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.


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.

***

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.


U.S. Marines launch major offensive in Afghanistan since 2001

February 12, 2010

Thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers traveling in helicopters and mine-resistant vehicles began punching into a key Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan as one of the largest operations since 2001 to assert government control over this country got underway.

Read full story.


XXI Annual U.S. Army War College Strategy Conference: Defining War for the 21st Century

February 4, 2010

The 2010 US Army War College Strategy Conference, “Defining War for the 21st Century,” brings together the world’s foremost experts to examine this critical issue of the post-September 11 world.

What is WAR and why does it matter?

The U.S. Army and the other Armed Services exist to fight and win America’s wars. In the current operational environment, the definition of “fighting and winning America’s wars” is the subject of intense debate. In its ongoing effort to stimulate intellectual discourse, to foster informed policymaking processes, and to develop effective U.S. strategy in the post-September 11 world, the U.S. Army War College will host its 21st Annual Strategy Conference from April 6-8, 2010. Many of the world’s foremost experts on the changing nature of war will attend and participate in this year’s conference titled, “Defining War for the 21st Century,” with the goal of clarifying the issues, outlining the debates, and generating strategic options.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference is Gen (R) Anthony Zinni, USMC, and the tentative agenda includes five panels that will debate the essence of the following questions for the purpose of “Defining War for the 21st Century:”

  • Why does it matter how we define war?
  • How does a nation know it is at war?
  • Will all “wars” have discernable start and end points, or will some “wars” have no definable end?
  • What are the political and social implications when the political elite and general polity differ in their interpretations?
  • What are the dangers of misusing or overusing the “war” label?
  • Must a new “theory of war” be developed?
  • What are the dimensions of war – unrestricted war, lawfare, hybrid war, cold war, asymmetric war, cyber war?
  • What are the challenges in defining victory?

Register online.


The Secular Religion of Global Warming

February 3, 2010

Political analyst and journalist Michael Barone explains how climate-change fanatics corrupted science.

How Climate-Change Fanatics Corrupted Science
By Michael Barone
The Washington Examiner
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The climate scientists who covered up research and data on global warming that conflicted with their own views have given their profession a bad name. These scientists acted with something resembling religious fervor, leading to their concealing of important evidence about climate change.

Quick, name the most distrusted occupations. Trial lawyers? Pretty scuzzy, as witness the disgraced John Edwards, kept from the vice presidency in 2004 by the electoral votes of Ohio. Used car dealers? Always near the bottom of the list, as witness the universal understanding of the word “clunker.”

But over the last three months a new profession has moved smartly up the list and threatens to overtake all. Climate scientist.

First came the Climategate e-mails made public in November that showed how top-level climate scientists distorted research, plotted to destroy data and conspired to prevent publication of dissenting views. The British government concluded last week that the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit violated the nation’s freedom of information act, although the violations occurred too long ago for prosecution.

The CRU has been a major source of data for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which for 20 years has issued alarms about supposed global warming. The e-mails conclusively establish the intellectual dishonesty of the climate scientists at the CRU and their co-conspirators.

Recently there have been even more shocking revelations. The IPCC has claimed that warming will cause the Himalayan glaciers to disappear by 2035. It turns out that that claim was based solely on a pamphlet published by the World Wildlife Federation, based on no science at all. The head of the IPCC was informed that a 1996 report said those glaciers could melt significantly by 2350, not 2035, but he let the claim stand.

As Christopher Booker writes in the Telegraph of London, “A Canadian analyst has identified more than 20 passages in the IPCC’s report which cite similarly non-peer-reviews WWF or Greenpeace reports as their authority.” Similarly, the Times of London reports that a claim that warming could endanger “up to 40 percent” of the Amazon rain forest came from an anti-smoking activist and had no scientific basis whatever.

“The global warming movement as we have known it is dead,” writes Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations in The American Interest. “The movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics.”

Some decades hence, I suspect, people will look back and wonder why so many government, corporate and media elites were taken in by propaganda that was based on such shoddy and dishonest evidence. And taken in to the point that they advocated devoting trillions of dollars to a cause that was based on flagrant dishonesty and dissembling.

There was some basis for concern. If carbon dioxide emissions were the only factor affecting global climate, it is clear that increased emissions would tend to produce warmer temperatures over time. Those temperatures could create problems that rational societies would want to address.

But carbon dioxide emissions are not the only factor affecting global climate. Solar activity and water evaporation and countless other things do too. Climate scientists do not fully understand those things, and how they interact. It is rational for society to want to learn more.

Unfortunately, the cadre of climate scientists who have dominated public discussion and have controlled the IPCC have been demonstrated to be far, far less than trustworthy. Like the theorists who invented epicycles to explain away the failure of Ptolemaic theory to account for astronomical observations, they have distorted science in the interest of something that resembles religious dogma.

The secular religion of global warming has all the elements of a religious faith: original sin (we are polluting the planet), ritual (separate your waste for recycling), redemption (renounce economic growth) and the sale of indulgences (carbon offsets). We are told that we must have faith (all argument must end, as Al Gore likes to say) and must persecute heretics (global warming skeptics are like Holocaust deniers, we are told).

People in the grip of such a religious frenzy evidently feel justified in lying, concealing good evidence and plucking bad evidence from whatever flimsy source may be at hand.

The rest of us, and judging from polls that includes most of the American people, are free to follow a more rational path. In his State of the Union address, Barack Obama alluded to “the overwhelming evidence on climate change.” But he felt obliged to add, “even if you doubt the evidence” – an admission that the evidence is less than overwhelming. On a par with, it seems, the claims of trial lawyers and the assurances of used car salesmen.


Geneva Summit for Human Rights, March 8-9, 2010

February 3, 2010

Human rights NGOs from around the globe have joined hands to organize the 2nd Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.

To take place on March 8-9, 2010 – in parallel and to enhance the main annual session of the UN Human Rights Council – this unique assembly of renowned human rights defenders, dissidents and experts will feature victim testimonies, shine a spotlight on urgent human rights issues and situations, and call on governments to guarantee freedom of the internet for democracy and human rights activists.

INTERNET FREEDOM The Google-China Case, Censorship and Hacking: Entrepreneurs & Dissidents Debate

DEFENDING ETHNIC MINORITIES Rebiya Kadeer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Uighur human rights hero

ATROCITIES IN SUDAN Jan Pronk, former UN Secretary-General Special Representative in Sudan

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN Massouda Jalal, former Afghan Minister of Women Affairs, first female presidential candidate

THE FUTURE OF DISSENT Yang Jianli, 1989 Tiananmen Square Hero, founder of Foundation for China in the 21st Century

•THE BURMESE JUNTA vs. AUNG SAN SUU KYI  Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident and 2008 winner of Human Rights Watch Award

COMBATING CONTEMPORARY SLAVERY Simon Deng, former Sudanese Slave

OPPRESSION IN TIBET  Phuntsok Nyidron, Buddhist nun, longest-serving Tibetan political prisoner, jailed for recording songs of freedom, winner of 1995 Reebok Human Rights Award

NON-VIOLENT PROTEST Matteo Mecacci, Italian MP, OSCE Rapporteur on human rights and democracy, activist

REPRESSION IN LATIN AMERICA  Tamara Suju, Venezuelan human rights lawyer

PRISONER FROM BIRTH Donghyuk Shin, survivor of North Korean prison camp

•“DEFAMATION OF RELIGION” vs. FREE SPEECH Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General of Pakistan Press Foundation