(Sull, Iraq) So America’s liberal newspaper of record is shocked, shocked! that Prime Minister al‑Maliki and the Iraqi government are puppets of the Iranian administration.
In what might be more a function of the curtailing of foreign reporters and the use of stringers to report news, one of the most open secrets in Iraq, even as far north as here in Kurdistan, was seen as news by the New York Times the other day. (“U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions,” 8/18/12)
When talks failed to reach an agreement allowing American troops to stay in Iraq, a power-sharing agreement was reached between the Shia, of whom al‑Malik’s is politically in charge, and the opposition Sunni Muslims, who got the vice presidency spot.
Within weeks an arrest warrant was issued for Vice President Tariq al‑Hashemi a leader of the Sunni contingent. With a completely straight face the arrest warrant was issued against al‑Hashemi charging him with terrorism!
al‑Hashemi fled immediately fearing for his life but only as far as northern Iraq, Kurdistan, where he lives rather well. He has been known to travel around the Middle East at the request of various governments, i.e. Saudi Arabia and Qatar and has a residence in Turkey.
al‑Hashemi was put on trial back in May not attending himself. The trial is occurring through his aides and government witnesses. The trial has been suspended and will continue in September.
This is nothing but a political show trial. The entire point is to consolidate the power of al‑Maliki and the Shia Muslims who are closely associated with Al Qaeda. Reports of an increased Al Qaeda presence in southern Iraq have been rising.
Reports I get from friends, students, etc. who visit the Baghdad area and other southern areas report that there is a low-level civil war occurring that the world does not know about.
Iran has wanted to control Iraq for decades. Geo-strategically, if Syria, backed by Iran, is to fall, Iraq will be an excellent buffer between the Israelis and the Saudis.
This is an unstable region run entirely by corruption, not reason. The future is grim.
Vincent McGuire is a member of the University of Colorado political science faculty, currently on a two-year university teaching fellowship in northern Iraq.
(Centennial Fellow) WASHINGTON, JAN. 17 - When judgment is rendered on the success or failure of U.S. foreign policy in 2010 the verdict will depend more than anything on the outcome of our confrontation with Iran. The threat to U.S. global interests from Iran is immense, but so too is the opportunity for a historic and transformational advancement of those interests. Converging circumstances in both Washington and Teheran strongly suggest that a decisive turning point is at hand. The sudden leap of Yemen onto the front pages of U.S. newspapers has underlined how far reaching are the dangers Iran poses for the United States and its allies. Both the Bush and Obama administrations chose to narrow the focus on Iran to that country’s nuclear ambitions correctly seeing that issue as the most critical and most likely to rally international support.
The fact that Iran by supplying sophisticated weaponry to its proxies in both Iraq and Afghanistan is killing American soldiers has been downplayed by both administrations. The fact that murderous violence aimed at Israel and the United States in Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza, and Yemen has been powerfully fueled by Teheran’s money and fanatical ideology has similarly been acknowledged but in a very low key.
Both Bush and Obama repeatedly denounced the wickedness of al-Qaeda but failed to connect the dots regarding the obvious implications of the religious zealotry and violent strategies that are common to Bin-Laden and the Iranian mullahs e.g. pathological hatred of Israel, predilection for blowing people up, and determination to take the battle to the heartland of the Great Satan America.
Bush’s Iran strategy was to isolate and not talk to them. Obama reversed field and opted for engagement. Both approaches utterly failed to modify Iranian objectives; Teheran’s response to both isolation and engagement has been a mix of arrogance, insult, and continued bad behavior culminating most recently in Ahmadinejad’s bombastic demand that Israel and America give up their own nuclear weapons as a precondition for any Iranian response.
Obama’s oft declared end of year deadline for positive Iranian response has come and gone. He now must be prepared to implement those “serious consequences” he has long spoken of. This will not be easy, particularly in light of China’s recent declared intention of using its veto to block sanctions in the United Nations Security Council.
Given the U.N’s almost limitless capacity for procrastination Obama’s best hope for support lies with the European Union, but despite encouraging rhetoric from Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy, action from that multi-lateral body is far from certain.
In the end Obama must consider an approach he has long decried: unilateral United States action.
So, amidst these growing threats, where is the grand opportunity?
It principally lies in the very realistic chance of achieving “regime change” in Iran by boldly siding with the growing opposition in that country. Once they merely sought honest elections. Now clearly their goal is the overthrow of the dictatorship. The Iranian people- now chanting in street demonstrations “Obama, are you with us or them?” – are the most educated and sophisticated populace between Israel and India and as they showed in 1979 they have the capacity to bring down an intolerable regime.
In his Nobel Address President Obama eloquently stated some realities that much of the world sometimes forgets. He said that evil exists, and that peaceful means would not have stopped Hitler and will not stop al- Qaeda. He reminded his audience that American power had for half a century been the principal guarantor of their freedom, and while collective security is always preferred, sometimes one nation i.e. the United Stated must act alone.
Many saw President Obama’s speech as a justification of his Afghan escalation, but he was also laying down a marker for Iran and clearly signaling that he was ready for a major course correction is his own approach to world affairs.
Absent a pathologically hostile regime in Iran, U.S. foreign policy challenges from Pakistan to Israel dramatically shift in our favor, the entire Middle East is transformed, and U.S. global influence, and the cause of freedom reaches a pinnacle unmatched since the Second World War.
Heady stuff. Not easy, not certain, but once again History offers America an opportunity to be the great catalyst for human progress.
Centennial Fellow Bill Moloney was Colorado Education Commissioner, 1997-2007. His columns have appeared in the Wall St Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post.
(Boston) While the world watched the fraudulent Iranian elections by chance I found myself here in the historic capital of American election fraud. Just a few steps from Boston’s City Hall the Union Oyster House has been a favored haunt of local politicians since Colonial times. As we sampled the culinary delights of this Beantown landmark my companion- a wryly self-described “humble servant of the people”- noted that two centuries earlier Governor Elbridge Gerry had enjoyed similar fare here. It was he who invented “gerrymandering”, a method of redistricting now institutionalized in every state as the most successful form of election fraud in American history. Through the years Boston continued to invent, refine and export to grateful imitators nationwide many new breakthroughs in election fraud. One of the most productive was creating the key patronage post of Cemetery Commissioner said official being responsible not just for mowing the grass above the graves but much more importantly insuring that those loyal Democrats beneath the grass were not deprived of their right to vote “early and often” every election day. While stealing votes outright was more cost effective sometimes it was necessary to buy them. Even then these thrifty New Englanders deplored wasteful spending. Jack Kennedy’s grandfather Boston Mayor “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald insisted that the “Machine never bought more votes than actually required”. In another context his son-in-law Joe Kennedy sternly told a Chicago alderman that he “wasn’t paying for a landslide”. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ignored these counsels of moderation, apparently being quite willing to pay for a landslide and/or steal more votes than actually required. The initial U.S. response to this self-evident fraud was somewhere between an embarrassment and a disgrace (when you sound less tough than the Europeans you know you’ve dropped the ball badly). Waffling between saying it didn’t matter who won the election and being fearful of accusations of “meddling” Obama and company demonstrated once again why foreign and national security policy has been the Achilles Heel of the Democratic party for over forty years. In its obsequiousness Obama’s expression of gratitude to “Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Khamenei for his willingness to look into irregularities in a few precincts rivaled the notorious bow to the King of Saudi Arabia. Amazingly none of this qualified as the week’s top example of U.S. spinelessness. After North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-IL defiantly announced that he was (A) weaponizing his nuclear stockpile, (B) conducting further tests of his Hiroshima sized bomb, and (C) scheduling tests of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S., the Obama Administration announced it would adhere to a new “get tough” policy proposed by Chinese and Russians at the United Nations. The heart of the policy involves intercepting North Korean vessels suspected of carrying nuclear presents to friends like Syria or Iran and asking permission to board and search; however if they say no, that’s O.K. too. When loony right-wingers in Congress questioned the adequacy of this response the Administration gave further evidence of its resolve by announcing that if North Korea persists in its’ nuclear naughtiness in next year’s budget we may refuse to make further cuts to Missile Defense spending beyond these already included in this year’s budget. Right now, if you’re keeping score the old “axis of Evil” – Syria, Iran, and North Korea-is definitely ahead on points. Obama’s much hyped but pathetic speech in Cairo (“America is one of the largest Muslim nations; my daddy was a Muslim”) clearly signaled he isn’t going to fuss too much when Iran inevitably gains full nuclear power status. As noted above he’s O.K. with letting Russia and China via the UN set the limits of U.S. toughness with North Korea. The only member of the “Axis” who’s even been scored upon in this contest is Syria and that only because the Israelis who know a threat when they see one helpfully bombed that country’s rising nuclear facility flat. The Boston Globe (owned by the N.Y. times since 1994 and hopefully soon going bankrupt) was “deeply troubled by this unilateral Israeli action” and this week even had the effrontery to editorially call on Obama to “oblige Netanyahu to rearrange his governing coalition to be more in accord with U.S.. policy toward the Palestinians”. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot, and the price of folly may be exacted sooner than we think.
William Moloney is a former Colorado Education Commissioner and now a Centennial Institute Fellow. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News.
The Associated Press description of the insurrection in Tehran on Sunday, June 14 provided an account of how opposition leader Mr. Mousavi’s newspaper, Kalemeh Sabz, was printed but never disseminated on Sunday morning. The government of Mr. Ahmadinejad was disgruntled over some of the charges being made in the paper, so authorities arrived at the printing offices and confiscated the papers. When asked about this turn of events, Mr. Ahmadinejad responded: "Don't worry about freedom in Iran."
When elections are stolen, the press is silenced, and political opponents are imprisoned, we better worry about “freedom” in Iran.
In light of these recent developments following the counterfeit election in Iran, and as we watch video of protesters demanding a genuine election, it is a good time for us to return to our own claim to the right of independence, which is the basis of free and legitimate electoral politics.
In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson penned his famous lines concerning our rights as found in nature. He described the timing and decision of the assembled members in 1776 “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them.” Oftentimes these first few lines of the Declaration are overlooked in favor of the more famous lines of the second paragraph. But the assertion made by Jefferson should not be overlooked, as the description of the “Laws of Nature” as prescribed by God is the essence of law.
William Blackstone wrote in the late 1760’s his Commentaries on the Laws of England. In the section entitled “Of the Nature of Laws in General,” Blackstone wrote:Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being… And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker's will.
Law then, in order to be right, must be consistent with the natural order established by God. Failing this, the laws and the government that implements the faulty laws are illegitimate. Law must conform to the “maker’s will” in order for them to gain their legitimacy. In 1776, the key point that the founders were confronting was the “divine right of kings” and the underlying assumption that “might makes right.” History up to this point had shown that the authority of the king ultimately relied on his might. History has also shown us too often that might does not, in fact, equal right. Clearly in Iran today, just as in the American colonies of 1776, might is not right.
Let's now return to the second paragraph of the Declaration, where Jefferson defines the nature and purpose of government:
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Government does not give us rights, for rights have already been given to us by God. The purpose of man entering into civil society is that these God-given rights might be more secure. Clearly the theocracy of Iran is inconsistent with the God-given rights of man. Jefferson and our founders concluded that when the government fails to secure these God-given rights, the people are fully within their rights to overthrow the illegitimate government.
Freedom is God-given. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his tyrannical government have and continue to deny this freedom. He and his government are illegitimate.
Finally, Jefferson gives those seeking the establishment or restoration of their God-given rights a warning concerning prudence.
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
Jefferson’s concern is on two points: the length of suffering a people must endure as well as the likelihood of success. Freedom loving people in Iran need, of course, consider whether a revolution is, in fact, timely in light of this concern. The people of Iran might, in fact, conclude that the timing is not right for revolution. What they need not fret is over the legitimacy of their demand for liberty:
"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s attempt to deflect, we need to be worried about freedom in Iran. And Mr. Ahmadinejad should himself be worried.