Robert E. Rubin and Sebastian Mallaby on the Global Economy

February 26, 2010

Former U.S. secretary of the treasury Robert E. Rubin and director of  the Center for Geoeconomic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations Sebastian Mallaby will discuss the global economy at 92nd Street Y in New York City on March 2, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.

To purchase tickets at a discounted rate of 20% off, click here, and use code RR20.

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UN Goldstone Aide to Headline Palestinian Lobby Event

February 26, 2010

Geneva, February 26, 2010 UN Watch, the Geneva-based watchdog organization, today called on UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to stop Francesca Marotta, the head of the UN staff that compiled the Goldstone Report, from participating at a political lobbying event in Lausanne, Switzerland, in support of the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine.”

The full letter follows below.

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His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary-General
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017

February 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We are deeply concerned that the Head of the Secretariat of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict—the staff that drafted the Goldstone Report—is scheduled to participate tomorrow in a pro-Palestinian, political and lobbying event.

Ms. Francesca Marotta is listed as the first speaker at an event to support the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine,” advertised by Collectif Urgence Palestine, to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland, tomorrow, 27 February, at 2:30 pm. (See listing at here.)

The advertisement reads (translated from French original):

“On the eve of the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine to be held in Barcelona from 1 to March 3, 2010, the Swiss National Committee of Support to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine Calls to support this international citizen initiative with Francesca Marotta, the Secretariat of the Fact-Finding Mission that established the Goldstone Report, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights…” It goes on to list two other speakers.

As you may know, the “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” is a highly partisan and political exercise designed to use the rhetoric of law to lobby against Israel and for a one-sided Palestinian narrative. Its “verdict” is a foregone conclusion.

We further note that the Swiss organizer of this Lausanne event featuring Ms. Marotta, Collectif Urgence Palestine, organized a demonstration last year on 2 March 2009 in Geneva. (See here.) 

The demonstration’s stone throwing and verbal threats against Jewish community members was condemned as an apparently anti-Semitic incident by the UN Human Rights Committee, in its October 2009 report on Switzerland. (See here.)

Article 100 of the UN Charter requires that the UN Secretariat avoid partisan and political entanglements that compromise the principles of neutrality, objectivity and professionalism.

Especially on a day when the UN General Assembly is voting again on the Goldstone Report, we urge you to uphold these principles, and the integrity of your staff, by immediately instructing Ms. Marotta to avoid participating in, or otherwise lending support and legitimacy to, this partisan and political event.

Please know that in all your efforts to assure the adherence of the United Nation to its noble principles, you will have the full support of UN Watch.

Sincerely,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director
UN Watch
Geneva, Switzerland


President Bill Clinton in Haiti

February 23, 2010

Earlier this month, President Bill Clinton made his second trip to Haiti since the catastrophic earthquake in January 2010.

Thanks to the tremendous outpouring of support from thousands of individuals and donations from generous businesses, President Bill Clinton delivered relief supplies including water, food, medical supplies, tents, solar flash lights, portable radios and generators on behalf of the Clinton Foundation.

We were able to capture some brief video footage of President Bill Clinton’s visit as he unloaded supplies and met with Haitian and UN officials to help begin the process of recovery and reconstruction.


The Battle Hymn of The U.S. Republic

February 22, 2010

The Battle Hymn of the Republic is usually heard at the national conventions of both the U.S. Republican Party and Democratic Party and is often sung at Presidential Inaugurations.

Words from the first verse (“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored”) inspired John Steinbeck to title his 1939 masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath.

The US Army paratrooper song, Blood on the Risers, first sung in World War II, is set to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic appear in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermons and speeches, most notably in his speech How Long, Not Long from the steps of the Montgomery, Alabama Courthouse on March 25, 1965 after the 3rd Selma March, and in his final sermon I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, delivered in Memphis, Tennessee on the evening of April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination.

In fact, the latter sermon, King’s last public words, ends with the first lyrics of the Battle Hymn: “And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”


Mossad & Extrajudicial Assassination

February 21, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

An op-ed by Harvard Law School Professor Alan M. Dershowitz 

If Israel killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, did it have the right to?

I don’t know whether Israel did or did not assassinate the leader of the Hamas military wing, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. But assuming for argument’s sake that the Mossad made the hit, did it have the right to engage in this “extrajudicial assassination?”

Not all extrajudicial killings are unlawful. Every soldier who kills an enemy combatant engages in an extrajudicial killing, as does every policeman who shoots a fleeing felon. There are several complex legal questions involved in assessing these situations.

First, was the person who was killed a combatant, in relation to those killed him? If Israel killed Mabhouh, there can be absolutely no doubt that he was a combatant. He was actively participating in an ongoing war by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Indeed, it is likely that he was killed while on a military mission to Iran in order to secure unlawful, anti-personnel rockets that target Israeli civilians. Both the United States and Great Britain routinely killed such combatants during the Second World War, whether they were in uniform or not. Moreover, Hamas combatants deliberately remove their uniforms while engaged in combat.

So if the Israeli Air Force had killed Mabhouh while he was in Gaza, there would be absolutely no doubt that their action would be lawful. It does not violate international law to kill a combatant, regardless of where the combatant is found, whether he is awake or asleep and whether or not he is engaged in active combat at the moment of his demise.

But Mabhouh was not killed in Gaza. He was killed in Dubai. It is against the law of Dubai for an Israeli agent to kill a combatant against Israel while he is in Dubai. So the people who engaged in the killing presumptively violated the domestic law of Dubai, unless there is a defense to such a killing based on international principles regarding enemy combatants. It is unlikely that any defense would be available to an Israeli or someone working on behalf of Israel, since Dubai does not recognize Israel’s right to kill enemy combatants on its territory.

If it could be proved that Israel was responsible for the hit — an extremely unlikely situation — then only Dubai could lawfully bring Israelis to trial. They would not be properly subjected to prosecution before an international tribunal. But what if a suspect was arrested in England, the United States or some other western country and Dubai sought his extradition? That would pose an interesting legal, diplomatic, political and moral dilemma. Traditional extradition treaties do not explicitly cover situations of this kind. This was not an ordinary murder. It was carried out as a matter of state policy as part of an ongoing war. A western democracy would certainly have the right and the power to refuse to extradite. But they might decide, for political or diplomatic reasons, to turn the person over to Dubai.

Turning now to the moral considerations, which might influence a decision whether to extradite, the situation is even murkier. The Goldstone report suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in his interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate retail measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists engaged in the firing of rockets. Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate, retail and focused attack on a combatant who was deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel, than the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Not only was Mabhouh the commander in charge of Hamas’ unlawful military actions at the time of his death, he was also personally responsible for the kidnapping and coldblooded murder of two Israeli soldiers several years earlier.

Obviously it would have been better if he could have been captured and subjected to judicial justice. But it was impossible to capture him, especially when he was in Dubai. If Israel was responsible for the killing, it had only two options: to let him go on his way and continue to endanger Israeli civilian lives by transferring unlawful anti-personnel weapons from Iran to Gaza, or to kill him. There was no third alternative. Given those two options, killing seems like the least tragic choice available.

I leave to others, more expert in these matters, whether if Israel ordered the killing, it was strategically the right thing, or whether they carried it off in an intelligent manner. But as to the legal and moral right to end the threat posed by this mass murderer, the least bad alternative would seem to be his extrajudicial killing.

This article originally appeared in the Hudson Institute, New York.


Is Iran Plotting against Iraq?

February 17, 2010

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, foreign policy experts Dr. Frederick W. Kagan and Dr. Kimberly Kagan say a U.S. presence in Iraq is essential in the face of a menacing Iran.

Vice President Joe Biden recently told Larry King that Iraq ‘could be one of the great achievements of this administration.’ Mr. Biden’s transparent attempt to take credit for Bush administration policies aside, it’s worth asking how exactly does the Obama administration define success in Iraq?

Mr. Biden said, ‘You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government,’ echoing President Obama’s remarks at Camp Lejeune in February 2009. But he also said, ‘You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer,’ echoing the only comment the president made about Iraq in last month’s State of the Union address: ‘I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as president.’

The problem is that progress in Iraq is not as inevitable as Mr. Biden suggests. Iraq faces a political and constitutional crisis weeks away from the most important election it will ever hold. People working on behalf of Iran are actively seeking to spoil this election. They want to exclude Sunni leaders from the next government, align Iraq’s Shiites into a single political bloc, expel American forces, and create a government in Baghdad that is dependent on Tehran.

The full article is available by subscription from the Wall Street Journal here.


Hillary Rodham Clinton Warns of Revolutionary Guard’s Growing Influence in Iran

February 16, 2010

Reenactment of Vice President Al Gore swearing in First Lady Hillary Clinton as a United States Senator in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol on January 3, 2001. Her husband, President Bill Clinton, holds the Bible, as their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, observes.

Reenactment of Vice President Al Gore swearing in First Lady Hillary Clinton as a United States Senator in the Old Senate Chamber at the Capitol on January 3, 2001. Her husband, President Bill Clinton, holds the Bible, as their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, observes.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that the United States fears Iran is becoming a military dictatorship, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps seizing control of large swaths of Iran’s political, military, and economic establishment.

In response, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, accused Washington of practicing “modern deceit” to disguise its intentions in the Persian Gulf.

Read full story.