Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bush administration has fueled the human-rights abuses in Iran

By Trita Parsi (president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C.)

The Bush administration's apparent disregard for the expressed wishes of Iranian human-rights defenders has made a bad situation worse. When it comes to human rights in the Middle East, the Bush administration has claimed to walk the walk. But that walk clearly has a limp.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that executions in Iran - including instances of stoning - have sharply increased under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, using the Bush administration's Iran Democracy Fund as a pretext, Iranian authorities have clamped down on Iran's civil society with thousands of arrests.
The $75 million Iran Democracy Fund, first appropriated in 2006, was reappropriated in December despite loud protests by human rights and democracy champions. Human rights workers argue that this "regime change slush fund" has facilitated the Ahmadinejad government's latest wave of abuses.

Washington has dismissed these protests, putting Iranian human-rights defenders in a double bind. While they recognize that the absence of diplomacy between Washington and Tehran - and the ensuing tensions - enable the Iranian government to intensify human-rights abuses, activists also fear that U.S.-Iran talks might result in a relationship that mirrors America's relationship with Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran under the shah. That is, one in which geopolitical objectives trump concerns about human rights and democracy.

There is a solution to this dilemma.

Washington must restore its own standing on human rights, and put the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran on the table in its discussions with Tehran.

A foreign policy contingent on human rights will create a balance between America's relationship with the people of Iran and its relationship with Iran's unpopular government.

The value of this relationship will yield great strategic objectives for the United States. Namely, any resulting improvements in the U.S. relationship with Iran will be sustainable, rather than tied to the survival of the current regime.

By tying improved relations to Iranian respect for human rights, Washington will develop a stake in Iran's future and ultimate stability, but not a stake in the survival of the Iranian theocracy.

Past foreign policy efforts in the Middle East - namely with America's Arab allies - have failed in this regard. While Arab governments support the American order, Arab streets blame the United States for prolonging the reigns of the dictators who rule them. Unsurprisingly, this creates a dangerous breeding ground for anti-American sentiments and terrorism.

Making Iran's human rights record [and not Iran's development toward nuclear technology] a condition of gradual improvement of U.S.-Iran relations would help reduce tensions between the two countries without alienating the Iranian people and undermining America's soft power in Iran.

The next president of the United States must recognize the necessity of reducing tensions with Tehran through diplomacy. Fortunately, this strategic goal can be achieved without getting stuck with the theocracy.


nunya said...

Still, Obama continued to insist that as president, he would be willing to meet one-on-one with Ahmadinejad.

David G said...

In the modern American dictionary the word 'diplomacy' means: to liberally apply laser-guided missiles, preferably nuclear ones, to all potential problems. It has the same meaning in Hebrew too!

Take care, Naj.

Naj said...

David, I'm afraid I cannot disagree with you!

The hebrew diplomacy seems to have redressed Holocaust and have found a new meaning for it: "unleashing holocaust on Gaza", they said, in the middle of peace diplomacy!!

RickB said...

You've got to love Parsi's optimism, and he's very generous in thinking about America's interests, I suppose seeing the only way to sell something is to appeal to a capitalism hardened selfishness in Washington. I doubt Bush can even spell diplomacy, I am not joking, I think he is an addiction ravaged man of low-average intelligence and he only gets by now with his personal physician's keeping him on a cocktail of meds.

Meanwhile per your grumpy outrage I checked out the Heat Ray! I got some screen grabs of the protesters they showed. I think it was a not too subtle threat.

Brother Tim said...

"Washington must restore its own standing on human rights, and put the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran on the table in its discussions with Tehran."

'When pigs fly' ---G W Bush

Brother Tim said...

BTW, Naj, I've got a post for you. Monday 3-3-07 titled,'Why'.

Sophia said...

You know Naj, I don't like to appear cynical but the Human rights issue is being paraded by the US, not for the sake of Human Rights but to put pressure on societies and regimes closed to the US because these regimes face two options when harrassed about Human Rights issues:
Either they bend and they are seen as cowards, loosing face as leaders inside their own country, therefore weakening their own power in the face of rival factions inside;
Or they rebel and do exactly the contrary and they are seen as Human Rights abusers from the outside and strong leaders feared by their rivals inside their own country.

The tactic is efficient. It worked with Saddam because he was just an idiot. I am sure Iran's leader is smarter but not enough to walk the fine line between inside and outside pressures. I have been observing him and he is doing some smart moves, like the visit to Iraq, but there is no doubt that he has to crack down on his opponents for his own political survival...

This is why when the US meddles in the HUman rights issue in countries which are considered hostile, it generally produces a catastrophe for Human Rights

nunya said...

I'm so disgusted with the highest levels of my government right now.

Bush May Fire CentCom Chief Adm. Fallon, Replace With Commander More ‘Pliable’ To War With Iran

Today there are 50 or 60 members of Congress who openly or secretly support impeachment or impeachment hearings for Cheney. There are 26 who have signed onto actual articles of impeachment (Kucinich's resolution)

barmakid said...

Can you give me one example where geopolitical interests don't trump human rights concerns? Just one.

The one thing Trita has right is that if the U.S. - Iranian relationship is revitalized and diplomacy resumes, then the U.S. will have more leverage over domestic affairs in Iran.


an average patriot said...

I hope you're all right and you're
not letting Bush's 2 faced underhanded I can do it you can't standards bother you. He is a low life scum the entire world has fallen victim to.

Anonymous said...

Nikbakht: Idealism prolongs youth. My youth, therefore, covered a rather long period of struggle to bring about change. Suffice it to say that the Islamization of the 1979 revolution in Iran which fraudulently adopted common, even conflicting, slogans of leftists, nationalists, democrats and ethnic and religious minorities before it, in order to appease and then destroy them all, was an historic shock to a whole generation of Iranians. This deceptive behavior, also called "Tagheeyah", is, by the way, the same thing they are employing today internationally in their diplomacy and forming alliances. The continued self delusion of many idealists and intellectuals in siding with the Islamic regime under the cover of theoretical excuses and tactical expediency was another shock and betrayal of our generation.

By 1981, only two years after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the lives of all opponents of the regime were in danger due to the gradual establishment and revival of security and intelligence institutions and the alliance of pro-Soviet organizations with the IRI intelligence agencies -- whose stated goal was to betray all anti-regime activists to the government.

As a non-Muslim minority member, my civil rights had already been taken away or greatly diminished following the establishment of the Islamic regime and the passage of its highly discriminatory constitution. Non-Muslims had become “D’himmis”, second class citizens with limited rights, or non-citizens with absolutely no rights, just based on their beliefs. The Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were given certain rights but their lives were legally valued as less than 1/2 or 1/8th of a Muslim’s life (depending on which source of Shari’a a judge decided to use in cases of compensations for loss of life or limb). They lost their right to testify in court against Muslims and they lost all sorts of imaginable rights to material and social status which might demonstrate any semblance of superiority or power over Muslims.

Killers of D’himmis would not be held to the same standard of killers of Muslims and would only be liable for the lower financial compensation while killers or looters of non-Dhimmis, such as Bahaiis, who had no right s at all, would be immune to prosecution, since according to the new criminal codes, the victims did not deserve to live or function within the “Islamic” society in the first place. Hundreds of D’himmis and Bahaiis were thus executed or just killed and assassinated according to the new laws and imposed social norms. Any minority member who converted to Islam was entitled to all the inheritance in their family, while converting out of Islam was punishable by death. These are just some examples of the highly discriminatory laws in the new regime, almost all of which are still in force.

Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian democracy activist. Born in Tehran in 1953, he escaped Iran in 1982 with the help of Kurdish tribesmen, making his way to Turkey and eventually ending up in the United States.

Naj said...

Parsi's "agenda" is to make peace between Iran and US, and yes he does dress matters somehow fleuriously!

Agreed! In fact it was the US that started pressing Shah for his abuse of human rights and fueled the revolution. People think Shah was protected and a puppet of Americans; he wished to be; and that was his perilous problem, and that of ours.

Naj said...

Brother Tim,
I thank you for this compassionate response.

Presently, what is disgusting me most is Hillary, clinging to her power struggle, and winning Texas by Republican's votes! Also, I am DISGUSTED by her tactic of calling Obama her vice president. This woman is DIRTY! Yuck!

Yes I know.

... "taghiyeh" ... I was a kid and I used to glance over some magazine my mum received called "maktab-e Eslaam", I remember Makarem Shirazi (who is now the sugar smuggler/trader/emperor) had an elaborate issue on taghiyeh! As a 10 years old kid, I was astonished that hypocrisy was promoted as a religious value! But, taghiyeh is in many ways, why we have survived as Iranians, isn't it?

(re. Bahais, all of those that I was friends with, before revolution, are well and alive, and many of whom still live in Iran. The level of discrimination against them, however, is shamefully disgusting. They cannot have official jobs and education, but they can own private businesses, which they do... coming to think of it, no one can hold governmental jobs unless he looks sufficiently bearded, scary, frowny, ugly, and probably smelly ;) ...)