Amid all the “enhanced interrogation” clamor, Americans have shown themselves a sympathetic people, if at times misguided. Despite where our head is sometimes at, our heart’s in the right place. We care about people and we don’t want them tortured, no matter what they’ve done.
This makes things awkward for President Obama, who had intended to sign a civilian nuclear treaty with the United Arab Emirates, because a member of the UAE royal family, Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was videotaped torturing a business partner over a perceived slight in a grain deal. And lest the Arab royal’s torture be confused for the strong interrogation techniques so often mislabeled “torture” by American pundits, this one was for real: the Sheikh, brother to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, beat his victim with a cattle prod and a nailed board, burned his genitals, and drove over him in a Mercedes.
Democrat Jim McGovern, co-chair of Congressional Human Rights Commission, called the video “one of the most horrific things I have ever seen in my life,” and has called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to halt any nuclear talks with Abu Dhabi (the treaty called for the sale of nuclear technology to the UAE country, in exchange for their agreement to abide by nuclear non-proliferation agreements).
The tape was reportedly made four years ago, at which time the UAE government declined to investigate the Sheikh. Now, with nuclear technology in the balance, that same government has pledged “a comprehensive review of the matter immediately.” Perhaps “immediately” is Arabic for “four years after the fact.”
For an administration as vocally committed to human rights as President Obama’s, surely a country whose royal government official behaves thus isn’t a suitable nuclear partner. What’s also alarming: that country ignored such behavior when it first arose four years ago, and is only now acting when a nuclear treaty is on the line. The UAE happens to also be a trading partner to Iran.