sad truth is that, before the eyes of the world at the concluding
session of the sixty first General Assembly of the United Nations,
Iran’s titular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a diplomat, an
advocate of peace and justice, while the leader of the western world
was a pretender -- a sophomoric dilettante with no grasp of
international dynamics and no appreciation of the changes he has
brought upon us all.
Ahmadinejad gave praise to a full
spectrum of revered religious figures -- Adam, Moses, Jesus, and
Mohammed -- while our president pointed to the triumphs of democracy
in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ahmadinejad plaintively stated the case against Israel and the
dominant world power without venom, without threats, and without
appeal to the baser nature of men.
George W. Bush raised the specter of ongoing war with veiled threats
and disdain for the international body he was addressing.
We were told that Ahmadinejad was a lunatic and a mortal threat to the
very foundation of the civilized world but he failed to play his part.
Few who listened to his words could fail to hear his humanity. Few who
listened to his words could fail to hear his plea for mutual respect
and equitable, peaceful settlement of international conflict.
Yes, Ahmadinejad has made statements (perhaps born of frustration and
bitter respite) beyond the limits of western sensibilities but the man
who appeared before the beleaguered and regal body of nations was not
an enemy to human values.
Our president has also made statements beyond the limits of reasoned
Yet, the evening of the concluding assembly of the sixty-first United
Nations did not belong to Ahmadinejad or George W. Bush. It belonged
to Kofi Annan. In his final days as Secretary General, the most
difficult diplomatic post on earth, Mr. Annan spoke eloquently of the
pressing and largely unresolved conflicts on the world stage: A
grossly inequitable world economy, the ascendance of aggressive use of
force, and the deterioration of the rule of law.
The failures of the United Nations are well chronicled but poorly
understood by the American public. The community of nations is fully
capable of reaching agreement on the critical issues confronting the
planet but the veto power of the world’s dominant nation has
constantly subverted the better intentions of the world community.
The president deserves credit for his words regarding the genocide in
Darfur but in the light of his policies of aggressive war and
occupation, in deference to his blindness on Palestine and global
climate change, his words were like shadows in the dark.
Darfur, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kyoto: These are the world’s
most pressing problems and on these our president is absent without
The foundation of the international order is the rule of law. Under
the leadership of this president, we have rewritten the Geneva
Conventions, defied the cardinal prohibition against aggressive war,
selected which United Nations resolutions shall and shall not be
honored, promoted the idea of democracy while subverting democracy
wherever it does not conform to the neocon vision of American
dominance, demeaned the International Criminal Court, circumvented all
established moral tenets against torture and rendition, and undercut
the very foundations of freedom and democracy at home.
America has known many trials and tribulations, some of which have
shaken us to the core, but rarely have we lost our moral grounding so
thoroughly as we have today.
It is time we announced to the world that we, as American citizens,
are not the nation our president portrays. We are not hungry for war.
We are not the hammer of wrath. We are not the great deceivers. We
are not torturers. We are not the purveyors of toxic air and water. We
do not desire to bend the world to its knees.
We are a peace loving people. We believe in justice, the rule of law
and the standards of common decency. We believe in the truth. We
uphold justice. We believe in the golden rule: Live and let live.
We are America and George W. Bush does not speak for us.
is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the
Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City
Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by
CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle,
Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: