Friday, April 13, 2007

A Few Lonely Voices

Though commentary from the mainstream media and government officials on foreign policy is almost universally bad, there are a few exceptions. For example this story describing John Bolton's principled and insightful comments on the most recent Iranian act of War:
Britain's "weakness" in standing up to Iran in the detained sailors stand-off handed Tehran an improbable victory and left it dangerously emboldened, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Monday.

Iran was deliberately probing for allied weaknesses and found them in abundance, Bolton wrote in a hard-hitting article in the Financial Times newspaper.

"Against all odds, Iran emerged with a win-win from the crisis: winning by its provocation in seizing the hostages in the first place and winning again by its unilateral decision to release them," wrote the 2005-2006 US ambassador to the United Nations.
The lesson for Iran was that "it probed and found weakness." Ahmadinejad could now "undertake equal or greater provocations, confident he need not fear a strong response," Bolton wrote.

"Emboldened as Iran now is, and ironically for engagement advocates, it is even less likely there will be a negotiated solution to the nuclear weapons issue, not that there was ever much chance of one.

"Iran, sensing weakness, has every incentive to ratchet up its nuclear weapons programme, increase its support to Hamas, Hezbollah and others and perpetrate even more serious terrorism in Iraq.

"The world will be a more dangerous place as a result.

"The only thing risen from this crisis is Iranian determination and resolve to confront us elsewhere, at their discretion, whether on Iraq, nuclear weapons and terrorism."

Much less good, but noteworthy because it appears in the NY Times, is this editorial describing the reaction to a German trial 10 years ago which found the Iranian government involved in, and responsible for, assassinations on German soil. The piece has the merit of recognizing the value of moral principles, the effect that upholding proper ones can have on a society, and the underlying assumption that not all political systems are equal (nor are they relative).
By extending its laws to these immigrants, by giving them justice, the German judiciary gave Iranians a taste of what they could never have in their own country.

More than any assimilation program possibly could, this event turned ordinary Iranian immigrants into loyal German patriots. Former political prisoners, whether under the shah or the current regime, saw how a real court operates. Democracy, many of them believed, was a superior system, the right way to run a society. In this particular case, it was also highly therapeutic.


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