BuzzFlash.com's World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR DECEMBER 3, 2001
Editorials and op-ed pieces -- sometimes harsh --relating to Bush and the United States this weekend…
1// The Guardian/Observer, UK--EDITORIAL - BLOODSTAINED BUSH: CAUTION GIVES WAY TO KILLER INSTINCT ("…the suspicion will remain that the US is pursuing a policy of capital punishment without trial.")
2//The Dawn, Pakistan--EDITORIAL-MY LAI IN AFGHANISTAN ("The real issue is the use of excessive force by the US-led allies, including the use of air power by the Americans…. My Lai seems to have been repeated in Afghanistan…This war crime … should not go unpunished.")
3//Ha'aretz, Israel--OP-ED-WHAT HAPPENED TO QUALITATIVE SUPERIORITY? ("A question for George Bush, President of the United States: Where did the concept "qualitative superiority" disappear to? His predecessor, Bill Clinton, promised at every opportunity that America was committed to Israel's security and to preserving the qualitative superiority of the Israel Defense Forces in the Middle East….That promise was eroded, at least publicly, when the White House changed hands.)
4//The Jerusalem Post, Israel--OP-ED-PLEASE DON'T PREACH TO US ("And now, the Zinni and Burns show has opened, and we shall expect to hear their "recommendations" in the near future. But the question we must ask is, "Who has the right to preach morality and proper conduct to the people of Israel?" Who among these paradigms of ethical integrity and social justice has earned the right to sit in judgment upon us and school us in what is right and what is wrong?")
5//The Moscow Times, Russia--OP-ED-U.S. MISSILES STILL ON ALERT ("They've categorically rejected de-alerting," says Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information. "[Bush] has reversed himself completely [from his campaign pledges].")
The Guardian/Observer Sunday December 2, 2001
- BLOODSTAINED BUSH: CAUTION GIVES WAY TO KILLER INSTINCT
In the aftermath of 11 September this paper endorsed military action to dismantle the al-Qaeda network and the Taliban. Our note of caution was that if this was to be a just war against an enemy that threatened us all then it should be carefully and justly prosecuted. We congratulated President Bush for building international consensus for military action and for staying his hand while he considered the best course of action. It was a sign, we noted with surprise, of a stomach for prudence and multilateralism.
That was then. Three weeks of rapid military successes on the ground in Afghanistan have transformed the international landscape as surely as the 11 September attacks. Bush's appetite for both prudence and international involvement appears to have abated, replaced by the hawkish unilateralism of an expectant victor. America has made it clear that while it is still hunting al-Qaeda's foreign fighters its allies are only welcome in Afghanistan if they are there to lend a hand in the killing and not to get in the way by delivering humanitarian aid. Other senior officials have made it clear that they would not be disappointed if all of the Taliban's foreign fighters were wiped out.
In this context the killings of Taliban prisoners - many with their hands bound - in a fort near Mazar-i Sharif in an operation directed by American and British Special Forces raises urgent and legitimate concerns. It is not good enough for the US and their friends in Tony Blair and Jack Straw to reject calls for an inquiry out of hand. It may be that the manacled prisoners were caught in crossfire. But until the circumstances are investigated we cannot know. And, until they are, the suspicion will remain that the US is pursuing a policy of capital punishment without trial.
EDITORIAL-MY LAI IN AFGHANISTAN
The world must be surprised by the silence the US and Britain have maintained over the recent massacres in Afghanistan. In at least one of the crimes, American and British forces are suspected to be involved. Not only these two: all key western governments, including France and Germany, have chosen to keep mum over what is a blatant violation of the laws of war. Both at Qala-i-Jangi and at Takhta-Pul, what happened seemed like a replay of atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.
While it is true that the Geneva conventions do not apply to foreign volunteers, they, nevertheless, retain the privilege of being human beings and, thus, are entitled to life and humane treatment. Any violation of this code of conduct by victors deserves condemnation and calls for legal action under the laws of war against the offending individual or individuals. However, it would be an understatement to call the events at Qala-i-Jangi and Takhta-Pul as mere violations of the laws of war; what actually happened was a cold-blooded and well-planned massacre of PoWs. Most shocking is the involvement of the US and UK in the crime at Qala-i-Jangi.
Whether the prisoners actually revolted or whether the revolt was engineered is an important but secondary question. The real issue is the use of excessive force by the US-led allies, including the use of air power by the Americans. Maybe, the revolt was not engineered; maybe, the PoWs had smuggled their arms in and revolted. But putting down a revolt in a mud fort, which was, in any case, surrounded on all sides by the Northern soldiers and British commandos, should not have been such a difficult task.
They could have been tired out and made to surrender. But to call in American gunships and fire into men holding rifles and Kalashnikovs gives a clear impression that the aim of the allied high command was the wholesale slaughter of the PoWs. As remarked by Robert Fisk, the celebrated British war correspondent, the hands of the "British troops are now stained with war crimes." That goes for the Americans, too. My Lai seems to have been repeated in Afghanistan.
All that we so far have on this horrible crime is a "we will look into it" kind of reaction from the Pentagon; and that, too, concerns not the Qala-i-Jangi atrocities but the massacre at Takhta-Pul, where the criminals were local (southern) chieftains. No word has come from the State Department, nor has Whitehall reacted. This is strange, because governments normally are quick to defend themselves.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan, too, has not stirred himself. As Amnesty International has said, the US and British governments "cannot hide from saying simply 'that is war'." Clearly, all sane minds would agree with AI that there is a need for an inquiry into the massacre. One hopes the UN will start an inquiry into what AI calls the "proportionality of the response" by the US-led forces so as to determine who in the allies' military or civilian set-up ordered the prisoners' massacre. This war crime, like the one at Sabra-Chattila, should not go unpunished.
HAPPENED TO QUALITATIVE SUPERIORITY?
NEW YORK - A question for George Bush, President of the United States: Where did the concept "qualitative superiority" disappear to? His predecessor, Bill Clinton, promised at every opportunity that America was committed to Israel's security and to preserving the qualitative superiority of the Israel Defense Forces in the Middle East.
That promise was eroded, at least publicly, when the White House changed hands. In the speech in which he delineated his vision of the Middle East, Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke of an iron-clad commitment to Israel's security. There was no mention of qualitative superiority.
Powell spoke of this at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention in April. Israel is worried not about American words, but by the actions of the government and its intentions to continue selling large numbers of weapons to Arab states.
superiority" is a slippery concept, the definition of which has been
the subject of much discussion, but it can be viewed as meaning three
The last item is currently being put to the test. The administration wants to provide Egypt with advanced warships armed with Harpoon missiles that can hit naval and land targets with great accuracy and which in Israel are known as "the poor man's Tomahawk." The Ministry of Defense has informed the United States that Israel views the deal as a threat to its security and a blow to its qualitative superiority.
The United States is reshaping its relationships with its Arab friends. At the head of this list are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both of which disappointed the United States with their hesitant support following the attacks of September 11. The Americans learned that the concept of "allies" is perceived differently in the Arab world, and sharp criticism of the regimes in Cairo and Riyadh has become fashionable in Washington.
The Israeli fear is that in order to regain its close relationships with President Hosni Mubarak and Crown Prince Abdallah, the Americans will return to their old methods and bribe their Arab friends with a steady stream of advanced armaments. This would also benefit American industry.
All of that weaponry, however, is superfluous. The threats to Egypt and the Gulf states are not external ones. All these states are closely protected by the Americans. The threats to their survival come from internal instability. If the regimes collapse, then the advanced weapons are liable to fall into the wrong hands, as happened in Iran following its Islamic Revolution. Israel is less concerned about the arming of the United Arab Emirates or of distant Kuwait. The neighboring state of Egypt is a different matter, despite Mubarak's promises that he will not wage war.
OP-ED-PLEASE DON'T PREACH TO US--Stewart Weiss
(December 2) - And so the parade continues. Over the course of this last year - as the violence has raged - a steady stream of foreign dignitaries has landed on our shores, all with one express mission: to "advise" Israel on what path to take.
There was Mary Robinson of the United Nations' so-called Human Rights Commission, expounding on what steps we need to take to ease "Palestinian suffering." Then the Mitchell and Tenet delegations hit town, offering their wisdom on what the political landscape should look like. The European Union was here, too, dispensing sage advice, as did Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, who urged an end to the "cycle of violence" between the warring parties. And now, the Zinni and Burns show has opened, and we shall expect to hear their "recommendations" in the near future.
But the question we must ask is, "Who has the right to preach morality and proper conduct to the people of Israel?" Who among these paradigms of ethical integrity and social justice has earned the right to sit in judgment upon us and school us in what is right and what is wrong?
And what of the United States, our ally and father figure? Of all the countries on earth, the United States most deserves our attention and gratitude. It has stood by us from the moment of our statehood - even earlier - and often, as it demonstrated in Durban when it walked out of the obscene "human rights" conference, is even prepared to go it alone when it comes to our welfare.
Yet America, too, must know that we are a sovereign nation with a unique geo-political situation; that we face an existential threat which demands an extraordinary response. What America tragically experienced in the space of a few hours on September 11, we have battled against every day of our existence. And the extreme measures we have been forced to utilize and for which we are viciously castigated - such as the targeted killing of terrorist leaders, collective punishment, physical pressure during interrogations, and selected news blackouts - are all suddenly de rigueur in the new American arsenal against terror. The teacher, it would appear, has become the pupil.
The story is told of a yeshiva student in Poland before the war, who returned from a visit to Germany and came to see his rosh yeshiva (principal). The student was extremely impressed with the sophisticated manner of the Germans. "They are so polite," said the young man, "they even end their statements with a question. Such as when one German saw me on the street and remarked, 'your tie is crooked, no?'" Without explanation, the rosh yeshiva slapped the boy across the face.
The Holocaust ensued, and the rosh yeshiva miraculously survived. He came to Israel, where he reopened his yeshiva. Years later, he was sitting in his office when a man came in, walking sideways. The man said, "Do you remember me? I was the boy you slapped some years ago. I never understood why you did that, but now I know." The man then turned to face the rosh yeshiva, and revealed that he had only one arm. "What happened to your arm?" asked the shocked principal.
The man put his head down and tearfully went on. "I was in a concentration camp, and one day the commandant walked in and pulled me out of line and told me to hold out my arm. Then he took out the sword he always carried, and, in one fell swoop, lopped off my arm...
The German then looked at me and said, 'It hurts, no?'
What mortal person or nation has the credentials to preach morality to us?
(The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana.)
OP-ED-U.S. MISSILES STILL ON ALERT By Matt Bivens
NEW YORK -- De-alerting nuclear weapons means keeping them, but making them harder to use. It might start with a new presidential order -- "We don't launch until we've taken, say, five hours to think about it." A next step could be as prosaic as taking the launch keys away from the junior officers out in the ICBM silos. Over time, warheads could be taken off of missiles and stored. Candidate George W. Bush campaigned on de-alerting the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Enter the handshake in Crawford. President Bush agreed to reduce the U.S. arsenal from 6,000 nuclear missiles to as low as 1,700. But oddly, he also said it would take 10 years -- even though his administration has been quite specific that it is not scrapping the missiles, only "de-alerting" them -- which in this case apparently extends to removing and storing warheads.
"Why that would take 10 years is beyond me," said John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World, a disarmament group focused on lobbying Congress. Simply by giving new orders and collecting launch keys, those 4,300 nuclear missiles could head into de-alert within 24 hours.
And what of the remaining missiles? It seems they are not going to be de-alerted at all. A classified Nuclear Posture Review drawn up by the Bush administration should soon be in the hands of key members of Congress. Sources familiar with the report's contents say it keeps thousands of missiles ready to go in minutes. "They've categorically rejected de-alerting," says Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information. "[Bush] has reversed himself completely [from his campaign pledges]."
In Wyoming two years ago, Blair watched two junior officers performing the same job he had performed 30 years ago: rehearsing a launch. These men -- both in their 20s -- were capable of launching 500 nuclear warheads within just two minutes of receiving their orders.
Matt Bivens, a former editor of The Moscow Times, is a Washington-based fellow of The Nation Institute [www.thenation.com].
otherwise noted, all original