Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, says that the deaths of more than 20 people during demonstrations in Iran deserves an international investigation. She said the deaths were caused by government agents, and might be a cause for regime change in Iran (admittedly, she did not use that Cheney era phrase).
According to Haley, these deaths, and the Iranian government’s callous refusal to investigate them properly, and prosecute the killers is an international outrage. The United Nations should not sit idly by while a government in the modern world kills dozens of its own citizens. It is such a serious matter that the United Nations should take action, investigate, and maybe work to change the government that promotes, or merely tolerates such killings.
She raises an interesting question. If a regime whose security forces kill a few dozen of its citizens who have affirmatively chosen to engage in political demonstrations is a political pariah that needs to be confronted with international condemnation, what is the proper response to a regime that allows its security forces to kill unarmed civilians by the hundreds each year, targeting mostly those who have not chosen to engage in political activity or demonstrations?
Is ignoring the killings justified if the killers are all dressed in blue? Or if they work for individual towns, cities or states, rather than directly for the central government? Are some of the killings justified if the dead were the wrong color, or religion, or political persuasion? Or if the dead were gay? Or trans? Or queer (whatever that means)?
On January 8, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani commented on the demonstrations in his country, stating that people were upset about the failure of fundamentalist religious rulers to improve social conditions, political tolerance and individual rights to speak, study and debate. He observed that the widespread press focus on economic distress in Iran, while accurate, was not the sole reason for the demonstrations and unrest.
Iran, like the United States, is headed by a self-important, self-aggrandizing tyrant, who presides over a corrupt economy in which government power is used to increase the wealth of the wealthy by oppressing the poorest and least powerful. As in the United States, the man at the top of government justifies his regime with religious claims, and enjoys the support of religious fundamentalists who champion religious dogma, hypocrisy and top-down governance over all other matters.
Nikki Haley is outraged that Iran is outraged by the U.S. policy of slaughtering thousands of Yemeni civilians, most recently by encouraging the spread of diphtheria and other diseases, while cutting off medical aid.
Nikki Haley’s current hypocrisy is about Iran’s internal politics. But in her time at the U.N., she has freely condemned Iran’s foreign misadventures as well. She has been outraged that Iran supports indigenous tribes in Yemen, and opposes the U.S. use of its Saudi Arabian client to exterminate self-rule in Yemen. Haley is outraged that Iran is outraged by the U.S. policy of slaughtering thousands of Yemeni civilians, most recently by encouraging the spread of diphtheria and other diseases, while cutting off medical aid.
At least Nikki Haley is giving voice to her outrage, and stating the outrage of the United States. Where is the outrage from other nations’ ambassadors to the U.N.? Women leaders from some nations have good reason to remain silent. Think of Angela Merkel, whom the Donald openly decreed to be leader of the free world, since he didn’t feel up to the task. Or Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, who enjoys the Donald’s support for her genocide against the Rohinga people in her nation. Neither has reason to attack the Donald.
But what of the rest? If nations should be speaking out about a couple dozen dead demonstrators, shouldn’t they be speaking out against the U.S. (using Saudi mercenaries) slaughter of civilians in Yemen? Shouldn’t they be speaking out against speeches promising preemptive nuclear strikes against the civilian subjects of a petty tyrant, who’s most visible threat to the U.S. is developing a goofier haircut than our orange messiah? Shouldn’t they be speaking out against official U.S. policy in favor of increasing pollution and raising sea levels, while reducing efforts to contain climate change which is already affecting THEIR nations?
For their own self-defense, and the salvation of all of us, do they have a duty to take Nikki Haley’s suggestion seriously, and discuss taking action against a government that poses huge and varied risks to the entire world? Or is “quiet diplomacy” a better idea?
While their leaders fiddle, 100 French women signed a letter criticizing the drift of U.S. women’s groups to the right, toward Republican Party policies of simplifying complex issues and striving to stifle dissenting voices. In response, all American “progressive” women’s groups condemned the French women. “Who are they to speak of relations between the sexes? What does a dumb actress like Catherine Deneuve think she knows about men?” Marlena Deitrich and Jeanne Moreau must be spinning in their graves.
Even the American left is moving with the Donald. Women want to “take out” abusive, and merely offensive or insensitive men, the way the Donald wants to “take out” Haitians, all of whom, according to him, have AIDS. “Take Out” is a term popular in the military. One “takes out” enemy targets – this does not mean such targets are deported. The mafia “takes out” its enemies and stool pigeons – this does not mean sending them elsewhere to live.
As he encouraged his supporters at campaign rallies to attack dissenters, his “take out” comment encourages an increase in lynchings and police executions of non-white people. The Donald likes violence. But we mustn’t lay this all at his feet. His comments about shithole countries and their people were supported, clearly if sometimes tepidly, by the entire Republican Party leadership.
Under Republican Party rule, the U.S. is moving in historically established directions. On January 11, the Donald stated that his administration wants to whiten America. DACA is dead. In the second week of January, 5 Republican members of the U.S. Supreme Court announced that they want to give judicial imprimatur to gerrymandering for purposes of voter suppression. And some of the wealthiest generals in the Pentagon have started talking about how we can “win” nuclear wars with North Korea and Iran.
The world has been here before. Leaders trying to control populations stressed by economic disparities and hopelessness have played on faux-populist themes and lies. Too often, when one country is being played this way, the rest of the world’s nations stay out of it. Or they try to convince themselves and each other that a madman demagogue can be worked with.
It didn’t work for Neville Chamberlain in 1938. It didn’t work for Reagan, trying to manage his Taliban “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan and Latin America, or for the Republicans who were so sure they could manage Sadaam Hussein to their profit in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It didn’t work for European leaders who thought that with cooperation, they could appease Dick Cheney’s insatiable appetite for “controllable,” highly profitable wars.
And it won’t work for those who think they will be able to negotiate the Donald into respecting climate science, or away from wars on the Korean Peninsula or with Iran. Dick Cheney’s crew was driven by the crassest profit motive. But the Donald is driven by insecurity and a need for attention and adulation. Facts have no more relevance for him than they have for the core of alt-whities who cheer him loudest.
But sea levels are rising, doing worldwide damage. War in Korea or the Middle-East will expand to affect everyone. Farmlands, whether flooding or drying out are driving refugee migrations toward industrialized nations.
Appeasement, or ignoring threats has never worked in the past and they certainly are not going to work with our orange stable genius. But actions, and inactions of the U.S. government are having effects around the world. It is time for the international community to heed Nikki Haley’s call and begin to take action to protect all of mankind from HER boss, and his increasingly strident constituents.