This Is the U.N.? Leaders' Speeches Definitely Not the Usual Diplomacy

Gadhafi's ramblings grab limelight away from Ahmadinejad and Chavez.

September 25, 2009, 5:21 PM

Sept. 25, 2009 — -- From the four corners of the globe came the world's leaders this week to New York City. In the august chamber of the United Nations, some brought visions of a world free of nuclear weapons, others brought new ideas to curb global warming and bolster the economy, and some ... sang a song or made demands about the JFK assassination.

From the podium of the General Assembly to their antics outside, the usual suspects did their thing, proving once again that even coercive governments can be legitimately funny.

"Please, don't anybody throw a shoe at me," cracked Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Thursday, a joke at the expense of his former nemesis, U.S. President George W. Bush, who had two shoes chucked at him by an Iraqi journalist during a press conference in 2008.

This is the U.N., after all: There were no penalty flags thrown for unstatesmanlike conduct -- though many international leaders walked out on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denying speech Wednesday.

But by and large, the leaders were allowed to go on ... and on and on.

Allotted to speak for 15 minutes, Chavez took 57 minutes, the first part of which was dedicated to a positive and sometimes hard-to-follow review of director Oliver Stone's new documentary "South of the Border," a movie all about Chavez.

After inviting President Obama to "come over to the socialist side; come join the Axis of Evil over here" -- the delivery of which was described by the Associated Press as "only half joking" -- the Venezuelan leader closed his address with a song.

Following the speech, Chavez was spotted strolling around the East Side of Manhattan without bodyguards, a stark contrast to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who travels everywhere, including New York, with an all-female force of bodyguards.

Every year, one leader -- by the sheer power of his own outrageousness -- seems to rise above the din of politicians parroting the same platitudes one after another at the U.N.

By almost all accounts, Gadhafi took the crown this year.

Though Gadhafi has ruled Libya for 40 years, many of those were spent as an international pariah and accused sponsor of terrorism. This was Gadhafi's first visit to the U.S. and first address to the United Nations.

Perhaps he had four decades of grievances to get off his chest.

Gadhafi: Unstatesmanlike Conduct?

In a rambling, 90-minute speech Gadhafi -- who spoke so long, and went off on so many different tangents, that his translator was replaced in the middle of the speech and reportedly passed out from exhaustion -- tore up the U.N. charter.

He accused a "certain country's military" of engineering swine flu as a biological weapon and demanded a thorough international investigation into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Dressed in brown robes with a large pin showing the African continent in black sequins, Gadhafi rifled through a large stack of papers with handwritten notes on them.

He called Barack Obama a "son of Africa" and recommended moving the U.N. headquarters to Libya because it would decrease the chance of an al Qaeda terrorist attack against it.

Gadhafi's exploits outside the chamber of the General Assembly made as many headlines as his speech.

Nobody in the New York metropolitan area, it seemed, wanted anything to do with him. Afraid of elevators, Gadhafi's choices for lodging were limited.

His requests to pitch his Bedouin tent in Central Park and in the town of Englewood, N.J., were rebuffed over the summer.

After reportedly lying to a real estate broker in New York, Gadhafi's agents rented a parcel of property in Westchester, N.Y., from an apparently-unwitting Donald Trump.

When residents of Bedford, N.Y., learned Gadhafi planned to pitch his giant tent with camel print wall hangings in their neighborhood, they flipped out.

State and national politicians complained about Gadhafi, who has been linked to state-sponsored acts of terror, including the Lockerbie bombing, camping out in Bedford, and town officials told him the tent violated local law.

Twice, Gadhafi's agents started taking down the tent, only to put it back up. Trump stepped in Wednesday to ensure Gadhafi would not stay there. Instead, he slept at the Libyan mission in Manhattan, where he was visited by the controversial black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan.

World's Wackiest Dictators at U.N.

Gadhafi stole much of the limelight from Ahmadinejad, whose speech to the General Assembly was so objectionable that the members of the U.S. delegation got up and walked out of the room.

Ahmadinejad was met with a similarly cool reception from local hotels, three of which canceled dinner parties the president had planned.

Ahmadinejad is a notorious Holocaust denier. He has been the subject of protests both in his own country and abroad for a perception that a recent national election was rigged and the opposition was suppressed.

The campaign to keep the Iranian out of New York hotels was spearheaded by the nonprofit group United Against Nuclear Iran.

On Friday, U.S. officials announced they had evidence that the Iranians had hidden a nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom, where members of the international community believe they are building a nuclear bomb.

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