Red-Handed: Media Backtracks on Iran's 'Threat'
have been shocked to see some, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich, latch onto the
myth that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never called for Israel to
be "wiped off the map." Iran's own news agency reports that Ahmadinejad publicly
called for the State of Israel to be "wiped off the map" (see "Ahmadinejad:
Israel Must be Wiped off the Map").
With that said,
I believe that some good people are fearful that my congressional resolution
(H. Con. Res. 21), which passed the House of Representatives 411 to 2, is a
call for war with Iran. Let me state unequivocally that it is not. The bill
text clearly points to diplomatic actions for the international community to
take against Ahmadinejad. Further, I am a longtime cosponsor of legislation
(H. Con. Res. 33) introduced by Rep. Pete DeFazio that would require the president
to seek authorization from Congress before initiating military action in Iran.
The whole purpose
of the United Nations is to provide a forum for nations to resolve their differences
peacefully. To achieve this vitally important goal, the world body has rules
(the UN Charter) that prohibit one member state from seeking or threatening
the destruction of another member state. If these essential rules for peace
are to be effective, then they must be enforced.
I introduced H.
Con. Res. 21 because the letter and spirit of the UN Charter and the 1948 Genocide
Convention are clear: the international community must not only intervene to
stop ongoing genocide, but also act to prevent the incitement of genocide. The
House reaffirmed America's support of this principle when 411 U.S. Representatives
voted overwhelmingly to condemn Iran's president for trying to incite mass killings
of Israeli Jews.
Quite the opposite
of instigating war with Iran, I believe the passage of H. Con. Res. 21 is a
call for peace and coexistence.
Steve Rothman (D-N.J.)
was MEMRI's vastly different translation of the alleged "wiped off the
map" quote blocked from consideration in Congress' deliberations on H.
Con. Res. 21, especially in light of the fact that Rep. Rothman has praised
their work repeatedly and knows
its president, former Israeli official Yigal Carmon, personally?
If MEMRI's work
can't be trusted, then its findings should be dismissed categorically. It can't
just be selectively reliable. In fact, MEMRI's translation
of the speech also offers the accurate context of Ahmadinejad's words as they
related to other nations, including Iran, which was not "wiped off the map"
during the victory of the Islamic revolution. To obstruct such alternate translations
from going into the congressional record seems undemocratic and un-American.
As I explained
in my article "Rumor
of the Century," Iran's state news agency IRNA was responsible for putting
out the wrongly worded "wiped off the map" quote. IRIB, like IRNA, is part of
the state media. Since Rep. Rothman selectively refers to one IRIB report, we
might also consider these other IRIB reports as well:
While Rep. Rothman's
resolution does not call for war explicitly, it asks the international community
to "consider stronger measures to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,
which would be a . . . potential means to the end of carrying out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
threats against Israel." Such "measures" could include military
ones. We might recall that enforcement of UN resolutions helped form the basis
for war with Iraq. This White House press
release on the "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed
Forces Against Iraq" from October 2002 cites UN resolutions as justification
for its illegal invasion of Iraq:
on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to 'work with
the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge' posed by Iraq
and to 'work for the necessary resolutions,' while also making clear that 'the
Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace
and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable.'"
Rep. Rothman voted
to authorize war with Iraq in 2002, a vote he
now regrets in light of its disastrous outcome. "If I knew at the time of
my vote what I know now, I would never have supported the president's invasion
of Iraq," Rep. Rothman said in February 2006. "I believe that we must learn
from our mistakes and make decisions based on new information. The president's
stubborn refusal to do either is not only wrong, but dangerous."
2006, Rep. Rothman said,
"What's happening now … is a very similar drumbeat for war [against Iran], with
all of the exaggerated fearmongering again." Strangely, Rep. Rothman's
own statements about Iran's alleged threat qualify as greatly exaggerated, emotional
hyperbole. He has warned that "the security of all Americans, Europe, and our
allies around the world is at stake," predicted the possibility of a second
Ahmadinejad to Hitler and labeled him a genocidal lunatic, and falsely accused
him of saying that "the Jews are very filthy people". (This quote, itself highly
questionable and apparently unverifiable, was actually attributed to Ahmadinejad's
"aide" in the Israeli
media. If it were reliable, it would have become as legendary as the "map"
quote and been specifically cited in H. Con. Res. 21.) Such demonization makes
the prospect of diplomacy with Iran nearly impossible.
Rep. Rothman has
referred to Iran's "nuclear weapons program" despite any proof that such
a program exists. Only the IAEA can make such a determination, which
they have not despite operating the most comprehensive inspections of any
country's nuclear facilities in their history. He also maintains that Iran has
admitted to building nuclear weapons, an obvious falsehood. Though
Rep. Rothman has urged Bush to stop the escalation in Iraq and withdraw American
troops from the country without delay, he still engages in Orwellian doublespeak
support for Rep. Peter DeFazio's proposed legislation requiring congressional
approval for war is commendable, but it still does not ensure that Congress
will not authorize military action based on false information. As DeFazio has
said of the neocon push for attacking Iran: "They've been wrong about everything,
but they still think they're right." Are we "right" this time?
for the murder of other human beings is reprehensible, we should apply this
principle universally and not selectively. For example, Sen. John McCain has
that the U.S. "bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran", yet no genocide-incitement charges
have been proposed against him. Rep. Rothman's colleague and H. Con. Res. 21
co-sponsor, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), has called
for the assassination of Fidel Castro and other dictators, which itself
– even the verbal threat – is a violation of international law. Earlier this
year, former Israeli Mossad chief Meir Amit called
for the assassination of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Former Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.)
commented just after Sept. 11, "I say, bomb the hell out of them. If there's
collateral damage, so be it." To date, no charges have arisen against any of
these figures for their public incitement of violence, death, and destruction
against their fellow man.
colleague Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) has also openly reveled in the deaths
of other human beings, telling
the Village Voice in 2001, "I don't give a sh*t if they [Mujahedeen-e-Khalq]
are undemocratic. OK, so the [MEK] is a terrorist organization based in Iraq,
which is a terrorist state. They are fighting Iran, which is another terrorist
state. I say let's help them fight each other as much as they want. Once they
all are destroyed, I can celebrate twice over." In the 1980s, Henry Kissinger
reportedly made similar comments about his hopes that Iraqis and Iranians would
continue killing each other.
Israel has repeatedly
threatened Iran with possible attack, which Iran has complained
about to the UN Security Council to no avail. And while Iran has not threatened
to wipe anyone off the map, Israel's Shimon Peres has
said, "Iran can also be wiped off the map," itself a incitement to genocide.
Rep. Rothman mentions
the vital importance of enforcing United Nations rules to ensure peace in the
world. H. Con. Res. 21 cites the UN charter statement that member states "refrain
in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
The United States
has openly called for regime change in Iran, has threatened Iran with war (including
nuclear attack), has held five Iranian officials in captivity since January,
supports militant anti-Iranian terrorist groups such as the MEK and Jundallah
in Pakistan, is inciting ethnic divisions among various Iranian groups, and
is engaging in other covert activities within Iran. These are not only blatant
violations of the UN charter, but also of the Algiers Accord, signed in 1981
between the U.S. and Iran, which stipulates that "The United States pledges
that it is and from now will be the policy of the United States not to intervene,
directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs."
and Good Luck
usually agree with most of your views, Mr. Reese, but in this article you seem
to be saying that Americans should just walk away and leave the Iraqis to deal
with the horrific mess that the Americans have created. They have bombed and
destroyed a thriving, fully functioning country to the dark ages! I have no
sympathy for Saddam but who gave the Americans the right to go to a sovereign
country and take out their leader? You mention 3,000+ American solders have
died, but look at the price the Iraqis are paying for the lies and deception
of your leader. I absolutely agree that the Americans should leave – but then
they should do everything possible to help rebuild Iraq with their money and
expertise. Help them the get the oil production back to the prewar levels, and,
yeah – buy it fair and square – let the oil money stay in Iraq.
As for Afghanistan
– they were already a dirt poor country that the Americans and their so
called allies bombed to kingdom come. (Does anyone remember that the Taliban
had offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to an international court – but
of course going to war with a defenseless country suited the mighty American
Put away your
guns but be willing to help – with aid, advice, technology, and training.
~ Sadiya in Toronto
are absolutely right. The advice here is mind your own business and let others
mind their own. Live and let live. The U.S. has a history of 50 years of meddling
in the Middle East. The British before them for another 50 years. People are
sick and tired of this control. The youth of today can't be enslaved by tyrant
rulers and those who do their bidding when they see most civilized world living
freely, yet those very so-called civilized countries are pumping billions in
WMD and supporting tyrants. They have had enough. We can't drink the oil. We
have to sell it at market prices.
Yet not all is
lost. An added advantage is that the U.S. will regain its mantle of dignity
and respect and will be regarded as an honest broker for peace. This is your
potential which has been squandered by your governments, especially this current
How long the average
American is going to trade dignity and respect for cheap lies and politics of
fear? You must wish for others that what you wish for yourself and the first
step is to let them sort out their own problems. Come back in a few years with
your teachers, doctors, wise men/women, and those who represent hope and healing.
For now remove your soldiers and camps for they are symbols of fear, control,
Thank you, Charley.
You have done it again.
~ Ahmed Asgher,
Thompson and the Burning 'Necklace'
Leaving to the
side the fact that a bloody coup d'état was instigated upon Aristide's election,
during which thousands of impoverished Haitians were slaughtered; and also leaving
to the side the U.S. policy of intervention during the entire period of Aristide's
presidency, including his abduction and subsequent exile from Haiti by American
forces (all of which would normally call for your sympathy), I'm amazed at your
vehemence against Thompson on this issue.
Why should we
The fact that
the Thompson was a lobbyist at all may be reason enough not to vote for him
– simply on the basis of character.
But dismiss him
solely on the basis that he had a client that you find to be unsavory? As I
recall, Antiwar.com has been accused of that as well. (The example of Slobodan
Miloševic will serve.) In any case, since when do libertarians give two
hoots about the legal conduct of a man's private business?
I can't think
of any good reason to vote for Thompson. However, if red herrings had the ability,
then this Aristide business would walk, talk, and quack like one.
~ Erich Walrath
I can't let your
slanders of two democratically elected leaders from Latin America go unchallenged.
I am far to the
left of you, but have enjoyed your columns, and considered – until this one
– you to be one of the tiny handful of conservative writers with a brain and
a human conscience.
But today I take
issue with both those assumptions.
Whatever the crimes
of Lavalas, Aristide was democratically elected and deposed by the United States
in favor of CIA – trained murderers who have returned Haiti to the days of Papa
And your dismissing
of Chavez as a demagogue – another (repeatedly) elected democratic leader whose
main crime in your eyes seems to be sharing oil revenues with the masses instead
the usual right-wing, fascist elite that has always dominated Latin America
– shows me that for all your obvious intelligence, generally good standards
of research, and engaging writing style you are a victim of ideology: in this
I seem to remember
being shocked by some praise for Reagan as well from you not too long ago, for
which I forgave you, although it is unforgivable, judging his record.
But I can't overlook
your moral blindness about Chavez, especially. Having lived and performed music
in Latin America, there is no question in my mind that you are on the wrong
side. Who would you prefer, Pinochet? Stroessner? Trujillo? The representatives
of the oligarchy he defeated?
You have much
to learn here.
What you fail
to understand is that the anti-imperialist Left in Latin America is the only
force looking out for the interests of the huge, majority underclass. They are
no more immune from abuses of power than leaders of the Right, but at least
real human beings benefit from Lula, Kirschner, Chavez, and the presidents of
Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, instead of just the oligarchy and its foreign
clients such as the USA.
None of these
leaders are anywhere near perfect, but I'd like to hear what your preferred
~ Jeffrey Briggs,
La Puente, Calif.