President Obama has some company he might not want among world leaders condemning the bombing attack at Monday's Boston Marathon. Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (shown) on Wednesday condemned the bombings that left three dead thus far and more than 170 injured, including 17 reported to be in critical condition. But Iran's top leader also chided the United States for killing innocent civilians in drone attacks in several Middle East countries. The ayatollah's remarks came during an address in Tehran to the nation's military leaders, the Associated Press reported.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, which follows the logic of Islam, is opposed to any bombings and killings of innocent people no matter if it is in Boston, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria and condemns it," Khamenei said. But the Muslim cleric also criticized what he called the "contradictions" and "lack of logic" in Western civilization.
"What kind of logic is this that if children and women are killed by Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan and by U.S.-backed terrorists in Iraq and Syria is not a problem, but if a bombing happens in the U.S. or another Western country, the whole world should pay the cost?" he asked in comments he also posted on his website. "Western civilization is on the verge of collapse and downfall because of contradictions, lack of logic, coercions and lack of care for human principles," he said.
The ayatollah's charge of a double standard is not likely to carry much weight in Washington or other Western capitals, however, where Iran is regarded as a key ally and financial supporter of organizations like Hamas and Hezzbollah that have carried out terrorist attacks in Israel, Palestine and other parts of the Middle East. Iran is also the main ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime, like Iran's, is included on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. The United States has been indirectly supporting the rebel war against the Assad regime, while Iran has been supplying the Damascus government with weapons and other material support.
Western intelligence officials last August reported Khamenei had instructed his country's elite Revolutionary Guards to intensify a campaign of terror against the West and its allies for supporting the effort to overthrow Assad and for economic sanctions imposed against Iran over its nuclear program. Iran has claimed it is developing nuclear power for energy and medical uses, while the United States, Israel, and other nations have called for the termination of what they regard as an effort to develop nuclear weapons.
A National Intelligence Estimate in 2007, based on reports from all 16 U.S intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier. NIE reports in 2010 and 2012 also found no evidence of a weapons program in progress. U.S. officials have remained convinced, nonetheless, that Iran's uranium enrichment program is aimed at the development of nuclear weapons in the near future.
"They are certainly moving on that path, but we don't believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon," Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence early last year.
While Iran has its own double standard, Khamenei is far from alone is pointing out the "contradictions" in the West regarding the killing of innocent civilians. Writing in the London newspaper the Guardian, columnist Glenn Greenwald noted the "selective empathy" shown by his fellow Americans.
Regardless of your views of justification and intent: whatever rage you're feeling toward the perpetrator of this Boston attack, that's the rage in sustained form that people across the world feel toward the US for killing innocent people in their countries. Whatever sadness you feel for yesterday's victims, the same level of sadness is warranted for the innocent people whose lives are ended by American bombs. However profound a loss you recognize the parents and family members of these victims to have suffered, that's the same loss experienced by victims of US violence. It's natural that it won't be felt as intensely when the victims are far away and mostly invisible, but applying these reactions to those acts of US aggression would go a long way toward better understanding what they are and the outcomes they generate.
In his blog on Tuesday, Future of Freedom Foundation president Jacob Hornberger speculated on the possibility that the bombing in Boston might be another example of "blowback," a term coined by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950's to describe retaliations against Americans for the agency's covert operations carried out in other countries. Wrote Hornberger:
While it's still undetermined as to who committed the Boston Marathon bombings and why, at the top of the list of suspects has got to be people who are retaliating for what the U.S. national-security state has been doing and continues to do to people in foreign countries, including the drone assassinations, the 12-year occupation of Afghanistan, the sanctions against Iran, and the support of brutal Middle East dictatorships.
Photo of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: AP Images