The visit to the United States by Ahlmadinejad prompted the predictable outrage by the American public. Headlines in national papers had a field day with their attacks on the America's latest bogeyman. The New York Daily News, for example, chose the fear-inducing:
Patriotic, yet fear-mongering, the perfect news headline. However, when taking an objective view of recent events across the globe, it is hard to sympathise with the current US position in the Middle East, and particularly in relation to Iran.
The current obsession of the US administration has clearly been the so-called nuclear threat that Iran may provide in the near future. They base this assessment, they claim, on Iran's aggressive policies in the region. If we look beyond the knee-jerk reaction to guffaw loudly at this belief, it is not hard to expose this standpoint for the ludicrous claim that it so clearly is. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Iranian government has only been involved in one armed conflict, the Iran-Iraq war. It is worth pointing out at this point that Iraq were the aggressors on that occasion, supported by many Western powers as well as various Communist nations and Arab allies. The war itself was particularly costly for Iran. There were an estimated 1 million casualties on the Iranian side, a huge of chunk of which were killed due to the use of those infamous 'weapons of mass destruction'. The use of chemical weapons, with the tacit support of the West (including the US) led to the deaths of over 100,000 Iranians. As usual, the US tried their best to render the United Nations utterly useless. On 21 March 1986, the United Nations Security Council made a declaration stating that:
"members are profoundly concerned by the unanimous conclusion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops and the members of the Council strongly condemn this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons."
The United States was the only member who voted against the issuance of this statement. The US refused to condemn the use of weapons of mass destruction on the Iranian civilian population, a refusal that caused much anger across Iran. Iran thus became one of the biggest victims to the use of these forms of weaponry in history.
This really highlights the hypocrisy of the current US position. Iran is apparently a threat and a danger to the world. However, they have only been the victims in any conflict, not the aggressors (they have never invaded a neighbour, despite the fact that many Arab nations backed Iraq in the long running war). Not only have they never been aggressors, they have also been the victim to one of the most horrendous examples of mass civilian casualties in history. Now, backers of Bush will claim that although Iran hasn't invaded her neighbours, she has been involved in covert action across the Middle East. This may well be the case, but hasn't the US been guilty of the same. Didn't the US government attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government in Venezuela in 2002? Hasn't American history throughout the post-war period been characterised by interference in other countries' affairs? Of course. Yet when it is the US they are benevolent, and when it is a foreign nation with a competing ideology they are malevolent and evil. Again, taking an objective view, wouldn't it be fair to say that when using Iran as a yardstick, the US government also appears to be a malevolent entity in global affairs? Bush alone has overseen two bloody wars of aggression (not to mention the failed coup attempts). What wars have the Iranians instigated in the past seven years?
Now, I am no defender of Iran (I am an atheist and therefore cannot support any state built on religious grounds) and I find some of Ahlmadinejad's statements a little unsavoury to say the least (note his comments about homosexuality in Iran at the recent college debate). However, I see no evidence that he is any more 'evil' than George W Bush (who hasn't exactly been noted for his liberal social views either). Perhaps before lobbing venom at the President of Iran, American people should look a little closer to home to see an establishment that is all to eager to utilise weapons of mass destruction, or encourage its use by proxies. After all, sixty-two years after the end of the war, only one nation has taken full advantage of its abilities to launch weapons of mass destruction and it's not Iran.