Say what you will about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--whose name I can now pronounce and spell. Say he's a doubter of the Holocaust; say he's part of an axis of evil; say he's a threat to Israel and the West. You'd be right about all those things, but to give credit where credit is due, you'd have to admit that he's a hell of a politician.
At the Council of Foreign Relations yesterday, he sat with some the world's top diplomats to talk about Iran's nuclear program, Hezbollah, and the Holocaust, and to enjoy some appetizers.
I saw him interviewed on Anderson Cooper 360
last night, and was startled by his tone, his cleverness, and his confidence. At one point in the interview, Cooper asked him about his stating that the Holocaust is a hoax.
"Can't you see how that would offend some people?" Cooper asked.
"I'm saying that it needs to be investigated by an independent organization," Ahmadinejad said through a translator. "And anyway, if it did happen, where
did it happen?"
"That's right. It didn't happen in Palestine. So why are Jews trying to occupy Palestine if the source of their pain is in Europe?"
It has little to do with anything, and he never addressed the question--and that's the point.
"Will you abandon your nuclear program?" Cooper later asked.
"Are these your questions," the Iranian president asked, "or were they given to you by someone else?"
Cooper seemed pretty frustrated.
“He is a master of counterpunch, deception, circumlocution,’’ former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft said of Ahmadinejad after the question-and-answer session.
In an interview
, David Sanger, a journalist who wrote a story
on Ahmadinijad's U.S. visit, said that this was a typical tactic throughout his stay.
[We were] surprised at his jauntiness, his cockiness, his sense of self-assurance. At various moments in his conversation, he would take a question, turn it around with a question of his own, answer his own question, and then settle back with what seemed to be a smirk, a very self-satisfied . . . response. At the same time, you had to sort of admire his sheer political performance. He's very good at this. He's a very good debater.
Sanger's story concludes
And as [Ahmadinejad] left, it was with a jab to his hosts. "At the beginning of the session, you said you were an independent group," he said. "But almost everything that I was asked came from a government position." Then he smiled, thanked everyone and left the room with a light step.
To see Ahmadinijad's August interview with Mike Wallace, click here
Ahmadinijad's blog can be found here
. Note: No fun to browse unless you speak Farsi.