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Dec 242017
 

The behaviour of the US during the last week has been exceptionally dysfunctional and indeed puts it alongside rogue states. For those tuning in late, the US has recently announced that it is moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now there are all sorts of reasons why this is a dumb move and incredibly provocative in a part of the world that does not need any more provocation.

But here we are looking at the US and the UN rather than the move itself (however dumb it was).

The UN decided to call for a resolution that in effect says “We think this is a dumb move.” and the US reaction has been more or less along the lines of what you would expect a spoiled brat and a bully to react like.

Before the vote, the US spokesperson was grumbling about how its friends shouldn’t countenance such a resolution, that those who receive US aid should be careful, and how dare the UN put forward such a resolution when the US pays for the UN (hint: it doesn’t).

And afterwards, the US announces a party for its friends, and that nobody who voted in favour of the resolution was invited. So there!

Just like a spoiled child.

First of all, organisations like the UN need to be funded or they don’t exist. And the way that the UN is funded is based on every member’s ability to pay except that there is a ceiling on each individual’s level because the US threw a tantrum a while back. The US pays approximately 22% of the UN’s budget, so about $2 billion which is considerably less than the cumulative total of the countries that make up the EU (a roughly comparably sized block) which pays approximately 27% of the budget ($2.5 billion).

And a big chunk of that UN budget is spent within the US because the UN headquarters are in New York.

Frankly some of us are a little tired of hearing the US whinging about how much it pays.

Secondly the UN is there to do lots of things, but one of the most important is to allow countries collectively and formally tell another country that it is doing something dumb – and if a resolution passes with 129 countries voting for it, you can be pretty sure you’ve done something dumb. Sure that you are right despite that many votes against you? That’s a sign of overweening arrogance.

Threatening (“We’ll remember who are friends are”) people to vote in your favour is dangerous in the extreme. People remember bullies and the stench of it remains for a very long time.

Jul 202014
 

Last week we have seen two “incidents” where two rogue states attempted to pursue a political end via direct action, or action via a proxy. I’m going to concentrate on the deaths of children because then certain apologists won’t be able to say: “But they could have been terrorists” … or at least won’t have much in the way of credibility if they do.

In the first case, we have what appears to be a Russian-backed independence movement firing off a missile to bring down a commercial airliner (MH17) killing 80 children.

In the second case, we have the Israeli military trying to stomp on Hamas, and as a result of disproportionate military force and an inability to target accurately, have killed over 50 children.

It is interesting to compare the two to see what similarities and differences there are.

In terms of how accidental those deaths were, it’s fairly obvious that the downing of MH17 was an accident given that it appears that the Russian-backed separatists were boasting about shooting down a Ukrainian military transport plane at the time the airliner was downed. It’s also self-evidently not in the interests of Russia or the separatists to shoot down that plane.

In the case of Israel’s thugs (oops! I mean their military of course), it is probable that the children were not deliberately targeted, but you do have to wonder given Israel’s past and present behaviour (according to the Jewish Virtual Library, the total number of Israeli deaths since 1860 is 20,000 and the total number of Palestinian dead is nearly 100,000) whether Israelis regard Palestinians as sub-humans whose deaths don’t really count.

In terms of an individual, anyone who shoots at a legitimate target and misses, and “accidentally” kills a child instead is guilty of manslaughter. I see no reason why nation states, governments, and the military should not be held to the same standard.

If you cannot shoot without risking civilian casualties, then do not shoot.

The most interesting aspect of these two incidents has been the reactions to them. In the case of the deaths caused by the Israeli indiscriminate military action, it seems to be more or less: “Oh no, Not again!” whereas the reaction to the deaths of the aircraft passengers has been quite justified outrage at the actions of the Russian-backed separatists, and the denials from the Russian government.

Where is the condemnation of Israel’s military action? And where is the condemnation of the USA for backing a bunch of thugs?

It is true that Hamas are also a bunch of thugs who continue to target Israel with poorly targeted missiles, but these are in no way comparable to what Israel is doing – recall those earlier figures of 100,000 Palestinian dead and 20,000 Israeli dead. And yes, it is quite possible that Hamas is using human shields to “embarrass” Israel with civilian casualties.

Yet in all the time I’ve been watching this unending conflict I have yet to see Israel embarrassed by any Palestinian dead.

Even ignoring the morality of indiscriminate killing of civilians, it is about time Israel realised that this sort of thing doesn’t work as demonstrated by the fact that it is still happening today. Perhaps they could try something else more radical – like talking to Hamas.

Without any real expectation of something like this happen I would like to see :-

  • Israel admonished and sanctioned for indiscriminate killing of civilians.
  • USA admonished and sanctioned for it’s military support of a rogue nation state (yes that does mean Israel).
  • Russia admonished and sanctioned for thinking us foolish enough to believe it’s denial of involvement in the shooting down of MH17.
Sep 232011
 

As expected the Palestinian authority has asked the UN to recognise them as a state.

As expected the Israelis stood up to protest about the idea of giving statehood to the Palestinians and undoubtedly their tame lapdogs, the US government will veto the request.

But would it do any harm if the UN recognised Palestine as a state ? And would it actually help make things a little better ? Quite possibly. Although it would not do much in itself, it send a message to Israel that the world’s patience is limited and that it expects Israel to negotiate in good faith – which it appears unable to do so at the moment.

As an example, in his speech to the UN, the Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) kept going on about how Israel needed military security – to include the freedom to place Israeli forces inside Palestine, to demilitarise the Palestinian state, to keep control of the Palestinian air space.

The way that he put it sounded almost reasonable – well he’s a politician, so he should be able to make almost any position sound reasonable. But would Israel accept their own demilitarisation ? Or Palestinian forces being free to wander around Israel ? Or Palestinian control of the Israeli airspace ?

According to the number of casualties suffered by each side, Palestinians have far more to fear from Israeli forces than visa versa (although Israelis do have legitimate concerns) – according to the Wikipedia article on the conflict, there have been 7,978 Palestinian causalities since 1987 and 1,503 Israeli casualties. More than 5 times as many.

Recognising the state of Palestine is not going to bring peace; neither is ignoring the Palestinian request. But recognising the right of Palestine to be recognised as a state will send a signal that the world recognises their right to exist as a state – in the same way that the world recognises the right of Israel to exist as a state.

Jan 032009
 

Never has an overused phrase been more deserved as in the case of the Israeli government and the Hamas group in the latest chapter in the long running sorry story of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Both sides should be mortally ashamed of their actions. Both sides are more interested in political posturing than in concern over the people they supposedly represent.

It also demonstrates that governments at best are only interested in paying lip service to serving “the people” and will spend far more resources looking after their own interests – retaining power. It is just that you rarely see governments lusting after power quite this much.

What does Hamas think it is doing with those pathetic rocket attacks against Israel ? They seem to serve little purpose other than to annoy Israel, and provide an ego boost to the Hamas militants. It is not as if they are very effective at killing innocent civilians.

And as for the Israeli response, you have tried this same thing before … over and over again for around 60 years. You have not managed to stop Palestinians military or terrorist actions in the past with this (over the long term), so why do you think it will work this time? All this indiscriminate killing will achieve is further evidence that Israel does not give two hoots for international law or for the lives of innocent (in many cases) Palestinians.

It is interesting to note that Israel does not permit journalists to enter Gaza. Almost as if they know what they are doing is wrong and just do not care. And of course as their ground offensive has started, perhaps they are trying to hide something ?

Israeli actions will drive Palestinians into being more accepting of extremists and will in the long term increase the amount of violence against Israeli civilians. Does that mean Israel should not respond to Hamas missile attacks ? No of course not, but the response must be proportionate (to be legal), and must go out of the way to avoid “collateral damage”. It may well be right that Hamas uses civilians as a shield for military purposes, but Hamas will not be blamed for those collateral casualities no matter what Israel claims.

Personally I do not really believe that those who govern Israel are so stupid as to believe these miltary attacks will accomplish anything. They are pandering to the Israeli fanatics frothing at the mouth who insist that something must be done, and the only reason they are doing it is to keep popularity so that they keep power when the next elections occur.

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