Moammar Gadhafi’s debut appearance at the United Nations was bound to be memorable, but his long and rambling diatribe Wednesday is one that few will forget.
The Libyan leader was introduced as “king of kings” by his countryman Ali Terki, the president of this year’s U.N. General Assembly, at the assembly’s annual session in New York. Then, dressed in his familiar black beret and sweeping his flowing brown Bedouin robe behind him, the notoriously charismatic leader strode to the stage with a yellow folder and a copy of the U.N. charter. For the next 96 minutes, he talked. His topics ranged from the U.N. Security Council to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy to a one-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians: Isratine. Gadhafi began his speech like many other leaders, welcoming President Obama as the leader of the host nation of the General Assembly and congratulating Obama on his first General Assembly session. Obama spoke immediately before Gadhafi and left the hall before the Libyan leader took the stage. Watch demonstrators for and against Gadhafi The diplomatic niceties ended there. Speaking without a text and referring only to a few handwritten pages, Gadhafi launched into a blistering attack on the Security Council, and he blamed the United Nations for failing to prevent more than six dozen wars since the world body was founded in 1945.
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Gadhafi’s rambling tirade at U.N.
“It should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the ‘terror council,’ ” Gadhafi said. The Council should “implement the will of the General Assembly,” which should be a “world parliament,” he said. Gadhafi railed against what he called “inequality” of U.N. member states, quoting from a copy of the U.N. charter, which calls for equality of nations. Watch CNN’s Richard Roth report on Gadhafi’s rant He called for reform of the Security Council to make it more representative, including expanding it with more member states. He called for abolishing the veto power of the five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — which he said used the veto to serve their own interests and treated smaller nations like “second class, despised nations.” Watch Gadhafi demand equality Then Gadhafi blamed the U.N. for failing to prevent 65 wars since its founding in 1945.
General Assembly speakers*Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil Barack Obama, president of the United States Moammar Gadhafi, leader of Libya Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom Hu Jintao, president of China Dmitry Medvedev, president of Russia Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran *abridged list
“But 65 aggressive wars took place without any collective action by the United Nations to prevent them,” Gadhafi said, discussing several in detail. Tackling several conspiracy theories, Gadhafi suggested that the “swine flu” virus was a military tool or corporate weapon produced from a lab, and hinted Israel was behind President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. And he argued the Taliban should be able to form an “Islamic emirate” without being accused of being terrorists. After all, he said, the Vatican formed a similar religious country. Watch Gadhafi’s debut at General Assembly At one hour and 36 minutes, Gadhafi’s speech didn’t rival Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s record soliloquy in 1960, which lasted four hours. But it more than doubled the time taken by Obama, who spoke for 40 minutes. Speakers are encouraged to limit their remarks to 15 minutes. The United States delegation was represented during Gadhafi’s speech by a low-level note-taker. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice departed before Gadhafi took the podium. Time.com: Top 10 U.N. General Assembly moments Still, Gadhafi said the world should help “our son” Obama and remove the enormous burden of the United States as host nation. Complaining of his long journey for the gathering, which left him jetlagged, Gadhafi suggested the United Nations headquarters be moved outside of New York so that the rest of the world wouldn’t have to deal with the extraordinary security precautions taken by the United States since September 11, 2001. He had only warm words for Obama, and said he feared the United States would return to its previous ways after he left office. “We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as the president of America,” Gadhafi said.
Obama’s spokesman wasn’t as effusive in his praise, chalking the Libyan leader’s diatribe up to “Gadhafi being Gadhafi.” Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that trying to explain Gadhafi’s speech would take “the better part of the afternoon,” almost as long as the speech itself.