THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT classifies Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria as sponsors of terrorism—The Maleficent Seven, as it were.
Sponsorship of terrorism is not The Maleficent Seven’s only commonality. Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria are also totalitarian regimes:
- If a Cuban criticizes Fidel Castro, he may be imprisoned for "disrespect" or "enemy propaganda." If a group of Cubans gathers to demand the release of this Cuban, they may be imprisoned for "illicit association." If a Cuban disgusted with this repression desires to live elsewhere, he cannot leave the island without permission.
- Iran’s theocracy under "Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suppresses any idea disparate from its dogma. Its Press Law criminalizes "subjects that might damage the foundation of the Islamic Republic," and its constitution forbids publication of ideas "contrary to Islamic principles." Last year, Iran’s Press Court shut down dozens of newspapers and tried many journalists. Likewise, assemblies are permissible only if "they do not violate the principles of Islam."
- Last year, the Iraqi militia Feda'iyye Saddam beheaded obstetrician Najat Mohammad Haydar, Fatima 'Abdallah 'Abd al-Rahman, Shadya Shaker Mahmoud, Iman Qassem Ahmad, and dozens more women. The militia perpetrated the executions after the women were accused of prostitution.
- If a woman in Libya wishes to leave the country, she must obtain permission from her husband. Exit permits are required for foreign travel. Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi’s 32-year-old Jamahiriya has thus made the revolutionary achievement of national enslavement.
- Under Kim Jong Il’s autocracy, a North Korean who seeks political asylum may be executed. The regime’s constitution prescribes adherence to "socialist norms of life," and violation consigns one to North Korea’s gargantuan gulag. (For a recent testament, see Chol-hwan Kang’s Aquariums of Pyongyang.) Freedom House observes, "North Korea is arguably the most tightly controlled country in the world."
- A Sudanese Muslim reads the New Testament. It persuades him to convert to Christianity. Under Omar al-Bashir’s Islamist regime, this individual has committed a capital crime
- Hafez al-Assad died last June, but Syria remains despotic under his son, Bashar, whose Baathist command ideology suffocates independent expression. The U.S. State Department notes in its 2001 human rights report on Syria: "The Government strictly controls the dissemination of information and permits no written or oral criticism of the President, the President's family, the Ba'th Party, the military, or the legitimacy of the regime." The regime also persecutes Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It is unsurprising that these slave pens furnish territorial and material support to mass murderers such as Osama bin Laden who seek the West’s obliteration. Their sponsorship of terrorism abroad stems from the internal terrorism that maintains their tyranny. (Terrorism is often construed as an exclusively external pathology, but its definition does not foreclose internal application. Indeed, terrorism is the sine qua non of totalitarianism.)
Consider the analogy of a wife-beater. In Sam Raimi’s The Gift, Keanu Reeves plays Donnie Barksdale, an irascible reprobate who treats his wife like a punching bag. Lo and behold, Barksdale inflicts violence upon others. The domestic abuse expands into external aggression, both rooted in a belligerent disposition.
The aforementioned tyrannies systematize this belligerence against their populations and are only too happy to export it against the free world. Therefore, to modify Martin Luther King, Jr., tyranny anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere.
Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky recently observed that "only when the world is free will the world be safe" (The Wall Street Journal, "What Are We Fighting For?" October 10). It is a simple truth, and its appreciation is essential to American victory and global harmony.
For further discussion of freedom’s correlation to peace and tyranny’s correlation to war, see R.J. Rummel’s Power Kills: Democracy as a Method of Nonviolence.