- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

The last intervention in public affairs Ted Turner made was a month or two back, when he recounted what an agreeable vacation he had in Kim Jong-il’s North Korea. (I sent him a postcard saying, “Wish you were still there.”) He’s now weighed in on the ayatollahs and his line’s pretty straightforward: Why shouldn’t Iran have nukes?

“They’re a sovereign state,” he said. “We have 28,000. Why can’t they have 10? We don’t say anything about Israel — they’ve got 100 of them approximately — or India or Pakistan or Russia. And really, nobody should have them. They aren’t usable by any sane person.”

Cut to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations last week. His speech was mostly a lot of run-of-the-mill kook boilerplate — the U.N. is a stooge of the Great Satan (if only), America started the Israel-Hezbollah war (whatever) — but he wound up the usual shtick with a prayer for the return of the Twelfth Imam, the so-called “Hidden Imam” — or, as the Iranian president put it, “the perfect, righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.”

This isn’t just some cockamamie pie-in-the-sky deal. Last year, Mr. Ahmadinejad told the Indian foreign minister that everything would be hunky-dory in two years’ time, which the minister took to mean when Iran’s nukes would be ready to fly. But, as the president went on to explain, that’s apparently the Twelfth Imam’s ETA.

The New York Times and most other media outlets didn’t mention Mr. Ahmadinejad’s big Twelfth Imam finale. America would appear to be largely uninterested in the arrival in 2007 of “the perfect, righteous human being.” If he shows up on schedule, the attitude of most Americans seems to be that they’re washing their hair that night.

But go back to Ted Turner’s observation on nukes: “They aren’t usable by any sane person.” The annals of human history are filled with millennial cultists of one form or another but ours is the first era in which they have the capability to live up to their sandwich boards. President Ahmageddonouttahere is an apocalyptic with a delivery system: “The end is nigh” is an old slogan. Now the means are nigh.

What to do? Alan Dershowitz is a big liberal but he’s a sane liberal and, unlike many of his chums, he acknowledges the threat. So what’s his big idea? He thinks Iran should be expelled from the United Nations. Yeah, right. There’s more chance of the Twelfth Imam eloping with Paris Hilton.

Iran’s president was a huge hit at the U.N. Short of bringing out some burqa-clad Rockettes and doing a couple of choruses of “This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of A Scary Us,” he couldn’t have been a bigger smash.

I said a year or two back, apropos the U.N., that it’s a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice cream and blend it with a quart of dog poop the result will taste more like the latter than the former. And last week’s performances at the General Assembly were a fine illustration of that. Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Chavez were the star finalists of “UnAmerican Idol,” and, just when you need Simon Cowell, the only Brit in sight was the oleaginous Mark Malloch Brown, Kofi Annan’s deputy, fawning over every crazy in town. The rest of the bigwigs reacted like Paula Abdul, able to discern good points even in fellows who boast about not having any. That’s the reality the Dershowitzes refuse to confront — that structurally the U.N. enables thugs to punch above their weight.

As further evidence of my fecal ice-cream thesis, the Iranian president followed his boffo speech with a trip to the Council on Foreign Relations where he said the Palestinians were the ones being penalized for an event they had nothing to do with: World War II and the Holocaust, “if it, in fact, occurred.” On the matter of whether it did occur, he said, “More unbiased research should be carried out on the subject.” A survivor of Dachau, Morris Greenberg, happened to be in the room and pointed this out. President Ahmouttamatree then queried whether Mr. Greenberg was old enough to have been at Dachau.

Hugo Chavez was an even bigger hit, in part because he eschewed the Holocaust denying, doesn’t see himself as the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam, and stuck closer to the American left’s talking points — it’s all the Bushitler’s fault. He denounced George Bush as an “imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal” and also “the devil,” he held up a copy of some unreadable Noam Chomsky book, gave it a big plug and subsequently regretted he couldn’t meet with the late Professor Chomsky. Professor Chomsky isn’t late, he’s alive and well. Granted, it’s easy to get the impression he’s been dead for 30 years, since he hasn’t had a new idea since the early 1970s. Speaking of which, Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, agreed Mr. Chavez was a little overheated but was broadly sympathetic to the general Venezuelan line: “Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustration, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush’s policies.” Without Mr. Bush “frustrating” them, Mr. Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad would be as rhetorically bland as the prime minister of the Netherlands.

It may be news to the CFR types and the Dems but the U.N. demonstrated last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal came from Mr. Chavez, who demanded the U.N. relocate to Venezuela. You go, girl. Alan Dershowitz would be better off trying to get America expelled from the U.N., and encouraging it to join a new group of nations serious about defending freedom in the world: it would be a very small club.

Last week Jacques Chirac dropped the threat of sanctions against Iran. A few months ago, he briefly mused about nuking the Persians, but he’s now folded like… well, not like the Arabs and their tents: They’re busily pitching them all over Europe with no plans to fold at all. Anyone who thinks the U.N. is the body to mediate Iran’s nuclearization or anything else is more deluded than Mr. Ahmadinejad. At this rate, the Twelfth Imam will be the next secretary-general.

Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Mark Steyn, 2005

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