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September 19, 2007

To be Clear: Iraqis Don't Want Sectarian Divisions

I want every pundit in the US to read "Future Look of Iraq Complicated by Internal Migration," by James Glanz and Alissa J. Rubin in today's NYT. Maybe after reading the article, they'll stop suggesting that Iraq should be split into 3 ethnic states. Such division does not exist in Iraq - it is only happening when people stare down the barrel of a gun.

Apparently, the point of this "war on terror" is to terrorize the people of Iraq and allow militias to rule over them.

Over all, the patterns suggest that despite the ethnic and sectarian animosity that has gripped the country, at least some Iraqis would rather continue to live in mixed communities. ...

But the new figures show that the migration is not neatly dividing Baghdad along the Tigris, separating Sunnis who live predominantly on the west bank from Shiites, who live predominantly on the east. Instead, some Sunnis are moving to the predominantly Shiite side of the river, into neighborhoods that are relatively secular, mixed and where services are better, according to Red Crescent staff.

All together now: people do not naturally divide themselves by ethnicity. They seek the best place to raise a family: the safest neighborhood with the best utilities and schools. Sound familiar? For the life of me, I can't understand why US'ers think Arabs are so different from us. All around the world, people want the same thing: safe neighborhoods, good schools, and modern utilities that operate 24/7.

Why is it so difficult for US'ers to understand that it is our government, our corrupt contractors that are screwing up in Iraq? If we had sent the Army Corps of Engineers in to create an eletrical grid, instead of relying on Halliburton and the like, Iraqis might have reliable power now, 4 years into the occupation. Obviously, the army isn't the best at all engineering tasks - you don't have to look further than New Orleans to see how big their mistakes can be. But we could've stopped some of the madness & expense on private security firms if we had handled this occupation as a public-effort rather than a private-profit grab funded by taxpayers.

Here's a novel idea - we could've worked through the UN Dept of Peacekeeping Operations. You know, it's not too late to bring in the DPKO. Throw in some recognition for UNSCR 1325 and the US might actually be able to turn its failed occupation into the beginnings of conflict resolution...

a girl's gotta dream.

related article: "Checkbook Imperialism: The Blackwater Fiasco," by Robert Scheer. Found via Portside

NYT article found via UN Wire

Posted by cj at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2007

The War Goes On...and the Pundits Still Think Division Is Just

On This Week, the pundits gently explained that the only way forward in Iraq is further division "like in the Balkans." Let's be clear: Yugoslavia began with ethnic enclaves, and was further divided by genocide. Iraq began with ethnic diversity (even in the Kurdish North) and because of US incompetence, is being divided by genocide.

Let's flip this scenario around and look at crime in the US. A lot of it is ethnically-based. For example, Latinos and Blacks in LA are more adversely affected by violent crime than other ethnicities. Using the logic of US politicians and pundits, the way to deter crime is to force Latinos to live in one part of the city and Black to live in the opposite. Their governments should operate autonomously because obviously, they innately can't get along. And whites, should stay in the middle-land between these two "warring factions" because clearly the ethnicities are incapable of getting along.

When you look at the US plan for "peace building" in Iraq through the lens of a US city, you realize how utterly ridiculous & asinine it really is. Humans are extremely capable of accepting diversity: it is leaders who exploit differences in order to garner power. US'ers don't even bother to learn the language of the lands they occupy, let alone understand the culture. We're so enamored by the Israeli government that our government seems convinced that Arabs are incapable of rational thought or rational politics. Let's be clear: US companies are stealing taxpayer money and not providing Iraqis with basic services like electricity and clean water. Thugs have exploited the chaos created by the US occupation to hold people for ransom, and kill indiscriminately as members of the Interior Ministry.

Not to mention the chaos we've unleashed in Afghanistan. I admit - I stupidly thought we were going into Afghanistan to help its people, especially its women who were so cruelly exploited and subjugated by the Taliban. Instead, we've added a sheen of legitimacy to a bunch of warlords and the US occupation of Iraq, along with Britney's latest drunken foibles, offers a great cover up to the expansion of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Here's hoping some intelligence enters the intelligentsia in the next year.

Posted by cj at 9:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007

UN Adopts Rights of Indigenous People

Today the UN General Assembly adopted The Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. Interestingly, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States voted against it. Work on this declaration began in 1982, which either shows you how long it takes to write a document in the UN or tells you a lot of thought went into this declaration.

It's non-binding, but is supposed to set a minimum standard for future laws. The Kiwi government rep said they fully support indigenous rights, but that the declaration goes against their constitution, treaties, and laws. I guess they were looking at the broadest possible interpretation, rather than focusing on the symbolic use of a rights declaration. The US'ers complained about being shut out from negotiations on the text of the declaration (perhaps because my country is being represented by people who would rather blow up the UN building than seriously work within multinational organizations). I imagine the Canadians and Aussies are also afraid of rampant reparations demands, since like the Kiwis and US'ers they stole their countries from indigenous people.

On the positive side, 143 countries voted in favor of the declaration.

UN Press Release on Declaration of Indigenous People's Rights
AP story via the International Herald Tribune

by the way, the UN Commission on Human Security just issued its first quarterly newsletter for civil society (that's us regular folks) (pdf).

Posted by cj at 9:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2007

Support the UN Human Rights Council

It is a shame that the UN Human Rights Council has been unable to take strong stances on more issues in the world. I am not an expert on UN reform, so I cannot speak to what is holding it back from completely denouncing the genocide in Darfur. I do know that the US government looks like morons for trying to cut off funding to the organization. The US Congress claims that the council is bias against Israel - biased because it has denounced Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine and Israel's illegal war on Lebanon. It is a testamount to the Israel Lobby (both Jewish and Gentile), that cutting off funding to the Council has bipartisan support in the US.

Please tell your Congressional representatives that the only way to further human rights is to support the international organization created to enforce them. Human Rights for All People - not just those who look like us.

AP article by Justin Bergman
Washington Times article by Betsy Pitsik

HRC opened its 6th session on Monday

Posted by cj at 10:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2007

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

If you listen to Republican presidential candidates and Sunday morning pundits, you'd assume that the only way to project power and create security is to be the biggest bully in the world, with the most active military. Political discussion in the US media allows the following fascinating range of discussion on security: those who only understand US culture and think everyone hates our freedom and we therefore have to teach them democracy through the barrel of a gun and those who only understand US culture and think we can teach the world freedom through a combination of military force and free-market capitalism.

Do you ever hear a peace expert asked for their opinion? I'm not talking about those folks who organize marches on the mall, I mean people who study the root causes of war and can explain what happens in the world based on a nuanced understanding of history. Not only do US legislators, military, and pundits not understand Iraq, they don't understand the basic reasons that ethnic conflict becomes ethnic violence.

The answer to the chaos in Iraq is not splitting the country up by "ethnic regions." First, people don't live in schtetls. It's not like the entire populace hates each other b/c of ethnic differences. Differences are being exploited by strong men seeking power; the Other is a powerful tool in rallying support for a leader. Forcing the populace to follow these bullies into separate states is a white man's way of dealing with racial violence. The US has never understood the basics of racial justice, so how can we possibly lead another country into an ethnically diverse, working democracy?

Second, why does no one say "hey idiots - perhaps we should turn this operation over to the UN Peacekeeping?" Take a look at the official site of the DPKO. I fundamentally believe that the only way to move forward in creating peace is to work through the UN. Many things have gone wrong in past and current missions, but if we honestly supported the UN, and implemented Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, I believe we would be closer to achieving real security for Iraq and the world.

Security means more than having the biggest gun. Human security is dependent on a continuous food supply, access to healthcare, a place to sleep, and peace with neighbors.

I'm constantly fascinated by the lack of real discussion on the Sunday gab fests. I'm watching last week's Real Time with Bill Maher show and Barbara Bodine is offering more insight on Iraq "reconstruction" than 2 hrs of male talking heads on ABC and NBC. Slate tells me I must read the NYT and WaPo stories on Iraq as background to the coming week's announcements. Quite honestly, I'm done wasting my time on such articles. Until SCR 1325 and human security become part of the dialog, what's the point of me reading mainstream news accounts of the US imperialistic occupation of the 2nd largest oil reserve in the world?

Posted by cj at 3:53 PM | Comments (0)