Given the prospects of possible U.S. military action towards Iran, it is important to take a critical look at the major concerns the Bush administration and Congressional leaders of both parties have put forward regarding the Islamic Republic.
The election of the hard-line Teheran mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani as the new head of Iran is undeniably a setback for those hoping to advance greater social and political freedom in that country. It should not necessarily be seen as a turn to the right by the Iranian electorate, however. The 70-year old Rafsanjani—a cleric and penultimate wheeler-dealer from the political establishment—was portrayed as the more moderate conservative. The fact that he had become a millionaire while in government was apparently seen as less important than his modest reform agenda. By contrast, the young Teheran mayor focused on the plight of the poor and cleaning up corruption.
For more than two decades, arms control experts have argued that the most likely scenario for the hostile use of nuclear weapons was not between the former Cold War superpower rivals, an act of terrorism by an underground terrorist group, or the periodically threatened unilateral U.S. attack against a “rogue state,” but between India and Pakistan. These two South Asian rivals have fought each other in three major wars—in 1947, 1965, and 1971—and have engaged in frequent border clashes in recent years in the disputed Kashmir region, coming close to another all-out war as recently as 2002.
The Bush administration, like its predecessors, has frequently taken advantage of the idealism and values of the U.S. citizenry to justify foreign policies that most Americans would otherwise find morally unacceptable. The recent emphasis on justifying Washington’s imperial goals in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East in the name of spreading liberty and democracy is a case in point. The fact that the United States is the world’s principal supporter of autocratic Middle Eastern regimes is conveniently overlooked, as the administration focuses solely on the human rights abuses of governments that challenge U.S. hegemony in the region, such as Iran and Syria. Similarly, repeated emphasis of the fact that Israel has established advanced democratic institutions (at least for its Jewish citizens) and an accountable government (relative to anything that currently exists in the Arab world) makes it possible for most Americans to ignore the pattern of gross and systematic Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories.
As popular domestic opposition to the administration’s policies in Iraq reaches new highs, President George W. Bush’s efforts to justify the ongoing war seem to have reached new lows. Indeed, in the president’s nationally-televised June 28th speech from an Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was clearly straining to defend his disastrous decision to invade and occupy that oil-rich Middle Eastern country.
The election of the hard-line Teheran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over former president Hashemi Rafsanjani as the new president of Iran is undeniably a setback to those hoping to advance the cause of greater social and political freedom in that country. It should not necessarily be seen as a turn to the right by the Iranian […]
Recent revelations that the United States successfully blocked a call by NATO for an international investigation of the May 13 massacre of hundreds of civilians by the government of the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan serves as yet another reminder of the insincerity of the Bush administration’s claims for supporting freedom and democracy in the Islamic world and the former Soviet Union.
In what appears to be a concerted effort to discredit independent human rights advocates, the Bush administration and its allies in the media have been engaging in a series of attacks against Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization and winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize.
Most of the international community and arms control advocates here in the United States have correctly blamed the Bush administration for the failure of the recently completed review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the course of the four-week meeting of representatives of the 188 countries which have signed and ratified the treaty, the United States refused to uphold its previous arms control pledges, blocked consideration of the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, refused to rule out U.S. nuclear attacks against non-nuclear states, and demanded that Iran and North Korea—but not U.S. allies like Israel, Pakistan, and India—be singled out for UN sanctions for their nuclear programs. Thomas Graham, who served as a U.S. envoy to disarmament talks in the Clinton administration noted that the Bush administration’s demands resulted in what appears to be “the most acute failure in the treaty’s history.”1
U.S. Supports Repression in Uzbekistan (PDF)