Archive for UN

The beginning of the end?

Posted in Middle East, War and Peace with tags , , on September 16, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

So it looks like there may be a deal to let Syria give up in chemical weapons in order to avoid an  attack by the US.  Just a week or two ago it seemed like there were no good options left open to President Obama and then Secretary of State John Kerry makes an off-the-cuff remark that changes everything.  Usually gaffes don’t make much difference.  And when they do, it seems more like media hype than real issue.  But after Kerry made the remark about Assad giving up all his chemical weapons, the Russians jumped on the idea.  And it is a really good idea.  Of course, the devil is in the details.  And there are lots of questions that have yet to be answered.  There are also lots of problems that could still arise, so while this is certainly a welcome development, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Some questions that need to be answered:

How many chemicals weapons does Syria have?  How is the UN going to secure them all in the middle of a civil war?  Are both sides going to be willing to abide by a ceasefire in order for the UN to do their job?  Even if all the chemical weapons are found and taken under UN control, what happens to the Assad regime?  To the rebels?  To the war?

Also, here is the UN report on the use of chemical weapons on 21 Aug 2013.


We Need a Global Police Force

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, International with tags , , on September 5, 2013 by Black Pumpkin

I’ve heard it said so many times now that is has become a cliché: The US is not the world’s police. OK, yes, that’s true. And it should probably remain that way. But doesn’t it seem like the world needs some policing. I am not going to argue that it should be at the hands of the US. But it seems to me that it should be someone.

Some will no doubt argue that this is the role of the UN. And perhaps in some ways that’s true. They do send monitors to elections or “peacekeepers” to ceasefires, but it seems like there should be a more robust police force in the world. Just imagine if the ICC had an actual police department with officers and detectives. And I’m not talking about “Crossing Lines” here. And believe it or not, I’m not trying to be flippant. I really do believe that the world needs some kind of global police force.

The unspoken truth is that the world is really anarchic (as an aside: I really hate that word. Not what it means or anything like that, but it is just such a weird word to say. I guess I am being a little flippant). The countries of the world do whatever the hell they want to. And it seems like they often get away with it. Do you want to make sure that everyone has a decent standard of living and gets free healthcare? Great, do it! Do you want everyone to worship you as a god and punish them with torture and famine if they don’t? OK, I guess you can do that too.

Sure, there are consequences to starving your people or building nuclear weapons. But they don’t seem harsh enough to deter those countries that want to go down that fucked-up road to do that. If I was to torture and kill my family, I wouldn’t be punished by not being able to go to certain stores. And that is essentially what we do to a country like North Korea, for example. We don’t trade with them. And we encourage others not to trade with them. But that doesn’t mean that no one trades with them. China seems to have no problem trading with them. So I guess even crazy murderous psychopaths get to shop at certain stores. That seems fair, right? Fuck no!

People that kill their own families should be punished. Dictators that kill their own people should be punished.

I don’t know if we will make the situation in Syria any better by bombing them. Even if the bombing is “precise” and there are no “boots on the ground.” But at the same time, looking the other way while someone murders their family seems like the wrong thing to do.

Israel: America vs. the rest of the world

Posted in Human Rights Abuses, Middle East, War and Peace with tags , , , on November 7, 2009 by Black Pumpkin

(This was supposed to go up on Wednesday, but WordPress was having some problems, so here it is, a few days late.)

A new report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council has caused a lot of talk and discussion.  The UN is discussing whether they should endorse it or not.  And the US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to reject it.  Of course, Israel has condemned the report as “one-sided” and “predetermined.”  However, several countries and the European Union have already endorsed the report which calls for more investigations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

I have just begun reading the report (it is over 500 pages, so bear with me), but one of the interesting things that I have already learned is the absolute lack of cooperation that the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (hereafter, the Mission) got from Israel.  Not only would Israel not answer any of the questions posed by the Mission, but they would not even allow the members of the Mission to enter the country.  This, to me, speaks volumes.  It seems that Israel is acknowledging that things went wrong during their operation or that human rights were violated by the soldiers involved.  Of course, the Israelis will say that they didn’t cooperate because they knew what they outcome would be because the Mission was biased.  I don’t believe that at all.  In fact, the Mission found violations of human rights on both sides of the conflict.  But when you consider that 13 Israelis were killed and at least 100 times as many Palestinians were killed, to say that violations were found on both sides is a bit misleading. (The number of dead Palestinians is in dispute.  Israel puts the number at 1166.  While Gaza authorities place the number at 1444.  Other non-governmental sources estimate between 1387 and 1417 Palestinians were killed in that particular military operation.)  Whatever the number is it is many times more than the number of Israelis killed.  Obviously, this is not a numbers game and any number of people killed (regardless of what side of the conflict they are on) is too many, but the numbers do paint an interesting picture when Israel says that they are simply defending themselves from terrorists.

Here is a link to the full report.