2007-01-12 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta


Ethical Questions

It is incredible when the White House, the Vatican, 10 Downing Street, the Elysee Palace, the United Nations Secretary General, and the Israeli Prime Minister agree. In December this happened. Their statements criticizing the conference held in Iran denying the historical Shoah were appropriate. Our humanity cries out against the denial of the suffering of the Jewish people. Although many other ethnic groups were victims, Jews were the major targets of racist genocide by the Nazis. Nazism and the final solution proposed by Herr Hitler cannot be forgotten. Iran's heinous conference should be an affront to all people seeking justice and peace.

Recently, the Iraq Study Group presented its report to the decider. The findings the group presented are similar to my analysis of the conflict that were published in this newspaper last year. Iraq presents to this nation an ethical dilemma that appears to grow worse each day. Al-Qaeda's objectives before September 11, 2001 was to have American troops leave Saudi Arabia and bring our military to the soil of Moslem Arabs in order to enrage the Arab street. Our decider has succeeded in meeting that group's objectives. Our troops have been taken out of Saudi Arabia. We are now engaged in Iraq inflaming Moslems all over the Middle East. (Al- Qaeda has other more objectionable goals.) There was no need for the invasion of Iraq. This nation is now involved in a civil war between at least three ethnic groups. Now, our main ally in that part of the world wants us to remain to help the Sunni Moslems. The Saudi royal family has told the administration that our troops must remain in Iraq in order to guarantee the defeat of the Shiite majority in Iraq. Turkey does not want an independent Kurdistan. Many Iraqis are fleeing the nation. Christian minorities in many countries are being persecuted. In the past, their Moslem neighbors tolerated them. Middle East history is a minefield for any Western nation. Our foreign policy cannot be based on the desires of the Saudi royal family.

Pope Benedict XVI's recent pastoral visit to Turkey highlights the difficulty in securing peace between historical foes. His trip was originally meant to increase dialogue and cooperation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. After the Pope's unfortunate homily in Germany regarding faith and reason that infuriated Moslems all over the globe, the visit became a trip of reconciliation between Moslems and the Roman faith. His Holiness's prayer in a mosque was a gesture that should be an example for all believers in one G-D. Moslems consider Jesus to be a prophet in their religion. Mary is revered in their faith. We (Moslem, Christian, Jew) are all children of Abraham. Former President Jimmy Carter wrote a book emphasizing that fact. It is forbidden in the Moslem faith to persecute anyone who believes in one G-D. Is everyone who claims belief in the monotheistic faiths, a believer in tolerance and love? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Our leaders should follow the profile in courage that Pope Benedict demonstrated in Turkey. He stated he respected the followers of Islam but did not retreat in his objective in defending Christian values. He is demanding reciprocity. Many Moslem do not allow Christians to practice their religion on their soil. Courage is demonstrated when core beliefs are not compromised for political, social, or economic gain.

When President Kennedy was a Senator, he wrote a book entitled, "Profiles in Courage." This book, which won a Pulitzer Prize, was a series of short recollections of those who risked political and economic rewards to do what was morally correct. Iranian students who jeered their leader when he spoke at their university were courageous. Their futures could have been damaged by such actions. Recent election results in Iran demonstrate that moderates who want an rapprochement with the west may be the majority of Iranians. The moderates won local municipal elections and may also want their country to be able to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Iranians feel the west does not want their nation to have the benefits of modern scientific advances.

In the past, the British would not allow Iraq to lay rails for a railroad. Recently, the United States overthrow a government that nationalized the oil fields. This nation also supported the Shah who ruled with a heavy hand. Our policy should be to help the moderates and at the same time remain sensitive to their national pride and needs of the Iranian people.

Modern Turkey has a large role to play in the Middle East and Europe. At the same time, Turkey refuses to acknowledge the expulsion of the Greek Orthodox natives from their country, the genocide of the Armenians, and the persecution of the Kurds that occurred at the beginning of the last century. As Germany was forced to face its recent past and this country our racist past (and some say present), Turkey needs to acknowledge its past.

India has been given the go ahead with its nuclear capacities by the Bush administration. Why does this nation feel it can decide which nation should be able to have nuclear capacity?

Many of us do not agree with former president's Jimmy Carter's analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. At the same time, critics who call him an anti-Semite are behaving outrageously. It is noteworthy the Camp David Accord negotiated with the auspices of the White House when Carter was president has stood the test of time.

My wife and I were married by a Jesuit priest, Father Peter Conroy, who in his Christmas letter to us wrote:" You are as aware as I am that fear cripples and distorts us as nations and as individuals. Fear brings about terrorism, war and a pride that deceives us with the lie that we are the center of the universe." Let us face the New Year with the resolve to conquer our fears and resolve our differences.

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