The interview with Ahmadinejad in this week's Time is chilling, in large part due to the fact that you almost want to like him. He's got that magic Clintonian touch to his words. You know you're being had somehow, but it feels good in a confusing way. The President of Iran is currently just across town from me, and you can hear the disturbance in the traffic noise. You can just sense the momentous nature of this visit. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say to the General Assembly. Here is a choice quote from the interview:
AHMADINEJAD: Whose confidence should be built?
TIME: The world's?
AHMADINEJAD: The world? The world? Who is the world? The United States? The U.S. Administration is not the entire world. Europe does not account for one-twentieth of the entire world. When I studied the provisions of the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], nowhere did I see it written that in order to produce nuclear fuel, we need to win the support or the confidence of the United States and some European countries.
UPDATE: I caught Ahmadinejad's UN address last night at the gym, and my suspicions were confirmed. This is a highly intelligent, very dangerous man who wants nothing less than the complete re-structuring of the global balance of power, and he knows that the time is ripe to make a major play in that direction. And he's slipping the knife in with a polite smile and feelgood rhetoric about human dignity. I am having trouble finding much feedback on his speech in my usual blogosphere haunts, which I find disconcerting. But my spider sense is telling me that we've just witnessed the birth of a new era in some way. Also: I was the only person watching the address on the treadmills, everyone else was tuned to some sort of mind-numbing pap. It struck me that most Americans, even New Yorkers, are completely detached from the political storm brewing around them. The decadence is deepening, and men like Ahmadinejad are more than willing to exploit our weaknesses. Am I being alarmist? I certainly hope so.
MORE: Sullivan nails it in the first paragraph of this post:
"...there is a chilling slickness to him that is as disturbing as it is obviously formidable. The way he deflected questions always back toward the U.S., the way he skilfully used every awkward moment to pivot to the themes his domestic and international audience want to hear, the very image of the informal, mild-mannered, quiet-spoken, constantly smiling serenity: all these represent a very, very capable politician."