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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Shavua tov, a good week, and a frelichen Chanuka, a Happy Chanuka to all.

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, December 23.
1) I hear Judge Goldstone is free these days

Even understanding that the Goldstone inquiry into Cast Lead was a kangaroo court, the West did little to discourage it. The proceedings, instituted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, was meant to find Israel guilty of war crimes. Now Russia urges probe of NATO bombing of civilians in Libya, US dismisses it as ‘a cheap stunt’:
Russia and its supporters argue that NATO misused the limited council resolution imposing a no-fly zone and authorizing the protection of civilians as a pretext to promote regime change in Libya. Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted after 42 years, captured and killed in October.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said a council-mandated investigation is essential “given the fact that initially we were led to believe by NATO leaders there are zero civilian casualties of their bombing campaign.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who stepped to the microphone after Churkin, said: “Oh, the bombast and bogus claims.”
Those willing to support Israel at the UN were few, now some of them find themselves under the same scrutiny.

Ambassador Rice added:
“Is everyone sufficiently distracted from Syria now and the killing that is happening before our very eyes?” she said.
And what is being done about Syria? The New York Times reports, Arab League Delegates Arrive in Syria.
But human rights activists said there was still no final list of observers and no clear rules for the mission. Wissam Tarif, the Arab world campaigner for Avaaz, who said he was a candidate for an observer post, said the delegation was still working out details, including whether observers would travel with their own security.
Opposition groups have also criticized the decision to name a Sudanese general to lead the mission — Lt. Gen. Muhammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, a former head of military intelligence who served as a coordinator among the Sudanese government, the United Nations and African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.
Ammar al-Wawi, a former colonel in the Syrian Army who defected to the rebels, said: “We are suspicious about these observers. Do you send a veterinarian to do a Caesarean section?”
I would have used the "fox in the henhouse' analogy. The point remains that someone who was likely in the employ of one indicted war criminal shouldn't be involved in monitoring the cessation human rights abuses.

This just shows the degree to which human rights has become politicized. Israel and NATO take care to avoid civilian casualties. Since it's not possible to be 100% effective, they find themselves under unwanted scrutiny from those who use the mantle of "human rights" cynically. In Syria, a likely human rights violator, is sent to monitor the situation.

A few days ago, Prof Kenneth Anderson wrote DOD and NATO Should Undertake Libya Targeting Review to Establish State Practice of Lawful Targeting:
I am an uncompromising advocate of precision technologies in warfare, including drones and other remotely controlled machines that, by removing the issue of soldiers defending themselves, allow for more careful targeting decisions. I’m also a strong advocate of the Obama administration’s targeting killing programs, both by the military and the CIA. That said, proponents of precision targeting through better technology have long risked raising expectations well beyond what technology supports at any given moment. Gains in civilian protection come incrementally, much of it through trial and error, a combination of technology and experience gained about operations using it in the field. Either over-promising too much, too soon or demands that any “improvement” meet a zero damage, strict liability standard has the effect of stopping improvement in its tracks because improvements come incrementally, one grinding step at a time. Magic bullets come after a long series of unmagic ones.
Understand that Anderson doesn't object to using drones to strike at enemies. He doesn't believe that NATO has done anything wrong. But he does believe that claims of collateral damage need to be checked out to improve targeting decisions and improve protections of civilians. This is a far cry from what the UN is doing.

2) What does Robert Mackey report?

Mackey does report Egyptian Military Adviser Calls Attack on Woman Justified:
An adviser to Egypt’s military rulers said in a newspaper interview published on Thursday that a brutal attack on a female protester by Egyptian soldiers on Saturday was justified because the woman had insulted the army.
Thousands of Egyptian women took to the streets of Cairo this week to protest the beating of the woman, whose black abaya was stripped back to reveal her underwear during the attack.
Asked about video and photographs of soldiers hitting and kicking the woman, Gen. Abdel Moneim Kato, a retired officer who advises the ruling military council in Cairo, told the Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that the female activist “had been insulting the army through a megaphone” before she was stripped and beaten.
This is certainly newsworthy.

But Mackey didn't report this, Muslim Brotherhood is suddenly against Egyptian protests:
A Nour party spokesman told a rally that protesters in Tahrir Square are not innocent, but a group of terrorists that the Military Council must address "with full force."
Sounds awfully similar, but this is from a "moderate" Islamist. Any suggestion that the military might be working with the Islamists isn't worth mentioning.

And those who are familiar with Mackey's work about Israel won't be surprised to learn that he didn't report Two IDF Soldiers Save Palestinian Man’s Life, either.

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