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Eternally Vigilant?


  Pakistan‘s regional and global significance cannot be
  overstated, and is expanding.
It sits at the crossroads
  of the Middle East and South Asia, two regions of
  great cultural importance, growing economic power,
  and enormous political consequence. 
President Musharraf joins us today to talk about his country’s place in this changing world, to discuss peace and development in his nation and beyond.  We at Columbia are eager to listen.  As a community of scholars and as students and faculty who come from everywhere in the world, we take a great scholarly and personal interest in what the President has to say.  The development in Pakistan over the past several years, from its economic growth to its fight against extremism and terrorism, are vital issues for all of us.
– Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, September 16, 2005 

My oh my.  What a difference a couple of years and the guiding geopolitical imperatives of American Power can make!

In what follows, I’ve provided hyperlinks to two different videos that show Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger welcoming two different heads of state to his university’s regular World Leaders Forum at the start of two different school years: September 2005 and September 2007.  

In the first of these two videos (which I’m providing in reverse-chronological order), Bollinger introduces Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Sept. 24, 2007); and in the second video, Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf (Sept. 16, 2005).

To provide even better grounds for drawing a comparisons, I’ve transcribed Bollinger’s introduction of Musharraf, along with minute- and second- marks in case anyone wants to compare my transcription against the video of the same while it plays.  (Its total running time is approx. 4 minutes and 40 seconds.)

Of course, there is no need for me to transcribe Bollinger’s introduction of Ahmadinejad, as the prepared text from which Bollinger delivered his remarks was readily available almost as soon as he spoke.

Needless to say, Bollinger engaged in no denigration of Musharraf and the Islamabad regime’s "mind of evil," and expressed no sympathy toward anyone who might "experience hurt and pain" as a result of Musharraf’s appearance at Columbia that day a little over two years ago.

Nor was there any bloated talk from Columbia’s President about the need for the audience to "know thine enemies," much less to "have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil."

Neither does the regime in Islamabad exhibit a "fanatical mindset" nor any of the "signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

Nor for that matter did Islamabad and Musharraf stand accused of failing to "adhere to international standards for nuclear weapons verification" in defiance of treaties such as the NPT — which of course Islamabad has never signed. 

Instead, genuinely fanatic and baiting questions such as "why have you chosen to make the people of your country vulnerable to the effects of international economic sanctions and threaten to engulf the world with nuclear annihilation" were reserved by Bollinger exclusively for the President of Iran.

Imagine that.

Aside from the most obvious lesson of all — namely, an "intellectual" who moves within some of the center-most rings of American Power knowing how to distinguish between an Official Enemy and an Official Friend – feel free to let me know what other lessons you think we can draw from these two performances by the esteemed President of Columbia University.  

Thanks. 

(A) President Lee C. Bollinger Introduces Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Video), Columbia University, September 24, 2007.  (Also see "President Lee C. Bollinger’s Introductory Remarks at SIPA-World Leaders Forum with President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Columbia News, September 24, 2007.)

(B) President Lee C. Bollinger Introduces Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (Video), Columbia University, September 16, 2005

Transcript-in-full of Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger’s introduction of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, September 16, 2005.

[00:00] 

Good afternoon, and thank you all for joining us. 

Rarely do we have an opportunity such as this to greet a figure of such central and global importance.  It is with great gratitude and excitement that I welcome President Musharraf and his wife, Sebha Musharraf, to Columbia University. 

[00:31]

This week as the heads of state arrive in New York for the United Nations 2005 World Summit, Columbia is honored to be welcoming a number of these world leaders to our campus.  Their presence here, and the work they are contributing to the United Nations, are vivid reminders of how deeply interdependent our world has become. 

Indeed, we live in an age when the future of one nation is bound tightly to the future of every other nation.  It is a time when a disease cannot be contained by geographic boundaries, when new ideas are transmitted instantly, and when a shift in one nation’s economy can for better or worse reverberate globally.  Today, in this age of globalization, change in one place means change in every other place.  And this is especially true of Pakistan. 

[1:43]

Pakistan‘s regional and global significance cannot be overstated, and is expanding.  It sits at the crossroads of the Middle East and South Asia, two regions of great cultural importance, growing economic power, and enormous political consequence. 

President Musharraf joins us today to talk about his country’s place in this changing world, to discuss peace and development in his nation and beyond.   We at Columbia are eager to listen.

[2:22]

As a community of scholars and as students and faculty who come from everywhere in the world, we take a great scholarly and personal interest in what the President has to say.  The development in Pakistan over the past several years, from its economic growth to its fight against extremism and terrorism, are vital issues for all of us. 

Mr. President, as you share your thoughts and insights you will give our students, the leaders of tomorrow, first-hand knowledge of the world their generation will inherit.

As a university developing this knowledge, both for our students and the world outside our gates, is among our very highest responsibilities.

[3:14] 

Columbia is not only a private institution, we are a public trust.  We have a compact with this city, with this nation, and indeed with the world to better understand the complexities of our age, so that we can help confront the challenges posed by globalization, and take fuller advantage of its benefits.

[3:37] 

Grayson Kirk, who was President of Columbia, 50 years ago described universities as  "lighthouses by which our societies steer their course."  Columbia carries forth this mission, in part, through gatherings like this. 

[3:55] 

Mr. President, your presence here today reflects a long tradition of engagement between your nation and our University.  Columbia School of International and Public Affairs founded the Center for Pakistan Studies more than half-a-century ago, in 1951.  The Pakistan Government has supported a visiting Chair at Columbia for years.  And Columbia, as you know, is home to dozens of students from Pakistan..

President Musharraf, we thank you for being with us today.  And we welcome you to Columbia University.

[4:40] [#####]


"Cold War II," Noam Chomsky, Z Magazine, October, 2007
"Shifting Targets: The Administration’s plan for Iran," Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker, October 8, 2007

"A Barrel of Monkeys," ZNet, September 28, 2007
"Eternally Vigilant?" ZNet, October 1, 2007

Update (October 2): From the "Intellectuals and the State" file: Lee C. Bollinger, hobnobbing with Pakistan dictator Pervez Musharraf, as memorialized by a Columbia University webpage ("Institutes and Centers").  (The two women I presume to be their respective wives.)   In the words that Bollinger used to introduce General Musharraf back in September 2005, "The development in Pakistan over the past several years, from its economic growth to its fight against extremism and terrorism, are vital issues for all of us."  Clearly, Bollinger knows how to distinguish between the Official Enemies of his state — and his state’s Official Friends. — Verily, this, my friends, truly is "America at its best."

 

 

 

 

 

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