Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Moral Imperative: What now, more diplomacy?

Diplomacy has so far failed with Iran. Iran has told the world and diplomacy "go take a hike". Many among us believe that diplomacy is some sort of enchanting formula that only if performed by the right wizard with all its proper intonations and incantations it will by its virtual magic produce results turning frogs into princes. Some of us believe that diplomacy has its limits.

Well, diplomacy has shown its limits and all the diplomatic sorcerers have not been able to transform Iran into a prince among nations. Former presidents and presidential candidates swear that they could have done better by bringing together our "allies". Yet all the king's horses and all the king's men of diplomacy and "our allies" have not been able to persuade Iran from pursuing military nuclear power and to stop making statements which are a threat to world peace.

Now we are looking down the same road with Iran that we looked at with Saddam, years of resolutions, years of non-compliance and years of threats. Now the world again holds its breath waiting to see if the same road leads to the same or a different place. A great amount of trust and expectation is placed on the UN. Will the UN function as expected, as a problem solving and war avoidance device?

Expectations are also placed on the U.S. in light of the fact that failure by the UN left the U.S no choice. Now we know the U.N. was incapable of fulfilling its mission for being involved in corruption with the Saddam regime up to its highest levels and the Security Council. In this sense, isn't the present US intervention in Iraq more a failure of the UN that an imperial design of the US?

Now, in light of the fact that most civilian deaths in Iraq by acts of terror are being perpetrated and claimed by al-Qaeda as approved by Bin Laden, and in light of the fact that the elections, for which so many people as never seen before in recent history, let alone in the Middle East, risked life and limb, and in light of the fact that together with the constitutional process the government has received international recognition from the UN, isn't the U.S. fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq? And shouldn't human rights, civil rights and peace loving people support the legitimate and internationally recognized aspirations of the Iraqi people at this moment in time? What is the moral imperative today?

In light of the fact that we were told by "pacifists", "patriotic dissidents", during the Nicaraguan civil war that not to support the Sandinistas was equivalent to supporting the Contras, and that neutrality was not an option, using that same logic, isn't the anti-war movement supporting and lending material and moral support to al-Qaeda by not standing with the Iraqi people and demanding that the international community does the same at this moment in time?

From the stand point of ethics and foreign policy and in light of the fact that international interventionist forces of reaction and totalitarianism are impeding the will of the Iraqi people as expressed through internationally recognized suffrage, what is the moral imperative today?

Should we have supported the sovereignty of the people of Czechoslovakia, or Hitler's claim to the Sudetenland? Whether one considers U.S. motives as imperialist or not, should we support the Iraqi people and demand that the international community, and the U.N. specially, does the same, specially after their role in bankrolling the dictatorship of Saddam, or should we now withdraw and remain "neutral"?

During the Nicaraguan civil war some sectors of American public opinion were of the belief that to criticize the Sandinistas in any form was equivalent to, as someone told me then, "play into the hand of Reagan." In the meantime, the misguided policies of the Sandinistas led to forced relocations of peasants and Mezquito Indians which in turn backfired into filling the ranks of the Contras.

Those same sectors, which were more anti-Reagan than pro-Nicaraguan people, believed that the Sandinistas represented the will of the people, politically or ignorantly overlooking the various factions within the Sandinistas themselves which included Maoists, Trotskyites, etc. After a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua I wrote a letter to the White House saying that the US and the UN should call the bluff of the Sandinistas to internationally supervised elections. When elections took place the Sandinistas were overthrown by a landslide, and eventual investigations demonstrated how the top leadership had appropriated for personal use the the estates of the former oligarchs.

Those same sectors who are anti-war today, were demanding military intervention in Nicaragua for the removal of Somoza, and would demand the use of military force today if a right wing dictatorship in Central America was committing the same atrocities that Saddam committed in Iraq, or that fundamentalist Islam wants to impose from Iran.

Is the anti-war movement more anti-Bush than pro-Iraqi people and its democratically manifested will? Is it just more anti-war than pro-peace? Those same sectors which declared and demanded neutrality and opposed all aid to England during the early days of WWII, became belligerent and pro-war once it received directives from the Comintern after Hitler broke pact with Stalin.

The call at this very moment may not be a call to the use of force necessarily, and diplomacy needs to run its full course. But those who think diplomacy is a magic wand need to start considering that the world is not a Woodstock festival. The other side of diplomacy is "the extension of politics by other means." What is the moral imperative today? Is it based on a choice between numbers, between how many will die now and how many will have to die later? At the moment we risk confusing diplomacy with appeasement and giving those who threaten world peace a chance to arm that otherwise would be minimized by preemptive action.

These are some of the questions and some of the social and political nuances that need to be honestly pondered today and that seem to frame the debate of whether or not the democratic forces of the Middle East deserve support, and about what to do with the loud threats coming from Iran.


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