Friday, June 03, 2005

Appease Prize Winner
Prisoner Abuse: Self-flagellation over alleged human rights violations is not a foreign policy, but a recipe for long-term disaster. Some who now complain about Guantanamo had a key hand in making it necessary.

Newsweek's retraction of its story on the alleged flushing of pages from the Quran down a Guantanamo commode has not dissuaded critics convinced that Guantanamo is, as Amnesty International put it, a modern-day "gulag."

One of those who believe the human rights of prisoners at Guantanamo are being violated is former President Carter.

Speaking in September 2003, two short years after 9-11, he opined as to how the holding of suspected terrorists there ran counter to the democratic principles we preach. He also warned against curtailing human rights in the name of homeland security.

Carter charged then that these prisoners of the war on terror "have been held in prison without access to their families, or a lawyer, or without knowing the charges against them" and "kept in cages."

Yet it was Carter's attempt during his White House years to make human rights the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy that brought us to this point in our history.

On taking office in 1977, President Carter declared that advancing "human rights" was among his highest priorities. America's ally, the Shah of Iran, was one of his first targets, with Carter chastising him for his human rights record and withdrawing America's support. One of the charges was that the shah had been torturing some 3,000 prisoners, many of them accused of being Soviet agents.

Carter ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to stop paying $4 million annually in bribes to the religious mullahs who opposed the shah to keep them quiet. But they opposed the shah not because he was dictatorial, but because he was secular, pro-Western and expanding the rights and equality of women.

This sent a clear message to the Islamic fundamentalists that the U.S. would not come to the shah's aid. The irony here is that, according to "The Real Jimmy Carter" by Steven Hayward, Weyerhaeuser fellow at the American Enterprise Institute: "(Ayatollah) Khomeini's regime executed more people in its first year in power than the shah's SAVAK had allegedly killed in the previous 25 years." READ MORE

Khomeini was a human rights nightmare. When he overthrew the shah in February 1979, he established the first modern Islamic regime, a model for the Taliban and the jihadists to follow. And when our embassy was stormed that November and 52 American hostages were held for 444 days, lack of U.S. resolve was confirmed in the jihadist mind.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Soviet Union, seeing us so willingly abandon a staunch ally, quickly invaded Afghanistan, and it was the resistance to the Soviet invasion that helped give birth to the Taliban. The Iranian revolution led to the Iraq-Iran war that took 1 million lives and encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait to strengthen his position.

That in turn led to Operation Desert Storm and bases in Saudi Arabia that fueled fanatical Islamist resentment, one of the reasons given by Osama bin Laden for striking at America, the Great Satan.

Now we are about to face a nuclear Iran as we are engaged in a great war on terror, prisoners of which are being housed at Guantanamo, where alleged "mishandling" of the Quran is the subject of more international opprobrium than the sawing off of innocents' heads or the strapping of bombs onto children's stomachs in Iraq.

If the U.S. had stuck by the shah and his successors, the history of the last 25 years in the Middle East and here at home would have been very different. As noted by Hayward, who has also written books on Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill, the fruits of Jimmy Carter's Iran disaster are with us still, spawning the rise of radical Islam, terrorism, the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Carter and the usual gaggle of left-wing political groups are concerned that the human rights of Guantanamo prisoners are being violated. Isn't that where all this began?