Columbia's Lee Bollinger harshly criticized Iran's president at a recent speech he made at Columbia University. You can see his speech here:
Comments of Mr. Bollinger
Iranian academics have ignored the points raised by Mr. Bollinger and posed 10 questions for him.
Here are my answers to their questions, which incidentally do not count 10:
1.a Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University?
Rather than call for his murder, as in the case of Iranians expressing their displeasure with Salmon Rushdie for a work of fiction, many felt compelled to call for Mr. Ahmadinejad's censorship.
However, Americans have generally found censorship a childish response and those people failed to have their way.
Vilifying someone seems to me to raise their esteem and stature and strikes me as ultimately counter-productive. I am therefore glad of Columbia's defense of democratic principles.
1.b And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond?
Why did the Iranian TV networks not broadcast hours of news reports insulting your president? Why was the popular website of Mr. Ahmadinejad's most forceful political opponent shut down during his speech?
1.c Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?
Freedom of speech is not equivalent to freedom from criticism. How can one claim freedom of speech without the ability to speak freely?
2. Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran’s national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah’s dictatorship?
The enemy of our enemy is our friend.
3. Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?
The enemy of our enemy's friend is our friend too.
4a. Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it?
Do you mean to imply that a democracy should not be held responsible for it's actions?
If so, I wish to invoke that to absolve the US from your complaints.
4b. And why does it oppose Iran ’s proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?
Getting both sides to give up their age-old religious reasons for fighting seems unlikely. Without a genuine desire for mutual coexistence, democracy devolves into a tyranny of the majority. Here I cite as evidence the explosive situation in Iraq. Is that your model for peace in Palestine?
5a. Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment?
To the best of our knowledge it is because the killer of 3,000 Americans finds succor amongst Islamic apologists for his behavior.
5b. How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals?
The sins of the father are not the sins of the child, and vice versa.
5c. How can you justify the Bush administration’s efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?
President Bush is a bad representative for American values, as evidenced by his unpopularity amongst Americans. I speculate he does not wish to draw attention to Osama's clean getaway.
6a. Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq?
For the opposite reason that Iran supports Hezbollah.
For the opposite reason that Iran supports Hamas.
6b. Why does the US refuse to allow Iran ’s current government to act against the MKO’s main base in Iraq?
The enemy of our enemy...
7a. Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it?
As I recall Saddam Hussein had very few public defenders, even amongst his closest neighbors. It is true that there was moderate theatrical protest to the invasion, but in the end the UN participated enough to get its' envoy bombed.
7b. What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives?
To quote presidential candidate John Edwads, "Saddam was the threat he [president Bush] knew, so Iraq is the war we got."
7c. Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?
If I were to say that we found them I would look as big a fool as your Holocaust-denying leader. In order to avoid such disgrace, I will instead say that they are embarrassingly absent.
8. Why do America’s closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?
Why would a young man seeking a bride in a brothel wind up marrying a whore?
9. Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?
The use of nuclear weapons in close quarters is a good way to poison your own well, and since radioactive contamination does not respect international boundaries, this seems like a tragedy.
10. Why is the US displeased with Iran’s agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?
My president calls your nation "evil doers" and yours calls mine "The Great Satan". Do you expect trust in that environment?
Given this level of mistrust, it is sensible to expect strict assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb for rather obvious security reasons. A reliable framework for this assurance exists and Iran's talks are viewed as a delaying tactic.