Thursday, May 06, 2004

Caesar's Wife ...

It's farces like this one that demonstrate the need for America's troops in Iraq not just to adhere to a standard of conduct that is better than that of those who they've displaced from power, but to abide by rules of conduct that are above reproach, regardless of how well or how poorly other nations' soldiers approach such standards themselves.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudan won re-election to the United Nations' main human rights watchdog on Tuesday, prompting the United States to walk out because of ethnic cleansing in the country's Darfur region.

Sudan's envoy immediately accused the U.S. delegation of "shedding crocodile tears," and said the United States had turned a blind eye as Iraqi prisoners were mistreated and civilians were harmed in battle.

In the African regional group, Sudan, Guinea, Togo and Kenya, were chosen for three-year terms on the commission, beginning in January.

Sichan Siv, the U.S. delegate to the council, accused Sudan of having no right to sit on the rights commission because of ethnic cleansing in Darfur where government troops are accused of backing Arab militia which pillage black Africa villages, raping and killing. The Khartoum government denies it is involved in ethnic cleansing.

"The United States will not participate in this absurdity," said Siv before briefly walking out of council chambers. "Our delegation will absent itself from the meeting rather than lend support to Sudan's candidacy."

He also walked out a year ago when Cuba won a seat on the commission.

Sudan's deputy U.N. ambassador, Omar Bashir Mohamed Manis, said the United States had no right to accuse anyone of human rights violations after the allegations of mistreatment of Iraqis held in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq.

Images of the Iraqi prisoners "are fresh in the minds of all justice-loving people around the world," he said.

The U.S. military is investigating the prisoner abuse after news reports and photos broadcast by CBS last week showed Iraqis stripped naked and tormented by U.S. captors.


A coalition of 10 human rights groups complained on Monday that too few democracies had been nominated to the commission. It said that among the four African countries only Kenya was a democracy and that Pakistan had serious human rights problems.

In response, Pakistan's U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, told reporters, "We are fairly comfortable with the fact that the international community views us as a state which is responsible, ruled democratically and has rule of law despite all the challenges and difficulties we are facing." (emphases added)

Nobody but the seriously morally confused would ever mistake Sudan's criticisms for legitimate arguments, but the fact of the matter is that the idiots whose misbehavior has been so incriminatingly disseminated across the world in photographs have given a propaganda bonanza to all those who would like nothing better than to blur the difference between the actions of United States and those of tyrannical regimes like China and Sudan. Those who were involved in these misdeeds must be severely punished, not just given a slap on the wrist, and simply going after a few grunts at the bottom of the heirarchy will not suffice. People high up on the chain of command need to demonstrate their willingness to accept responsibility for the actions of their underlings by falling on their swords, instead of simply pleading ignorance. Frankly, even a slave taskmaster like Albert Speer showed more integrity in his willingness during the Nuremburg trials to own up to "collective" responsibility than I've seen so far from the American high command.

While we're at it, does anyone else other than myself find the Pakistani ambassador's reference to his nation as one "ruled democratically" laugh-out-loud ridiculous? Since when have successful coup-plotters (which is all Musharraf really is) been able to make claims to any sort of democratic mandate?