The rights of Iranians vs. Iran’s “right” to enrich nuclear materials
At the very least, Iran’s election results are under a cloud. But evidence certainly seems to be mounting that there was considerable intimidation, systematic efforts to quash the ability of the opposition campaign to spread its message in the days prior to the election, and likely voter fraud. Further, President Ahmadinejad certainly didn’t do anything ...
At the very least, Iran’s election results are under a cloud. But evidence certainly seems to be mounting that there was considerable intimidation, systematic efforts to quash the ability of the opposition campaign to spread its message in the days prior to the election, and likely voter fraud. Further, President Ahmadinejad certainly didn’t do anything to help his already shredded credibility with his nonsensical Sunday news conference in which among other things he asserted Iranians weren’t divided by the election while violent clashes took place in the streets.
These circumstances raise an important question. Given the apparent disregard for the rights of its own citizens exhibited by the Iranian regime, will the Obama administration rethink its stance vis á vis the Iranians?
The prevailing U.S. view, articulated by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry last week, is that the Iranians have a “right” to uranium enrichment. Will we continue to honor such a supposed right now? The hopes of many reasonable Americans has long been that it would be possible to establish a dialogue with Iran given the country’s diversity of opinions and its cosmopolitan traditions. But when democracy is seemingly crushed or at the very least undermined, the government defines itself by the degree to which it does not reflect the views of its citizens. Since governments rather than general populations control nuclear programs, shouldn’t the recent events give us reason to reconsider our recent drift toward acceptance of Iran’s nuclear aspirations?
That’s a rhetorical question. Of course it should. We should not acknowledge international “rights” of countries that deny fundamental rights to their people. I would think that would be at the core of any Obama foreign policy (in fact, it seems to be with regard to Cuba, for example). Nor, as a practical matter, should the U.S. base critical proliferation decisions on the promises of countries that so callously break their fundamental promises to their citizens and then lie about it to the world. In fact, how about amending the Non-Proliferation Treaty to limit the right to the pursuit of peaceful nuclear programs only to democracies?
This election should lead us to meet with our allies and reconsider our approach to the Iranian nuclear question — especially because through a major multilateral rebuff of the regime we might further weaken them in their own country, a place where the opposition seems so vital and poised to make such a promising change.
Photo: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
David Rothkopf is a former editor of Foreign Policy and CEO of The FP Group. Twitter: @djrothkopf
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