April 25, 1997
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Letters to the Editor
To the Editor of The Economist:
In your 4/12/97 article, "Human Rights and Diplomacy", you call individuals who do not believe humanitarian concerns should have a prominent place in foreign policy "realists". Yet their track record has shown their policies to be anything but realistic. That is because every successive generation of realists has disregarded an elemental karmic truth: that misanthropic actions have countervailing reactions which eventually return to haunt their maker.
Henry Kissinger was fittingly offered in your article as the foremost American realist of our times. The repercussions of his policies have undermined US interests more than any humanitarian agenda ever could. This brilliant man’s blunders should serve as a telling warning to Machiavellians everywhere--not only were many of his policies patently immoral, and thus patently un-American, but they were categorical failures as well.
His intensification of the US’s blind support of Iran’s tyrannical Shah is one example, inevitably guaranteeing the ascendancy of perhaps the most virulent exporter of Islamic fundamentalism and anti-American terrorism in the world. His unconditional support of Turkey, and particularly its brutal 1974 invasion and occupation of Cyprus, is another. As a result of the State Department’s adherence to this policy, the US has now been placed in the difficult position of proclaiming itself a champion of democratic values while simultaneously lending its wholehearted support to a nation which flagrantly undermines them.
The State Department’s selective enforcement of prohibitions against human rights violations and international aggression with regard to Turkey has unleashed an army of chickens which have been steadily coming home to roost. Saddam Hussein justified his invasion of Kuwait by explicitly citing to the West’s abject failure to enforce international law in Cyprus. The Serbs in turn easily invoked Kissinger’s complicity in Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of Greek Cypriots as a defense. The West’s acquiescence to Turkey’s expansionist foreign policy, a course charted by Kissinger and maintained today by fellow "realists", has now created lethal instability in one of the world’s most militarized regions, seriously compromising American and NATO interests in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond.
Your article rightly begins its discourse on the place of human rights in foreign policy with Europe’s 19th century condemnation of the Turks’ mass slaughter of Christians. The beginning of our own century witnessed the Armenian and Pontian Greek Genocides. The end of it, the ethnic cleansing of two million Kurds. As we near the fin-de-siècle, isn’t it time we finally had closure to this perhaps most tragic and obstinate cycles of man’s inhumanity to man.
Very truly yours,
P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.