December 11, 2013
CFK in UN
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was taking a calculated risk in nailing her colours to an ill-starred Iran agreement in her speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday evening but in broad terms she probably found the right line (if not the right length in an address more than trebling the allotted time). Had she gone out on a limb over Malvinas sovereignty or the evil of “vulture funds” (both issues were certainly present in her 50-minute speech but not given undue prominence), she would have been criticized for Argentina’s isolationism — as it was, she correctly sensed that the eyes of the world are on the Middle East and made sure that she also looked in that direction. CFK did not omit the predominant global concern of Syria — here she lacked balance because she accused the United States of “double standards” in reacting to chemical weapons in Syria with Hiroshima, Nagasaki and napalm in Vietnam in its historical baggage yet exempting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from criticism also smacks of double standards — but her main pitch was Iran.
The latter’s consistent failure to pull its weight all year over the January agreement to clarify its role in the 1994 AMIA Jewish community centre terrorist bomb atrocity gives CFK the perfect exit strategy from a pact with numerous critics at home which has also darkened Argentina’s image abroad. But instead of seeing the change of government in Tehran as the end of an agreement which never really started, CFK sees the moderation and open attitudes of Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani as a new beginning — indeed she even argued that implementing the agreement would be a good opportunity for Rouhani to prove his moderation to the world in more than verbal terms.
The biggest surprise was the speech’s omission of any mention of the US international espionage issue in all its 50 minutes after all that ostentatious solidarity with Brazil on Monday and despite no reluctance to bash US President Barack Obama otherwise (e.g. over Syria). Perhaps she was mindful that there is no evidence of her personally being a victim (unlike her Brazilian colleague Dilma Rousseff) or perhaps she thought that Rousseff had already said enough on the subject and had no desire to play second fiddle to her giant neighbour. All in all, it was a speech which seemed to elude any clear alignment with anybody while not leaving Argentina as a rogue state or a complete loner.