Gary Sick, one of the most ardent advocates of rapprochement with the Iranian regime for the past 30 years has made a heart breaking decision: he will not meet with Ahmadinejad when he comes to New York in late September. What a change of heart! Sick writes:1
"Several colleagues have asked me if I plan to attend any of the private functions that normally accompany a visit by Iran’s president to the UN. He will be in New York in late September. Over the past four years, I estimate that I have spent some nine hours in various groups meeting with Ahmadinejad… So this year, if I am invited, I shall decline."
We should remember that in 2005, when Ahmadinejad came to New York for the first time and made his infamous and hateful speech at the UN general assembly, Sick was instead full of admiration for this "prideful" man who seemed to have a "sense of Iranian pride" (Interview with CFR, September 2005):2
Bernard Gwertzman: What did you think of the speech in general? (UN speech in 2005) In the American press, all the quotes were shrill, hostile, and very antagonistic. On the other hand, some of the Iran experts have been saying it was a rather soft speech, and not bad.
Sick: I was taken with the fact that Ahmadinejad is an engineer with no foreign experience at all, who has only been president for about a month. I think he learned his brief pretty well. He handled himself well not only in the speech but also in his discussions with CNN and Time magazine and others who had interviews with him. I think he came through with some constructive ideas. But he’s a very stiff-necked guy, very sure that Iran is right and that people are going to have to take Iran very seriously. He’s a very prideful man, and I think that sense of Iranian pride is one that may be very difficult for the West—and the United States in particular—to deal with
Sick was also full of admiration for Ahmadinejad’s regime. A regime that according to him was until a few weeks ago, an example of democracy. In an article titled: “Iran's political coup,” published a few months ago, he praised the Mullahs’ regime and illustrated his deep disdain for the Iranian people and democratic values. He wrote:
" One characteristic that has always distinguished Iran from the crude dictators in much of the rest of the Middle East was its respect for the voice of the people, even when that voice was saying things that much of the leadership did not want to hear."
Why has a person like Sick who would normally jump to praise Ahmadinejad and his regime decided to break up with him? The reason of Sick’s anger is very simple. In their drive to preserve a regime that is falling apart, the Iranian leaders had to tighten their grip inside the country and also stick to their nuclear ambitions. Hence, they decided to install Ahmadinejad for a new term. They had no other choice but to cheat massively in their mockery of an election and then brutally repress people in the streets. By doing so, they showed the true nature of their rule and destroyed a thirty year old mirage fabricated by the Mullahs and their friends; that the US should engage with the Iranian regime and that friendship with them remains America’s most favorable. A few days after the “miraculous” victory of Ahmadinejad, Sick wrote in his blog:3
“With regard to the United States and the West, nothing would prevent them in principle from dealing with an illegitimate authoritarian government. We do it every day, and have done so for years (the Soviet Union comes to mind). But this election is an extraordinary gift to those who have been most skeptical about President Obama’s plan to conduct negotiations with Iran.”
In an interview with the CFR, Sick explained the main reason of his refusal to meet Ahmadinejad: 4
“Now, after this internal coup and all the coverage it has received, those people in the United States and particularly in Israel who really opposed the idea of having negotiations with Iran-who favored a pressure strategy to build up more sanctions and so on-are now going to use their clout in Congress and elsewhere to slow down or stop the process.
In fact, “all the coverage that the brutal repression of the Iranian people has received” effectively destroyed the 30 year campaign by Sick and his friends to present the Mullahs regime as a quasi democratic regime worthy of diplomatic relations. This campaign was necessary to justify the immoral and futile friendship with the Mullahs as part of US policy.
The Iranian people’s uprising and their resistance to the Iranian regime have created an environment in which loyal friends such as Sick refuse to publicly sit down with Ahmadinejad. The price of such an action has effectively become too high.