Compared to the current Iranian president, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami is regarded in Western
foreign affairs circles as a moderate. When Khatami visited the U.S. in September,
he called on the U.S. and Iran to stop verbally assaulting each other in the
interest of dialogue that could build trust and eliminate the frictions between
the two countries. Khatami said that the precondition for dialogue was "to
eliminate the language of threat."
In an attempt to "resolve conflicts by talking, rather than by aggression,"
the venerable Scottish University of St. Andrews invited Khatami to the United
Kingdom for an honorary degree, followed by a speech at the Royal Institute
of International Affairs in London. However, a spanner was thrown into the works
by two Iranian exiles who claim to have been unlawfully imprisoned and tortured
in Iran during the period of Khatami's presidency. Under Section 134 of Britain's
Criminal Justice Act of 1988, torture wherever committed in the world is criminal
under British law and triable in the UK. Thus, Khatami might still be arrested
as he tours the UK in the interest of opening communication.
If Khatami can be arrested in the UK for torture, how does British Prime Minister
Tony Blair escape arrest for the torture of Afghans and Iraqis by coalition
forces? Why are not U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Richard Cheney, and President George W. Bush
arrested when they visit the UK?
Does the British law excuse Anglo-Americans from its reach? Does it exclude
government officials while they are in office and pursue them only when they
have become private citizens?
Or are we witnessing the operation of the neoconservative assumption that there
is one rule of law for the U.S. and its allies and another rule for countries
that do not support the neocon agenda? Neocons maintain that whatever the U.S.
and its allies or puppets do in the interest of U.S. hegemony is defensible
and permissible but a crime if any other country does it.
When the president and vice president of the United States publicly defend
and advocate torture and ram torture legislation through the U.S. Congress,
it is hypocrisy for the U.S. to condemn others for torture.
Perhaps Americans don't notice, but the rest of the world does see the double
standard applied when Saddam Hussein is put on trial for war crimes and crimes
against humanity, while U.S., UK, and Israeli government officials commit far
greater crimes by illegally invading countries, targeting civilian populations,
and torturing detainees.
Considering the enormous bloodshed and destruction of civilian lives and infrastructure
in Afghanistan and Iraq by U.S. and UK troops, why do British left-wing academics
and human rights activists want to help the neoconservatives in the U.S. and
UK spread the war to Iran? Helping to spread war is what the British Left is
doing when they agitate for the arrest of Khatami while leaving Labor Party
PM Tony Blair free to commit more crimes against humanity. Could it be that
the two Iranian exiles are acting as neoconservative agents to block any possible
rapprochement with Iran? This is not a wild speculation in view of the role
Iraqi exiles played in deceiving the the American public and making false accusations
against Iraq that Bush used to justify his invasion.
The Iraq and Afghanistan invasions have turned out to be a catastrophe for
the U.S. and UK as well as for the Iraqis and Afghans. Only a totally deranged
political leadership would want to spread the catastrophe to Iran.
According to a BBC news report (Oct. 30), British private security firm personnel
– mercenaries to some – outnumber British soldiers in Iraq six to one. A British
charity group accuses PM Tony Blair of "allowing mercenary armies to operate
completely outside the law." In Britain, it is no longer permissible to
hunt foxes, because it is "cruel and inhumane," but it is perfectly
all right for private mercenaries and British soldiers to murder Iraqi and Afghan
men, women, and children for the sake of Anglo-American-Israeli hegemony in
the Middle East.
Saddam Hussein was overthrown and indicted, and Iraq largely destroyed, in
part because Saddam is "an evil man who tortured political opponents."
Evidence of U.S. torture of Iraqis is all over the Internet in vivid photos.
According to Amnesty International, "Adequate safeguards against torture
and ill-treatment are not in place in Multinational Force detention facilities,
and thousands continue to be held without charge or trial." The president
and vice president of the U.S. advocate torture not only of Iraqis but also
of everyone declared, correctly or incorrectly, by some U.S. government official
to be a "terrorist suspect."
Why are not Bush, Cheney, and Blair on trial? Their crimes dwarf any that could
possibly be attributed to Khatami.
The only possible answer is that "might makes right." Yet, Bush,
Cheney, and Blair parade around draping themselves in moral justifications for
their inhumane deeds and despicable acts.
The fact that Americans tolerate crimes against humanity by their own leaders
is evidence that Americans are exceptional only in their hubris.