I am in a quandary about the appearance of the Iranian thug du jour, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York this week.
On the one hand, it appears to me that giving someone a platform like speaking at Columbia University only enhances his status among those who already like, agree with, or endure him.
[As an aside, the President of Columbia, Lee Bollinger who, on assumes, approved of the invitation to speak, introduced Ahmadinejad in such boorish and harsh terms that CNN reported he "opened his remarks by saying Bollinger's introduction was discourteous, intellectually dishonest and inaccurate." So, Bollinger proved himself to be abysmally stupid by inviting Ahmadinejad and appallingly rude after he did. Well, he is a New Yorker so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.]
On the other hand, what if the ABC and Dumont networks (not, by the way, CBS) had decided that giving Senator Joe McCarthy a platform in the Spring of 1954 during what came to be known as the "Army-McCarthy Hearings" had been the wrong thing to do?
The country would might never seen the exchange between Army lawyer Joseph Welch and Sen. McCarthy:
"Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
We are a pretty strong country and it is not likely that many Americans are going to be swayed by Ahmadinejad darkening our shores.
Fred Thompson (to whom I am a paid advisor) said that if it were up to him the whole business of Ahmadinejad going to ground zero or speaking at Columbia University would have been a non-starter because he wouldn't have allowed him a visa in the first place.
It was pointed out to Thompson that would violate the UN Charter to which he responded the charter should be changed.
I have a slightly different view (which has been expressed here before): I'm not so much in favor of the US getting out of the UN as I am the UN getting out of the US.
The United Nations should be moved - lock, stock, and diplomatic cocktail glasses - to someplace like Central Africa where the UN's presence might make a positive difference instead of just taking up valuable real estate and even more valuable parking places.
Given the visit of Ahmadinejad (and my new rule about non-fiction) I want to recommend to you a book by Mullpal Michael Ledeen, "The Iranian Time Bomb."
In addition to being a "Freedom Scholar" at the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Ledeen and his wife have provided their country with a daughter who served with me during my time in Iraq, and a son who is a US Marine currently serving in al-Anbar province.
This is no armchair theorist.
To give you a taste, in the book's introduction Dr. Ledeen writes, "for nearly thirty years the Iranians continuously attacked us, and, aside from some harsh rhetoric from time to time, we never responded."
Ledeen goes through all of the horrors the Iranian leaders have visited upon us over the decades while US leaders have attempted to appeal to their better natures.
The reason for this is deep into the book:
"Americans are the first people in the history of the world to believe that peace is the normal condition of mankind. This quaint article of faith blends nicely with two other American conceits: That all people are equally good, and all problems will be solved, if only one has enough patience and goodwill."
It will not surprise you to find out that that Dr. Ledeen's epilogue includes this:
"To those who say we should just abandon the peoples of the Middle East to their own misery and oppression, I can only say that there is no escape for us from the evil is Islamic fascism … tyrants hate America and will … try to kill or dominate us. They are implacable enemies of all free societies."
In the battle of ideas, freedom will ultimately win out - Welch defeated McCarthy. The Michael Ledeens will defeat the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads.
But, it may take a little convincing along the way by the French, the US, the Israelis and others for whom freedom has long been a given, but understand that inaction might soon take it away.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Army-McCarthy hearings, Columbia University, Dr. Ledeen's bio and a link to the Amazon.com page to buy his book. Also a Mullfoto which made me laugh out loud and a Catchy Caption of the Day.