Monday, September 24

Scoring at ground zero

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is currently in the US where he will not only address the UN, but also speak at the Columbia University. His visit has kicked of debates and protests about what he should do, what he should visit, where he should speak, what he should speak…. While people are protesting his talk at the Columbia University, the Dean of the said University has promised to grill him about issues of human rights, holocaust, nuclear program etc.

As part of the protests, he is being banned from visiting the World Trade Center site. The reason, it would amount to violation of the scared site. Why ground zero should be considered a scared site violable by the presence of a Middle Eastern leader is not really obvious to me. For one most religious institutions and places of worship, generally considered sacred are open to everyone. Ahmadinejad has no direct proven connection with the 9/11 attacks, that could probably have helped rationalize the ban. And all he would be doing is pay his respects to the victims. This should be considered a positive sign. I have been to the site, and I would say that if anything, he should be encouraged to visit it. Before the visit I was not as empathetic to the incident or the victims as now. The visual impact of the site is huge. Probably letting Ahmadinejad experience it might help deal with Iran. It surely is a long shot, but worth it. By banning him for no apparent reason, the US is scoring no points with Iran sympathizers. If the US desires to talk sense into Ahmadinejad about abandoning Iran’s nuclear program, this action is not creating any goodwill. And goodwill is crucial at this point of time, when both US and Iran are stubborn, and the US cannot afford another war. Any option/opening that can help it score a brownie point should be grabbed by the US. At least in case of an attack, it can be used as evidence of having tried everything 'peaceful'.

But I guess the ban will continue, and so will the protests. It is time to see how Ahmadinejad does.

1 comment:

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