Thursday, September 24, 2009

Improv night at the UN

No, it’s not the latest offering of the Comedy Network (though the potential for satire is ripe) but rather, the opening day of the annual sessions of the United Nations General Assembly, a chance for the world’s leaders to share their wisdom, world view and er, oh shall we say, unorthodox theories with the wider world. An event that somehow must be what the seven circles of hell of public speaking must look like.

It’s not often that a public speaking appearance by Barack Obama would get dumped to the lower end of the news agenda, but on Wednesday he was but an afterthought after the wide ranging rants and rhetoric of Moe and Mahmoud, the two speakers on the day who did the most to bring on the negativity vibes when it comes to everyone singing kumbaya.

The day began with the appearance of Muammar Gaddafi, who has never appeared at the UN public speaking sessions before. His arrival in New York is the first time he has addressed the world body since his grasp of power in a coup forty years ago, and it appeared that he wanted to make up for all of that lost time.

In what could politely be described as a wandering dissertation, the Libyan leader travelled back in time, calling for answers to the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, interpreting the last forty years or so of modern history with his spin and no doubt causing a cringe or two back in the Obama White House with his frequent references to Obama as his son, and the son of Africa.

The latter while perhaps correct according to genealogy and creative writing, most likely wasn’t greeted with joy by the staffers at the White House, providing more fuel for those that have already expressed their distrust of the Presidents agenda and those he is believed to associate with.

And while Gadaffi’s hour and half review of modern history and his place in it was tedious enough, the prime time appearance of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who used his annual appearance to revisit on his preoccupation with all things Israel provided the final act of the day’s theatre of the absurd.

For those that remained(as a large portion of the delegates joined Canada in walking out on his racist and Anti Semitic drivel, though one wonders about the optics of a foreign policy statement issued out of a Tim Horton's, -- Canada may have the right cause, but perhaps the wrong launching pad there Mr. Prime Minister) Iran’s leader once again hectored the assembly about who he perceives are the real evil doers and Great Satans of the world, thoughts interspersed with observations of a religious re-awakening apparently due to come for all of us, though some apparently are following the wrong path.

He also touched on his recent electoral “success” in the Iranian election campaign, neglecting to mention the questions over voter fraud that have dogged the beginning of his second term, nor taking note of the many opposition party members that suddenly found themselves in jail over protests against his election.

Lost in the Gadaffi shuffle and the Ahmandinejad rants was President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, a keynote address that outlined a new vision for American foreign policy, one of inclusion and cooperation after the last eight years of quasi isolationism.

A clear indication that there is new leadership in Washington looking to find solutions within a larger collective such as the UN, though you have to wonder just how many feel that such a body can work with the likes of Gadaffi and Ahmandinejad offering up their rather troubling concepts for our modern society (we offer up easy odds that President Obama kept his distance at lunch, after all if he thinks that Kanye West is a jackass....).

Perhaps the delegates can read about the more reasoned points of the Obama option in the New York Times later in the day today, once they wade through the bizarre ramblings of Moe and the vitriolic outbursts of Mahmoud…

Globe and Mail-- Canadian delegation leads walkout as Ahmadinejad speaks
Globe and Mail-- Obama breaks with Bush doctrine of unilateral action
Globe and Mail-- Israeli 'hypocrisy' the target of Iranian leader
Globe and Mail-- From walking out to speaking out
National Post-- Diplomats walk out as Iran slams Israel at UN
National Post-- Ahmadinejad address ‘low point’ at UN: Harper
National Post-- World must act together, Obama tells UN
National Post-- Gaddafi blasts big powers in first UN speech
National Post-- Muammar Gaddafi turns his United Nations General Assembly debut into a very long rant
CBC-- Canada walks out on Ahmadinejad's UN speech
CBC-- Obama tells UN new era demands global unity

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