One of the articles I read this morning when I got to work was about a walkout at the UN after the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made a speech criticising the US. The article was quick to point out the hypocrisy of the speech, coming from the leader of a country whose last election was highly questionable, where protests are crushed by the military and where there is a great deal of political unrest. It also makes much of the conspiracy theories, such as the claim that most Americans and most outside the US as well believe that 9/11 was staged to ensure the survival of Jerusalem. There seemed to be a fairly decent amount about Zionist conspiracies.
But then near the bottom, Philippe Bolopion (Human Rights Watch's UN director) gives us this with no apparent sense of irony:
"The world assembly should take with a grain of salt the remarks of a leader who said nothing about the public hanging yesterday of a 17-year-old in his own country," he said.
I'm sure everyone knows what I'm getting at with this, but on the off-chance that sometime in the future someone comes across it and can't recall, yesterday also happened to be the day that Troy Davis was executed in Georgia (the US state) despite seven out of nine witnesses recanting and alleging police pressure*, one of the two remaining witnesses being a primary alternate suspect, and three jurors saying that they would change their votes if they could do it again. As far as I'm aware, Obama has made no comment on this.
(*another source I read said ten witnesses had signed affidavits recanting - either way, it is a considerable number)
Ahmadinejad's speech pitted the poverty and unhappiness of most countries against the riches and power of the US and unnamed European nations that he accused of perpetuating wars, causing the current global economic crisis and infringing on "the rights and sovereignty of nations."
He attacked the United States and European colonial powers for abducting tens of millions of Africans and making them slaves, for their readiness "to drop thousands of bombs on other countries," and for dominating the UN Security Council He singled out the US for using a nuclear bomb against Japan in World War II and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
"It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then," Ahmadinejad said. "Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world?"
Honestly, he may be a complete douche, but I can't say he's entirely wrong here. I do note that there is plenty of poverty and unhappiness in the US and other Western countries as well, of course, this isn't an East-West divide, and I doubt that Iran would do any better if it were suddenly put into a position of global power. But that doesn't make his criticism automatically invalid. And this isn't all distant past, either. There are plenty of people alive who remember WWII, and the propping up of dictatorships is still going on today. It's been a few hours since the House of Representatives cut off a bill that would have continued funding the government past the end of the month, which is a pretty huge deal for the economy of, you know, the world, and it was only a day or two ago too that Obama tried to convince the Palestinians not to approach the UN with a request to become a member state, which unless there's some kind of sudden death double or nothing clause I'm not aware of is not actually going to cost them that much even if it's a no, so I can only assume the only advantage in them not asking is that the chance of it actually happening is vastly decreased.
And really, next to the funding and support of dictators and other such meddling in outright wars for people's very existence, I don't exactly feel right getting into new information about their demands in treaty negotiations. We'll just leave it at: the US does not inspire happy feelings in me, and it's disappointing that it was Ahmadinejad who brought this up simply because he's so easy to dismiss.