The United States has incurred a reputation for unwillingness to sit with foreign powers to discuss important issues. This reputation may have reached a peak when President George W. Bush refused to talk to even some of our borderline allies. During that Bush administration, when Iranian President Ahmadinejad went through world political bodies to gain an appointment to address the United Nations, in New York, American powers were able to thwart the attempt. Ahmadinejad was not permitted to come to New York owing to a technicality involving air tickets.
An American president so unsure, so lacking in confidence that he won’t open the channels of communications – in some cases channels that might prevent a nuclear exchange – is a disgrace, and falls far short of being a global, responsible leader.
There was precedence for an unwillingness to “negotiate with terrorists” based on the suggestion that such conferring would enhance their stature. America has had a sticking point on negotiations and open diplomatic exchange for years. One exception was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who changed global etiquette forever by reaching out to China. But Eisenhower saw himself as a “king of the world”, and had other shortfalls as well.
Iran today is being slammed on all corners. On Monday, November 21, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disclosed measures and sanctions to punish and constrain Iran in connection with the Iranian Nuclear Program. Iran deemed as “political” charges that that nation was trying to link nuclear technology with an expanded missile program. Secretary Clinton indicated new measures targeting the Iranian petrochemical industry and its oil and gas business. The Unites States proceeded with caution on the matter of the Iranian Central Bank and the global banking industry, but called Iran a “primary money laundering concern.” Clinton anticipates heavy sanctions by international partners, saying that “these measures represent a significant ratcheting up of pressure on Iran, its sources of income and its illegal activities.” Britain has cut all financial ties with Iran, as was announced by the British Treasury also on Monday.
Russia sharply criticized the new sanctions, making the case that the punishments hurt efforts to talk with Tehran. Russia released a statement on Tuesday saying “Russia sees such extraterritorial measures as unacceptable and against international law. Such a practice seriously obstructs advancement toward a constructive dialogue with Tehran. Stronger sanction pressure, which some of our partners see almost as a goal in itself, will not encourage Iran to sit down at the negotiating table.” Russia concludes, “We believe that the constant strengthening of sanctions has long ago gone beyond the bounds of decisions on non-proliferation tasks surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.” In reference to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran’s allegedly growing nuclear program, Russia calls the report “a compilation of well-known facts that are intentionally presented in a politicized manner”.
Iran is in fact being slammed on all sides. The U.N. General Assembly’s rights committee on Monday adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran. The resolution which was authored in Canada, lists abuses by Iran including torture, excessive use of the death penalty, discrimination against women,persecution of journalists and religious minorities, and detention of leaders on the Iranian opposition during the 2009 Iranian elections.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, a foreign policy adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called the resolution “preposterous”; in his words, “The substance of the resolution is absolutely unfounded and a shameful fabrication of baseless allegations and totally preposterous.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement: “Iran has shown scant evidence of cooperation with the U.N. to improve its human rights record. The fact that this resolution passed by a record majority shows the international community is strongly united in its condemnation of human rights abuses in Iran.”
Iran is currently seeing some time-based evolution in its methodology for punishing wrongdoing. While stoning and lashing are still viable sentences, often hanging is the final outcome. We remember Sakineh Ashtiani who was accused of crimes in 2007 including adultery, and murder. She was sentenced to death by stoning, pursuant to Islamic Sharia law. On conviction she received 99 lashes with a meter long leather strap; in these lashings the executioner applies well established standards, abstaining from striking the head, face, or private parts.
Stoning, not prescribed in the Koran, but with roots in Islamic law may be considered death by torture; a group throws stones until the person dies. Occasionally such stoning is witnessed by crowds; in Africa, a girl was stoned to death before a transfixed crowd at a football stadium. In Iran, sentences to stoning often give way to death by hanging. The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, embraces established Islamic traditions, and is thought to favor brutal executions for such crimes as adultery. President Ahmadinejad is more conservative, and calls stoning “an ancient method that needs to change.”
Russia and China voted against the resolution. Diplomats from several nonaligned developing countries criticized the “ritual of adopting resolutions condemning a handful of individual countries.”