How to Get
Rationalizing war against Iran
Michael M. Rosen
Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's Intellectual
Property columnist, is an attorney in San Diego.
January 12, 2007
The situation in Iran seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control. On top of everything that's taken place there since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ascended to power in 2005, consider the following events from just the past month:
· Ahmadinejad hosted a conference dedicated to denying the Holocaust that attracted the likes of David Duke and Robert Faurisson but barred a prominent Israeli Arab scholar who dissented from their orthodoxy.
· The Tehran tyrant's top aide claimed that Hitler himself was Jewish and that his ambivalent feelings about his Judaism informed his "treatment" of the Jews (but there was no Holocaust, of course).
· Israeli military sources apparently leaked a plan to the Times of London that, if diplomacy fails, the IDF is prepared to drop tactical nuclear (bunker-busting) bombs on Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz and Bushehr.
· Ahmadinejad is planning a victory tour through the Latin American countries whose leaders, including the newly elected Hugo "Smell of Sulfur" Chavez, have "defied" the United States.
So what is to be done?
I have little doubt that, ultimately, we are headed toward a bloody confrontation with Iran that will result in significant loss of life: Iranian, American, and Israeli. Such a skirmish, horrifying as it will likely be, will still prove more palatable than allowing the lunatic Shia messianists in Tehran to control the Middle East through nuclear blackmail. Only a second Iranian revolution can forestall such a conflagration.
But short of that, I believe that we must exhaust every possible diplomatic and international legal option before - as Rocky Balboa's corner man Duke instructs him in the latest film - we "build some hurtin' bombs."
Still, we have little reason to hope for success in the current effort to isolate Iran as a country through economic sanctions at the UN Security Council. The current sanctions, toothless as they are, took more than a year to be implemented, and only after major concessions on the part of the United States.
Instead, a few legal scholars have begun pushing a promising new approach: try Ahmedinejad and his ilk on charges of inciting genocide.
Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which has been in force since 1951, deems punishable the "direct and public incitement to commit genocide."
This provision has been applied to numerous conflicts, including the notorious Rwandan genocide, where 800,000 Tutsi were murdered at the hands of the Hutu. In that tragedy, Hutu-operated media outlets like the Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines repeatedly called for the murder of Tutsi neighbors. Numerous radio station executives were convicted of public incitement to genocide in the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. Similar stories will undoubtedly emerge from the gruesome genocide unfolding in slow motion in Darfur.
In this case, Ahmadinejad has made no secret of his desire to wipe the Jewish State off the map. On numerous occasions, he has directly and publicly presented this threat. The maniacal mechanical engineer (as Michael Savage has dubbed him) was only echoing similar statements by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ("there is only one solution to the Middle East problem, namely the annihilation and destruction of the Jewish state") and Ahmadinejad's "moderate" rival Hasehmi Rafsanjani ("The use of a nuclear bomb against Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas [any Israeli retaliation] would only damage the world of Islam."). Incidentally, Rafsanjani has an outstanding arrest warrant in Argentina for spearheading the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center in 1994, an act of terror that killed 85 and wounded 300.
The provisions of the Genocide Convention extend to heads-of-state, run-of-the-mill politicians, and private citizens alike: "Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals." Thus, all three of these evil individuals are subject to its strictures.
And according to the Convention, "any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III." Thus, the United States or any of its allies could initiate proceedings before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This is exactly the strategy taken by former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israeli think-tank. On December 14, the group held a symposium in New York dedicated to referring Ahmadinejad to the ICC.
There are, of course, pitfalls to this approach. Many of the Tehran tyrant's apologists claim that he's advocating the destruction of the Israeli state, not the Jewish people; policide, not genocide. After all, they say, plenty of countries, including the United States, have called for the overthrow of a hostile state's regime.
This is balderdash. It's unquestionably clear that the Iranians intend to "wipe out" all of the Jewish people living in Israel, not merely to topple Ehud Olmert's coalition. The language they use ("annihilate," "destroy," "leave nothing on the ground"), their stated development of nukes, and their past actions (including Rafsanjani's in Argentina, thousands of miles from the Zionist regime) unmistakably evince their desire to launch a second Holocaust, even as they abjure the existence of the first.
This isn't a matter of freedom of speech, either. Not even the ACLU could argue with a straight face that the words emanating from Ahmadinejad's mouth are anything but incitement to violent action.
Prosecuting the Iranian inciters has little downside: either it will result in a successful conviction of the evildoers, or it will give the lie to the international community's professed concern for legality and prevention of mass killing. If the UN and its minions can't right this wrong, they will have shown themselves to be demonstrably useless, thus paving the way for more drastic action against Tehran.
As UN Ambassador John Bolton put it at the JCPA symposium: "How was it that [the international community in the past] missed...clear signals from the people who were about to commit acts of great barbarity and atrocity - who never made any effort to conceal what their intentions were?"
How indeed? If we want to avoid the coming firestorm, we have no choice but to take Ahmadinejad and his retinue at their word - and punish them for it.