The European Union delegation that will break more than a year of punitive isolation imposed on Iran by Western legislatures and visit Tehran this month, defying a joint appeal from Democrats and Republicans in Congress, is headed by a notorious opponent of U.S. efforts to wage the war on terror.
The German Green Party European Parliament member Barbara Lochbihler, a former social worker, served as secretary general of the German section of Amnesty International for the last decade.
Interviewed by Der Spiegel in May 2008, Lochbihler accused the United States of using “torture methods,” assisted by the collaboration of Western European nations.
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“Under the guise of the battle against terror, the Bush Administration has perpetrated many human rights violations, calling them security measures,” Lochbihler charged. “Many other governments have taken advantage of this and jumped on the bandwagon.”
Referring to the Bush administration’s extraordinary rendition program, which foiled numerous terror plots and saved hundreds of lives by transferring terrorist detainees to countries where they could be subjected to harsh interrogation, Lochbihler said, “Western European countries have supported the USA and CIA by allowing kidnapping flights to take place in Europe and its airspace.”
Lochbihler has rejected a request made in a Dec. 22 letter from 15 members of Congress to the European Union’s president that the proposed 11-member Euro parliament delegation to Iran she will head, and of which she is the main sponsor, be postponed.
“No delegation from a Western parliament has visited Iran in over a year, precisely to demonstrate to Iran that their behavior is unacceptable to the international community,” said the letter from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and 14 other House members, ranging from New York Democrat Eliot Engel to Indiana Republican Dan Burton.
“We believe that such a visit, especially at this critical juncture, is counterproductive and potentially damaging to the international community’s efforts to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” the letter from Congress warned, noting that “Iran’s leaders have been relentlessly pursuing nuclear capabilities for several years, in violation of their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)” and that “As prime funders of Hamas and Hezbollah, they have threatened Western targets, sought to destabilize a critical region in the world, and dedicated themselves to the destruction of the State of Israel.”
Lochbihler is refusing to cancel the EU mission because she claims Iranian human rights activists have repeatedly “urged the delegation to travel and to underline the importance of the political developments within Iran on the European agenda.” The European Parliament delegation is scheduled to visit Iran next week.
When it comes to human rights, Lochbihler is a fanatic who believes such considerations trump any and all protection measures against terrorism.
In a 2004 article in a publication of the German Council on Foreign Relations, she argued: “Western democracies only injure themselves if they violate human rights in a short-sighted attempt to increase security. Ultimately, security depends on the kind of legitimacy that derives from observance of the values that underlie democracies. American legal conduct and physical treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo and in Iraqi prisons therefore raise serious questions – as do anti-terrorist legislation in Britain, suppression in China, and torture in the Middle East.”
The terrorist attacks on the United States eight years ago don’t seem to have impressed Lochbihler that the West must take extraordinary measures to protect against jihadist suicide bombers. “What is new about the war on terrorism in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001,” she wrote in the same article, “is the way this approach has been elevated into a kind of global security doctrine that blatantly condones human-rights violations, rewarding them by letting them go unpunished.”
The Bavarian Green Party luminary also seems to want to explain away terrorist behavior: “Those men who were repeatedly designated as ‘terrorists’ and ‘murderers’ by high-ranking American officials are, for the most part, from countries in which severe human rights violations are routine,” according to the 2004 article.
And not surprisingly, the same article champions U.N. appeasement ideology over U.S. force. “The Iraq war, conducted under the rubric of the war on terror, has shaken the United Nations to its foundations,” Lochbihler wrote. “The new doctrine formulated in the run-up to this war, whereby the U.S. explicitly threatens other U.N. member states with preventive strikes and wars, flagrantly violates the U.N. Charter, which obliges its members to ‘settle their international disputes by peaceful means’ and prohibits the ‘the threat or use of force’ as incompatible with the goals of the U.N.”
According to Lochbihler, “This policy and the renewed legitimation of war as an instrument of politics signify a de facto return to the law of the jungle in international relations.”
Even further, she believes racism and bigotry underlay much of the Bush administration’s war on terror policy.
“The division of people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and into good and evil, and the war rhetoric of ‘You are either with us or you are against us’ have created a climate in which xenophobia and latent racism can thrive,” her German CFR article charged. “Increasing polarization between such population groups as Arabs and non-Arabs, or Muslims, Jews, and Christians, has been reinforced by those who have always feared the strong message of human rights applied universally and impartially.”
Lochbihler’s mission next week will not be the only recent gesture of appeasement towards the Islamist government in Iran by the European Union. In August, 20 EU member state heads of mission based in Tehran attended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inauguration after his disputed re-election, after which 15 protesters were slaughtered in the streets by government forces.
The Swedish EU presidency at the time justified the diplomats’ presence at the ceremony by citing a need to “keep diplomatic channels open.”
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