A Better Way to Fight War Crimes
Usually I try to avoid excessively political issues, but the House of
Representatives has undertaken an act of what certainly looks like
colossal stupidity. Juan
Cole and numerous others have already written extensively about
this, Iím just adding my voice to the chorus.
I urge you to reject H. Con. Res. 21, calling on the United Nations
Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with
violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide because he has called for Israel to be "wiped off
President Ahmadinejad is clearly an unsavory character; I absolutely
disagree with his holocaust denial and many of his characterizations of
Israel. But it is simply false, as the resolution specifically states,
that he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." This
statement is based on a mistranslation; the idiom attributed to
Ahmadinejad does not even exist in Persian. What Ahmadinejad actually
advocated was for "this occupation regime over Jerusalem . . . [to]
vanish from the page of time."
Calling for a regime to vanish is not the same as advocating killing
someone. President Reagan wasnít advocating genocide when he called
for the Soviet regime to be relegated to the "ash heap of
history." There is nowhere in this resolution, or anywhere else,
any basis for the charge of inciting to genocide.
Itís a bad idea for Congress to try to bring foreign heads of state
to task for crimes against humanity, until Congress fully deals with our
own disastrous foreign policy in Iraq. After the Second World War, the
Allies hung the Nazi leaders for planning and waging aggressive war. It
could be plausibly argued (and most of the world doubtless believes)
that "waging aggressive war" is precisely what George W. Bush
has done in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead as
a result. Congress would be more likely to be listened to if it resolved
the problems which are clearly the results of a failed U. S. foreign
policy before it tried to hand out advice to the U. N. Security Council
or lay the groundwork for another aggressive war in the Middle East.
General William Odom, President Reaganís director of the National
Security Agency, recently wrote an article titled "Exit From Iraq
Should Be Through Iran." In it, he suggests that the U. S. should
engage Iran in order to extricate ourselves from Iraq. Iran and the U.
S. both have an interest in a stable Iraq. We should be engaging Iran,
and other countries in the Middle East, with trade and diplomacy instead
of making more threats against countries we donít like. Why canít we
try a more traditional and more conservative approach?
I know that this resolution does not have the force of law, but
because it could be used to support an attack on Iran, I would urge its
June 28, 2007
P. S. When I last checked, House Concurrent Resolution 21 had passed
the House of Representatives by a vote of 411 to 2 and had been sent to
the Senate. Thank God for Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul who were the
dissenters and have saved, just barely, my faith in the American
democratic process. Iíve written my senators and, belatedly, my
representative in Congress with a version of the above letter.