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Specks and Beams in U.S. Foreign Policy


John Limbert, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, is asking the UN to investigate human-rights abuses in Iran by that country’s dictatorial regime. Ever since protests against Iran’s fraudulent presidential elections broke out, the Iranian dictators have been rounding up people, torturing and raping them, and even executing them.

But I wonder if Limbert is going to seek the same type of inquiry with respect to his own government, which for years has engaged in a spree of kidnapping, torture, rendition, rape, sex abuse, indefinite detention, assassination, and execution.

Yes, I know, Limbert would respond that the people that the U.S. government has done these things to are Terrorists while the victims in Iran are Dissidents. But doesn’t the Iranian government also consider its targets to be Terrorists who are using violence to bring down the government?

Moreover, isn’t it the position of both the U.S. government and the Iranian government that all that is needed to go after a Terrorist is a governmental accusation rather than a trial?

Those who claim that U.S. officials can only exercise their war-on-terror powers against foreigners abroad forget the U.S. government’s claim that in the war on terror, the entire world, including the United States, is the battlefield.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the UN and actually believe that the United States would be better off exiting that corrupt political and bureaucratic body. But I do think it’s important to point out the hypocrisy of people like Limbert, who spend their time pointing a finger at brutal foreign regimes while remaining mute about the three fingers pointing back at them. In fact, that sort of hypocrisy is one of the principal reasons that so many foreigners dislike the U.S. government.

It’s amusing that Limbert also remained mute about the Iranian dictator who was in power prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution that succeeded in installing the extremist Islamic regime into power. That would be the Shah of Iran, who was doing the same things that Limbert wants the UN to investigate the current regime for.

The most likely reason that Limbert remains mute on that subject is threefold:

One, the Shah was installed into power by the CIA, thanks to a coup in 1953 that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, from power. Why did the CIA do that, especially given the commitment to democracy that purportedly characterizes the U.S. government? To restore oil rights to the British Empire, after Mossadegh had nationalized the industry.

Two, Limbert was working in Iran for the U.S. government during the 1979 coup, when he was one of the U.S. officials taken hostage by Iranian revolutionaries. Limbert obviously wishes to remain mute on the reasons for that revolution because it would entail explaining why the Iranian people were so angry at not only the Shah but also the United States — that is, because it was the U.S. government that supported the brutality that the Shah inflicted on the Iranian people, the same type of brutality that Limbert now wants the UN to investigate in Iran.

Three, confronting the issue of the 1953 coup and the 1979 revolution it ultimately produced might cause Americans to see that it was the U.S. government’s foreign policy of interventionism that was responsible for the destruction of democracy in Iran and the rise of the extremist Islamic regime that is now one of the principal targets of the U.S. Empire.

So, when the U.S. government does bad things to people, U.S. officials are supposed to remain mute. And when U.S.-supported dictators (e.g., the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, etc) do bad things to people, it’s also important for them to remain mute. But when a dictatorship that is out of favor with the U.S. Empire does these things, it becomes time to investigate.

As diplomat Limbert is showing us, it’s always easier to pull the speck out of someone else’s eye rather than the beam out of one’s own eye.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.