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     Jul 23, 2008
Duplicity without borders
By Hossein Askari

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to the Israeli parliament, talking of peace and vowing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. United States President George W Bush promises to protect US allies in the Middle East from external aggression. French President Nicholas Sarkozy assures Israel of his country's unflinching support and protection to live in peace.

Western leaders pledge their opposition to nuclear proliferation and promise to protect all countries from attack; they declare a goal of peace and stability in the Middle East, and promise to


work tirelessly for a more democratic Middle East that embraces the rule of law. This is what they say.

These same leaders sell billions of dollars in sophisticated and deadly weaponry to their client states in the Middle East. They sell weapons of mass destruction to those whom they support to use against adversaries. They, and their regional allies, even threaten the use of tactical nuclear weapons against perceived enemies. They invade countries without legal basis. They trample the Geneva Convention. They support covert operations. They threaten regime change against those who don't follow their line. They support all manner of tyrants to promote their short-term interests, robbing millions of their freedom. This is what they do.

What they say and what they do have little, if anything, in common. And for this reason and more, the Middle East, and more specifically the Persian Gulf region, is in the worst shape it has been in living memory, if not in centuries. The actions of the world powers have made the region highly volatile. Today's Persian Gulf is arguably the most militarized and undemocratic region on the face of the Earth. Its people are impoverished and its instability may well ignite the first use of nuclear weaponry since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and spark a global war to end all wars.

Does it have to be this way? The answer is a resounding no.

The world community, that is, all of us as individuals and the media, must shame the world's powers to finally do what they say. They must set aside their duplicitous actions and start acting in the interest of mankind. They must stop taking action solely on behalf of their corporate clients and for electoral votes.

The policies required for a turnaround are simple:
  • The world must abstain from interference in the internal affairs of all countries in the region.
  • We must embargo the sale of all weaponry to the region, except that needed for policing.
  • We must declare and enforce the entire region as a nuclear (and all weapons of mass destruction) free zone.
  • We must protect the borders of every country from external aggression according to the three principles above.
  • We must adopt an economic embargo against any country that does not follow the above principles toward the region.

    All permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, individually and collectively (the US, Britain, France, China and Russia) and the United Nations General Assembly must adopt these simple, honest principles.

    Our world is too fragile and interconnected to accommodate duplicity on any front, be it the protection of the environment, the pursuit of international justice, the eradication of terrorism and aggression or the promotion of social justice and prosperity for all mankind.

    If we are to achieve peace in this world of ours, we must practice what we preach, or, in other words, do what we say. It is time for the world to replace duplicity sans frontieres with decency and even-handedness.

    Hossein Askari is professor of international business and international affairs at George Washington University.

    (Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

    Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

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