The absence of this outrage is especially notable regarding Israel, even after it imposed draconian punishments against one Israeli technician, Mordecai Vanunu, for divulging facts about the nuclear program in 1986. Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy, spirited back to Israel and tried in secret. He was put in solitary confinement for 11 years during an 18-year sentence.
Even today, Vanunu faces arrest for speaking with foreigners, yet this whistleblower remains almost as big a pariah with the U.S. press as he does with the Israeli government. [See "Ellsberg on Vanunu's Arrest."]
While American journalists silence themselves about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal and treat the persecution of Vanunu as somehow deserved, they rail against Iran's nuclear program even though it is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and remains far short of any breakout capability for a nuclear weapon even if Iran's government decided to build one.
Another argument, used to justify the double standard, is that Iran is a particularly dangerous nation; that it has supported Arab groups, such as Hezboilah and Hamas, which some governments in the West label "terrorist"; and that Iranian leaders reject Israel's status as a Jewish state and have wished for that religious/ethnic designation to end.
However, many people in the Middle East and around the world consider Hezbollah and Hamas to be resistance and/or political groups that have struggled against Israeli occupation of Lebanese and Palestinian lands, respectively. While the groups have resorted to violence, sometimes against civilians, Israel doesn't have clean hands on that point either.
Israel is renowned for its cross-border assassinations and for its conquest of neighboring territory. Israel invaded and occupied parts of Lebanon in the 1980s and engaged in a bloody offensive there as recently as 2006.
Israel also has conducted a harsh occupation of Palestinian lands, assassinating Palestinian leaders and taking prized lands for Israeli settlers in defiance of United Nations resolutions and the intermittent protests of Israel's chief ally in Washington.
By contrast, Iran has for generations been a relatively peaceful regional power. Its eight-year war with Iraq began when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Iran in 1980, possibly with a "green light" from the United States and Sunni Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, which feared the spread of Iran's Shiite fundamentalism. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Lost History Hurts Obama's Iran Bid."]
The war was sustained by President Ronald Reagan's secret decision to tilt toward Iraq. Further, any objective observers would have to recognize that the United States has been the most active nation on earth intervening in other countries' affairs over the past six decades, often violently.
Links to Terrorists
As for links to terrorist organizations, Pakistan and the United States have arguably dirtier hands than Iran.
In the 1980s, during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Pakistan collaborated with Sunni Muslim extremists, including Saudi Osama bin Laden and other violent operatives who later formed al-Qaeda . In the 1990s, Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, nurtured the Taliban and backed their takeover of Afghanistan, remaining their staunchest ally up to the 9/11 attacks.
The ISI also is known to deploy militants against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir, and Pakistan has been the base for bloody terrorist attacks such as the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, India.
The United States, too, is far from blameless on the terrorism front. To this day, U.S. authorities harbor known Cuban terrorists in Miami and elsewhere, including Luis Posada Carriles who was implicated in the mid-air bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Bush Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists."]
Since detonating two nuclear bombs against Japan at the end of World War II, U.S. officials have periodically discussed or threatened nuclear attack against other countries if they didn't comply with American wishes, including non-nuclear states like North Vietnam when President Richard Nixon was engaged in his so-called "madman" strategy.
Even today, while complaining about Iran's suspected interest in building a nuclear weapon, U.S. authorities, including President George W. Bush and apparently President Barack Obama, have left open the possibility of nuking Iran. They have made a point to insist that "all options are on the table," and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while a candidate for President, threatened to "obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel.