Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Rogue state"

Could we please stop talking about how Iran is a "rogue state" like it's the only one on Earth? Let's take Zimbabwe, where the current government has undertaken an intense and borderline unbelievable campaign of suppression to further its stated intent of remaining in power forever and ever. Or Burma, where the military junta moved the capital out of paranoia and has kept the country's elected leader under house arrest for more years than I have fingers. Or, for Christ's sake, Turkmenistan, where the demented leader has banned opera, libraries, and beards, and recommends that people chew on bones instead of going to the dentist. Seriously, I am not making this stuff up.

Iran has a nutjob for a president. But--and this is the key--he has no real power. He doesn't have his finger on any big red nuclear button. He's all talk and no walk. I don't think heads of state should be able to talk about wiping their neighbors off the map without feeling any international repercussions. But Iran isn't any more of a "rogue state" than its neighbors in the middle east or any one of the dozens of other oppressive regimes around the world. As for nuclear weapons, you know who else has them? Pakistan, home of Al Qaeda. And also, North Korea, a country we have tried to bribe time after time after time to stop.

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