Ghosts of Nikita Khrushchev

On October 11, 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounded his shoe on his desk at the United Nations, displaying his anger toward the Philippine ambassador, who had just stated the obvious: that the USSR had “swallowed up” Eastern Europe. An enraged Khrushchev pounded his desk and called the Philippine delegate “a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism.”

Khrushchev’s oafish outbursts toward the West at the UN and elsewhere were legendary. In 1956, at a reception in Moscow, the Soviet leader told a group of assembled Western diplomats, “We will bury you!”

Last week, the ghost of Nikita Khrushchev was alive and well in the halls of the United Nations, as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s head despot, and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s buffoon-in-chief, came calling.

Ahmadinejad spoke to the General Assembly on Tuesday. The Iranian dictator said, among other things, that “sustainable peace and tranquility in the world can only be attained through justice, spirituality, ethics, compassion and respect for human dignity.” Oh yes, and he accused the United States of violating each and every one of these ideals.

Of course, his idea of justice is Sharia law, which lops off hands for stealing, genitals for adultery and heads for rejecting Islam. His concept of spirituality is defined as sponsoring terrorism around the world in the name of Allah. I’m a little unclear as to how Ahmadinejad and his Islamic cohorts would categorize their total subjugation and degradation of women. Would that be an example of ethics, compassion or respect for human dignity?

Chavez spoke the following day, and his comments will go down in the annals of the UN with those of Khrushchev and other tyrants who have disgraced themselves there over the last six decades. Referring to President Bush’s speech to the delegates the day before, Chavez called Bush “el Diablo” (the Devil) and said that “the smell of sulfur” still lingered at the podium. He also accused the president of acting as if he is “the owner of the world.”

Giving credibility to the outlandish remarks of Ahmadinejad and Chavez were the responses of some congressional Democrats, whose demagoguery may well have provided much of the inspiration for these two third-world dictators in the first place. Witness, for example, the remarks of U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., who has called Chavez “an excellent friend” and has been critical of the Bush administration for “demonizing” him:

“For him to be able to say that puts into context in what low esteem the United States is held,” Delahunt said of Chavez, “not just in the Islamic world, but all over. This is the reflection of the poisonous personal relationship between him and Bush.”

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY, an expert on personal attacks on political foes, released a tepid press release about the Chavez remarks that said, in part, “It should be clear to all heads of government that criticism of Bush Administration policies, either domestic or foreign, does not entitle them to attack the president personally.” The clear implication of Rangel’s statement is this: “You can’t attack our president personally! That’s our job!”

Finally, there were the comments of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who, in a radio press conference the next day, was about as articulate as one might expect from the man who held Howard Dean’s coat the night his head exploded in Iowa. Harkin’s rambling defense of Chavez’s antics went like this:

“I can understand the frustration and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush’s policies…If anything, George Bush is just fanning the flames of a Cesar Chavez. Hmmm? Oh, Hugo Chavez! What’d I say? Cesar Chavez? Hugo Chavez. Where’d I get Cesar? Oh my gosh. Memory banks. Farm Worker’s Union. But you get what I mean.”

Yes, senator, we certainly do. Apparently, encouraging anti-American behavior and speech is no longer considered giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Dictators the world over now feel emboldened to come to the United Nations, as guests of the United States, and say things so ridiculous only a Democrat could agree with them. Nikita Khrushchev would be proud.


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