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Dear Congress:

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.

Dear Congress:

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 the map."

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 rejection.


Keith Akers
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.