Friday, April 29, 2011

The UN and Iraq

Given the delays in the UN seeking similar mechanisms to bring alleged war crimes by US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan under discussion, is the allegation that the UN exercises double standards fair?
The UN levelling allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka in a report is not unique. It is a common challenge faced by coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian forces in Chechnya and elsewhere in the caucuses, Pakistani forces in FATA and in Swat, Israeli forces in occupied Palestine, and Indian forces in disputed Kashmir and in its northeast. All these theatres have produced civilian suffering, injuries and deaths. As such, instead of singling out Sri Lanka, Colombo should call the UN to launch an investigation into all on-going major conflict zones especially Iraq and Afghanistan where as a proportion more civilians have been killed by US and British forces. Nobel laureate Mohamed Mustafa ElBarade former Director General of the UN body, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), [December 1997 to November 2009] called international criminal investigation of former Bush regime officials for their roles in fomenting the war on Iraq. Over a million civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the fighting is still continuing. Nonetheless, human rights have become a political instrument used by Western and other nations to pressurize other countries.

The above is from Rohan Gunaratna's "No UN panel in Afghanistan and Iraq where over a million had died" (Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror). The government of Sri Lanka has many problems of its own to deal with (click here for Amnesty International reports on Sri Lanka), but it obviously intends to note the tragedies and crimes that are the US-led wars. They have more traction than usual with the publication of Mohamed ElBaradei's book and his assertion that there should be a War Crimes probe of the Bush administration. (When ElBaradei, former UN nuclear inspector, calls for the same of Barack's administration, we'll take him seriously and not assume he's just trying to generate publicity for a book that's going to be a hard sell.)

Still on the UN, the Himalayan News Service reports, "The Nepali Army is considering sending its troops to restive Iraq to become a part of the 'stationary force’ under the United Nations, a highly placed source said.The UN had asked Nepal to commit around 222 personnel –– including 35 personnel for mobile units –– for deployment in Iraq around four months ago." If accurate, what is the UN planning?

In Iraq, Al Rafidayn reports, citing a source inside the Ministry of the Interior, that Nouri al-Maliki has fired Maj Gen Ali Adnan Younis as Baghdad police chief. Alsumaria TV quotes a "senior source" in the Ministry of the Interior, "Orders to dismiss Younes were issued few days ago. Baghdad Police Director General and a number of officers are under investigation by the Integrity Commission. Al Maliki ordered to appoint Basra ex-Police Chief Brigadier General Adel Daham to serve as the acting Director General of Baghdad Police. Daham took office on Thursday."

If the police chief is guilty of corruption it's rather telling that it would be the Integrity Commission that would raise the issue and not Nouri al-Maliki himself. Nouri has been prime minister since spring 2006 and if he can't spot corruption in his own neighborhood the fact that the Integrity Commission could would not still instill confidence in Nouri.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "WILL PUBLIC WORKERS AND IMMIGRANTS MARCH TOGETHER ON MAY DAY?" (In These Times):

One sign carried in almost every May Day march of the last few years says it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!" Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes.

The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here.

This year, those marchers will be joined by the public workers we saw in the state capitol in Madison, whose message was the same: we all work, we all contribute to our communities and we all have the right to a job, a union and a decent life. Past May Day protests have responded to a wave of draconian proposals to criminalize immigration status, and work itself, for undocumented people. The defenders of these proposals have used a brutal logic: if people cannot legally work, they will leave.

But undocumented people are part of the communities they live in. They cannot simply go, nor should they. They seek the same goals of equality and opportunity that working people in the United States have historically fought to achieve. In addition, for most immigrants, there are no jobs to return to in the countries from which they've come. The North American Free Trade Agreement alone deepened poverty in Mexico so greatly that, since it took effect, 6 million people came to the United States to work because they had no alternative.

Instead of recognizing this reality, the U.S. government has attempted to make holding a job a criminal act. Thousands of workers have already been fired, with many more to come. We have seen workers sent to prison for inventing a Social Security number just to get a job. Yet they stole nothing and the money they've paid into Social Security funds now subsidizes every Social Security pension or disability payment.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends