If we lived in a just world, those frowsy-looking Iranian mullahs would be strung up by their thumbs and horsewhipped (or worse), a democratic government would be installed in Iran, and an international group would be appointed to ensure no nuclear weapon is ever developed there.
Furthermore, that tinpot despot in North Korea would be given a swift kick in the behind and exiled to the sacred slope where his special rice is grown. He would spend the rest of his life growing food for the people he has been starving in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle and build up his massive army.
I’m sure you can think of many other evil dictators who should be punished, many other oppressed populations that should be freed and fed. The question is how?
The United Nations can’t do it. The way it’s set up, the international body is almost useless. For one thing, the Security Council is immobilized by the conflicting agendas of its members. On one side are America, France and the United Kingdom; on the other are Russia and China. And to ensure gridlock, each of the members has veto power.
Some people in the United States, inexplicably including several respected politicians, think they should take on the job. After all, that’s what America is all about, isn’t it? From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, and all that, right?
Sorry, folks. America can’t police the world. It’s too big a job. You could spend the next century trying to help oppressed people without even covering the continent of Africa. It would be like trying to save a crowd of drowning people single-handed. You would surely end up drowning, yourself.
And there’s also the question of America’s “national interests.” Some of the despots who rule their people with an iron fist are its allies and trading partners. The United States would be foolhardy to try and introduce democracy and civil rights in China, for example. And you won’t hear much about oppression of the people, especially minorities, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The president there is supposed to be “pro-West,” and it wouldn’t be politically useful to offend him. And while Russia is no friend of Western democracy, Europe and Israel need Russia’s oil, and America needs Russia’s support – or at least its restraint – in dealing with diplomatic issues.
That’s one reason you haven’t heard of any American or Israeli bombers taking off for Iran. Russia has a decades-old alliance with Iran, and I understand it’s Russia that has supplied Iran with the materials and technology for its nuclear program. (Photo at left shows Russia’s Vladimir Putin palling around with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)
As for North Korea, I would think the U.S. needs China’s permission to take out Kim Jong-il (pictured above in a relaxed moment). China was the force behind North Korea’s aggression back in the Fifties, and it’s China that has been propping up Kim’s isolated and impoverished regime.
It’s frustrating, I know, folks. It would feel so good to “bomb, bomb, bomb” Iran – or at least the Iranian government (surely, you wouldn’t want to bomb those poor protesters, who have endured so much pain already). But there’s not much you can do, except gnash your teeth and shake your fists. Any progress in Iran – or in other oppressed areas of the world – will have to come from within, with the help of more enlightened international cooperation from without. As long as great powers like Russia and China remain oppressive and despotic themselves, worldwide democracy and freedom will be a long time coming.