Everywhere you want to be... except here.

This will be my first run at this blog, I apologize if there are some formatting errors or the like.

Via The Blotter there is news that Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has requested a visa so that he can attend meetings of the UN General Assembly. This comes on the heels of Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney's refusal to provide security for former Iranian Pres. Mohammed Khatami. The comments section at The Blotter seems to agree that Ahmadinejad is unwelcome: either he shouldn't come, Bush (or perhaps Pat's pal) should "take him out" or we should kick out the UN. Whatever else these events reveal about American sentiments and Romney's presidential aspirations, they also indicate that neither the US public nor their officials are serious about our policy towards Iran.

Since Ahmadinejad is visiting the UN, it seems unlikely that he will be denied entry. The Blotter points out, however, that he will be on a 25-mile leash because the US forbids the free travel of Iranian government officials. This seems to me a mistake for precisely the reason that so many people want to keep him out of the country: Ahmadinejad has made and almost certainly will make inflammatory remarks about 9/11, Israel, Jews generally and the West. The Iranian president's strategy works only so long as the American public and the American government allow it to. By keeping him out of the country or greatly restricted, the US gives Ahmadinejad the firepower he needs: he can claim (perhaps even somewhat legitimately) that American freedom is a farce and that the US government fears him. Further, there will be howls from politicians, like Romney, on and off the campaign trail that his presence is an "affront to the memory of 9/11 victims." No doubt that this is precisely the sort of reaction Ahmadinejad wants; we should refuse to give it to him.

In order to be serious about our policy concerning the current Iranian president, the people of the US should go out of their way to be hospitable to him. The Iranian president should be encouraged to travel the nation like his predecessor intends. Perhaps he could even attend a trade fair for American domestic appliances or even wait in line at Disneyland. Ahmadinejad will be followed closely by the American media, he will have many opportunities to comment on everything from 9/11 to the Holocaust with every word broadcast faithfully by a controversy-driven media that he no doubt believes is run the Jews. America's serious foreign policy here should be foolishness, particularly Ahmadinejad's: let him make a fool of himself and embarrass Iran.

What better policy than to allow two Iranian leaders into the country? In this case, the contrast may be high: Khatami will be delivering a lecture encouragingly titled "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." Even if Ahmadinejad fails to make a fool of himself, seeing a self-professed enemy of the West moving freely about will remain a good lesson for Iran and the Muslim world. Iranians, despite Pres. Ahmadinejad's crackdowns, will be watching.

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