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Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’

Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2010

A Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli  tank in the  occupied West Bank.

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

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PM Blair seems to have deployed arguments as they suited him. Our weapons inspections were telling another story

Before the Iraq war was launched in March 2003 the world was given the impression by the US and Britain that the goal was to eradicate weapons of mass destruction. Recent comments by Tony Blair suggest, however, that regime change was the essential aim. He would have thought it right to remove Saddam Hussein even if he had known that there were no WMD, he said, but he would obviously have had to “deploy” different arguments. Must we not conclude that the WMD arguments were “deployed” mainly as the best way of selling the war? Blair’s comments do not exclude a strong – but mistaken – belief in the existence of WMD even when the invasion was launched. However, given that hundreds of inspections had found no WMD and important evidence had fallen apart, such a belief would have been based on a lack of critical thinking.

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Iraq’s Shocking Human Toll: About 1 Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans

By John Tirman, The Nation. Posted February 2, 2009.

Now that Bush is gone, perhaps we can honestly face the damage we have wrought and the responsibilities we must accept from it.

We are now able to estimate the number of Iraqis who have died in the war instigated by the Bush administration. Looking at the empirical evidence of Bush’s war legacy will put his claims of victory in perspective. Of course, even by his standards — “stability” — the jury is out. Most independent analysts would say it’s too soon to judge the political outcome. Nearly six years after the invasion, the country remains riven by sectarian politics and major unresolved issues, like the status of Kirkuk.

We have a better grasp of the human costs of the war. For example, the United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis — more than half of them refugees — or about one in every six citizens. Only 5 percent have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence from the high levels of 2005-07. The availability of healthcare, clean water, functioning schools, jobs and so forth remains elusive. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

The mortality caused by the war is also high. Several household surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2007. While there are differences among them, the range suggests a congruence of estimates. But none have been conducted for eighteen months, and the two most reliable surveys were completed in mid-2006. The higher of those found 650,000 “excess deaths” (mortality attributable to war); the other yielded 400,000. The war remained ferocious for twelve to fifteen months after those surveys were finished and then began to subside. Iraq Body Count, a London NGO that uses English-language press reports from Iraq to count civilian deaths, provides a means to update the 2006 estimates. While it is known to be an undercount, because press reports are incomplete and Baghdad-centric, IBC nonetheless provides useful trends, which are striking. Its estimates are nearing 100,000, more than double its June 2006 figure of 45,000. (It does not count nonviolent excess deaths — from health emergencies, for example — or insurgent deaths.) If this is an acceptable marker, a plausible estimate of total deaths can be calculated by doubling the totals of the 2006 household surveys, which used a much more reliable and sophisticated method for estimates that draws on long experience in epidemiology. So we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million “excess deaths” as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war.

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UN official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday January 26, 2009

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”

Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”

At issue, however, is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.

It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002.

This video is from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Jan. 26, 2009.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Israel Shells UN Headquarters In Gaza

IBRAHIM BARZAK and AMY TEIBEL | January 15, 2009 10:32 AM EST | AP

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, engulfing the compound and a warehouse in fire and destroying thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinian refugees.

U.N. workers and Palestinian firefighters, some wearing bulletproof jackets, struggled to douse the flames and pull bags of food aid from the debris after the Israeli attack, which was another blow to efforts to ease the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Dense smoke billowed from the compound.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in the region to end the devastating offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers, demanded a “full explanation” and said the Israeli defense minister told him there had been a “grave mistake.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the military fired artillery shells at the U.N. compound after Hamas militants opened fire from the location. Three people were wounded.

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Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes

Raw Story- Nick Juliano
Published: Monday December 29, 2008

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.

Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its “all-out” war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.

Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an “independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza.” The Democratic lawmaker said Israel’s attacks are an example of “collective punishment,” which violates the Geneva Conventions.

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