The following letter was sent to the Post-Crescent on December 8, 2007:
When evaluating the daily news or the policies of a government, I find it best to consider what is known as the “principle of universality”: do we apply the same standards of conduct to one nation as we would to another? Or do we grant ourselves privileges we wouldn’t grant others due simply to their difference in government structure or business objectives?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said, “Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents -— Christians, Jews and Muslims alike… There can be little doubt that their destabilizing foreign policies are a threat to the interests of the United States, to the interests of every country in the Middle East, and to the interests of all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing.”
Setting aside whether or not this assessment is accurate, switch “Iran” and “United States” in his comments and ask yourself honestly if this statement is any less true. Yet, despite being true, we grant ourselves (the American government) privileges we would never grant any other country, whether friend or foe.
Unless one subscribes to the dubious moral theories of ethical egoism or “might makes right”, there is simply no justification for our imposing demands on a nation for their perceived threats while we continue to spout off one overt threat after another.