Monday, 24 September 2007

Tehran's PR machine

President Bush visiting Tehran anytime soon? Unthinkable. But apparently it is possible the other way around: this morning the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in New York City, the financial heart of the states, to attend the annual meeting of the United Nations. The Iranian head of state made sure his visit stayed not unnoticed: he gave an interview to CBS’ ’60 Minutes’ and managed to impress the viewer with moderate comments, mild language and socially wanted answers. To the question ‘why do you want to visit the WTC site?’ he replied: ‘I want to show respect to the American nation’ Excuse me? Did I miss something? Do miracles really exist? The whole interview is one hour and 22 minutes, but this was without any doubt the most remarkable thing he said:

I think this interview and his presence at the annual meeting of the United Nations in Manhattan are two perfect examples how to practice a sublime public relations policy, not to mention the fact he will hold a speech early this week at the prestigious Columbia University. And don't forget, last August the father of three gave filmmaker Oliver Stone permission to make a biopic film on him

Although the US had no other choice than to grant him a visa (refusing the head of a state which is a full member of the UN was hard to explain), they did prevent him from visiting the WTC site, due to ‘logistical and security matters’, as the official explanation stated. The real reason is thought to be the fear of the Americans Ahmadinejad would create a forum on a place where (Muslim) terrorist killed thousands of (innocent) Americans.

Nevertheless, millions of Americans will see Ahmadinejad on the evening news tonight and they will hear what he has to say: he does not want to make a nuclear bomb, he wants to pay respect to the American nation, etc.etc. Whether his motives are genuine or sinister, nobody seems to know, but for sure his PR is perfect and without any doubt he has some of the best advisers in that field. Do you think we will ever see President Bush granting an interview to an Iranian channel (or even Al-Jazeera), pictured with Iranian students and ‘paying respect to the great Iranian nation’? Or giving approval to an Iranian director to make a documentary about his life? I do not think so. In that sense, it is 1-0 for the Ahmadinejad administration, even before the UN annual meeting has started. And it is just the beginning of the week…