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The Expansionist
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Sauce for the Goose. The Bush Administration is feigning huge indignation that some Iranians, with or without government sanction, are sending weapons to Taliban fiters in Afghanistan. Hm. It's OK for the United States, whose nearest shore is over 7,000 miles away, to intervene in Afghanistan, but it's not OK for Iran, right nextdoor, to intervene in Afghanistan. Why is that? If Iran wanted to help DEFEAT the Taliban, would it be OK for Iran to send weapons and ammo into that same country?
We need to stop pretending that there is only one way to view things, and stop presenting ourselves as indisputably in the right just because it's us doing something, but others doing exactly the same kind of thing, from the other side, are guilty of terrible crimes. As far as the Taliban and many people in Iran regard things, they are the ones 'with God on their side'.
The U.S. has failed to make the case not only that the Taliban supported Al-Qaida but also that it violated fundamental human rights, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that is why the civilized world is intervening to prevent the Taliban from regaining power. How can we make that case when we ignore grievous offenses to the Universal Declaration as a matter of course? Malaysia's highest civil court recently found that a woman who wanted to convert to Christianity had no right to do that without permission from an Islamic court, where:
she could face prosecution for apostasy, which is a crime punishable by fines, jail sentences, caning, or time in "rehabilitation" centers in Malaysia.
Even in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has had some 23,000 soldiers for years and on which we have spent $100 billion, and counting, the government the U.S. installed permits the execution of Moslem converts to Christianity! Altho one person seized for that cause was permitted to escape to Italy, the laws against conversion are still in place, and the United States is spending billions of dollars a year and the Western world is endangering the lives of tens of thousands of Western soldiers to keep in power a government that permits the execution of Afghans who convert to the religion of the West. That is insane.
Afghanistan signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of that Declaration says:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
The Universal Declaration may not be legally binding on nonsignatories, but the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is. It contains similar language, also at Article 18:

Article 18

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

The United States cannot permit Afghanistan, Malaysia, or any other country to violate the right of people freely to choose their own religion, and change that choice at any time. No one should have to apply to a court for permission to change or abandon his religion. If the U.S.-installed government of Afghanistan will not abide by this basic obligation under international law, then the U.S., which has the power to do so, should forcibly remove the current government and institute one that will live up to Afghanistan's legal obligations as to this fundamental human right.
Until the U.S. demands that Afghanistan obey international law on freedom of conscience, it is in no position to complain that Iran, which acts on its religious and political principles, should keep its nose out of its neighbor's affairs. Afghanistan is Iran's neighbor, and what happens there is important to Iran. We don't have to bolster a hideous Afghan government just to keep it from harboring terrorists. We can perfectly well perform surgical strikes and shock-and-awe campaigns against training camps without spending tens of billions of dollars and putting tens of thousands of Westerners in danger to defend a government that is as contemptuous of freedom of conscience as the Taliban ever was.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 3,500 — for Israel.)

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