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“Mr. Ahmadinejad is a complex, even bizarre, figure….”
And with that understatement of the year, New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof launches into a description of his interview with the president of Iran.
Turns out Ahmadinejad is a bit like the Tom Daschle of the Middle East.
…he is small in person, subdued and very soft-spoken…
As with most interviews that tyrants agree to sit for with American journalists (e.g. Stalin’s interview with Eugene Lyons, Fidel Castro’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Saddam Hussein’s interview with Dan Rather) Ahmadinejad made a concerted effort to come off as a lovely and reasonable chap. Regarding Iran’s enrichment of uranium, he said that he would be willing to halt those activities if only someone would sell him enriched uranium so that Iran can treat poor cancer-stricken Iranians.
He insisted that Iran will happily give up its enrichment processing if it can get this enriched uranium for “cancer treatment medication.”
“If they were willing to sell us the 20 percent enriched uranium, we would have preferred to buy it,” he said. “It would have been far less expensive. It’s as though you wish to purchase a vehicle for yourself. No one is willing to sell it to you, then you must set up your own production line to produce your own vehicle.”
Ahmadinejad next condemned the Syrian government’s violent persecution of protesters.
Mr. Ahmadinejad called for Syria, his ally, to stop its violent crackdown on protesters, cautioning that “with clashes and confrontations problems will not be solved. They will be multiplied.”
But when, to his credit, Kristof asked him to explain the difference between Syria’s treatment of protesters and Iran’s, the man became delusional and unhinged, as is his wont.
“In Iran, things were quite different,” he insisted, a bit testy. Many of the dead in Iran were members of security forces, he claimed, suggesting that protesters were not deliberately targeted.
I asked Mr. Ahmadinejad what he thought when he saw the famous photos of a young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, lying on the ground and bleeding to death after she had been shot in the chest.
…He suggested that she had been murdered by his opponents, working with the BBC, as part of a bizarre snuff film.
Ordinarily I’m no fan of Nick Kristof, but in this case I’m pleased to see (in the NYT’s comments section) that the description of his interview has persuaded a majority of his left-leaning readers to acknowledge Ahmadinejad’s wickedness and sheer lunacy.