Courtesy Not the Issue


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's propaganda tour of New York City, and his offensive speeches at Columbia University and the United Nations, provoked a variety of reactions.

But among the most astonishing is that his presence incited the editorial column of The Philadelphia Inquirer to claim that this was the perfect opportunity to "engage" with a leader of a country that has incited genocide against Jews and been the No. 1 promoter of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East.

Ahmadinejad's desire for nuclear weapons isn't a function of his being cold-shouldered, but of his fanatical beliefs. Warm welcomes from Americans will not shame him into good behavior, but give the false impression that we are too divided to oppose him.

Just as bizarre was Inquirer columnist Mark Bowden's point in a Sept. 30 column in which he criticized the president of Columbia for berating Ahmadinejad. He contrasted the courtesy that Palestinians had extended to him as a guest in the past with the bad manners shown the Iranian leader. Bowden and anyone else interested in the way the Islamic world treats strangers these days should look instead to the way Iran's ally Hamas is treating Gilad Shalit, or the way Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad's Lebanese proxy, has treated Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. All three kidnapped Israeli soldiers have been held incommunicado for more than a year.

Promoting illusions about the utility of making nice with monsters is a poor excuse for a foreign policy — or even an editorial.



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