S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

United Nations associated with Middle East news

President George W. Bush was never an ardent supporter of the United Nations. He only used the organization when it was convenient or as "cover" for his military adventure in Iraq. I am not sure why the administration now welcomes their presence at the Hamdan military tribunal proceedings now going on in Gitmo. The United Nations Office at Geneva reported that a special UN expert on human rights from Finland was invited to a December 5 military hearing at Guantanamo Bay. To quote:

. . . Martin Scheinin, issued the following statement today:

Geneva, 3 December 2007: - - The Special Rapporteur welcomes the invitation extended by the Government of the United States of America for him to attend and observe military commission hearings scheduled to commence on 5 December 2007 at Guantanamo Bay.

. . . The Special Rapporteur’s mission report on the United States is expected to be presented and considered by the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 12 December. In addition to the presentation of his reports, the Special Rapporteur will report orally on his observations regarding his trip to Guantanamo Bay.

"Witnesses to Take Stand for First Time in Guantanamo Detainee Prosecutions," Buzz Tracker News headlines out of Guantanamo Bay. After six years of detention the big news is about a long awaited tribunal hearing for the man suspected of being a driver for Osama bin Laden. Coincidentally at the same time, yesterday's Supreme Court session was on the rights of the Guantanamo detainees. To quote the story on today's Gitmo hearing for Hamdan:

Witnesses are expected to take the stand Thursday for the first time since the U.S. government began attempts to prosecute terrorism suspects at Guantanamo.

An expert in Middle Eastern affairs is expected to testify for Salim Ahmed Hamdan to support the defense argument that he could have been a driver for bin Laden without being a hardcore Al Qaeda member with knowledge of terrorist attacks.

Prosecutors are expected to present about five witnesses to back their case that Hamdan should be charged as an unlawful enemy combatant, in the second day of pretrial hearings to determine whether the military tribunal at this isolated Navy base has jurisdiction over the case.

Evidently signals got crossed between Israel and the U.S. State Department recently. Again it was about on what use to make of the United Nations, not how to see them as partners with any standing. From, ("the global news service of the Jewish people") comes the interesting headline: "Envoy: Israel asked U.S. to pull draft." To quote:
Israel asked the Bush administration to pull a resolution hailing the Annapolis peace parley, said the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Zalmay Khalilzad was on the hot seat this week after the Bush administration pulled a draft resolution on Nov. 30 hailing the peace conference that he had submitted to the U.N. Security Council.

Khalilzad told Reuters Tuesday that he believed the decision to pull the resolution came from “the highest level” of the Israeli government. Israeli and Palestinian officials said last week they had seen the draft resolution. Though the Israelis told the press they had no objection to the text, they argued that a Security Council resolution was an inappropriate measure.

The U.N.'s efforts to eradicate cluster bombs are back in the news. I wrote a post about these horrible weapons in September of 2006. Today's headline reads, "Conference on Cluster Munitions," to be held in Vienna, Austria, 5-7 December 2007. The story came from Crisis Prevention and Recovery. Quoting:

This third Conference on Cluster Munitions within the Oslo Process is another important step towards an intended international ban on cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. Some 118 countries are so far registered to participate in the Vienna conference which is an increase from the 68 states that attended the second conference in Lima in May 2007.

The UN has, on numerous occasions, appealed to the international community to address the inhumane effects of cluster munitions. On 17th September 2007, the UN established a position calling on Member States to address immediately the horrendous humanitarian, human rights and development effects of cluster munitions by concluding a legally binding instrument of international humanitarian law.

Examples of the impact of cluster munitions on civilians in the Middle East -- From the same organization, here is a summary of the cluster bomb impact on Afghanistan. To quote:

As a result of this 'area-contamination', the impact of cluster munition use extended beyond the immediate threat to personal security and safety. Cluster munitions destroyed homes and prevented their reconstruction until clearance could be undertaken. Agriculture was affected, as contamination extended over vineyards, walled gardens and wheat fields. Livestock was killed, and areas available for gathering vital resources, notably firewood, were restricted due to the presence of unexploded cluster munitions. 11 As has been noted in other locations, civilians were left with a choice between suffering a loss of livelihood and severely deprived living conditions, or risking their safety in order to generate income and gather resources.

To conclude today's post I quote from an earlier piece that sounds eerily familiar. It also addressing the U.S. vs. the United Nations and the Middle East. The title and entire concluding section I used then are still just as appropriate:

Views from a parallel universe -- July 17, 2007
There is reality, and then there is "Bush reality." Many of us responded with a big yawn to the recent news of a call for peace by OCP. . .

  • U.S. Middle East view trumps that of the U.N. - Our State Department reports on OCP's "briefing" meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon, as if he were a beginner needing to learn a thing or two. To quote,
    President Bush (July 17): "...One of the things I briefed the Secretary on was my views about extremism and these radicals that will do anything to disrupt the goals set by the United Nations and/or disrupt the advance of democracy in peaceful societies. Al Qaeda is strong today, but they're not nearly as strong as they were prior to September the 11th, 2001, and the reason why is, is because we've been working with the world to keep the pressure on, to stay on the offense, to bring them to justice so they won't hurt us again; to defeat them where we find them."

So that is the Bush Middle East reality. And then we have the rational reality for which we can only wish - intelligent, non-delusional, realistic about the facts, respectful of other Western leaders, honest and fair, consistent and timely, reasonable. I am not holding my breath for peace to break out in the Middle East any time soon.

View my current slide show about the Bush years, "Millennium," at the bottom of this column.

My links: (Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

Technorati tags:

No comments: