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It is ultimately all about the failure of the rule of law and process to address grievances


February 7, 2006

We live in a very lewd – nay, pornographic -- times. The inflamed Moslem masses – always in a mood for jihad – are torching people and places in the name defending the character of the Prophet Muhammed and Islam in reaction to cartoons about both in a Danish newspaper and then republished in other venues.

No word in Farsi defines pornography like the expression bi-haya-i, which means “absence of shame.” The ever-angry Moslem jihadi is steeped in it to the point of hypocrisy. I recall from my limited foray into the study of Islamic cultural attributes that any pictorial depiction of the human form – prophet or not – be it drawing, photography or film, is prohibited.

Of course, this proscription does not apply to a Moslem who takes a hostage, parades her  in front of a camera and then executes him on film. But then the jihadi is at war, not unlike our beloved President Bush, who too thinks he is allowed to break his own laws in the name of a greater cause!

The Danish Affair has eclipsed the Iranian nuclear case, which in itself is another example of the pornographic times in which we live. Here is a country that is signatory to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but who is suspected of making an atomic bomb in contravention of its obligations under the treaty and at a huge cost to its national treasury, when it probably could obtain a device or bomb for a lot cheaper and sooner on the international market. While President Bush has called for a greater reliance on nuclear power to meet America’s insatiable appetite for energy, the Bush Administration wishes to deny Iran nuclear power technology altogether.

The referral of the Iranian nuclear case to the United Nations is reminiscent of two earlier referrals of Iranian perceived mischief to the world body -- the Iranian nationalization of the British oil interests in 1951 and the landing of Iranian troops on the Great Tonb and Abu Musa islands in November 1971.

In the first case, the Iranian delegate, Mr. Ardalan, questioned the jurisdiction of the UN Security Council on the grounds that Iran’s actions had not produced any threat to international peace and security. This was followed a few days later by an appearance by Mossadeq himself and then by a few choice words by his second chair Allahyar Saleh. In the face of a Soviet veto, all that came from that referral was US- French resolution that suspended debate in order to allow Iran and Britain to negotiate their differences. A short while later, the International Court of Justice decided on the cowards’ way out and declared that it had no jurisdiction to handle the case. 

The second referral of an Iranian action to the UN Security Council came in December 1971. After a few passionate speeches from both sides and others, the Council adopted a Somali resolution suspending debate and consideration in order to allow negotiations and third-part efforts to bear fruit.  

The referral this time over the nuclear issue is a bit different in that the times and semantics of the game have changed. Russia cannot be counted upon to support Iran, nor can one expect China to imperil its strategic interest on the account of Iran. The “burden of proof” which normally rests with the plaintiff has become a respondent’s charge in cases where the respondent is asked to prove the existence of a non-existent, a negative, as it were.

In the Security Council, instead of  the International Atomic Energy Agency or the US and its friends in the “international community” proving that Iran has violated the NPT, Iran will be asked to prove that its has not! By the same token, and reminiscent of the precedent set in the Iraq case, instead of proving that Iran is building an atomic bomb, Iran will be asked to show that it is not!  

When it is all said and done, the evidence will show that the recent flack over the Danish cartoons was not as much a reaction to the depiction or ridiculing of the prophet or Islam, but that the Danish government rebuffed the reasonable request of the Moslem community leaders in Denmark to meet with the officials in order to register in a civil manner the community’s objection. In the nuclear case, the International Court of Justice should decide the alleged Iranian wrongdoing under the NPT in the first instance.

It is ultimately all about the failure of the rule of law and process to address grievances. Because he views his cause as just, no Moslem is more dangerous or sanguine than the one spurned. An Iranian nationalist, in tie or turban, is no less so in the face of injustice, but should remain at all times ba haya and civil.

Guive Mirfendereski is a professorial lecturer in international relations and law and is the principal artisan at Born in Tehran in 1952, he is a graduate of Georgetown University's College of Arts and Sciences (BA), Tufts University's Fletcher School (PhD, MALD, MA) and Boston College Law School (JD). He is the author of A Diplomatic History of the Caspian Sea >>> Features in

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