Today’s Boston Globe has an editorial that stretches the definition of “realpolitik” past any sense of credibility — but they somehow manage to keep a straight face.
Recently, news came out that right around 9/11, several members of Osama Bin Laden’s immediate family had left Afghanistan for Iran — where they were promptly “taken into protective custody.” And ever since, one of his wives, six of his children, and eleven of his grandchildren have been prisoners of the Iranian regime. This came out when one of the children — a now-seventeen-year-old girl — escaped and sought sanctuary at the Saudi embassy. (It must be remembered that Bin Laden is from a very wealthy, very powerful Saudi family — and has been officially disowned by them.)
The Globe speculates that the Bin Ladens are being used as hostages to keep Al Qaeda from causing them trouble. And they’re probably right. As a tactic, it’s suitably primitive and ruthless enough to be effective. The only drawback is the traditional misogyny of the fundamental Islamist — as noted, this is only one of his wives. But there are at least two sons in the mix, so that more than balances things out.
So, how does the Globe see this? Not surprisingly, pretty much the same way as the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit by Hamas in the Gaza Strip — “a good excuse to negotiate.”
So much for human rights. So much for protecting the innocent.
No, if a few eggshells need be cracked (or a few innocent people need be locked up indefinitely by a government not for their own deeds, but those of others as a way to influence those others’ behavior), so be it — it’s all for a greater good.
I share no great affection for the Bin Laden family (with the possible exception of his niece, Wafah Dofour), but it seems to me to violate about half a dozen universal moral precepts to keep these people prisoner. And if anything, the Globe should be denouncing this — not trying to find the silver lining.
Then again, it does serve as an extension of Obama’s policy on attempting reconciliation with Iran’s rulers — no matter how many times they spit in our faces. So that might explain the whole thing.