Rights and Stupidities: Why Would Iran's Disputed Election Justify Dismissing an International Treaty?


Sometimes the best way to expose the incoherence of a foreign policy argument is to simply identify a parallel in the domestic sphere.

On Foreign Policy's blog, David Rothkopf argues that if you have a binding contract with someone, and that person breaks a wholly unrelated contract with another party -- something that has nothing to do with you -- then you are, in turn, fully justified in violating the terms of the agreement you have with that person. Ridiculous notion, yes, but this is the foreign policy realm, where such assertions are made with some frequency.

The rights of Iranians vs. Iran's "right" to enrich nuclear materials

At the very least, Iran's election results are under a cloud. But evidence certainly seems to be mounting that there was considerable intimidation, systematic efforts to quash the ability of the opposition campaign to spread its message in the days prior to the election, and likely voter fraud. Further, President Ahmadinejad certainly didn't do anything to help his already shredded credibility with his nonsensical Sunday news conference in which among other things he asserted Iranians weren't divided by the election while violent clashes took place in the streets.

These circumstances raise an important question. Given the apparent disregard for the rights of its own citizens exhibited by the Iranian regime, will the Obama administration rethink its stance vis á vis the Iranians?

The prevailing U.S. view, articulated by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry last week, is that the Iranians have a "right" to uranium enrichment.

Scare quotes around the word "right" notwithstanding, this isn't just the "prevailing U.S. view," it's spelled out explicitly in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, an international agreement ratified by the U.S. Congress and thus the law of the land. But for Rothkopf, the law is apparently fungible, as long as we're talking about a regime he doesn't like.

He continues ...

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