Bush reaches out to Iran and Cuba
The world is a dangerous place. Countries ready to go to war over maritime outcroppings, people raring to kill over drawings of religious figures, embattled leaders seeking weapons of mass destruction. What's a leader of the free world to do to make our planet a better place? For George W. Bush, the answer is to reach out to one's enemies.
Iran and Cuba, along with a few other countries, have been a thorn in his side ever since someone showed him that Cuba was just swimming distance from his brother's state of Florida and Iran was right next to... Iran's neighbors.
Iran he labeled part of the Axis of Evil 2 (which didn't sell as well as the original Axis of Evil, so don't expect an Axis of Evil 3 anytime soon). Cuba he called a menace that nevertheless produced good baseball players, and then he put on a funny hat and did an imitation of Castro.
But that was all in the past. Bush is allowing Cuba to play in the World Baseball Classic, a tournament of baseball-playing nations from around the globe, not to be confused with the World Series, which involves baseball teams from around the United States and occasionally Canada.
Now Bush is trying to reach out to Iran and Cuba in other ways. But it's tough... just what does the light of democracy have in common with the oppressive regimes of Teheran and Havana? How can Bush reach out? Where do these three have common ground?
Shared respect of capitalist principles? No.
Democratic institutions that reflect the will of the people? No.
Secularly guaranteed freedom of religion? No.
Freedom of travel of the citizenry? No.
What's left? Time to get innovative...
Homophobia? Okay, now we're on to something.
That's right: the Bush administration is partnering with the likes of Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and China in a League of Unsympathetic Gentlemen, an Anschluss of the Intolerant, a Hora of Homophobia. Washington has demonstrated rare unity with Axis of Evil member Iran when it backed a Teheran initiative to deny UN access to advocates of sexual minorities' rights.
Scott Long, director of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people:
This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard. It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran, and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic.The US government voted to dismiss two international organizations' applications (Brussels-based International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish gay rights group Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske) for speaking rights at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This UN vote brought the U.S. government in line with regimes it routinely criticizes as abusers of human rights: Cameroon, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. According to the link, Chile, France, Germany, Peru, and Romania voted not to dismiss the applications. Colombia, India, and Turkey abstained while Cote d'Ivoire, which is being consumed by civil unrest, was absent.
According to Human Rights Watch, the move also marked a shift in policy for Washington, which previously had supported or abstained on such applications. Officials gave no explanation for the change. Ironically, the U.S. government's 2005 edition of "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" highlighted Iran's use of the death penalty to punish male homosexual behavior and Zimbabwean President Mugabe's verbal lashing of homosexuals as "people without rights" and "worse than dogs and pigs."
Some forty groups, including several with a Christian orientation, joined HRW in signing a letter demanding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice account for the turnaround. The letter read in part:
As long as human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people occur, it is vital that non-governmental organizations working on their behalf are given a place and voice at the United Nations.Meanwhile, at least three other applications are pending, from the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the Canada-based Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec, and Germany's Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland.
A quick search didn't turn up anything by the Log Cabin Republicans website on this, so I'll finish with a quote by Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: "It is deeply disturbing that the self-proclaimed leader of the free world will ally with bigots at the drop of a hat to advance the right wing's anti-gay agenda."