Bush will be speaking at 11:30. You can watch live, here. But don't click that link right now unless you want to see Kofi blabbing about whatever moral equivalence is on his mind today. I swear he may make me more infuriated than any other leader. Listening to him makes my skin crawl.
President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will face off at a distance over Middle East democracy and nuclear weapons when both address the United Nations on Tuesday.
Bush faces growing international skepticism over his policies for Iran and Iraq, with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that Iraq was in grave danger of descending into civil war and French President Jacques Chirac arguing against a rush to impose sanctions on Iran.
U.S. officials said that, undeterred by setbacks in Iraq war and the Palestinian territories, Bush would stress his so-called "Freedom Agenda" of aggressively promoting democracy, calling the Middle East "the central battlefield."
"The president ... will lay out his positive vision for the Middle East, the bright, democratic future that we see for the Middle East in contra-distinction to some who have almost a backward-looking vision for that region," a senior administration official told reporters.
In other news, the French fold.
Update: Unfortunately, I have to leave the TV while Bush is talking, but part of it that I heard was pretty damn hot. He's speaking directly to the people of the Middle East about the propagandists telling them to go off and kill themselves to earn martyrdom and dignity. Nice. Check Hot Air for highlights afterwards. (I mean, if that's what you have planned, Allah. I'd hate to be too demanding.)
Update: As I had expected, the speech was good. Here's the text, and some of my favorite parts are below:
Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruled by the brutal Taliban regime, and its seat in this body was contested. Now this seat is held by the freely elected government of Afghanistan, which is represented today by President Karzai. Five years ago, Iraq's seat in this body was held by a dictator who killed his citizens, invaded his neighbors, and showed his contempt for the world by defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions. Now Iraq's seat is held by a democratic government that embodies the aspirations of the Iraq people, who's represented today by President Talabani. With these changes, more than 50 million people have been given a voice in this chamber for the first time in decades.
Some of the changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, but they are real. Algeria has held its first competitive presidential election, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emirates recently announced that half of the seats in its Federal National Council will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, in parliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multiparty presidential elections in Yemen and Egypt. These are important steps, and the governments should continue to move forward with other reforms that show they trust their people. Every nation that travels the road to freedom moves at a different pace, and the democracies they build will reflect their own culture and traditions. But the destination is the same: A free society where people live at peace with each other and at peace with the world.
So, y'all would prefer no change at all?
Some have argued that the democratic changes we're seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on a false assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with. The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have been trapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left a generation disillusioned, and made this region a breeding ground for extremism.
While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country's shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broader Middle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.
Hear me now and believe me later, people of the Middle East:
My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people from those who pervert Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promote the peace.
He follows that with personal messages to the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran. Ahmie are you listening?
The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation's resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons. The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Allah has video and doubts.
Update: Political Pit Bull has video of David Frum, who thinks this may signal the breakdown of Bush's Iran policy.