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September 25, 2007

Mohsen Rezai on Ahmadinejad at Columbia

Broadcast 25 September on Iranian state satellite TV (IRINN)

Major General Mohsen Rezai (age 54) was commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) during the Iran-Iraq war and for about a decade afterwards (1981-1997). He ran for president of Iran against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. He is currently secretary of the National Expediency Council and is closely associated with the popular Persian news website Baztab (http://www.baztab.ir/).

He was interviewed by Mohammad Sajedi on the daily "45 Minutes" interview program in the context of National Secred Defense week; most of the questions and answers were about his role in the war. During the interview he commented briefly on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York City to address the UN General Assembly. He was obviously prepared to discuss the subject--he was carrying a notebook with an excerpt from a statement by the 6th US President John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) made while he was serving as secretary of state in 1821.

In drawing support from Adams, Rezai, a proud and militant religious collectivist, was conveniently aligning himself with one of the great American individualists, as Iranian leaders often do. He was also speaking in support of a fellow IRGC officer (Ahmadinejad) who has been accused of direct or complicit acts of murder and assassination while serving in that capacity and has never denied the accusations.

Most of the Iranian media reactions to the way Ahmadinejad has been treated in the USA that I have seen have focused on American rudeness or the Iranian right to develop nuclear energy, without addressing any of the numerous other charges leveled at the Iranian president or his government. Ahmadinejad actually said there are no homosexuals in Iran! I wonder if he would have an answer if someone asked him how it happens that the Persian language has become so full of colloquialisms and jokes about homosexuals.

Sajedi: Mr. Ahmadinejad will be speaking to the UN General Assembly. My first question is a general one. How much can the General Assembly be a strategic solution for solving international problems?

Rezai: Let me say first that I consider it necessary to express my disappointment with the officials at Columbia University, which is an advanced university with a prominent standing in the sciences. I declare here that their ugly dealings with their guest is unworthy of a university environment. They should not have done this. They have invited a guest. Mr. Ahmadinijad is the president of a nation and they should have treated him with more respect, even if they had criticisms of him. It is regrettable that a nation that claims to be the cradle of liberty has such a low level of tolerance.

With regard to appearances by Iranian presidents at the UN General Assembly, this has always been beneficial to us. At one time it was Martyr Rajai, then the Exalted Leader, then Mr. Hashemi, then Mr. Khatami and today Mr. Ahmadinejad. In the end this is a forum. There is a lot of propaganda against Iran! They create strange images of our people and government abroad. Ultimately this is a tribune our presidents use. It has its ups and downs too. It is possible that incidents will take place from time to time, but we have always made use of it. God willing he will also be able to make use of this opportunity tonight and deliver the nation of Iran's message clearly to all the nations of the world.

Sajedi: Can we attribute confrontations like this to international standards? How can a nation that considers itself the world's greatest supporter of democracy treat an invited president this way at Columbia University?

Rezai: With your permission I will read an 1821 statement by US Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, about 200 years ago, so our great nation can see that this man's prediction has come true. He said 200 years ago that wherever the standard of liberty and independence is established, that location has a place in the heart of America, but America will not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy. It wishes for freedom and independence, but it will not go outside its own country. It will invite and counsel other nations to have independence and freedom.

The statement I want to use is this: He says otherwise (in other words if America goes outside its own country to support freedom) it is possible that it will become the arbiter of the world and it will no longer be the ruler of its own spirit.

You see that the prediction Mr. Adams made 200 years ago that America would become an arbiter if it went outside its borders and that it would not even rule its own spirit (its spirit is freedom of course), or in other words it would not even be able to have freedom inside its own borders, has come true.

Well, it appears that this confrontation with Mr. Ahmadinejad has turned America against freedom and independence! Ultimately you should let an individual say what he has to say, despite the fact that you may have criticisms of him. You should let him come and debate with you, and say what you have to say respectfully! Using insulting language against the representative of a nation is in my view the very fulfillment of the prediction Mr. Adams made that America has become arbitrary and opposed to freedom!


Rezai's translation of Adams' statement takes a few liberties but it is accurate in principle. The original 1821 Adams statement comes from a July 4 speech:

"She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. . . . She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit."

I found the Adams quote on the On Power website: http://www.onpower.org/quotes/a.html.

Crosposted to The Satellite News.

Posted by John at September 25, 2007 6:17 PM

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