Notebook, 1 June 2011: Some Days, Isolationism Looks Good

How I spend my day off. I do some housekeeping here at home as well as on the various places on the web where I reside. A little organization to make life easier. It’s a regularly recurring task, because I normally use three browsers: one for news, another for blogs, and a third to touch base with various online foreign policy journals.

Using multiple tabs, opening a browser is an exercise in patience for me.

Later on today, I’ll scroll through the twenty or so studies and white papers I downloaded last night. My idea of a fun time.

One thing I did was to gather all my news links into one place so Firefox opens a bit faster than it did: my *Daily Readswas the target of some cleanup. Hopefully, while the rest of the political blogosphere moans and groans over things like the failed debt limit vote in the House (why this is news isn’t exactly clear to me, the GOP telegraphed their intentions months ago and the markets have ignored the kabuki), I will attempt a quick news roundup of stories of note which go unremarked in the lefty blogosphere:

I’m of two minds on this development. As Stephen Walt noted back on 18 April, Qaddafi may well wind up getting a better deal for being a monster than Hosni Mubarak, who did the right thing in the end: Mubarak and sons to stand trial in August. I’ve never quite been able to shake a faint nausea (yes, I feel it now) at the thought of the cosmic injustice in this. Of course, the real injustices in Egypt occurred under Mubarak, yet the basic situation is unchanged. Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced to three years imprisonment for being mildly unkind to the Egyptian military. Yes mild. See for yourself.
Anyone paying the least amount of tension at all quickly comes to realize that being an honest journalist on the Asian continent is tantamount to suicide. I’m speaking here of Asia Times journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was laid to rest

Mr Shahzad’s body was brought directly to the mosque from the airport by Islamabad police. It was kept in a casket, which remained closed; Islamic rituals stipulate that the body should be in an open box with the face uncovered unless there are extreme reasons not to do so.

Evidently, he was tortured, shot, buried, exhumed, and placed in a car to be discovered later. Of course, “terrorists” are blamed for this, but the question becomes then, do we include the Pakistan army when we say this? According to >Pepe Escobar, we may talking about the same entity:

Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) deserves a medal of honor. Quite an intel op; whether it did it directly, subcontracted by military intelligence or through “rogue” elements, it has set the bar very high.

Politics on practically all of the Asian landmass is fundamentally different that in Europe (how and to what extent is something I’m giving considerable thought to these days), and if anyone has any doubt why the US supports Israel through thick and thin, in spite of its ongoing crime of ethnic cleansing, it’s acts like these. They are the norm, not the exception. Where, after all, is Ai Weiwei?

File this one under All The War We Can Get Away With

After The Cable reported that Senate has no plans to invoke War Powers Act over Libya, this story was utterly predictable: NATO extends Libya air campaign until late September, which, if my math is correct, is beyond the thirty day extension the War Powers Act of 1973 allows. Isn’t it nice to see a democratic president play games with the law just as his criminal predecessor did?

Speaking of war criminals, Date set for Mladic war crimes trial. Another cosmic injustice. Not that Mladic faces justice, but that so many others get a pass.

Here’s a Wilsonian idea. How about a multilateral treaty which mandates becoming a states party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. If a nation fails to do so, then you don’t get to be a member of the WTO or the UN. Your don’t get to trade overseas. You don’t get to stash your billions in the estimated 41 worldwide tax haven or banking secrecy jurisdictions. Maybe you don’t get international telcom service or your commercial aviation doesn’t get to cross anyone else’s borders.

You become a pariah nation, and are treated as such.

I can only imagine the storm in the US this would cause, because a constitutional amendment would be required to enact this (though treaties are included in the supremacy clause, nobody in the US, including the president and congress, has the power to sign and ratify a treaty whose provisions super-cede the constitution).

Call it making the rule of law real.

Of course, this is only a pipe-dream. All it would accomplish is the death of the WTO and UN, as well as any other supra-national body. We talk a lot about civil society, but when it gets right down to it, we prefer our sovereignty and anarchic international relations.

The “rule of law” is only something we pay lip service to.

More Reflections on Netanyahu’s speech, where David Frost interviews Dan Gillerman (ex-Israeli ambassador to the UN), whose has a penchant for saucy simile which he substitutes for debate, and Munib al-Masri, Palestinian MP contender

Frost: Let’s go now to Beirut, where a leading Palestinian Prime Ministerial candidate, Munib AL-Masri, has been at the bedside of his grandson shot by Israeli troops during a protest on Isreal’s border with Lebanon a fortnight ago. Other wise he could have been here in London, but I gather the news is indeed that your grandson is out of intensive care now.

Al Masri: Yes, sir David, he’s out of intensive care now, I told him I’m coming here to talk to you and he told me to say hello to you.

Frost: Well that’s very nice. I’m pleased . . . please return the greetings as well.

Al Masri: I shall.

Frost: That protest march where he was shot and so on, it was said in all the papers that it was, in fact, unarmed.

Al Masri: Completely unarmed. He and maybe thirty or forty students from the American University of Beirut with thousands of unarmed Palestinians who are very much interested to see their homeland from a distance, which they did.

I may be mistaken, but the issue of shooting unarmed protesters has come up recently, hasn’t it?

However, there’s some civility left in the world after all.

Bolivia apologises to Argentina for Iran minister visit:

General Vahidi is wanted by Argentina for allegedly masterminding the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca wrote to his Argentine counterpart, saying Mr Vahidi would be leaving immediately.

Iran has long denied any involvement in the bombing.

Ok, I admit that I’m not up to speed on the 1994 Jewish Center bombing in Buenos Aires. Back in 1994, I was working 12 or 15 hours a day in an internet startup. 10 hours a day was a short day, and I vividly remember one 8 hour day because it was like a half day of school. However, I really need to wonder about Iran bringing the fight to Buenos Aires, of all places. This claim sends my BS flag up to half-mast.

Any good information on the incident, as opposed to bare claims and accusations, would be duly noted and corrections made.

This will do for today. There’s more, but this will do. I apologize to anyone who reads this far, because there isn’t much good news here. Sorry about that. Today I’ve found too many stories about good people being imprisoned and killed, while those at the very pinnacles of our various societies and most in the lefty blogosphere don’t seem to give a damn. Today I find myself faced with the stark fact (yet again) that our national security policy, our diplomatic apparatus, our entire political debate and our standards over life-and-death issues in the world are selectively applied.

And nobody, not in one story of the dozens I’ve read through today even hint at this long standing hypocrisy. Don’t even talk to me about the legitimacy of regimes.

At many levels, there are none in the world today.


2 thoughts on “Notebook, 1 June 2011: Some Days, Isolationism Looks Good

  1. And the hits just keep on coming . . .

    Muslim scholars pulled from Delta plane in Memphis:

    (Reuters) – Two Muslim scholars headed to a conference on American fears of Islam were pulled from a morning flight on Friday, and were later told that the pilot had refused to fly with them aboard.


    The two men were headed to a North American Imams conference where they were scheduled to lead prayers. This year’s conference is discussing Islamophobia or fears of Islam and discrimination against American Muslims.

    Not like that conference was without a point.

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