There are many ironies surrounding the capture of Saddam Hussein. One of the greatest ironies however, is that today the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are calling for justice in Iraq - as if they have given justice to the Iranian people.
Perhaps the leaders of the Islamic Republic need to be reminded that they are the most dangerous threat to global peace and security; not by chance, but because they have cultivated that reputation. For over 24 years, the Iranian people have been robbed of their justice, their freedoms and their most basic fundamental human rights. We should remind the leaders of the regime that they are responsible for the death of hundreds and thousands of innocent people, and the destruction of a developing country, but the days of totalitarian regimes and brutal dictators are over.
Just as the former regime in Iraq posed a decade of defiance to the International Community, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been defiant for more than two decades. Twice the amount of time the Hussein regime had to develop, conceal and use Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Recently, the regime signed a nuclear protocol set forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This agreement requires the regime to allow unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities. The regime insists that any nuclear program it has is for peaceful purposes only and that it is not developing such technology for weapons. The regime had previously delayed signing the agreement which now becomes part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The terms set forth in the agreement are almost identical to the ones the former Iraqi regime consented to. Snap-inspections, unannounced presence and the authority to search anywhere the weapons inspectors choose. To many skeptical observers, this gesture would be seen as a more cautionary warning than a positive step towards deterring Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If we learned anything from our experience in Iraq, deception is not as difficult as once anticipated. Weapons of mass destruction and their programs can be concealed and hidden almost effortlessly. For almost six months, the United Nations weapons inspectors were sent on a chase throughout Iraq for weapons that were aggressively being hidden. None have been found to date. Iraq is roughly the size of California while Iran is more than twice its size with three times the population. Maybe, now that Saddam is captured, reality is sinking in for the leaders of the Islamic Republic that their days are numbered.
Domestically, the Islamic Republic has failed on every level: the economy, healthcare, human rights, education, and the judicial system. More than half of Iran's population lives under the poverty line and only a fraction of those who wish to attend college can afford it.
The Iranian judicial system today is based not on the principles of equality and liberty, but on the ideologies and philosophical translations of religious fundamentalist. A legal system which has no boundaries and has currently imprisoned over 30,000 political prisoners lays the foundations for the destructive polices of the regime to be carried out. Women in Iranian society are stoned to death for crimes of "infidelity" and thieves are punished by having their hands cut off.
After the brutal Iran-Iraq war which lasted eight years and resulted in over one million deaths, the two neighboring countries shared more in common than seen plainly on the surface. Both were key strategic countries geo-politically, shared a porous border and had natural oil wealth. More significantly however, was the fact that both were oppressed nations isolated from the outside world that shared the same aspirations to live freely.
As the current events around the world unfold before our eyes, we are being forced to confront the harsh realities of terrorism, the abuse of human rights, and the tyranny of brutal regimes. We have learned that such problems must be confronted where they exist.
Just as terrorist have no place in the civilized world, neither do the medieval laws such regimes impose on their people. With the fall of the Taliban and now the capture of Saddam Hussein, we have also learned that tyranny is stoppable, that liberty is possible and that when the people are given the freedom of choice, only then is freedom, justice and prosperity made attainable.
A major obstacle in confronting the regime in Iran has been the inaction of the international community.
In September, the IAEA gave the regime in Iran until October 31, 2003 to open up its nuclear weapons programs and all materials that may have been exposed to the enriched uranium used to make Weapons of Mass Destruction. The IAEA which was unsuccessful in Iraq not only failed to enforce this deadline on the regime, but has refused to report its noncompliance to the Security Council.
The European Union, which for many years has adhered to a policy of constructive engagement with Iran, continues to support a regime that the United States recognizes as the most active state sponsor of terrorism. The EU believes that in order to improve relations with Iran, we must engage them and in turn, the leaders of this regime will change their policies and behaviors. In reality, the regime has not changed and the EU continues to embrace the position which serves in their best economic interest, rather than on principled interests such as human rights and peace.
The regime's continued financial support of terrorist and their organizations has allowed terrorism in the region to continue and flourish and its pursuit of WMD to resume without any regard to international pressure.
For the leaders of the regime to call Saddam a brutal dictator would be an accurate and unambiguous statement. For responsible leaders of the international community to call the Islamic Republic anything other than what it is would be a great mistake and one that will have an unimaginable impact on the world for decades to come.
Let's not be fooled by finger pointing tyrants demanding justice for another tyrant. Let's not be deceived by the masters of deception. And let's not be mistaken to call the Islamic Republic something they are not.
Most importantly, let's remind the leaders of the Islamic Republic that they too will be brought to justice.