Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Guest blogger: A better world in 7 easy steps 

Today's guest blogger is Brian of New Eagle blog, who diagnoses the current condition of the United Nations and suggets seven steps to make sure that the current Bush Administration-generated momentum towards a better world is not lost.

A better world in 7 easy steps

The world has changed drastically since Saudi Arabian terrorists killed around 3,000 innocent people on Sept. 11, 2001. The change has been mostly for the better -- the Butcher of Baghdad is imprisoned, UN peacekeeping forces are en route to the Sudan, and major economic markets are stable.

The U.S. response to 9/11 was to take the fight to the enemy, but in a much broader sense than simply locating and capturing Osama bin Laden. The war on terror is a worldwide movement (sans Western Europe) against tyranny and oppression.

As the final Oil-for-Food reports are being published, and as tragic deaths like those of Terri Schiavo and the Pope replace Iraq war headlines, I'm beginning to feel that the progress made since 9/11 could fade away. Oppressed people are rising up around the world, and it's important to continue supporting them. To that end, I've put together a process, or set of steps, that will keep the world on a positive course.

1. Dissolve or radically reform the UN. Just as the League of Nations had proved ineffective at solving world conflicts in the early 20th century, the United Nations is now at a similar crossroads. If the UN continues serving the world, it should only be in a capacity that makes recommendations to those possessing the will to act. An important step in reforming or dissolving the UN is
Bush's choice of John Bolton as UN ambassador.

WASHINGTON - President Bush pick of a vocal U.N. critic to be the next U.S. ambassador to the world body was meant to send a message that change is needed there, the White House said Tuesday.

Now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John R. Bolton was announced Monday as Bush's choice for the post. He is likely to face a tough Senate confirmation hearing before Democrats who argue that he has disdained the world body and Republicans who are wary of him.

"The president believes that there is more that needs to be done to make sure that it is an organization that is effective and an organization that is fulfilling its mandate," he said. "There are some areas where it can do much better."
The Oil-for-Food scandal (often called Oil-for-Palaces) and recent sex scandals at the UN are alarming, but are secondary reasons for making substantial changes to the organization. More chilling is a deadly pattern that has been repeated over and over again for decades: reports of mass killings, warnings from the UN and other organizations, occasional unilateral action, confirmation of genocide, condemning reports, and finally a movie is made. Let's evolve into a world where there is no material for movie producers wishing to commemorate the needless deaths of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people.

The UN should have been, and should be, breaking this pattern. Instead, the organization has allowed some of the worst human tragedies to occur:

Rwanda: Between April and June 1994, approximately 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda -- an event universally considered genocide.
Human Rights
: "The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was one of the defining events of the twentieth century."

On April 21, 1994, the UN removed 90% of its troops from Rwanda, even as the death toll of innocents reached 100,000. From the
same report: "30 April: The UN agrees a resolution condemning the killing but omits the word 'genocide'. Tens of thousands of refugees flee into neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire." Note that the UN is now omitting the word 'genocide' from Darfur reports in favor of 'genocidal intent.'

Individual countries
contributed to the problem: "One week after the murder of the ten Belgian soldiers, Belgium withdraws from UNAMIR." This is almost identical to Spanish and Philippine troop withdrawals from Iraq.

map of mass killings in Rwanda is necessary to appreciate the scale of the catastrophe.

Despite full knowledge of the situation in Rwanda, the UN did very little, and the few actions taken were counterproductive.
HRW's report said, "Even as officials in foreign governments and the U.N. were beginning to acknowledge the organized nature and enormous scale of the killing in Rwanda, they continued to engage in diplomacy as usual."

A new film about the Rwanda genocide,
Hotel Rwanda, is in theaters now. The real life main character, Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle in the film), was displeased last month when the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz -- for good reasons.

Additional Rwanda resources:
here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Cambodia: Led by the infamous Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge committed genocide in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Approximately 1.7 million people died. Yale University's
Cambodian Genocide Project calls it "one of the worst human tragedies of the last century." The maps of mass graves are astonishing.

Movies about the Cambodian genocide include
The Killing Fields, made in 1984, and Swimming to Cambodia, made in 1987.

Guatemala: Between 1981 and 1983 around 200,000 people were killed during the
Guatemala's period of genocide:

As dictator of Guatemala, Ríos Montt carried out what is known as the "scorched earth" policy. This policy was first established by the man he overthrew, former dictator Gen. Romeo Lucas García, who was president from 1978 to 1982. In the scorched earth campaign, the indigenous Mayans were not only subjected to torture, rape, and execution, but were also forced to flee their homelands into the highlands with insufficient means for survival. Many of those fortunate enough to survive massacres died later from starvation, hypothermia, disease, or bombardment by army helicopters.
Guatemala resources: here, and here.

Cuba: UN member nations actively support Castro's deplorable human rights record. The dictator was
elected to the UN Human Rights Commission not once, but twice. The second election came in April 2003, immediately after Castro jailed 75 librarians, teachers, and journalists. HRWdescribed the election this way: "U.N.: 'Who's Who' of Human Rights Abuse."

Tom Malinowski in a speech to the U.S. Senate, September 2003:

Human Rights Watch has been monitoring human rights conditions in Cuba for more than 15 years. Severe political repression has been constant throughout this time. Cuba has long been a one-party state. It has long restricted nearly all avenues of political dissent. It has long denied its people basic rights to fair trial, free expression, association, assembly, movement and the press. It has frequently sought to silence its critics by using short term detentions, house arrests, travel restrictions, threats, surveillance, politically motivated dismissals from employment, and other harassment.
In a 1999 news release entitled "Cuba Silences Dissent with Abuses, Oppressive Laws", HRW refers to Castro's record of abuse as "Repressive Machinery."

Forty years after the revolution, Cuba's Fidel Castro maintains control through intimidation, repressive laws, and by imprisoning dissidents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba only makes matters worse, according to the report Cuba's Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty Years After the Revolution. Other international policies toward Cuba have shown more promise, but proved similarly ineffective in the absence of vigorous government support.

Cuba's Repressive Machinery details how Cuba's laws deny basic rights such as freedom of expression, association, and movement, and describes the plight of dozens of individuals prosecuted under those laws. The 263-page report also details ill-treatment rising to the level of torture in Cuban prisons. Labor rights are routinely violated in Cuba's expanding foreign investment sector, the report shows, by laws obstructing union formation and requiring state control of hiring.
The same report says that U.S. sanctions are counterproductive. Note that in 1960 Castro, along with brother Raul Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, nationalized all U.S. businesses without compensation.

July 5 (1960): Cuba nationalizes all U.S. companies and properties.

July 6: President Eisenhower cancels the 700,000 tons of sugar remaining in Cuba's quota for 1960.

July 8: The Soviet Union announces that it will purchase the 700,000 tons of sugar cut by the U.S.

September 17: Cuba nationalizes all U.S. banks, including First National City Bank of New York, First National Bank of Boston and Chase Manhattan Bank.
More on Cuba: here

Bosnia: Thousands of people were victims of
mass killings during the Bosnia-Herzegovina war between 1992 and 1995. Led by U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO bombed Serbian forces under the command of Serbian "president" Slobodan Milosevic. The UN refused to endorse the end of the genocide. Milosevic is now being tried for war crimes in The Hague.


United Nations peacekeeping officials were unwilling to heed requests for support from their own forces stationed within the enclave, thus allowing Bosnian Serb forces to easily overrun it and—without interference from U.N. soldiers—to carry out systematic, mass executions of hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilian men and boys and to terrorize, rape, beat, execute, rob and otherwise abuse civilians being deported from the area.
Bosnia resources: here and here.

Iraq: From 1979 to 2003 hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed by Saddam Hussein and his government. Estimates, almost unbelievably, swing from a few hundred thousand to millions. U.S. government reports are the highest, and reports summarized by Middle East news agencies are the lowest.


Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported. By mid-January, 2004, the number of confirmed sites climbed to fifty-three. Some graves hold a few dozen bodies—their arms lashed together and the bullet holes in the backs of skulls testimony to their execution. Other graves go on for hundreds of meters, densely packed with thousands of bodies.

"We've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London. The United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) all estimate that Saddam Hussein's regime murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. "Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 290,000 Iraqis have been 'disappeared' by the Iraqi government over the past two decades," said the group in a statement in May. "Many of these 'disappeared' are those whose remains are now being unearthed in mass graves all over Iraq."

If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.
The Guardian newspaper reported that Blair's assessment of 400,000 remains found in mass graves was overstated, and "only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered." Whatever the true death toll, pictures tell the story of those who didn't survive Saddam Hussein.

Kurds suffered heavily under a genocidal Hussein:

"A perfect place for execution," Greg Kehoe, the head of the Regime Crime Liaison Office and leader of the forensic excavation, said Wednesday…"It is my personal opinion that this is a killing field," Kehoe told reporters during a visit to the site south of Mosul…"Someone used this field on significant occasions over time to take bodies up there, and to take people up there and execute them."
The killing field described above, and below, is believed to have been used in 1987 or 1988.

Many of the victims wore multiple layers of clothing and carried small personal items like jewelry and medication. One child was found with a ball in his hand.

The women -- four or five of whom were pregnant -- and children appear to have been killed with a single small-caliber gunshot to the head.
Saddam Hussein is awaiting trial for war crimes and genocide.

A new report, dated Feb. 17, 2005, from Human Rights Watch says additional evidence has been found linking Ali Hassan al-Majid (a.k.a. Chemical Ali) to "the summary killings of hundreds of Shia Muslims in 1999." He is in U.S. custody awaiting trial.

The report is the culmination of substantial research by the organization, including "interviews with dozens of victims, family members, and eyewitnesses, and also examined documentary evidence and the exhumed remains of mass graves."

Additional excerpt:

In a 36-page report released today, Human Rights Watch documents summary executions, torture, mass arrests and other human rights crimes carried out by former Iraqi government and Baath Party officials in southern Iraq in early 1999. The report, “Ali Hassan al-Majid and the Basra Massacre of 1999,” provides indications of al-Majid’s overall responsibility.
Interestingly enough, HRW says the war in Iraq was "not a humanitarian intervention."

A BBC report dated July 23, 2003:

The mild-mannered archaeologist [Ian Hanson] from Bournemouth University has investigated mass graves in Congo, Guatemala, and Bosnia. Now it is Iraq.

Mr Hanson's team has now left Iraq after a month of investigations…They arrived with a list of 27 suspected mass grave sites…By the end they had confirmed more than 70. No-one knows how many bodies may be buried in them all. The best estimate is 300,000.
Mainstream media in the West seem to have missed reports of mass graves, humans thrown into lion pits, ruined livelihoods of marsh Arabs, and the horror of Chemical Ali. The Iraqis missed nothing.

The survey of 1,967 Iraqis was conducted Feb. 27-March 5, after Iraq held its first free elections in half a century in January. According to the poll, 62% say the country is headed in the right direction and 23% say it is headed in the wrong direction. That is the widest spread recorded in seven polls by the group, says Stuart Krusell, IRI director of operations for Iraq. In September, 45% of Iraqis thought the country was headed in the wrong direction and 42% thought it was headed in the right direction. The IRI is a non-partisan, U.S. taxpayer-funded group that promotes democracy abroad.
"Deaths after deaths" is how one Iraqi woman described Iraq prior to the USA's arrival:

Some Iraqis still have not fully adjusted to freedom. When 75-year-old Radiyah Abbas Ali, the matriarch of the al-Zubaidi family, speaks of Saddam, she lowers her voice and looks left and right, as if someone were listening in. "The most important thing is that we got rid of Saddam," says Ali, a mother of 13. "Deaths after deaths, this is what Saddam offered. He did not give us anything."
More on Iraq: here.

Sudan-Darfur: The warnings about Darfur are almost identical to those in Rwanda. The organization has not changed its behavior whatsoever, as we saw in Iraq and now in the
Darfur region of Sudan. Using terms like 'genocidal intent' to preclude military intervention has cost many, many lives in Darfur. I'm not including data here, as Darfur offers an amazing opportunity to watch the UN fail millions of people in real time. Open a newspaper, browse the web, or follow the links provided here for more information.

2. Adopt and agree upon a definition of genocide. The UN (and the AU) has demonstrated that a new discussion about genocide should commence. New signatures need to be gathered. More importantly, new agreements should be connected to an iron-clad doctrine of military action, regime change, humanitarian aid, free democratic elections, and reconstruction.

Sadly, we don't really need a new definition. We only need to ask UN member nations to live up to expectations. The widely accepted definition of genocide is the one specified by the
Genocide Convention of 1948:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The critical element is the presence of an "intent to destroy", which can be either "in whole or in part", groups defined in terms of nationality, ethnicity, race or religion. Thus, the imposition of restrictions during the nineteen-sixties and seventies on reproduction in India, through forced sterilization in many instances, or the continuing restrictions in China, do not constitute genocidal policies as the intent is to restrict the size of groups, not to destroy existing groups in whole or in part. Policies implemented during the Third Reich respecting Jewish, Roma and Sinti groups, on the other hand, were quite clearly genocidal in terms of this article as there was a clearly stated policy indicating the presence of an intent to destroy them... Members of all these groups were processed in extermination camps, were subjected to serious bodily and mental harm, and had conditions inflicted upon them intended to bring about their physical destruction, including starvation in ghettoes, and had measures applied to them intended to prevent births within the group (sterilization).
The convention also says the "following acts shall be punishable: (a) Genocide; (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d ) Attempt to commit genocide; (e) Complicity in genocide.

'Genocidal intent' in Darfur seems to qualify as a punishable offense by the convention.

Prevent Genocide International cites the 1948 genocide convention in its definition of genocide. The humanitarian organization also links to alternative definitions of genocide, which include "one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group," "mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings," "promotion and execution of policies by a state or its agents which result in the deaths of a substantial portion of a group."

3. Return of the Samurai. Japan's time of military cameos on the geopolitical stage is at an end. The country is ready, and with a militant North Korea and corrupt Chinese juggernaut within missile range, the region at large is ready. Most people know that Japan is
constitutionally prohibited from "leading war or maintaining a standing army." This portion of Japan's constitution needs to be amended:

Chapter II: Renunciation of War

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. 2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
This was wise indeed in 1947, but in 2005, with a nuclear North Korea, 38,000 U.S. troops along the Korean DMZ, and a China that remains a questionable force in the world, the wisdom has faded.

If a militarized North Korea or China is acceptable, it is certainly acceptable, and moreover a necessity, that Japan militarize. In addition to providing much-needed stability in Asia and the world, Japan's economy would benefit greatly from new industry.

4. Remove all U.S. troops from Germany and South Korea. Europe no longer requires U.S. protection from the Soviet Union. If the U.S. military would like to maintain a presence in Germany for strategic purposes, and if Germany is agreeable, fine. Otherwise, it's time to go.

South Korea can take responsibility for its own defense against North Korea. The country can craft additional defensive treaties with the USA and its neighbors, like the newly militarized Japan, to protect itself. Should North Korea attack, the Western world will discuss 21 Days to Pyongyang as we now discuss
21 Days to Baghdad.

5. Cease appeasement of dictators and other oppressive governments. France, Germany and Russia have yet to learn the wisdom of Winston Churchill's words: "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

Nations should not be paid to get along. This "positive reinforcement" has a negative consequence, as we saw with Bill Clinton's appeasement of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea. Purchasing regional stability in five-year bites has disastrous long-term consequences. Positive reinforcement should consist of economic concessions that are tied directly to improvements in freedom and human rights, and nothing else.

George Bush and Natan Sharansky are correct, as was Winston Churchill. And Franklin D. Roosevelt: "No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb."

6. Stop talking about developing and using alternative energy sources and start doing it. The U.S.S.R., with an oppressive regime and inefficient economic policies, put a satellite and a human into space before anyone else. The USA put humans on the moon with slide rules. If we can do such amazing feats, then there can be no excuses for our dependency on the black sludge we suck from the earth.

We have technologies now, such as fuel cells, that can easily be developed into safe, reliable means of powering society. Wind, solar, ocean wave, tidal, and countless other methods of energy generation already exist. An immediate change is in order.

But what's needed more than a switch to more environmentally friendly -- and less efficient -- forms of energy is a genuine advance in energy. There's more at stake than keeping alive a small clan of pocket gophers, playing politics with the ozone layer, or improving security by removing the Middle East from foreign policies. We need energy sources that are drastically more powerful than what is currently available to continue developing and growing as a species. Discovering and taking advantage of everything the universe has to offer requires much more powerful energy sources than those currently available. We can, and must, do better, for reasons much more important than the environment.

You have probably noticed an interesting pattern in innovation. The greatest periods of innovation are the periods of greatest need. The classic example, World War II, gave us RADAR, jet and rocket power, mass production of pharmaceuticals, and ultimately space technologies which led to satellite communications (cell phones and satTV), GPS and countless other wonderful things. Extreme need led to extreme innovation, for the betterment of everyone. Yet the number of dead and the amount of destruction World War II exacted was not worth the technological advances we enjoy every day.

It would not be so difficult to realize an equivalent level of innovation without the killing. Desire is all we need. The dot-com bubble, and the rise of the web, is an example of extreme innovation without a single shot fired. And with oil playing such a negative role in everyone's life, why are we waiting to launch a massive initiative of energy innovation? Why wait for perceived American "hegemony" or a truly destructive global war to awaken world leaders?

This is not an issue for Greenpeace, PETA, or other ultraliberals. It is a universal issue that can't wait much longer, for dozens of unassailable reasons.

7. Condemn with a united voice the radical
elements of Islam.
Damn the politically correct crowd; it is not racism or bigotry to call a killer a killer, or to identify the source of wanton butchery. It is not okay for any Muslims to advocate killing innocent civilians. These radical elements, spawned almost exclusively within Saudi Arabia, and worked into a frenzy in European mosques, approve of killing non-Muslims (and in the case of Takfiris, killing Muslims, too), oppressing women, and the like.

It is time to make a unified stand against this barbarity. It is shameful that this has gone on so long, and it's even more shameful that it's unpopular -- and dangerous! -- to discuss making such a stand.

Most Arabs have clan-based systems -- which died out in the West more than 1,000 years ago. Any historical review shows a clear progression from clan-based systems to despotism, then monarchy and feudalism. Each was a vast improvement over preceding systems. While some Arab countries have laid a framework of constitutional monarchy over a clan system, they are still clan-based. These people have more in common with prairie dogs than most other peoples of the earth.

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's flamboyant leader, had the
courage to speak after Iraq's Jan. 30 elections: "This vote can have a positive knock-on effect in all the other Arab countries where there is authoritarian rule, where the situation of women is not one of liberty or dignity, where there are still many steps to take to emerge from the Middle Ages."

But why must we consider Berlusconi courageous for uttering the truth? Sadly, it's not even truthful. Most Muslims (and non-Muslims) in the Middle East have not entered the Middle Ages, let alone taken any steps to "emerge from" them.

Can people move directly from a clan-based system to democracy, skipping monarchy and feudalism? The Scottish Highlanders, the last clan-based people in Western Europe, clung to their system until just a few hundred years ago, and then successfully made the jump to modernity -- and peace.

Should we force Arabs to change? That's debatable. At the very least we must denounce their systems of clans, monarchies, and extreme religious regimes. We should take every opportunity to loudly support opposition to Dark Age cesspools wherever they're found. Fear, greed, and "national security" are the only reasons we have failed to do this so far.

The USA, as leader of the free world, has certainly led the practice of coddling oppressive regimes in the Middle East. Bush claims to have changed these policies after 9/11, but in truth we will not know the depth of what is happening for a long time. And there's no telling what the next president will do.

Sanctions against the clan chiefs and kings, coupled with support of democratic movements -- loud, open support, as Bush is doing now -- can effect change. Those who believe oppressed people like being oppressed should be ignored -- populations always openly support their dictators for fear of the secret police, and always embrace freedom when it comes within reach. We don't need George Bush or Natan Sharansky to tell us that.


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