Category ►►► Untied Nations
September 27, 2010
U.N. Ambassador to the Democratic People's Republic of Alpha Centauri-stan
This story from the U.K. Telegraph sends chills down my spine; its subhead reads:
A space ambassador could be appointed by the United Nations to act as the first point of contact for aliens trying to communicate with Earth.
I'm not frightened, I hasten to add, by the prospect of us discovering alien civilizations, or even by the prospect of alien civilizations discovering us. I'm absolutely convinced that there is no even vaguely plausible reason why extraterrestrials would care one way or the other about us, unless we somehow gave them cause for anxiety:
- We couldn't possibly pose a serious threat to any civilization that could cross such vast distances: A single lightyear is 5,874,589,924,200 miles, or about 25 million times the average distance from Earth to the Moon; and the distance between civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy would likely be measured in the thousands or tens of thousands of lightyears. What are we going to shoot at them -- an ICBM? We'd have better luck with a pea-shooter.
- All conceivable natural resources are widely distributed throughout the galaxy; and even if they weren't, a civilization that could even attempt interplanetary travel, especially at hyperluminous speeds (so they're not spending millenia on every trip), would necessarily have such advanced science and technology that it would be easier to create any needed elements, materials, and structures than to journey hundreds or thousands of lightyears to take them away from somebody else. Forget about the V scenario!
- The distances are simply too great to bother crossing them except on very important missions involving either trade or some other equally vital cultural imperative. I doubt comparatively primitive humans qualify... except perhaps for anthropological survey missions, probably conducted by alien graduate students. (Say, maybe that explains all the UFO sightings: The kids doing the field research are not yet experienced enough to avoid detection!)
- If there is any intelligent life at all in the galaxy apart from here, then there are likely tens of thousands of alien civilizations -- not just one or two. We would probably get a minor inscription ("mostly harmless") in a database, and that's all.
So what am I worried about? It's contained in that phrase I used above: ETs wouldn't care a whit about us unless we give them cause for anxiety. And the easiest way I can think of offhand would be... if the very first point of contact for an alien survey vessel was the United Nations!
I can picture the spacefarers recoiling in horror and vowing to stamp out the contagion of socialism, pandering to radical religious imperialism, and hive-mindedness; and that is what scares the bejesus out of me.
Please, Secretary General Nanki-poo, don't do us any more cosmic favors.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 30, 2010
Hell Gets Mildly Slushy
Hades didn't exactly freeze over; but in addition to the permafrost at the ninth circle, the rest of the infernal realm has become sort of Margarita-like (or Slurpee-like, for teetotalers -- subglobal winter?) For an independent review panel, the "InterAcademy Council," which is associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has actually suggested that future IPCC reports should be (a) more transparent about their own conflicts of interest and how they may drive the IPCC's alarmist conclusions, and -- wait for it -- (b) more open to alternative points of view:
The scientists involved in producing the periodic United Nations reports on climate change need to be more open to alternative views and more transparent about their own possible conflicts of interest, an independent review panel said Monday.
Those were among numerous recommendations made by the panel appointed last March to assess how a few glaring errors -- including a prediction that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 -- made it into the last such United Nations report, released in 2007.
The revelations about the errors contributed to the already highly charged debate about the science of climate change and gave added ammunition to critics doubting assessments that the earth is warming. Coming on the heels of the unauthorized release of e-mails written by some of the leading climate change researchers, which led critics to claim they were manipulating data, the mistakes contributed to what surveys showed were an erosion in public confidence in the science of climate change.
Be still my fluttering heart. (Well, not too still.)
It's a good beginning, but still only a beginning; we'll see whether the empire-builders at IPCC seize upon this report as their opportunity to hoist the entire project back onto the rails of scientific reason -- or their challenge to flam-flam their way to a mere pretence of reform, like the politicians they are.
In any event, it's remarkable that the InterAcademy Council even feels compelled to pay lip service to "alternative views" and the IPCC scientists' "own possible conflicts of interest," and perhaps even more remarkable that the New York Times, of all media venues, feels compelled to report it. The Times, they are indeed a changin'.
July 19, 2009
Reuters Still Stuck on "Coup"-pid
I reckon the antique media still thinks they're living back in the days of "Uncle Walter."
Reading this Reuters story about "talks" between negotiators for deposed leftist wannabe-dictator and the legitimate government of Honduras is a little like reading Pravda: It all seems perfectly sane, perfectly rational -- but originating from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:
Prospects for a breakthrough in Honduras' political crisis looked dim on Sunday, with negotiators for deposed President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders divided over his proposed reinstatement....
Envoys sent by Zelaya, a leftist ousted in a June 28 military coup, and interim leader Roberto Micheletti said the main stumbling block was [Oscar] Arias' proposal that Zelaya return to power and form a government that shared power with his rivals.
Our previous offerings on this subject are:
- Piddling Away Greatness, also cross-posted in Hot Air's rogues' gallery
- The Curious Case of Tegucigalpa's Traveling Traitor
Perhaps Reuters thinks that if it just keeps saying "coup" often enough, eventually everybody will start to believe it! It's a magical spell. In all, the story uses the word "coup" to describe the arrest and impeachment of Manuel Zelaya three times; one time it uses the phrase "the army toppled Zelaya;" they refer to the impeachment as "Central America's worst crisis since the end of the Cold War;" and they inform us that "Zelaya has wide international support for his desire to return to power" -- by which they mean:
- The Castros in Cuba;
- Oogo Chavez in Venezuela;
- Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua;
- The Left-dominated and controlled Organization of American States (see "Piddling Away Greatness," linked above);
- And the U.N. General Assembly... currently run by President Rev. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, a liberation-theology Catholic priest (almost defrocked) and a former Sandinista leader (foreign minister under Ortega).
(Just five years ago, shortly before Ronald Reagan's death, Brockmann referred to him as "the butcher of my people." Rev. Brockmann has never apologized for, or even explained the rationale of, the Sandinistas' butchering of tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, as they struggled to maintain their stranglehold on that country.)
We do learn a couple of actual facts, so the story is not a total waste of phosphor:
- Zelaya is no longer in Costa Rica; he is now ensconced out in Nicaragua... probably lunching in one of the palatial estates that his pal, President Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and raper of his 11 year old stepdaughter, "liberated" just after being voted out of office.
(Was that coup by the Sandinistas -- an actual coup d'état, by the way -- also a "crisis?" I don't recall the "unbiased" news media thinking so at the time.)
- The United States is in constant contact with Zelaya -- the enthusiastic chum of Ortgega, Oogo Chavez, and los Bros Castro -- and feverishly working to restore him to power in Honduras.
On that last point, if this doesn't make you wince, you haven't been paying attention:
"We are indeed concerned about (Zelaya) going back," the second official said [anonymously -- of course], adding that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon "is in practically daily contact with him, urging him to allow (the) Arias process to play out."
The "Arias" referred to is Oscar Arias -- Nobel Peace Prize winner, also winner of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and recipient of "over fifty honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Oberlin College, Wake Forest University, Ithaca College and Washington University in St. Louis," according to his Wikipedia entry.
He is a member of Economists for Peace and Security, as well as the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. He is a member of Costa Rica's National Liberation Party. Hey, kids -- see if you can guess Arias' political ideology...!
Incidentally, speaking of creeping socialist Newspeak revisionism, here is Wikipedia's description of the 1980s and 90s in Central America, the crisis that Oscar Arias resolved in order to win his Nobel Fleece Prize:
Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan intended to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil: popular indigenous movements and guerrillas were struggling against repressive governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States under the auspices of the Cold War; the reactionary Contras, supported by the United States in the now-infamous Iran-Contra affair, were fighting an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; Honduras, only recently wresting political power from its military, was caught in the middle as a base for U.S. military forces; and on Costa Rica's other border, Panama faced the oppression of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship. With the support of Arias, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade (Guatemala's civil war finally ended in 1996).
Either Oscar Arias rewrote his own Wikipedia entry -- or else maybe Lt. John F. Kerry did. Either way, yeah, that's how I remember that "time of great turmoil"...!
Arias is, of course, the most perfect envoy to mediate between the two sides in Honduras -- the dictator, Zelaya, and the legitimate president, Roberto Micheletti; he certainly has no conflicts of interest.
True, Arias, too, was frustrated by a Costa Rican constitution that strictly banned presidents seeking a second term. True, Arias, too, tried to get the Costa Rican Supreme Court to overturn that clause, but he was completely rebuffed by the Court.
But in Arias' case, rather than turn to Venezuela to print illegal "ballots," so that the Dear Leader's followers could hold a sham "referendum" to allow him to run for as many terms as he wanted, Arias took a different path: He packed the court with hand-picked cronies, who then overturned the previous decision.
See? Arias' personal experience at illegally circumventing term-limits is totally different from Zelaya's. No conflict of interest there!
Ye gods. Do reporters actually live in a literal cone of silence? Or do they just consciously and with ignorance aforethought ensure that they never, ever, ever come into contact with anybody whose worldview differs from theirs in the least degree? Heavens, their ideological purity might be tainted by the serial heresies of neocons.
I picture an entire newsroom full of journalists who still, to this day, boycott grapes; who jump up and do "the wave" whenever they see Oogo Chavez on the tube; who tie the knot at Che Guevara-themed wedding ceremonies; who casually write that Cuba has the greatest health-care system in the whole world... and insert that lecture into a breaking-news story about Paula Abdul no longer being a judge on American Idol.
They're the lost media generation, and they're irredeemable. We shall have to wait until today's middle-school kids grow up to see a return to adult supervision of the nation's newswriting... our "first draft of history."
April 24, 2009
U.N. Orders Obama to Prosecute Bush Officials for "Torture"
All right, not quite exactly the United Nations itself; but the U.N. special rapporteur on torture issues, Manfred Nowak, announced that the United Nations Convention against Torture obliges us to prosecute those attorneys who opined that the harsh interrogation techniques used against terrorist detainees at the Guanatanamo Bay Detention Facility -- making them stand up for a long time, shouting at them, occasionally slapping them, and in the case of three specific terrorists, waterboarding -- were legal under U.S. law, including all international law that we specifically incorporated by treaty or international agreement:
Manfred Nowak, who serves as a U.N. special rapporteur in Geneva, said Washington is obligated under the U.N. Convention against Torture to prosecute U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos that defined torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it, and who assured CIA officials that their use of questionable tactics was legal.
"That's exactly what I call complicity or participation" to torture as defined by the convention, Nowak said at a news conference. "At that time, every reasonable person would know that waterboarding, for instance, is torture."
(Of course! Because anybody who didn't believe that pouring water in the face of a terrorist constituted "torture" was, by definition, unreasonable. No circular logic here...)
I expecially love the unbiased and non-argumentative adjectival phrase, "U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos that defined torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it." Another way to put that is: U.S. Justice Department officials who wrote memos analyzing the specific interrogation techniques vis-a-vis the United States criminal code on torture -- 18 U.S.C. § § 2340-2340A -- and all common-law precedents came to the conclusion that the techniques did not meet the legal definition of "torture" -- which is now and has been for decades illegal in the United States, even for the CIA. (But of course, that phrase isn't quite as useful in damning George W. Bush as torturer in chief, is it?)
Even though this decision is not a legally binding U.N. resolution, the opinion by the relevant U.N. authority may well supply President Barack H. Obama -- who I believe is actively looking for an excuse to prosecute those Bush administration officials the Democrats hate most -- with the fig leaf he needs to cover his animus with a facade of international law. In fact, I'm not even sure he would veto such a resolution were the UN Security Council to enact it.
Besides waterboarding, what techniques is Nowak talking about? What "gruesome" tortures do we stand accused of perpetrating on innocent beheaders? Read the following, and see if a shiver of guilt-driven terror runs up and down your spine:
The memos authorized keeping detainees naked, in painful standing positions and in cold cells for long periods of time. Other techniques included depriving them of solid food and slapping them. Sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling and threats to a detainee's family also were used.
I wonder a bit about that last one; threats of what sort? Where does this charge come from? I don't recall any memo specifically authorizing, for example, the threat to kill a detainee's wife, mother, or children, or any such a thing. The closest I can find is a memo sent February 12th, 2002, by the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, responding to "a request by the Commander of Joint Task Force 170 (now JTF GTMO) for approval of counter-resistance techniques to aid in the interrogatin of detainees at Guantanamo Bay."
In the original request, JTF Guantanamo Bay requested permission to use various harsh interrogation techniques (none of which amount to being "gruesome," in my understanding of that word) divided into three categories of increasing severity. Category three included the following request:
(1) The use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family.
This would certainly qualify as the "threats to a detainee's family" mentioned above except that -- in response, the General Counsel approved everything in categories I and II but withheld blanket approval of techniques in category III:
While all Category III techniques may be legally available, we believe that, as a matter of policy, a blanket approval of Category III techniques is not warranted at this time. Our Armed Forces are trained to a standard of interrogation that reflects a tradition of restraint.
In other words, the Office of the General Counsel of the Department of Defense denied permission to Gitmo interrogators to threaten either the detainee or his family with "[imminent] death or severely painful consequences."
This conclusion was agreed to after consultation with General Counsel William J. Haynes II, Deputy Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers... the first two of whom would top the list of lawyers that Obama's friends want to see prosecuted (along with Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Jay Bybee and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the OLC John Yoo).
It's passing odd that these attorneys (and Gen. Myers) are now routinely accused of having authorized such threats to (presumably innocent) family members of detainees when in fact they denied the request; but of course, accusers needed some crime that sounds more "gruesome" than chest-poking, yelling, making detainees stand at attention, and pouring water in their faces. Or putting a detainee (Abu Zubaydah), believed to have entomophobia (fear of insects), into a box with a caterpillar. Accusing the U.S. of approving threats to kill, rape, or torture detainees wives, children, and mothers is conveniently horrific... even if it suffers from the minor drawback of being provably false.
I think I see where Nowak's problem emanates: In the United States, we have rule of law; that means that people can only be convicted of, hence prosecuted for, specific crimes; those crimes must meet the specific definitions enacted by legislation and fall under the interpretation of that legislation by courts in previous cases (case law or common law).
Unlike most countries in Europe and elsewhere, we do not allow defendants to be prosecuted under the catchall crime of "every reasonable person knows" that he's guilty... which appears to be the standard modus operandi of putative "international courts," such as the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the International Criminal Court (also at the Hague), and any of the various European countries that claim "universal jurisdiction" over any crime they decide has been committed anywhere, regardless of the alleged perpetrator, the alleged victim, and the alleged country in which the alleged crime allegedly occurred.
I believe that Special Rapporteur Nowak has simply confused the normal activity of lawyers in the United States -- parsing the actual meaning of the actual words of a criminal statute and the actual decisions handed down by courts -- with "defin[ing] torture in the narrowest way in order to justify and legitimize it;" or as the New York Times puts it, "devising arguments to avoid constraints against mistreatment and torture of detainees."
I imagine this private conversation Nowak is probably having with his little buddies:
(At least until the next time we're hit, if we have the audacity to hit back again.)
I suspect that this attitude -- deriding the absurdity of actually analyzing the law before offering an opinion, rather than operating from pure politics -- is far more widespread than just a few officials at the U.N. and the elite media pundits here and abroad; sadly, I suspect that more than half of all Democrats would agree with Manny Nowak.
When exactly did "rule of law" become a suspect philosophy? It must have been sometime before George W. Bush came along -- but when?
December 22, 2008
The Irresistable Farce Meets the Immovable Objection
This is almost too hilarious for words:
The U.N. General Assembly split over the issue of gay rights on Thursday after a European-drafted statement calling for decriminalization of homosexuality prompted an Arab-backed one opposing it.
Diplomats said a joint statement initiated by France and the Netherlands gathered 66 signatures in the 192-nation assembly after it was read out by Argentina at a plenary session. A rival statement, read out by Syria, gathered some 60.
A friend of mine once tried to construct the "Great Chain of Being" that ordered the worldview of liberals:
- Above everything were two classes of entity: enlightened, anointed liberals who had "the vision" -- i.e., those who constructed the Great Chain of Being naturally put themselves at the top -- and Gaea Herself.
- At the top of the mortal chain were endangered species of whales, owls, snail darters, and rodents... cute, furry or feathered animals.
- Below them were native, pre-Christian, tribal peoples... American Indians (whoops! that should be "Native Americans," unlike all us interlopers who have only been here a dozen or so generations), Aleuts and Eskimos, Hutus and Tutsis, Aztecs, and suchlike.
- Drifting downward in moral importance, we have people of intellectual (book-derived) religions that are nevertheless anti-Christian, or at least non-Christian: Moslems, Bhuddhists, Hindus, and so forth.
- Then we have people from the Judeo-Christian tradition who consciously (and self-importantly) reject those traditions, laws, moralities, and understandings; these are your secular but unenlightened liberals, hippies, gays, and assorted atheists.
- Finally, in the lowest circle of liberal hell are those folks from Judeo-Christian traditions who openly, even nakedly embrace those traditions (eew!) and cling to those values.
My friend was always fascinated by the game of "Challenge": What happens when one link on the Great Chain of Being challenges another, when neither can yield? Who wins? (What happens when Superman fights Mighty Mouse?) His favorite example: When Eskimos want to hunt whales, what gives?
The result sometimes surprised us; the Eskimos were better organized politically than the cetaceans, so they actually got to keep their traditional right to harpoon the great, white beasts.
In this case, we have two groups who are one rung apart: Moslems vs. gays and gay-friendly liberals... and that, by itself, does not yield any certainty of outcome purely from the Great Chain of Being itself... they're too closely matched.
But to be brutally honest, I'll put my money on the Moslems; after all, liberal fashion may go and come... but jihad abides.
October 4, 2007
The Empire Strikes Back
Iran has evidently been emboldened by our lack of significant response to its peddling explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents; so now, per the Telegraph (and a great, big, sloppy-wet hat tip to John at Power Line), Iran has begun doing the same for the Taliban:
Iran is supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with the same bomb-making equipment it provides to insurgents in Iraq, according to British military intelligence officers.
US Army General Dan McNeill, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, said that the discovery of more than 50 roadside bombs and timers in lorries crossing the border from Iran last month proves that Iran's Quds Revolutionary Guards are actively supporting the Taliban.
The allegation will add to fears that the escalating war of words between Iran and the West could end in armed conflict between the two.
I don't mean to be persnickety, but if Iran is FedExing munitions to its catspaws and stalking horses left and right -- by which I mean in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively -- then aren't we already in armed conflict?
It's time for President Bush to fish or get off the pot. I have a suggestion...
Let him call an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell then give a joint presentation to the Big 5, meticulously going over every piece of evidence proving that Iran has repeatedly conspired to attack United States soldiers and Marines, our Coalition allies, and the Army, police, and civilians in the Iraq (as that Miss Teen Whatever calls it).
They really take their time, making sure no stone is left unthrown. Then they start in on the evidence that Iran is building a nuclear bomb, or trying, at least. They use the evidence compiled by the IAEA and its Director-General Mohamed ElBaredei, along with intelligence from France, Israel, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States. Again, don't rush through it: The two secretaries should do a thorough job.
Finally, the last third of the presentation would be a legal case against Iran for violation of the prohibition, under "international law" (for those who believe in such chimeras), against incitement to genocide. When that is done, they take deep breaths and make the case that Iran is an admitted sponsor of groups already adjudged terrorist organizations... including Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
At the end, when the presentation is finished, Secretary Gates should conclude with these words:
Thank you, gentlemen, for your time and consideration of these grave events. We have only one more important point to make.
As this meeting began, a large but unspecified number of Coalition attack jets took off from bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. These forces were not just American but included British and French airplanes.
As we sat here, chatting so amiably, those planes have already carried out airstrikes destroying all known Iranian nuclear research sites -- and we know a lot more than we have ever let on -- as well as all Qods Force units we have identified, all known or suspected stockpiles of or factories for producing EFPs, major Hezbollah training camps and barracks, and all other units known or suspected to be involved in the criminal supply of munitions to terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan for use against Coalition troops.
In addition, I am reliably informed -- though of course, we have no operational control over this event -- that the Israelis have by now launched similar raids against Hezbollah strongholds in Syria and Lebanon... in Damascus, along the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, and so forth. They have also destroyed targets in the Syrian military associated with the transhipment of rockets and missiles from Iran to terrorist organizations.
In fact, I believe that the Israelis, just to make sure, have also attacked any military unit emplaced in Syria within fifty miles of the Israeli border or the Lebanese border.
Or so they tell me; we have nothing to do with it -- except, perhaps, allowing them to use our satellites and AWACs for look-down fire-control radar, air-traffic control, friend-or-foe identification of nearby aircraft, EA-6B electronic countermeasure aircraft, in-flight refueling, and 3-D targeting information. Other than that, we are not involved.
We do not ask permission of this August body; we never surrendered our authority to retaliate to military attack... and neither did the rest of you. And in any event, the die is cast, the deed is done. This purpose of this presentation was not to gain your approval; it was to explain why we have done what we have done, and what Iran and Syria must refrain from doing in the future to avoid another, more severe lesson in poking sleeping giants.
We thank you for a very pleasant evening. Cocktails and caviar will be served in the lounge, along with a special screening of the Right Stuff. Good evening.
Ah, me. A fantasy, I know... but must it remain so?
June 12, 2007
Palestinian Civil War in Gaza; UN Declares It's Bush's Fault
I never was able to get the software working to allow readers to vote on Dhimmi of the Month, but I thought this might be a propitious time to dust off the concept (if not execution) for this incredible story.
Here is the sequence of steps:
- Israel decides to evacuate from Gaza.
- Israel sends troops into Gaza, not to attack Palestinians, but to herd several thousand Jewish settlers into buses and trucks and ship them back into Israel. No Jews left in Gaza (no live ones, anyway).
- Palestinian voters decide to thank Israel by electing Hamas.
- The European Union, the United States, and many other countries decide to boycott the Palestinian Authority, now officially run by a mob of thugs on everybody's list of terrorist groups.
- Fatah gets angry at losing power.
- Hamas and Fatah begin to fight.
- Fighting escalates.
- Fighting escalates.
- Fighting escalates; recall this war is between rival Palestinian terrorist groups fighting each other over the "spoils" of the Gaza Strip (which seems to me like fighting a duel over a hooker, but you know).
- Fighting escalates.
- United Nations Middle East Envoy Alvaro de Soto writes a secret report to U.N. Secretary General Nanki-Poo; declares that George W. Bush is to blame!
I rib you not; here is the Guardian story.
You just can't make this stuff up. Evidently, it's America's fault for urging civilized nations to boycott Hamas, which every national and international body agrees is a gang of terrorists. If only we had embraced Hamas, worked with them to exterminate the Jews, and not riled them up, then surely all this wouldn't be happening now. Oh, a few Juden might be killed here and there, Israel might be obliterated... but we wouldn't have the dreadful spectacle of Arabs killing Arabs.
So... it's Bush's fault. Remember that for next time.
January 16, 2007
There is a type of indictment I call a "draft-dodger" -- because it's an indictment that's never served. (Ba-dum BUM!)
Here is an example: former head of the United Nations Oil for
Food Fraud program, Benon Sevan, has been indicted by an American federal court for bribery and conspiracy, having accepted a boatload of money ($160,000) from Iraq via one Ephraim Nadler, the brother-in-law of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (the former Secretary General is best-known today for being a punchline on an episode of Seinfeld):
Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Sevan, a Cypriot, allegedly received about $160,000 from Nadler on behalf of the Iraqi government.
Garcia said the United States had issued warrants for the arrest of Nadler and Sevan and will seek their arrest and extradition to New York.
I cannot envision how that warrant will ever be served. Sevan is not enough of an idiot to wander back to New York; thus, we would have to extradite him from his native country, the island-nation of Cyprus.
However, the extradition treaty we have with Cyprus does not obligate that country to extradite its own nationals to the United States (Article 3, Section 1); we can request, but Cyprus can (and almost certainly will) refuse: Sevan is a very powerful and important man in Cyprus, and they're not going to hand hm over -- bribery or no bribery.
So that's that. The best we can do is use the power of the indictment to restrict his travel and keep him from returning to his beloved U.N.
Is that enough? I suppose it will have to be.
October 28, 2006
Genocide in Darfur? Blame Bush!
This post was hatched by Lee; Dafydd is not to blame for this one.
In recent weeks, left-wing money has been buying a lot of airtime urging President Bush to “stop the genocide in Darfur.” Maybe you’ve seen this spot. If only Bush would show “strong leadership” at the UN, the ad asserts, we could get a peacekeeping force into Sudan. The accusation is clear -- if Bush could save thousands of lives with some well-chosen words (and a bit of arm twisting), then isn’t he a monster to sit idly by?
Well, never let the facts get in the way of a good attack ad. The President, beginning in his first term, has spoken strongly about the plight of refugees in Darfur, and the atrocities being committed by the government-sponsored Janjaweed militia.
The Bush Administration has worked persistently on the diplomatic front, but Colin Powell ran into UN inertia, the intractability and complicity of the Sudanese government, and obstruction from other Islamic countries. The available African peacekeeping forces were too weak to make a difference.
Condi Rice is facing all the same obstacles now. The UN Security Council, standing firm (when it suits them) for the principle of the inviolability of the borders of a sovereign nation, concluded that a peacekeeping force could only be sent in at Sudan’s invitation; and what is the chance of that? Khartoum wants peacekeepers to stop the militia about as much as they’d like an extra helping of Moo Shu Pork.
Sudan’s government is up to no good, that’s for sure. But what about the folks behind those TV ads -- what is their motive? Given the UN’s paralysis, will the sponsors of these ads support non-UN intervention in Darfur (hoping perhaps that the US would redeploy troops from Iraq in the effort)?
Their primary goal, in my estimation, is to convince swing voters -- especially those who are wavering on Iraq -- that Republicans are to blame for every death in Darfur, thus using suffering in Darfur as one more reason to put the Democrats in charge of Congress.
Is it working? Does the ad have any traction? Consider: at Bush’s press conference on October 25, 2006, the press corps asked no Darfur-related questions. Zero. It was all about Iraq, except for the Fox reporter, whose question was about North Korea.
Darfur is a major humanitarian crisis, deserving of the world’s attention; but it affects us even more directly. Darfur is yet another example of Muslims acting inexcusably and not being held accountable for it. Given Sudan's long history supporting jihadism, the mass murder, displacement, and dispossession in Darfur risks turning it into a haven for al-Qaeda and similar groups, as it was once before.
Many sincere groups and individuals are concerned about refugees in Darfur, but I think this “stop the genocide” ad -- directed at President Bush -- is not being aired for the right reasons. If this ad continues to run after the election is over, then perhaps I will have been too cynical.
September 7, 2006
Prediction: Lincoln Chafee Will Vote Against Bolton in Committee
UPDATE September 8th, 2006: See below.
Today, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R?-RI, 12%) balked at the planned vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to send the renomination of John Bolton to the full senate with a recommendation to confirm:
Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, the only Republican who has not publicly committed to supporting Bolton, sought more time, members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said. Chafee, locked in a tough re-election bid, faces a Republican primary election on Tuesday.
Is there any possibility, you think, that the two statements above are related?
I think it's pretty clear what's happening: if Chafee had voted for Bolton, that would have helped him in the primary -- but it would definitely damage him in the general election, where his re-election is already precarious. But if Chafee voteed against Bolton, he likely wouldn't make it to the general; because Steve Laffey, his conservative opponent in the primary -- already running neck and neck with Chafee -- would use it to win the nomination (and go on to lose the seat to the Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse).
(One amusing side point: if Whitehouse should win, he would probably be the only senator in "the world's greatest deliberative body" who doesn't harbor any hope of becoming president, because nobody could say the words "President Whitehouse" without giggling.)
There is only one path for Chafee at this point: postpone the vote. The Rhode Island primary is next Tuesday, the 12th -- just five days away. There is no way that Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN, 88%) can force a committee vote in the next five days; in fact, he doesn't seem even to be trying:
Committee Chairman Richard Lugar would only say a Republican member asked for the delay. He said the committee will meet on Bolton again, but did not say when.
"I'm not going to make any comments on time. It's going to require a lot of consultation with members on both sides of the aisle,'' the Indiana Republican said.
So how does this play out?
- The committee waits until after Chafee's primary to vote on the Bolton nomination;
- If Chafee wins renomination, then he must of course vote against Bolton to bolster his chances in the general election;
- If Laffey is nominated instead, then Chafee is a lame duck, and he's free to vote his conscience... which, since he's the most RINO of all RINOs in the Senate, likely means he votes against Bolton.
So pretty much any way we cut the cheese, it looks as if Lincoln Chafee plans to spike the renomination of John Bolton.
So what does that do to Bolton's chances? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee comprises nine Republicans and seven Democrats. If Chafee votes against Bolton, the absolute best the Republicans can do (unless they can flip a Democrat) is a 7-7 tie, which means Bolton is passed out of committee with no recommendation for or against.
The seven Democrats are:
Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (MD, 100%) -- won't risk his committee status, since he would become chairman if the Democrats capture the Senate;
UPDATE: Commenter Ruthg reminds me that Sarbanes is retiring, to be replaced either by Republican Michael Steele, or by Ben Cardin or Kweise Mfume, both Democrats. So perhaps this is a fracture point; maybe Sarbanes can be persuaded to vote for Bolton, since he's leaving the Senate anyway;
- Chris Dodd (CT, 100%) -- leading the charge against Bolton;
- John F. Kerry (MA, 100%) -- possibly running for president again;
- Russell Feingold (WI, 100%) -- the most liberal Democrat in the Senate;
- Barbara Boxer (CA, 100%) -- party-line liberal and dumb as a bag of walnuts;
- Bill Nelson (FL, 80%) -- might have been a possible flip, since he's running for reelection in a Republican state. But with the nomination of Katherine Harris to run against him, he is now assured of reelection; he has no reason to run to the right;
- Barak Obama (IL, 100%) -- elected as a moderate, he quickly flipped his coat and revealed himself as a doctrinaire liberal.
I don't see any room for a surprise defection there; none of the Democrats has anything to lose, and each has everything to gain, by opposing John Bolton and poking another finger in George W. Bush's eye.
If Bolton is sent to the Senate floor with no recommendation, it will be next to impossible to get him confirmed:
- The non-recommendation would give cover to Chafee to vote against him, along with John Warner (R-VA, 88%), Lindsay Graham (R-NC, 96%), John McCain (R-AZ, 80%), Mike DeWine (D-OH, 56%)and possibly even George Voinovich (R-OH, 68%), for all that he has said he'll support Bolton this time around (he joined the filibuster against Bolton last time).
- It would also give cover to a Democratic filibuster; there are enough Democrats to prevent the vote, if they more or less stick together.
So I believe that John Bolton's renomination is dead; I would be ecstatic to be proven wrong this time... alas, I don't think I will be.
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