On January 3, 2020, the U.S. military, following President Trump’s orders, killed Major General Qassim Suleimani, respected leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Groups’ Qud Force.
I never understood the morality of foreign policy, but I’m getting the hang of it, thanks to the little-known pocket manual “The U.S. Holy Code Book of Double Standard Morality.”
According to U.S. Code, U.S. troops’ killing of Suleimani is honorable because he’s considered responsible for killing Americans, but if Iranians were to kill his American equivalent, the CIA director, whose role in killing is not subject to evaluation, this would be reprehensible.
Similarly, crippling Iran with sanctions is considered sensible. Consider what the 1990-2003 sanctions did to Iraq: By 1997, 500,000 children had died from malnutrition. Sewage spilled into rivers, causing typhoid and dysentery epidemics. Tens of thousands of Iraqis and their livestock died from lack of medicine. Crime soared. Families drank contaminated water and ate bread of flour and wood dust in homes without electricity.
U.S. Code says such sanctions are for the best, but similar sanctions against Americans for the illegal coups, torture, drone attacks, invasions, and other international crimes of their unbridled government would be heartless.
U.S. possession of 4,000 nukes, we are told, ensures security, as does U.S. contamination of Afghanistan, Iraq, and U.S. troops with radioactive depleted uranium. With the exception of an alarmed John F. Kennedy’s adamant opposition, Israel’s secret possession of an estimated 80 nukes has also been considered a blessing. Iranian nuclear development, however, is reckless.
According to U.S. Code, the British Balfour Declaration’s granting a homeland to Zionist Jews in Palestine was benevolent, but Britain’s goal of limiting Zionist immigration so as not to displace peasant Arabs was malevolent.
Zionists’ forceful displacement or killing by 1949 of 1 million Arabs is dismissed as benign. Moreover, the Jewish extremist organizations that terrorized Britain during WWII for trying to limit Zionist immigration – the Stern Gang led by Yitzhak Shamir and the Irgun led by Menachem Begin – were evidently so chivalrous that both leaders became Israeli prime ministers. But anyone, including Iranian-supported Hamas, who militantly supports the Balfour Declaration’s forgotten pledge to protect non-Jewish Palestinians’ rights is a terrorist.
During both World Wars, the Allies’ invasions of neutral Iran for oil and railroads were noble-minded. And while Iran’s failure to willingly open its borders to help the Allies was deemed self-centered, U.S. failure to open its borders to help thousands of Jews escape Nazi extermination was considered only prudent to preserve American jobs and Protestant culture.
In the 1950s, profit-seeking foreign corporations who dominated Iran’s economy were kind, while Iranians who tried to remove foreign infiltration were selfish. Consequently, U.S. engineering conglomerate Overseas Consultants Inc.’s lucrative plan, represented by future CIA Director Allen Dulles, to develop Iran for the Shah was enlightening, but Mohammed Mossadegh’s popular nationalist movement that rejected funding for the plan was lowdown, as was his 1951 nationalization of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.
U.S. Code maintains that the CIA’s 1953 toppling of the highly popular Mossadegh by bribing newspapers to publish anti-Mossadegh articles, paying mullahs to condemn Mossadegh, developing a network of anti-Mossadegh military commanders, buying an Iranian mob to create a pro-Shah parade, paying gangs to terrorize Teheran, and killing 300 Iranians in the process was clever, as was the U.S. government’s re-installing the Shah with his oppression, greed, and massive procurement of U.S. weapons.
On the other hand, Iranian students’ taking Americans hostage in 1979, with one student shouting, “We will teach the CIA not to interfere with our country,” was inappropriate.And while Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of the oligarchy of Kuwait was inexcusable and warranted the one-sided slaughter of a US counter invasion in 1991, his 1980 invasion of Iran and use of chemical weapons were convenient and merited US assistance.
U.S. Holy Code instructs us that while some killing is bad, other killing is good. U.S.-supported Israel’s killing of Arabs is good. Iranian-supported Hezbollah’s killing of Israelis is bad. U.S.-supported Saudi Arabia’s killing of Houthi Yemenis is good. Iranian-supported Houthi Yemenis’ killing of Yemenis is bad.
Militarily surrounding Iran –with U.S. troops and bases to the East in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to the North in Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, to the West in Turkey, Iraq, and Kuwait, and to the South in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman – is something that Iran should serenely take in stride.
But the U.S.S.R.’s planned deployment of missiles in Cuba in 1962 is cause for WWIII, and the potential for North Korean missiles to reach the U.S. coast is justification for enormous alarm if not a U.S. invasion. According to Holy Code, those who do not allow themselves toremain vulnerable to U.S. attack are only proving their malice.
9/11 was appalling when terrorists killed 3,000 primarily U.S. civilians, but the killing of more than 300,000 Mid-Eastern civilians and more than 250,000 Mid-Eastern opposition forces in post-9/11 US war zones only brings us closer to worldwide justice, harmony, and freedom.
Iran, like some U.S.-funded allies, has a despicable problem of internal oppression and torture. But let’s look at international behavior. Has Iran ever done to the U.S. and Britain what they’ve done to Iran?Did Iran ever invade them? Did ittopple a U.S. president?Did it train U.S. internal security forces as the CIA trained the Shah’s brutal SAVAK?
So why does any U.S. politician have the right to condemn Iran as aggressive and deserving of attack? By what logic can any U.S. politician insist that the U.S. has proven its right to retain sovereignty andpossess nuclear weapons while Iran has not?
When has Iran ever harmed another nation more than it has been harmed itself?
But U.S. Holy Code says that line of reasoning is irrelevant.
While Iran’s strict oppression,systematic torture of Iranian prisoners, and funding of militants abroad are deplorable and hurt Iranians by depleting Iran’s budget, the U.S. depletion of the American budget by spending trillions on invasions, committing coups, establishing black sites abroad, dismissing judicial rights prior to arrest and imprisonment, ignoring all rights prior to execution, terrorizing the Mid-East with drones, funding dirty wars in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and exporting U.S. weapons worldwide is high-minded.
Above all, U.S. Holy Code declares: Muslims seeking to base their government upon the Sharia – often in reaction to corruption and oppression – are nothing but crazy extremists whose interpretation of religion provokes them to behave with violent cruelty.
But we can rest assured that U.S. presidents, policymakers, and occupation leaders who feel convinced their coups and invasions are blessed by God and their nation is specially created by God with a mission to bring freedom and light to the world – these noble Americans advocate violence that has a divine purpose, like the violence of those U.S. troops who, prior to brutally attacking Fallujah, were told by their navy chaplain the absurd logic that they, like Jesus entering Jerusalem, are tools of mercy, in a spiritual battle to break the bounds of Hell.
What I find most troublesome about Double Standard Morality is that when morality is determined by the identity of the actor and not the act, you’ve got a cruel case of selfish immorality and a dangerous sense of divinely inspired self-righteousness that hamstring our ability to ever achieve understanding and peace with the enemy.
But don’t think too hard about all that. Just keep your thinking shallow, swallow what you’re told, and soon you won’t resist the U.S. Holy Code.
Kristin Young Christman is a contributing author to the forthcoming anthology Bending the Arc: Striving for Peace and Justice in the Age of Endless War(SUNY Press, June 2020). She has degrees in Russian, Slavic languages, and public administration from Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University at Albany.
500,000 Iraqi children died from malnutrition- Dilip Hiro, Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm, p. 143.
Results of sanctions on Iraq, 70,000 died from lack of medicine, livestock – Hiro, Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm,pp. 8-10, 15.
Eating bread with wood dust during sanctions – Deborah Ellis, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees, pp. 44-45.
Israel – estimated 80 nukes – online – Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” Federation of American Scientists, current update November 2018, https://fas.org.
1 million Arabs displaced or killed – William Cleveland, A History of the Middle East, pp. 245, 255.
Irgun and Stern Gang – Cleveland, op. cit., pp. 253, 257-60, 263
Balfour Declaration – Cleveland, op. cit., p. 244
Overseas Consultants Inc. 7-year plan for $650 million – Stephen Kinzer, The Brothers, p. 119-23.
1953 Iran coup –
Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, pp. 507, 510-11.
William Blum, Killing Hope, pp. 68-69.
Kinzer, The Brothers, pp. 145-46.
Iranian nationalization of oil – Hiro, Holy Wars, The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism, p. 154-55
Shah spent $19 billion on weapons 1973-78 – Thomas G. Paterson et al., American Foreign Policy: A History Since 1900, pp. 617-18.
US training SAVAK beginning in 1957 – Paterson et al., op. cit., pp. 617-18
Iranian student quote – Paterson et al., op. cit., p. 618
Interesting paper on skewed US media coverage of 1979 hostage crisis – Monica Coscia, “The Fateful Fifty-Two: How the American Media Sensationalized the Iranian Hostage Crisis,” Boston College, August 20, 2016, https://www.e-ir.info/2016/08/20 and https://dornsife.usc.edu
US troops entering Fallujah – breaking the bonds of Hell – Robert Kaplan, “Five Days in Fallujah,” The Atlantic, July/August 2004, https://www.theatlantic.com.
Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on Iraqis – Epstein et al., op. cit., p. 168.
More than 300,000 Mid-Eastern civilians killed, more than 250,000 opposition forces killed since 9/11 from US War on Terror – online at Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University, Costs of War Project, chart with statistics November 13, 2019, by Neta Crawford and Catherine Lutz
US troops and bases surrounding Iran – Tim Murphy, “The price of US global policing,” Brown Alumni Magazine, November/December 2018; also double-checked on other online sources.
As examples, US policymakers who have believed their policies have been following God’s path have included President Wilson, the Dulles brothers, President Bush Jr., and occupation proconsul L. Paul Bremer III.