the details of the act) are so astringent as to make punishment almost impossible. (It would be interesting to know how many have been accused of it during the last two decades)
By contrast adultery and homosexuality are legalized forms of behaviour in most of Europe and America, not criminal acts but perfectly acceptable forms of behaviour, as legitimate natural human rights which need to be taught to all Asian and African societies as well.
There was also a subtle hint in his remark that he wants to move on from this topic to more serious and relevant matters, a point which would be obvious to anyone conversant with Persian language and culture, a subtle hint (like his another remark concerning the disgraceful conduct of Columbia president, when while formally inviting Columbia academics to Iran he said that “You can be assured that we will treat you in Iran with 100% respect.”
Iranians, being linguistically a very sophisticated people, speak a lot in hints which are invisible to outsiders. Americans in comparison tend to be often as straight forward as primitive.
I have heard almost all his speeches and interviews held during his short visit to New York. In these few hours he has said harshest of things that have ever been said by anyone concerning the US government. Yet the language he has used never violates any norm of polite and cultured parlance.
(In general the Persians, like some other civilized eastern societies, have developed the art of making the harshest of remarks in softest and friendliest of words. Americans, as Bollinger proved, have much to learn from civilized nations concerning the civilities of civilized hostility.)
— Posted by A Q Qarai
116.
September 26th,
2007
8:45 pm
Does Mr.Bollinger know anything about Iranian culture, about Islam, or anything related to the Middle East? How can you criticize what you don’t know? It sounded like he just ran a list of talking points from GB. How many Iranian minds does Mr. Bollinger think he’s changed with his theatrics? What happened to America’s propriety when handling a guest? I dislike the Iranian president’s actions, but this was inappropriate. Western nations and the middle east are far, far apart, and this demonstrates it. Now if only some learned minds would help bridge the gap!
— Posted by rian
117.
September 26th,
2007
8:52 pm
There is a difference between asking sharp questions and rude behavior. Mr Bollinger could have made his point without being uncivilized. In this aspect the students probably did a much better job than Mr Bollinger. He squandered a very good opportunity to show what America stands for and instead showed a face of America that many people believe is the truth – arrogant, brash and hypocritical.
— Posted by asheesh
118.
September 26th,
2007
8:57 pm
I think that Bollinger’s rhetoric was just perfect for this fellow. One needs to earn respect; it should not automatically be given based on title. Didn’t Bollinger take the risk by allowing this imp to have his stage?
This guy has some “interesting” opinions. The real question is, “Are these positions shared by the majority in the country in which he leads (or rules)?” I think we all know the answer – a resounding “yes” in public and the opposite behind closed doors.
— Posted by George
119.
September 26th,
2007
9:16 pm
Well there are two issues here. One is whether you invite Mr. Ahmadinejad. The second is whether Mr. Bollinger acted appropriately.
And of course what really happened is rather simple. Mr. Bolligner got himself into political trouble on issue #1, by inviting Mr. Ahmadinejad.
So he tried to deflect all the anger and resentment and outrage by verbally attacking Mr. Ahmadinejad, when he actually appeared.
Is it appropriate to attack an invited head of state like this? Of course not. It was just a cheap emotional performance, from someone who got himself in an embarrassing political position, and desperately wanted out of it.
— Posted by Paul
120.
September 26th,
2007
9:28 pm
Congratultions to Mr Bollinger for telling the President of Iran the truth. Speaking “truth to power” has been the failure of our own politicians.
We know well Ahmadinejad’s views and promises.
Ahmadinejad as President of Iran, has the power to gravely influence the course of World events and he has promised the annihilation of another State and follows the path of a promised nuclear annihilation. The World will suffer not just the loss of millions of people in a single nuclear bomb, but also a nuclear winter threatening the whole planet.
Ahmadinejad was here to set the trap.After power comes the propaganda groundwork to excuse the planned future actions. Then comes the attainment of the weapons, followed by their use.
The propaganda has been swallowed by those who complain of Mr Bollinger talking truth to power.
They believe Ahmadinehad insulted by Mr Bollinger and set-aside Ahgmadiniejad insulting the millions who died in the Holocaust.
Hopefully the more decent people of Iran are not fooled by Ahmadinehjad and will see that there are people abroad who despise him and that Ahmadinejad leads Iran into as much danger as Ahmadinejad threatens others with.
The leader of Iran is a warmonger, he led Hezbollah to war and plans more attacks and war victories. New weapons bring terrifying opportunities and he prepares the propaganda ground for the use of those weapons.
Respondents would be better to deal with the real matters of substance, rather than with their fear of dirty hands on a matter of small importance such as invitational decorum,a red herring in the real world of power and war.
The right of free speech extends to Mr Bollinger when confronting a World leader who has expressed the desire to wipe out millions of people. Congratualtions again Mr Bollinger, history will record you were right to stand up to the man and call him out on his immoral and murderous views.
— Posted by Alan Fitterman
121.
September 26th,
2007
9:37 pm
Perhaps the translation of the word “myth” is flawed. If you read Joseph Campbell’s work on the subject you will find that the definition is more akin to an embellished story that has some kernel of truth. For example, there are many flood myths throughout history, one of them being the story of Noah and the Ark. Did Noah exist, lest take 2 of every type of animal aboard a wooden ship — hard to imagine. But there may have been a large flood in the eastern Mediterranean several thousand years ago, this seems to be the kernel of truth. Nevertheless, it serves a teaching point. In regards to the labeling of the holocaust as a myth: Were 8 million people of a particular religion killed during WWII? How many Romani (Gypsies) were killed? How many mentally retarded, crippled, homeless people were taken to prison camps or killed? Does it matter? In some ways it does, because we seem to be using this number to be calculating some sort of political balancing sheet. But more importantly the story of the Holocaust serves as a reminder of the need for peace between different peoples and the hysteria that evolves from the corners of our mind and collective consciousness when we led astray by our leaders. Today we are the global fascists, ironically beating the drum of democracy, while trampling over the flowers of freedom. We enslave the developing nations through the global markets demanding cheap goods and cheap labor, we invade those nations rich in resources, we support oppressive regimes that benefit corporate expansion, we pollute, we consume, we destroy. The holocaust is a myth, it is an allegory of the worst behavior in man. It represents the consumption, the greed and the hatred of those whom we perceive to be different and what we wish to do with them in our most depraved mindset. Shame on all of us for we are all born with the capacity to hate. The irony remains: that millions of people are suffering because some conclude FROM that story the right to exact revenge FOR that story. Witness today the Palestinian condition. How is this different from what was heaped upon those unfortunate people of Europe during WWII. We have learned nothing from our mythology and for this the god(s), whichever one or ones you believe in, should weep.
— Posted by Joshua
122.
September 26th,
2007
9:37 pm
Sadly, I expected more from Bollinger….. You are in context a leader yourself, more importantly an academic leader. I certainly would not enroll at Columbia for an education on diplomacy.
You helped set back a country already hurting in the diplomacy circles another number of years back. Shame on you, It’s charades like yours that ridicule Americans all over the world. If I were President Ahmadinejad, I’d send you a thank-you letter.
— Posted by GW
123.
September 26th,
2007
10:24 pm
Bollinger had no right to rip apart President Ahmadinejad. The President was a guest at his (while not his) university and regardless of his personal views he did not speak for the entire university but rather used the forum as a media grab.
It scares me that someone like this has been placed in a position of infulence that is promoting hate.
America is pushing the limits on a world stage of their own amendement on Freedom of Speech. He captured the world press by his shocking tirad. If he can so boldly say that Iran is a terrorist state, then I can so boldly say that Columbia University and all it students are wrapped under Bollingers views.
Shame.
— Posted by peter the canadian
124.
September 26th,
2007
10:31 pm
“I despise Mr. Ahmadinejad’s positions such as his shameless denial of the Holocaust and his shameless lies trying to spin away the existence of gays, or defending the treatment of women and academics as fair, or trying to claim that their nuke program is peaceful.”
What rubbish! The holocaust was not denied. Read (http://www.antiwar.com/orig/norouzi.php?articleid=1102 5): .
As far as the gay issue, there are many Christians who think that this is against God’s will and plan – and many are in the USA. And if you research, you will see that whilst Iran has oil, they are short of power, so why can’t they have nuclear energy? The US does, Australia does, even India and Pakistan do. Drop the double standards and stop looking for a fight where there is none. Or have you all forgotten about the WMD? It’s time for the US to show leadership instead of rattling the saber again!
— Posted by Andrew
125.
September 26th,
2007
10:50 pm
Only in America! When diplomacy is needed to win the harts and minds of people of other nations, we use troops ( in Iraq) and verbally abuse the head of a nation state.
I doubt that Colombia U ( which I attended) will receive applications from propective Iranian students or neighboring countries until Bollinger leaves.
Bollinger made points with which alumni benefactor?
— Posted by Vincent G. Thomas
126.
September 26th,
2007
11:07 pm
We non-Americans marvel how you Americans have a knack to make yourself the laughing stock of the world. Your leaders, may they be academic or political, come across as uneducated, mean and uncultured. What is the term you use to describe such people – rednecks? I am sure that most Americans are not like Bollinger, Bush, etc. I only hope you all have the sense to rid yourselves of such creeps.
— Posted by KayEss
127.
September 26th,
2007
11:08 pm
Obviously th last ten of you were not affected by 9/11. He pays terrorists. Sure let me open the door and give him milk and cookies.
— Posted by Max
128.
September 26th,
2007
11:16 pm
To get another point of view of the Palestinian vs Israeli conflict, read this link.
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20070730.htm
— Posted by Mike
129.
September 26th,
2007
11:47 pm
Having invited the President of Iran, the host Bollinger’s introducing Ahmedinejad as ‘petty and cruel dictator’ would shock most of the Indians and perhaps Asians. It has nothing to do whether the description was accurate or not; it is all about the civility to which an invited guest would be entitled to.
One could ask him tough questions and also respond to his concerns, such as that why should Palestinians pay for holocaust?
— Posted by S K DHOLAKIA
130.
September 26th,
2007
11:50 pm
It seems as though Bollinger (as well as many other citizens of the world) is very preoccupied of Ahmadinejad’s lies about using nuclear power to create nuclear weapons. Did he (or anyone else who has similar questions) ever stop to think that Iran also has a right to arm and defend themselves? Iran is the corner stone of the Middle East. The United States has been allied with Israel for so long; providing them with billions of dollars a year to build up their army and [nuclear] weapons programs. In addition to the U.S. and Israel possessing nuclear weapons, Pakistan also has nuclear weapons. The stalemate situation in the Middle-East is merely a ticking time bomb for World War III. The U.S. already has a presence in Iraq and an ally in Israel. Why doesn’t Iran have the right to protect themselves? I don’t think the question should be about who does and who does not have the right to bear nuclear weapons. The answer should be that acquiring nuclear weapons is not acceptable in this day and age and will not be tolerated.
And did the U.S. forget about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? I think that document was thrown in the trash even before the ink had a chance to dry…..
— Posted by Sarah A.

Ref: NY Times

Also read iranian-university-chancellors-ask-bollinger-10-questions and Uncivilised words