These days, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems relevant only to the global media outlets that are still transfixed by his pronouncements and are still intrigued by his unconventional conduct. In contrast to the international media, Ahmadinejad is viewed in Iran as a marginal figure whose relevance shrinks by the day as his tumultuous presidential tenure draws to a close.
Even Ahmadinejad seems to appreciate his diminished importance, as his last speech to the UN General Assembly was largely devoid of the bombast and provocation that has characterized previous speeches.
The essential theme of Ahmadinejad's meandering valedictory address was how the hegemony of the great powers was deforming the international order. In his view, by pursuing their material interests, the rapacious Western powers were busy exploiting and abusing the developing world. The miscalculations and misjudgments of world capitalism are to be blamed for the downturn in the global economy with grave consequences for the poor nations. American came in for its share of criticism, as its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were subject to the usual indictments. In search of markets and resources, Washington waged war under the banner of combating terrorism and tyranny.
The notion of discrimination was all too evident, as Ahmadinejad once more returned to his preferred theme about the inappropriateness of nations with nuclear arms lecturing states such as Iran who hope to enjoy the peaceful uses of the atom. "An arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become all too prevalent," advised Iran's president. Repeating themes from some of his many previous UN appearances, Ahmadinejad said Iran is being censured not because of its violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but because the hegemonic great powers led by the United States want to deny it fruits of legitimate scientific exploration.
As for the all-too-loose talk of war that occasionally and reliably permeates Western capitals, Ahmadinejad seemed casually dismissive, stressing a "continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation is a clear example of this bitter reality." For Iran's president, Israel's threats are just another extension of global powers' quest for dominance and control.
As Ahmadinejad fades from the scene, he will be missed by a press eager for his outlandish remarks. The future of Iran, its revolution, and its nuclear program will be for others to decide.