In a way, I admire his clear declaration. At least you know where he stands.
The U.N. has imposed sanctions on Iran, twice, and now we're into the second day of talk with the European Union's foreign policy chief, about Tehran's nuclear program: That Tehran didn't acknowledge until it was uncovered several years ago.
America and its allies say that the ayatollahs of Iran want to make nuclear weapons. Iran's rulers say 'no.' They say that the major oil-exporting nation needs nuclear reactors to provide power to its people.
Here's what President Ahmadinejad said: "The so-called dossier at the Security Council is a pile of papers that have no value. They can add to those worthless papers everyday because it has no effect on the will of the Iranian nation," at least according to Iranian state television.
I don't often agree with Ahmadinejad, or the ayatollahs who actually run Iran, but this time I think he's got a point.
Another man, a little over ninety years ago, had a few words about how useful ink on paper is. It was 1914, an eventful year:
- June 28: Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated
- August 3: Germany declared war on France
- August 4: Germany declared war on Belgium
- September 15: first western front trenches dug
"In the first place, events have clearly demonstrated that treaties not backed by force are not worth the paper upon which they are written. Events have clearly shown that it is the idlest folly to assert, and little short of treason against the nation for statesmen who should know better to pretend, that the salvation of any nation under existing world conditions can be trusted to treaties, to little bits of paper with names signed on them, but without any efficient force behind them. The United States will be guilty of criminal misconduct, we of this generation will show ourselves traitors to our children and our children's children, if, as conditions are now, we do not keep ourselves ready to defend our hearths, trusting in great crises not to treaties, not to the ineffective good will of outsiders, but to our own stout hearts and strong hands."I don't often find myself on the same page as Presidents Ahmadinejad and Theodore Roosevelt. But this is one of those times.
Theodore Roosevelt, writing in The New York Times (October 18, 1914 Magazine Section, Page SM1) (Previewed in The New York Times Archives)
Resolutions and treaties are are effective: as long as the nations affected are law-abiding, and want to cooperate. If the nations affected don't want to comply, resolutions and treaties are no more valuable than so much scrap paper.
Unless there is force to back up the agreements.
I heartily agree with those who believe that it would be nice if everyone were nice.
This isn't a perfect world, though, so accommodations have to be made for nations whose leaders want to bring death and disruption. Unhappily, some of those accommodations involve using military force to stop terrorists and others who don't like freedom.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.