December 14, 2006
Sanctioning AhmadinejadBy James Lewis
UN Ambassador John Bolton leaves his position with a parting cannon shot: Formally charging Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Incitement to murder is a criminal offense. English Common Law considers it equal to "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater." If you incite a mob panic that ends up trampling a child to death, you are held responsible. A Mafia boss doesn't have to personally pull the trigger to be prosecuted for murder.
The question today is whether a modern Hitler would at least be sanctioned and ostracized by civilized nations for fomenting mass-murder before he started killing. If not, we are no better off now than in 1938; and we have not applied the elementary lessons of schoolyard bullies to international behavior.
In the past year Iran's Ahmadinejad has been playing Junior Hitler to the applause of millions of brainwashed followers, and has only received feeble words of rebuke from the West. There are Iranians who are deeply ashamed of his behavior, but most of them keep quiet. In fact, Ahmadinejad's demagoguing has raised his popularity in the Muslim world.
The question therefore is whether a psychopathic throwback like Ahmadinejad can ever be publicly shamed and sanctioned in the eyes of the world. If national leaders like him could be shamed by all, regime change might be unnecessary. Social shaming can be a powerful punishment --- but only if it is rigorously enforced.
Iran is a nation with a long history of true greatness and humanity. The ancient emperors Xerxes and Darius indeed returned exiled Jews to their homeland after the first Exile of the 4th century BCE. Iranians take justified pride in their history, their poetry, philosophy, and mystical traditions. The current sleazebag who claims to lead Iran is a moral and humane embarrassment.
International law has a formal provision for declaring people persona non grata, used to expel spies with diplomatic cover from a host nation. It can also be used to symbolize moral repugnance. Can a national leader who violates basic human decency be publicly ostracized in this way?
Today, genocidal maniacs are applauded by the "international community" in the plain light of day. When Ahmadinejad came to speak to the General Assembly in New York City he was received like a respectable head of state. It took decades for the Sudanese genocide to be accurately labeled "genocide."
The pathetic failure of international elites to uphold simple standard of decency should be intolerable to civilized countries, which are still a small minority in the world. To make things worse, the United Nations itself has been hijacked by criminal regimes, or by those who are bought off or scared by them. The UN Human Rights Commission is a preposterous farce, chaired among others by the bloody-handed Sudanese genocidists. It was elected by the General Assembly against the vigorous protests of the United States. Muslim nations constantly collude with Europe and Africa to stage such perversions of simple human decency.
The same slick moral reprobates have failed for years to even agree on defining "terrorism" as the deliberate killing of innocent civilians. For civilized countries that's a no-brainer. But there are regimes that favor revenge killings of innocents. That is how they hold onto their power. They have constantly justified terrorist crimes and turned the Geneva Conventions upside down.
Such criminocrats have worked to confuse the fire and the fire brigade, as Winston Churchill put it, turning self-defense into a crime, and the murder of innocents into a virtue. All this adds up to a great atavistic throwback to a savage culture of vengeance, of daily corruption and endless moral compromise. This farce is being aided and abetted by the international media. Bottom line, no clear moral stand against genocidal incitement or mass murder can be expected from the United Nations.
The UN has failed not just once but many times, and for a specific political raison d'etat: Because many of its members actively collude with genocide. This depravity is not an accident, but a deliberate policy choice. If you doubt it, consider that Kofi Annan was a personal witness to the Rwandan genocide and did nothing - not even alerting the international media. The General Assembly rewarded him by making him Secretary General. The Times of London recently charged that France under Mitterand and de Villepin actively aided and abetted the Rwandan genocide. It would be interesting to see if France lobbied for Kofi Annan to be Secretary General.
It is up to a small number of decent nations to uphold elementary moral values when it comes to the worst crimes humans can commit. Two recent actions may offer some hope --- interestingly, one carried out by the German government of Angela Merkel, and the other by Dr. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. Both offer some promise of casting international shame upon genocidal incitement and mass murder. Both governments have compelling reasons to insist on a working international taboo against genocide and its incitement.
At some point the civilized world must demonstrate simple outrage and contempt for genocidal loudmouths like Ahmadinejad. There is something profoundly wrong with just shrugging and getting on with business as usual. When Hitlerian rhetoric dominates both Arab and Iranian streams of Islamist propaganda, civilized nations must show their values as well as their teeth. As the United States begins to pay more attention to public diplomacy, we must demonstrate our morality over and over again, just as we did so skillfully toward the end of the Cold War.
Simply declaring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be persona non grata among civilized nations would set an important precedent. It would for the first time declare a regime leader to be a moral pariah. It would encourage Iranians who want to push the mullahcracy toward sanity.
Public shaming can be powerful: The Soviet Union crumbled through a combination of economic pressure, military containment, and significantly, moral suasion. The Helsinki Accords were an instrument for applying constant public pressure on the Soviets, and gradually Soviet elites began to agree with the moral arguments. They allowed dissidents to leave, and loosened punitive domestic controls to a degree. In Poland the Solidarity movement made common cause with the Pope and Ronald Reagan. When the Soviet Empire finally crumbled, it was because the children of the apparatchiks had stopped believing their parents' propaganda. An unambiguous moral stance by the civilized world had huge impact.
That may be an unusual action in a world where a corrupt and cynical "international community" can publicly witness Rwanda and Sudan, the Khmer Rouge, Stalin and Hitler, and simply close its eyes. The UN and other morally dubious actors should simply be cut out of the picture, as the United States did in the Helsinki Accords. The UN and the international Left constantly try to equate the defensive actions of democratically elected (and often guilt-ridden) governments with the murderous Saddam and Ahmadinejad regimes. But that is just a scam, and the United States should say so as often as possible to get the point across. Jeane Kirkpatrick did so when she was US Representative to the United Nations; so did Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Bolton, and Adlai Stevenson. Against mendacious propaganda, plain talk is good.
If simple moral decency doesn't move civilized nations to do the right thing, then perhaps self-interest might. Because no nation will be safe if Ahmadinejad attacks Tel Aviv. Israel would be bound to respond with equal or greater force, or to preempt an impending attack. The taboo against nuclear warfare would be broken. The city of Tehran would exist no more. The United States would inevitably be drawn in as the guarantor of oil supplies moving through the Gulf. Arab countries would go into a mass panic, because the Sunni Arabs are the historic enemies of Persian Shiites. T
he Saudis are already fearful about the advent of an Iranian bomb. If they are not target number one, they will be number two. As for Taiwan and South Korea, right under the guns of totalitarian regimes, if the United States is seen to fail to protect its allies in the Middle East, our Asian allies will be up for grabs as well. A WMD exchange between Israel and Iran cannot be neatly sealed off from the rest of the world.