Speaking of Ronald Reagan, he also arguably violated Libyan airspace, protected under a variety of international conventions, when he ordered bombs dropped on Ghadafi’s head. Apparently, Reagan didn’t care that Libya was a member state of the U.N. with international protections, either. He was retaliating against Libya’s terrorists acts against Americans. That seemed like the right thing to do at the time and, indeed, it does in hindsight. Libya is not the Soviet Union, of course; hence, Reagan applied different strategies to each. A comparison of Libya to Iran is closer to the mark. And Iran is not only killing Americans at a rate that Ghadafi could only have imagined, but it’s also giving safe harbor to alQaeda terrorists which, among other things, struck a blow not far from the U.N.
I think if the president were to announce the reasons for denying him entry to our country, and further announced that we would not allow entry to any head-of-state who harbors al Qaeda terrorists and kills Americans, that would be a perfectly legitimate position. There is no formal constitutional procedure for withdrawing from a treaty. But if the president wishes to cancel a treaty conferring entry to a head-of-state who is a terrorist, there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents it. Indeed, there is no such procedure in the Constitution. But as the governmental official responsible for setting American foreign policy, he can unilaterally cancel such a treaty — as President Bush did with the ABM treaty. And he can cancel a treaty through words or actions or both. (Moreover, I would assume the president would make his position known and his justification for it through diplomatic channels to countries we care about.)
Also, I am not as certain as others here that denying Ahmadinejad entry to our country would have set back America’s efforts to convince the U.N. to take harsher action against Iran. They already appear dead in the water. The action is in the Security Council, not with the general membership. Despite agonizing months of diplomacy aimed at convincing Security Council members China and Russia to back ramped up sanctions against Iran for its elicit (and worse) nuclear program, they have rejected our entreaties. Indeed, Russia is actively supporting Iran’s program. So, our government is now working outside the U.N., with the new French government and any other government of the willing, to impose more stringent sanctions on Iran.
There are a number of factors an administration would have to consider before denying someone like Ahmadinejad entry to our country. The Bush administration no doubt examined them and decided to issue the visa. But it’s certainly possible that a different administration would come to a different conclusion.