Thursday, March 31, 2005

Human Rights is in the eye of the beholder.

I saw this from AP just a little while ago. "U.S. Denies U.N. Claim Iraqis Malnourished."

"The U.S. human rights delegation Thursday rejected a U.N. monitor's claim that child malnutrition had risen in Iraq and said, if anything, health conditions have improved since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. First, he has not been to Iraq, and second, he is wrong," said Kevin E. Moley, U.S. ambassador to U.N. organizations in Geneva and a member of the American delegation to the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.

"He's taking some information that is in itself difficult to validate and juxtaposing his own views — which are widely known," Moley said, referring to Ziegler's opposition to the U.S. military intervention in the country. "

It's intersting the news piece questions the views of the U.N. Human Right Commission's expert on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, but not ambassador Moley's.

It think we can safley assume ambassador Moley was fully behind the invasion of Iraq.

The fact is, the data brought up by Ziegler is already old news.

Last November an article in the WaPo laid out the facts:

"BAGHDAD -- Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has nearly doubled since the United States led an invasion of the country 20 months ago, according to surveys by the United Nations, aid agencies and the interim Iraqi government.

After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development Program.

The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein. The surveys suggest the silent human cost being paid across a country convulsed by instability and mismanagement. While attacks by insurgents have grown more violent and more frequent, deteriorating basic services take lives that many Iraqis said they had expected to improve under American stewardship."

Moley vows to protect Geneva conventions in Iraq! ( No, really!)

It's fairly well established that the occupying power is responsible for law and order and the well being of the civilian population. Regardless of whether the insurgency is making the feeding of children more difficult, it is still up to the U.S. as the invader and occupying force to ensure that Iraqi children don't starve.

At a press conference on 4/24/03 at the U.N., ambassador Moley seemed a little bent out of shape that U.N. Secretary Annan had questioned the U.S. commitment to the Geneva Conventions, which includes the treatment of civilian populations as well as POWs.

AMBASSADOR MOLEY "We want to give you the U.S. reaction to Secretary General Annan's speech and there are a couple of things that we want to specifically comment upon. In the third paragraph of the speech which I think you all have a copy of there is a comment or a statement by the Secretary General "I hope the Coalition will set an example by making clear that they intend to act strictly within the rules set down by the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations regarding the treatment of prisoners of war." We have not only made that clear by our words, more importantly we have made that clear from day one of this conflict through our actions, and quite frankly we find it odd at best that the Secretary General would feel that he had to bring this to our attention.

QUESTION: You said earlier that you have made it clear from day one that you would respect the Geneva Conventions, the Hague etc, but a couple of weeks ago when (NAME INAUDIBLE) was asked questions at Central Command in Doha about the issue of occupying power, the response was, well we are not at that stage yet, it's a liberating force.

MOLEY: You have mixed metaphors there. You asked me about the Geneva Convention and the Hague and I would reply as I did earlier, we have been fully, fully in conformity and intend to be since day one, not only by virtue of our words, but by virtue of our actions on the ground that demonstrate that. [Abu Ghraib!] QUESTION: So there is no separate occupying or liberating force category?

MOLEY: We are simply saying that the issue of an occupying power has not yet been dealt with. Once again the situation is still quite fluid. We will come to that, and presumably come to it quickly. But there should be no question -- certainly no question in the mind of the Secretary General -- that we need to make any clearer than we already have, and have been on the record repeatedly as being in conformance and wanting to be in conformance in every way with the Geneva Conventions. "

Well, you can certainly take that pledge to the bank. Since this press conference, the U.S. has been a model for other countries to emulate when it comes to human rights and the treatment of prisoners of war.

Bashing the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

I found it interesting the AP story spent more time accusing other countries of gross human rights violations rather than focusing on the actual issue of starving Iraqi children, which was the headline of the story.

"The U.S. delegation said it hoped the U.N.commission will...focus on the world's worst human rights violators. It said it planned to lodge resolutions asking the commission to condemn abuses by two such countries, Cuba and Belarus. Former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, who is chairing the American delegation, said such countries should also be ineligible to sit on the commission. "The commission must be made up of firefighters, not of arsonists," he said.

Rather than serving as the proper international forum for identifying and publicly censuring the world's most egregious human rights violators, the (commission) instead protects abusers, enabling them to sit in judgment on democratic states that honor and respect the rule of law," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House's executive director. [Does that include the U.S.?]

Other members of the commission include countries that Freedom House classifies as "not free," including Bhutan, Egypt, Guinea, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Swaziland and Togo."

Don't we give $2 billion to Egypt every year?

Wasn't Togo a member of the coalition of the willing? Isn't Qatar where our U.S. Central Command is?

Isn't Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, our good friend who we're selling F-16s to?

Isn't Vladimir Putin of Russia the man president Bush sees eye to eye with?

Very strange.

And which country is Cuba occupying?

Oh right, Guantanamo is in Cuba, that must be it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

No dissent allowed in "conversations" with Bush.

Knight-Ridder reports today:

In Denver, three people say they were booted out of a presidential event last week even though they never uttered a peep, apparently because their car bore a bumper sticker denouncing the war in Iraq. "We welcome a diversity of views at the events," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday, although in fact participants at the events are carefully screened and dissenting voices are rare. There was no welcome mat for Alex Young and his two companions when they showed up to see Bush on March 21 in Denver. Bush was there for one of a series of "conversations" about his plan to change Social Security.

Young and his friends, Karen Bauer and Leslie Weise, had barely gotten in the door before they were unceremoniously shown the exit by a man who refused to explain his actions. They thought he was a Secret Service agent because he had an earpiece and an official-looking lapel pin. In Denver, Young, a 25-year-old information-technology worker, acknowledges that he and his friends had initially intended to protest Bush's appearance. All wore "Stop the Lies" T-shirts under their outer clothing. They had planned to expose their shirts while shouting the slogan. "It was kind of juvenile. When we got inside, we decided not to do that," he said. White House spokesman McClellan said: "

My sense is that the volunteer felt that these individuals were coming to the event to disrupt it. If people are coming to the event to disrupt it, naturally they are going to be asked to leave." Yeah, but they didn't disrupt anything. And even if they did, "W" can't handle it? Remember back in the good old days when a real president like Bill Clinton could handle hecklers and not immediatly call out the national guard to arrest them for exersizing their right to free speech?

This isn't the first time this has happened, check out this blog back during the coventions.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Beginninig of the end of our long national nightmare?

It appears over the past two weeks or so the American people have really gotten fed up with W and Co. It may be the war or maybe the Terri Schiavo case or rising oil prices, but the polls have really started going south for the neocon agenda and so-called "values issues."

USA Today reports a new poll showing:

"President Bush's approval rating has fallen to 45%, the lowest point of his
presidency, according to a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

The finding, in a poll of 1,001 adults Monday through Wednesday, is a dip from 52% in a poll taken last week. Bush's previous lowest rating, 46%, was recorded last May.

The new poll found the largest drop for Bush came among men,
self-described conservatives and churchgoers.

The poll also found an increased number of Democrats. In this survey, 37% said they were Democrats and 32% said they were Republicans. Last week, 32% said they were Democrats and 35% said they were Republicans.

Bush's handling of the economy also appears to have contributed to the poll's findings.

Bush's economic ratings:

• 59% said economic conditions are getting worse, Bush's highest
negative number on the economy in two years.

• 32% rated economic
conditions good or excellent, the lowest rating in over a year. "

That's not so hot. The whole rushing back to Washington ploy last Sunday to sign the Schiavo feeding tube bill didn't do anything for him either. [See the polls at my other blog for this date.] Where has W been these past few days anyway? Is he laying low.

Cheney 2008!

Have no fear though, the true believers are still out there, albiet if less vocal than before.

David Froomkin's Washington Briefing last Friday noted there's an interest out there in neocon world for Cheney to run in 2008! (Oh God, please! Run Dick run.)

"Turns out Jonathan Chait and I have been gathering string on the same phenomenon -- but he published first, in this morning's Los Angeles Times: 'The Draft Cheney movement is burbling just below the surface. Fred Barnes suggested it earlier this month in the Weekly Standard. Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times and Lawrence Kudlow of National Review Online echoed Barnes in columns this week." [Go to the WaPO for the links, I'm having technical diffiiculties.]

Chait notes how "the columns hyping Cheney read like a thinly disguised plea for Bush's support. 'If the president let it be known he thinks Cheney would be the best person to succeed him,' writes Barnes, 'that would be enough to release Cheney from his promise not to run.' "

Fred Barnes (always one with a firm grip on reality.) goes on:

"As professions of lack of interest in the presidency go, Cheney's is unusually
strong. Yet there's every reason he should change his mind. He's not too
old. President Reagan was 69 when he took office.

Despite past heart trouble, Cheney hasn't had a serious health problem for years. Besides, his health has nothing to do with his refusal to consider running in 2008. He's an experienced candidate at the national level and an effective debater with a wry sense of humor. (Gasp!)

But there's a larger reason Cheney should seek to succeed Bush. In all likelihood, the 2008 election, like last year's contest, will focus on foreign policy. The war on terror, national security, and the struggle for democracy will probably dominate American politics for a decade or more. Bush's legacy, or at least part of it, will be to have returned these issues to a position of paramount concern for future presidents.

And who is best qualified to pursue that agenda as knowledgeably and aggressively as Bush? The answer is the person who helped Bush formulate it, namely Cheney."

But, of course. With solid thinking like this on the other side, one has to ask, just how pathetic was Kerry's campaign?

Neocons on the outs?

If Greg Palast is correct, the nominations of Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank and John Bolton for U.S ambassador to the U.N. might actually be seen as demotions. He has an intereting article in Harper's concerning the neocon plan to privatize Iraq's oil back in 2001 which was roundly rejected by Big Oil. Ultimatly, they're the ones that brought W to the dance and the neocons are paying for it.

This time two years ago.

[NY Times April 11, 2003]

"Looting and suicide attackas chaos grows in Baghdad." (Damn liberal press!)

Baghdad is scene of widening anarchy as jubilation accompanying collapse of
Saddam Hussein's rule gives way to spree of violence and looting; suicide
bombing attack on checkpoint manned by American marines leaves at least four of
them severely injured;

American troops were firing into the air to discourage
the marauding bands, most of the looters were able to pick targets at will
in plain view of American units without any fear of any American

One marine officer standing a top a tank at a check point in east
Baghdad said that he has been aksed repeatedly by Iraqis why his unti had done
nothing to stop the looting and he had explained that he had no order to
respond. “I’ll tell them the truth, that we just don’t have enough troops., “ he

On March 20th 2005 Rummy expalined to Fox News Sunday why this was. (Hint: it's not his fault.)

"...given the level of the insurgency today, two years later, clearly if we
had been able to get the 4th Infantry Division in from the north through
Turkey, more of the Iraqi Saddam Hussein Baathist regime would have been
captured or killed. The insurgency today would be less.

What happened was we had to come in from the south, our 4th Infantry
Division was blocked in the north.

As a result, by the time Baghdad was taken, the large fraction of the
Iraqi military and intelligence services just dissipated into the communities.
And they're still, in a number of instances, still active."

And naturally, in any case it was the generals on the ground making the calls as to troop numbers and what to guard and what not to guard. It wasn't Rummy. (Goddamn Turks!)

Also from April 11th 2003 there is this oldy but goody. Remember, this is less than a month after the invasion.

DOD briefing on the war:

Rummy: "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over,
and over, and over, and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some
building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, "My goodness, were
there that many vases?" (Laughter.) "Is it possible that there were that many
vases in the whole country?"

Q: Do you think that the words "anarchy" and "lawlessness" are
ill-chosen --

Rumsfeld: Absolutely. I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe
it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it
just was Henny Penny -- "The sky is falling." I've never seen anything like it!
And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from
being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're

And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a
man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot -- one thing after
another. It's just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is
happening in that country!"

Certainly Ken Adelman, "Mr. Cakewalk," after laying low as the initial invasion seemed to be going a little shaky was quoted as saying critics of the Iraqi war plan couldn't argue with success. Right you are Ken!

William Bennet said "This will go down as one of the greatest militray efforts of all time!"

William Krystal said, "This is a little bit of Vietnam in reverse, I would argue." If by that he meant just like Vietnam, he would be right.

And best of all, check out James K. Sweeney ["I told you so."] from April 9, 2003:

"The war is over; the mop up will take another week or so...

Iraq is about the size of California with a population around 25 million.
It was conquered (yes, conquered) in about 2 weeks. Dictators the world over are
simply in shock and awe over that indisputable fact....

The American military can kill the bad guys without destroying the country.
Iraq was a remarkable military and political event. It was executed without
wreaking havoc on the civilian population and at a loss of something less than
200 deaths, half of which were accidents, not from enemy fire. If that doesn’t
send a clear message to North Korea and the rest, nothing will.

And who was right? We were. The President; the best security cabinet in
generations; the neo-cons; the chicken hawks; and those of us the losers call
imperialists, corporate lackeys, killers and worse. All of them were wrong and
all of us were right."

You sure were Jimmy boy. Got any lotto numbers for me today?

Two months after Iraq's "historic election" we're still waiting for a government to appear. The NY Times reports today:

"The country's leading political parties held last-minute talks today
before a meeting of the National Assembly scheduled for Tuesday, as a wave of
violence in central Iraq that began on Sunday night left at least nine people
dead, several of them police officers.

As the 275-member assembly prepared to hold its second meeting, more
than two months after general elections, it appeared that the top politicians
had failed to reach any deal to install a government."

U.S. casualties are way down in the past month, probably due to us pulling our troops back into heavily guarded bases just as the Brits are doing in Basra.

The Guardian reports:

"It is quite hard to find out what's going on in Iraq these days for the
simple reason, I assume, that for safety reasons almost all reporters are
confined to their hotel rooms.

Such a situation suits our government in the run-up to the election, when they will try to present us with a picture of slow but rewarding progress in Iraq following the elections of two months ago.

Despite the frequent car bombs in Baghdad, some people may still have in their minds a picture of a more peaceful scene in the south of the country; for example, in Basra where our troops not so long ago were to be seen riding around wearing berets and waving to the natives.

A story in the Times last week gives a different picture. The reporter,
Catherine Philp, described how a group of picnicking students had been attacked
by members of an Islamic militia. Two of them were killed and others beaten with
sticks and rifles butts.

According to Ms Philp, the town of Basra is today controlled by
fanatical religious militias which disapprove of things like picnics.

So what has happened to the British army which, we thought, was in
charge? When one of the students appealed for help at the British military base
he was told to 'go to the Iraqi authorities'.

From this account, it appears that our army is confined to barracks waiting to be told what to do by a government that doesn't exist. That probably suits Mr Blair, as the last thing he wants is more British casualties hitting the headlines. But one wonders what the army thinks about it. "

Meanwhile, we're trying to get the hell out of there and we don't care how many Iraqi soliders have to die to get it done. We've got Iran to get to.

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