Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the “slave masters” and “colonial powers” of the West in a rambling speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, but the United States and French delegations weren't around to hear most of it. The Americans and the French, among others, walked out of the speech moments after the Iranian president started speaking.
“It’s become a pattern. Every year Ahmadinejad comes and says hateful, anti-Semitic, destructive things,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told MSNBC. "You saw the demonstration of disgust displayed in the General Assembly as the United States and allied partners walked out." Every year for the past three years, Rice noted, the United States delegation has snubbed the Iranian leader by walking out of the assembly hall during his big address.
Among the highlights this year: Ahmadinejad denounced the West for exploiting poorer nations, supporting dictatorships, using the Holocaust as an excuse to oppress the Palestinians, causing inflation to rise by ending the gold standard, and causing the global economic recession. There were many references to godlessness and hypocrisy.
President Obama singled out Iran in his speech to the U.N. on Wednesday, saying the Iranian government "refuses to recognize the rights of its own people" and denouncing Iran's efforts to develop nuclear capabilities.
Rice used stronger language. "This is a rotten regime, and it is a regime completely outside the bounds of international norms, both in terms of the human rights record -- which is abysmal -- and in terms of its illegal nuclear program," she told MSNBC.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad asked, "Who used the atomic bomb against defenseless people and stockpiled thousands of warheads? Whose economies rely on waging wars and holding arms?" After listing the West's many failings, he questioned whether the United States and Europe should be trusted to lead international institutions such as the U.N.
The Iranian president also worked in a shout-out to the Arab Spring, which he celebrated as an “awakening in Islamic lands” spurred by people seeking “justice, freedom, and the creation of a better tomorrow.”