Every moral tradition has a test for virtue that asks the agent to measure the rightness or wrongness of an option by asking, “What would you have others do unto you?”
Now that Iran has 15 British soldiers who have apparently “confessed” to an incursion into Iranian waters, we have an opportunity to ask what we would have Iran do unto those soldiers, and ask if the Bush Administration – the administration that sought office substantially on the basis of the great moral virtue of its leaders – has followed this principle.
So, our 15 soldiers are marched off to a Guantanamo Bay style prison.
What are our moral standards here? Has Iran proved by this that they are a morally upright nation? Have they shown that they are acting as people of good moral character? I would like any who think so to call or write the families of those 15 British soldiers and say to them, “You have no reason to complain. Iran is proving that its national moral character is as good as that of the United States. They are doing exactly what the United States leadership has claimed a nation of morally upright leaders should do, which is to haul such people off into Guantanamo Bay style prisons.”
We must imagine that nobody is allowed to have contact with these prisoners. They get no visits from the United Nations, the Red Cross, or any other organization to determine how they are being treated. They are kept in complete isolation. Friends and family do not hear from them and have no idea what has happened to them.
In imagining your letter to these families, do not forget to write that this, too, is what any nation of good moral leaders would do. “You have no right to complain, because your family members are being treated morally and justly. The government of Iran is living up to all of its moral obligations regarding the treatment of foreign prisoners.”
The years go by. The Iranian government continues to insist that the British soldiers are guilty. There has been no trial. There have not even been any formal charges. Whenever the Iranian government speaks about these people, they say how foolish it would be to let these invaders go free, where they will once again be able to plot and scheme with others who hate Iran to attack the country again, or to harm Iranian interests elsewhere in the world. They speak as if the 15 prisoners are all, in fact, members of a plot to attack Iran and bring down its government.
Oh, does somebody in one of these families want to complain that these British soldiers were not actually in Iranian waters? Well, according to President Bush and the New Moral Order, that is not really a problem. A country is perfectly within its rights to send agents into another country to capture ‘enemy combatants’. All of the niceties of extradition and due process are of no concern to the model of post 9-11 morality.
Then, we get news out of China. Remember, we do not have any contact with these soldiers in Guantanamo-Iran. Officials in China now tell us that they have monitored airplane flights from Iran to North Korea. Evidence suggests that Iran is now operating black-site prisons in Korea for prisoners who, they think, need some special treatment. They have turned three of these 15 soldiers over to the North Koreans, and kept two others in their own prison that they were secretly operating in Korea.
So, in your next letter, make sure to tell these soldiers’ families that Iran is behaving no different than any morally concerned, justice-loving, model nation should behave. It has not crossed any moral line. Its leaders still exhibit the most spotless of moral character. Because, as the model of moral virtue himself, the leader of the United States, now tells us, this is the new morality. This is what the 21st century elite now knows as virtue. Whatever is happening to those soldiers, remember that they are being treated exactly how the American government says they should be treated.
Then, finally, the Iranian government starts talking about a trial. The year is 2012. In conducting this trial, the Iranian government is going to use military tribunals. There will be no open court – no system whereby the Iranian government needs to prove to the world that it has just cause to punish these soldiers. Instead, there will be a secret trial, where the Iranian government will be permitted to present secret evidence as well as information gained through five years of ‘interrogation’. The accused will not even be present at the discussion where the Iranian judge, Iranian prosecutor, and appointed Iranian defender decide his fate.
He will have no opportunity to tell them that they are jumping to conclusions, that they have their facts mixed up, or that he can prove that so-and-so was lying. This is because he will never know about these conclusions, facts, or so-and-so’s testimony.
Now, write your letter to the soldier’s family saying that they got a fair and just trial, were properly convicted in a court of law, properly sentenced, and that the punishment was properly executed. Tell the family that they still have nothing to complain about because, at no time, did the Iranian government treat these soldiers inhumanely, immorally, or unjustly. In fact, they showed perfect virtue. They proved themselves to be the moral equal of the United States under the leadership of its most morally perfect President, George W. Bush.