The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'un'
Sinister things are afoot at the United Nations, with an alliance of countries moving to change the UN Human Rights Council's mission to one prohibiting the criticism of religion. The alliance is comprised mostly of Islamic countries, though China, Russia and Cuba are notable by their presence. (It can only be presumed that they are doing this out of the principle of supporting repression wherever it rears its head.) I heard that the Vatican may also be involved, though this is unconfirmed.
For what it's worth, if you live in the UK, you can petition the Prime Minister to oppose this; if enough people do so, maybe, just maybe, he will.
Reports from the UN Summit. It looks like Make Poverty History is history, with plans for poverty reduction having been blocked. Meanwhile, the UN passed a resolution calling on member states to outlaw incitement to terrorism. The exact definitions of "incitement", and indeed, "terrorism", are left for individual states to interpret, which makes it somewhat less than the sweeping victory it was painted at. Nations would be free to exempt pet groups of ideologically-allied "freedom fighters" from being classified as terrorists, whilst using the laws to crack down on all sorts of dissent; for example, it is conceivable that China would declare Falun Gong and Tibetan independence movements "terrorist" under these laws, or that Australia would classify, say, anti-war, anti-logging and refugee-rights movements as terrorist and reserve the ability to bring the full brunt of anti-terrorist laws against anyone with a copy of No Logo (incitement to protest, which in John
Bjelke-Howard's Australia is seen as a national security issue), should they sufficiently annoy the right interests.
Two US political links lifted from unsworn@lj: apparently President Bush is being heavily medicated by his handlers to control his increasingly erratic behaviour. Which is understandable, as you wouldn't want the Leader of the Free World, say, ordering a surprise nuclear strike on Cuba or suddenly sending British and Australian troops into Canada or something; on the other hand, the drugs are claimed to impair the President's mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and ability to respond to a crisis:
Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a "paranoid meglomaniac" and "untreated alcoholic" whose "lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad" showcase Bush's instabilities. "I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed," Dr. Frank said. "He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated."
Meanwhile, some congresspersons are now pushing for UN supervision of the US Presidential elections. Apparently bills banning the UN from monitoring US elections are being or have been passed, though; pity, as it'd have been amusing to see the fraças as France, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia volunteer officials to the multinational election monitoring team.
Speaking of Our Saudi Friends, they've now proposed an Islamic peacekeeping force for Iraq, which the US has cautiously agreed with. Which all sounds like a case of the fox winning the chicken-coop-guarding contract. Apart from more or less putting the damper on the ideal much promoted by the neocons of a pluralist, secular, McDonalds-enabled democracy arising in Iraq (or, indeed, of Iraqi women even retaining the rights they had under Saddam's neo-Stalinist dictatorship, for that matter), the Islamic militants currently streaming into Iraq to kill infidels are likely to get a rich new sponsor than be put out of business. Osama bin Laden, if he is still alive, must be a very happy man these days.
His deputy's badge shining in the glow of victory (or even "victory"), Australia's Prime Minister has called for France to resign from the security council, to be replaced by a permanent member "more representative of the modern world" At the moment, the French would have to voluntarily surrender their seat on the Security Council, and with typical Gallic arrogance, they refuse to acknowledge their own irrelevance in the New American Century and fall on their sword. Hey, maybe if enough media pundits, bloggers and talk radio hosts make sarcastic remarks about cheese-eating surrender monkeys, they'll be shamed into getting with the program and the hell out of dodge. Failing that, we could always drop a few high-tech precision bombs on the UN headquarters, claim the UN is broken and rebuild it, better than before, and more compliant with the New World Order.
The Onion has a great war-time issue, with stories like U.S. Forms Own U.N., Bush Bravely Leads 3rd Infantry Into Battle, Dead Iraqi Would Have Loved Democracy and Local Mom Whips Up Some Of Her Famous War Pie; and more.
The Pentagon declares that France is no longer an ally and must be "contained". Pentagon Policy Advisory Board Richard Perle also declared that the UN Security Council, on which France has a permanent seat, is irrelevant. Multilateralism, and the post-WW2 ideal of resolving conflicts through debate and consensus, edges one step closer to collapse. (via die puny humans)
(France is one of the small number of "legitimate" nuclear powers. Perhaps now that France is no longer worthy of trust (in the ways that, say, Israel and Pakistan, are) we can expect the USA and Britain demanding that France abandon its weapons of mass destruction or face military intervention? Won't Ann Coulter be pleased when that happens.)
UN covers up Guernica, Picasso's painting of maimed and dying civilians in a shelled village during the Spanish civil war, for a photo opportunity. Or perhaps because the message would be politically inappropriate given current events?
The drapes were installed last Monday and Wednesday -- the days the council discussed Iraq -- and came down Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, when the subjects included Afghanistan and peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and Western Sahara.
(via bOING bOING)
Proof that Australia's foreign policy isn't just about sucking up to Uncle George: Australia votes against UN anti-torture protocol, joining an elite club of such esteemed defenders of human rights as China, Cuba, Libya and Nigeria. (The US, incidentally, abstained.) I've no idea why Australia rejected the protocol; perhaps supporting such bleeding-heart initiatives would make Australia look temptingly humane to refugees, undoing all the work of setting up draconian detention camps? Or perhaps because such naïve concerns have no place in the grim, warlike post-9/11 world?
It's official: according the the UN, American nationals cannot, by definition, be war criminals, and crimes against humanity can only be committed by non-US nationals. At least for the next 12 months, renewable annually. And so, justice comes from the barrel of the biggest gun.
(What happens when China comes into its own as a world superpower, and demands that Chinese nationals be exempted from prosecution, threatening to sabotage the UN process if it's unfairly denied this privilege that the US has (as would be the rational thing for China to do faced with such a snub); or when Israel pushes for exemption for its operations in the Palestinian territories, with US backing? Or when Indonesia (the world's third most populous nation, and a potential economic and military powerhouse) starts doing so, and pushing its weight around? Or when a dozen other countries do the same? The criterion for exemption from prosecution doesn't seem to be anything other than "might makes right" (unless you believe in the doctrine of America's God-given Manifest Destiny or some other system of teleological mumbo-jumbo, of course). So we'll end up with a club of powerful nations who are above the law, and a puppet kangaroo court existing solely to try their defeated enemies and keep the small fry from rising above their station in world affairs.)
The Bush administration vetoes a UN declaration on children's rights, refusing to sign it unless provisions for sexual health services are removed, replaced with abstinence-based programmes. The US is supported by the Vatican in this (and possibly the Australian government as well). It is predicted that if the US gets its way, it will exacerbate the AIDS crisis in the third world, not to mention the other consequences of unwanted children being born. But hey, think of all the souls that will be saved...