Priorities. They Can Has.

by matttbastard

Noted w/o comment:

Time Magazine covers – December 5, 2011

h/t

Timing is Everything?

by matttbastard

Wonder if the following has been cited elsewhere as a possible (partial) explanation for Obama’s recent 180 on releasing the torture photos?

Der Spiegel:

The president took his decision under the pressure of time. Had he not acted, the 44 photos would have been released next week as per an order from a New York court. It was a decision the White House had originally approved. But the timing of the release would have been problematic — the images of rape and torture would have conflicted with Obama’s travel plans. On June 4, Obama plans to give a keynote address in Cairo in which he intends to unveil a plan of reconciliation with the Muslim world. The legacy of the Bush era includes an us-versus-them mentality from which Obama seeks to distance himself, and which he has already begun to reverse.

Whether true or not, it certainly makes more sense than David Ignatius’ repulsive, straight-from-the-Beltway-cocktail-circuit speculation that the sudden reversal was  meant as a ‘Sister Souljah moment’ (though would still be no less inexcusable).

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Israel, Palestine and Demographic Realities

by matttbastard

Gershom Gorenberg, writing in the Jan-Feb issue of Foreign Policy, outlines the cold, harsh reality with regards to the efficacy of any so-called two-state solution (where Israel and the former occupied territories revert to pre-1967 borders, Israelis and Palestinians set aside lingering grievance and resentment to the delight of the global community, and Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft subsequently distribute free ponies for everyone!):

From my home in West Jerusalem, the road that Israelis use to head south toward Hebron runs through two tunnels in the mountains. Known simply as the Tunnel Road, it was built in the mid-1990s during the Oslo peace process, when Bethlehem was turned over to Palestinian rule and Israelis wanted a way to bypass the town on their way to settlements that remained in Israeli hands.

A turn from the Tunnel Road takes you past the Palestinian village of Hussan to Beitar Illit, a settlement covering two hills. The streets are lined with apartment buildings, faced in rough-cut, yellowish-white stone, all with red-tile roofs, so alike they could have been turned out by the same factory. In 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands and peace seemed close enough to touch, about 4,000 people lived in Beitar Illit. Now, 34,000 live here, and more will soon move in.

The message written on the landscape is simple: Every day, the settlements expand. Every day, Israel grows more entangled in the West Bank. To a large degree, the Israeli and Palestinian publics have accepted the need for a two-state solution. But time, and the construction crews, are working against it. No one knows exactly where the point of no return is—when so many Israelis will have moved into so many homes beyond the pre-1967 border that there is no going back. But each passing day brings that tipping point nearer. If a solution is not achieved quickly, it might soon be out of reach.

According to Gorenberg, “[i]n 1993, when the Oslo process began, 116,000 Israelis lived in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank… . Last year, when Olmert resigned and elections were announced, the number of settlers in the West Bank had passed 290,000, living alongside 2.2 million Palestinians.”  And, following elections in February, “more than 300,000 Israelis are likely to be living in the West Bank, with the number continuing to climb [all emph. mine].”

Remember, several years back, the domestic PR headache posed by engaging in the forced removal of angry, militant Israeli settlers from their homes in Gaza?

Yeah, that–all over again, only with at least 35 times the population to send packing.

So, when people act as if a viable choice between pursuing a single or two-state solution with Israel and the former occupied territories still exists, one must first account for a very precious non-renewable resource, one that, as noted by Gorenberg, is in increasingly short supply:

Time.

Related
: John Bolton shows why he’s the AEI’s new go-to guy for solving tough diplomatic conundrums with his latest op-ed in the Washington Post, in which he proposes a three (yes, three) state zombie solution to Israel’s current post-colonial woes.  Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea — simply foist the entire Palestinian problem onto Egypt and Jordan, using all the diplomatic leverage that the US has accrued in the Middle East over the past 8 years (especially the past 6).  I’m sure that’ll fly in Cairo and Amman–especially if Brzezinski and Scowcroft throw in extra ponies to account for the extra state involved.

OMG PONIES!

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More Cobblestones on the Road to Hell

by matttbastard

Here in the Great White North, accountability is out and banality is in as The Nuremberg Defence seems to be enjoying a resurgence in respectability.

CBC News:

The actions of Canadian officials contributed indirectly to the torture of three Arab-Canadian men in Syria, a federal inquiry has concluded.

“I found no evidence that any of these officials were seeking to do anything other than carry out conscientiously the duties and responsibilities of the institutions of which they were a part,” former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci concluded in his report, made public Tuesday, 22 months after the inquiry began.

The probe focused on whether the detentions of Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati resulted from the actions of CSIS, the RCMP and the department of Foreign Affairs and whether Canadian consular officials acted appropriately in the cases.

“It is neither necessary nor appropriate that I make findings concerning the actions of any individual Canadian official, and I have not done so,” Iacobucci wrote.

More from The Toronto Star:

The Iacobucci report concludes that all three men were detained and suffered mistreatment that amounted to torture as defined in the United Nations convention banning torture.

El Maati, Almalki and Nureddin were, separately, detained and imprisoned in 2001, 2002, and 2003 respectively while travelling in Syria.

All were interrogated and, Iacobucci concluded, tortured at the same Syrian military prison as Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian who was deported by U.S. authorities to Syria.

El Maati was also sent to Egypt where Iacobucci accepts he underwent further torture.

The men claimed their interrogators relied on information that could only have been gleaned from Canadian authorities, and that Canadian security and police agencies were complicit in their mistreatment.

But Iacobucci stops well short of indicting the Canadian officials for complicity.

And what do the Little Eichmanns in Canada’s New Government™ have to say about the matter?

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day declined to apologize, telling reporters, “This government can’t take responsibility for processes in place under a previous government.”

He claimed the procedures and “deficiencies” identified in this and the previous Arar inquiry have been “vastly improved,” and suggested that if the reforms his government had made were in place at the time, the incidents might not have occurred.

But Day did not single out any agency or officials for blame. He pointed to the Iacobucci report which said people were carrying out “conscientiously” the duties of their institutions.

“It’s more a case of good people acting with deficient procedures and deficient policies.”

“Justice, truth, the value of a single human being”? Pfft–go back to your September 10th fantasy world, Haywood, and tell it to Jean and Paul. Partisanship über alles.

Related: Almalki, Nureddin and El Maati discuss how their lives have been upended by their horrific experiences, along with the sense of betrayal felt thanks to the (indirect!) actions of Canadian government officials; Amnesty International Canada condemns the inquiry, warning that the probe “extended secrecy to everything, not just the national security concerns” and, as a result, “[excluded] the suspects and public from the proceedings in their entirety“. The 544 page public (read: heavily redacted) version of the Iacobucci whitewash report is available here (PDF)

Update: More from Alison @ The Beav

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LOLPolicy

by matttbastard

The Associated Press:

President Bush feted Israel on Thursday in honor of the 60th anniversary of its founding and predicted that its 120th birthday would find it alongside a Palestinian state and in an all-democratic neighborhood free of today’s oppression, restrictions on freedom and extremist Muslim movements.

[…]

Bush made no acknowledgment of the hardship Palestinians suffered when hundreds of thousands were displaced or otherwise left following the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, a counterpoint to Israel’s two weeks of jubilant celebrations. Though Bush has set a goal of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian deal before the end of his term in January, he did not mention the ongoing negotiations or how to resolve the thorniest disputes.

The president also offered no detail on how the broader Mideast would move from today’s realities to his vision.

“From Cairo and Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy, tourism and trade,” he said. “Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, where today’s oppression is a distant memory and people are free to speak their minds and develop their talents. And al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists’ vision and the injustice of their cause.”

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Bush made such a brief mention of the Palestinians because his purpose was to sketch “broad themes and not the specifics of the process.”

Hey, who needs pesky specifics when you have cheap stock applause lines and Godwin-baiting partisan digs?

Related: Eric Martin, Man of a Thousand Blogs, on McSame’s recent contributions to the OMG-PONIES! school of U.S. foreign policy initiatives.

Update: in comments @ ObWi, Katherine notes that McSame’s bold 2013 proposal is “totally a ripoff of fafblog’s plan for victory.”

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PSA: Iraq Refugee Crisis – “Iraqi women and children have suffered terrible trauma and violence – we have a responsibility to care for their health. The international community must act now to alleviate this situation.”

by matttbastard

Via Feminist Peace Network:

Iraqi refugee women and youth: Sick and suffering – U .S. and International Community must support health sector appeal

September 24, 2007—The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children today called on the United States and the international community to respond quickly and fully to the United Nations interagency appeal for $85 million dollars to provide desperately needed health care for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

On a recent trip to Jordan, the Women’s Commission saw firsthand the urgent need for this assistance. Iraqi refugees have limited or no access to even basic health services. The cost of accessing health care is beyond the means of most refugees. At the time of our visit in June, there were only two clinics providing free or subsidized medical care to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

The barriers to affordable health care have dire implications for Iraqi refugees. They are not getting the treatment they need for chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer and women and girls are not receiving critical reproductive health services. The longer this endures, the greater the number of lives at risk.

“The health situation for Iraqi refugees is unconscionable and women and children are in particular need given the vulnerability of their situation,” said Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director. “Iraqi women and children have suffered terrible trauma and violence – we have a responsibility to care for their health. The international community must act now to alleviate this situation.”

Iraqi women and girls’ health needs particular attention. In Iraq, women and girls have been targets of sexual violence, including rape. They are now suffering the double burden of the trauma they experienced and forced displacement from their homes. According to the refugees the Women’s Commission met with in Jordan, the stresses and pressures of refugee life are also causing a rise in domestic violence. And because refugees cannot legally work in Jordan, women and girls remain vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. For all these reasons, women and girls must have easy and regular access to medical attention and psychological and social support services for survivors of rape and abuse.

In addition to fully supporting this new health appeal and an earlier education appeal, the U.S. government and international community must also develop a more comprehensive assistance strategy for Iraqi refugees that reflects the magnitude of the refugee crisis. This should include significantly increased humanitarian assistance for refugees, greater support for refugee receiving countries, and robust resettlement programs for highly vulnerable Iraqis.

“Iraqi refugees are becoming more vulnerable by the day,” Makinson said. “The time to act is now.”

For more information, to arrange an interview or to view B-roll footage, please contact Diana Quick, 212. 551. 3087, diana@womenscommission.org

Also see this report from Amnesty International, Millions in flight: the Iraqi refugee crisis (also via FPN); Refugees International on ‘the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis‘.

Related: Interview with Tobias Billström, Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, on how the EU needs to share the responsibility for providing safe haven to Iraqi refugees – and how aid must be allocated to Syria and Jordan, the two Middle Eastern nations with the highest influx of refugees:

Sometimes I think it is an irony that Sweden – a country that did not take part in the Iraq War, was not part of the alliance, did everything it could in order to speak for peace, and is farthest away from the conflict in geographical terms – receives the most refugees. To my mind that is rather strange.

[…]

In some ways we have made progress. But the next thing – and that is important – is to try and bring aid to Syria and to Jordan, the two countries in the region that have received a combined total of more than two million Iraqi refugees.

If we don’t do that, sooner or later there will be a political destabilisation of Syria and Jordan, which will lead to even more problems. We must ensure that the refugees receive aid and that they can sustain themselves.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers