Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A brain fart...UPDATED

by papicek Sun Apr 26th, 2009 at 11:29:34 AM EST

These are thoughts that have rattled around in my head for ages, and this spill was triggered by Jerome's comment: A skeptical note:

The oil reserves of Ira[q], like those of Saudi Arabia, are wildly inflated and bear little connexion to reality.

And invading a country does not give you control over its oil resources - at best it denies them to others (but to you too).

The bouquet of mental flatulence reaches it's full flowering beneath the fold...

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Don't expect rationality from Americans - UPDATED

by papicek Sun Apr 19th, 2009 at 12:16:40 PM EST

This began as a comment to danps' diary on the right's outrage over the DHS report on terrorist threats.

Material here on the World Values Survey was going to be the subject of a longer diary, but I find my time taken these days on the implications on Obama's refusal to indict torturers on our standing in international law. (I'm not a lawyer, so this requires some heavy lifting on my part).

But I introduce you to the World Values Survey now. I find it fascinating in light of the fact that Lisbon failed in Ireland where "traditional" values hold sway over rational empiricism, even more so than in the United States. I found that Jerome's comment on the phrasing in Obama's speech in Strasbourg (I think) about how the US stands with Europe on saving "God's creation" unsurprising, in light of the data presented in the World Values Survey.

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15 Years ago today...

by papicek Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 07:20:10 AM EST

Author's Note:  This diary is dedicated to the memory of Alison Des Forges, of Human Rights Watch, and author, or principle author, of "Leave None to Tell the Story," Human Rights Watch's narrative of the events of the Rwandan Genocide. It surpasses excellence. It's not that I knew or ever met her, but I'm sure she felt personally compelled, as I have, to write about Rwanda, and certainly found it even more difficult. In her memory, in the memory of those both living and dead who have been touched by this, I have done my level best here. And like General Romeo Dallaire, head of the failed UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda, I find I can take no consolation from that fact.

Virtually the entire world ignored this genocide, and why that happened is what I try to answer here.


We had a couple of friends over, and you know, I just--we just sat down to dinner, and all of a sudden, there was this huge explosion. And I--I--didn't naturally, you know, come to me what that was because I wasn't used to hearing those kinds of sounds." --Laura Lane, U.S. Embassy, Kigali, Rwanda[1]

"And it went from "There's been an explosion at the airport" to "We think it's the ammunition dump at Kinumbi that's blown up" to "It's a plane that's crashed" to "It's the presidential plane that crashed." --Brent Beardsley, Military Assistant to General Dallaire[2]

On the evening of 6 April 1994, the presidential airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana as well as Cyprien Ntaryamira, President of Burundi was shot down as it slowed and descended on approach to the airport in Kigali, Rwanda. Two shoulder mounted surface-to-air missiles struck the aircraft, the first hitting a wing, and the second impacting the tail. A pair of empty SA-16 missile tubes were later found, their serial numbers indicating that they had once been part of the Iraqi arsenal. Even today, it's not known who was responsible, but what is known is that within hours, maybe within minutes, certain neighborhoods in Kigali were being patrolled by units of the elite Rwandan Presidential Guard and by the National Police. By daybreak the killing had begun.

The bloodshed continued and spread for eleven weeks, and by the time it was over, an estimated 657,000 men, women and children had perished.

Front-paged by afew

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A comment deserving more than a reply... with Update

by papicek Mon Mar 9th, 2009 at 08:19:51 AM EST

Inspired by a comment, "Regarding Sudan..." made by citizen53 in the DailyKos Midday Open Thread of Sunday, 8 March.

"There is an argument in HR circles that the indictment was for show and in the end has little to do with the real problem of protecting people.

Like was done with the formation of the ICTY regarding Yugoslavia, it makes people think something is being done because not much, in reality, is.

We often are pacified by perception.

Humanitarian intervention may makes more sense, even if it ends up being illegal in international law, like Kosovo.  Not many really complained about the violation that saved lives.

Sadly, this is the state of international law, where an antiquated UN Charter does not afford the world a way to address internal problems as the issue of sovereignty is abused by bad leaders who commit war crimes against their own people."

Two points I'd like to address here. More beneath the fold...

Promoted by Colman - interesting diary and comments thread.

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Beyond ICC v. Omar al-Bashir

by papicek Sat Mar 7th, 2009 at 10:05:13 PM EST

By now everyone has taken note (first noted on ET here [h/t to Migeru]) of the ICC arrest warrent issued against Omar al-Bashir for:

  • intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as
    such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in
    hostilities as a war crime within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(i) of
    the Statute;

  • pillage as a war crime within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(v) of the

  • murder as a crime against humanity within the meaning of article
    7(l)(a) of the Statute;

  • extermination as a crime against humanity within the meaning of
    article 7(l)(b) of the Statute;

  • rape as a crime against humanity within the meaning of article
    7(l)(g) of the Statute;

  • torture as a crime against humanity within the meaning of article
    7(1 )(f) of the Statute;

  • forcible transfer as a crime against humanity within the meaning of
    article 7(l)(d) of the Statute

Support and opposition for the ICC decision falls along predictable lines. The Government of Sudan's (GoS) traditional enablers, the Arab League, China, and the African Union (AU) have all voiced opposition to the move. China has already called for a suspension of the warrant, and the AU is expected to place an appeal before the UN Security Council for a one year deferment on enforcement. Russia, even though a special envoy to Sudan was named, has remained curiously quiet, though if one can infer official position through what the Kremlin controlled press is saying, Russia is in opposition. A brisk arms-for-oil-trade between Russia and Khartoum (here) is in direct contravention to the CPA, and though Russia is not a signatory, Bashir is. Russia desperately needs the business these days, so it would probably be fruitless to ask Moscow to desist. The west, on the other hand, generally favors the warrant. According to some, Britain and France can be expected to support the warrants rather than undermine the integrity of the ICC. However, even the US, not a signatory to the ICC, has officially expressed its support.

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UPDATED (w/ Poll): Observations on ET and on blogging...

by papicek Tue Feb 24th, 2009 at 02:17:51 PM EST

I have no idea what Ragnarok: strimmer edition means, even after reading the post. Just another of life's mysteries. I write this as Colman states:

As it is, the site is heading for closure.
and I'm sitting here missing ET already.

Not being party to the discussions behind the scenes, or present at the creation of ET, I can only speculate on what the original intent or of the success or failure of ET to meet the founders goals for the site may be. I already speculate on other matters, so my quota of wishful thinking and tactical prognostication is pretty well met already.

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LQD: No consensus on 9/11

by papicek Wed Dec 10th, 2008 at 10:08:40 AM EST

I usually stay away from stories concerning terrorism because they're just too predictable, but I found this one interesting, and as I consider the implications on the idea of legitimacy of the positions and acts of the US government, I thought I'd share it. From July 15 to August 31, World Public Opinion conducted a survey in 17 countries asking the open-ended question, Who do you believe was behind the 9/11 attacks?. The topline results here.

The results surprised me. On average, 46% of respondents thought Al Qaeda was guilty, and in no country outside of Africa, did an overwhelming number of people say they believed Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. In some cases, a significant number of people thought the US government was behind the attacks. Particularly in Mexico and Germany, where 30% and 15% respectively of the people who were asked said they thought the US government itself was responsible.

All of which seriously undermines the perception of legitimacy of our invasion of Afghanistan (forget Iraq, I'm not even going there). To take matters a little further, all of this is something Indian officials should give serious consideration to in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, and their aggressive stand against Pakistan. Especially in light of of the possibility that this story in the Economist may have more than a grain of truth.

On a lighter note, here's what you get when you give classics scholars a little leeway. The Crimson reports that the Hapsburgs may be asked to reign over the student body at Harvard.

Comments >> (3 comments)

The buzz about Hillary Clinton...Updated X2

by papicek Tue Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:09:42 PM EST

We've all heard it this week, the skillfully leaked report that Senator Hillary Clinton was being considered for Secretary of State in President-elect Obama's administration. Then, details emerged about the Senator's quiet trip to Chicago to confer with Obama, and neither Obama's press office nor Clinton's staff issuing a public correction of the basic premise that she's been offered the post. So it is probable (provided she and Bill pass the vetting process) that she will be nominated, and if so, then she will likely be confirmed as the next Secretary of State.

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I might as well weigh in too...

by papicek Sat Oct 25th, 2008 at 05:45:57 PM EST

"Russia can neither be grasped by the mind, nor measured by any common yardstick. Russia's status is special: no attitude to her other than one of blind faith is admissible."
--Feodor Tyuchev, quoted in: Conquest, Robert. "Patriot, Poet and Prophet." Standpoint September 2008: 34-37.

"the logic of nationalism is implacable"
--Kiesling, John Brady. Diplomacy Lessons. Washington D.C., District of Columbia: Potomac Books, 2006.

For the past year, everybody in US foreign policy circles has offered up their opinions, analysis, outlined foreign policy priorities as they saw it and shared their fantasies, in anticipation of the elections coming up just over a week from now. With the diplomatic debacle of the current administration's policies plain to see, everyone agrees that some serious changes need to be made, but not everyone agrees on priorities and methods.

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The Globalization Backlash...UPDATED

by papicek Fri Oct 24th, 2008 at 07:11:33 AM EST

Friday, 10/24/08, 6:00 AM

Background: The opening for the US equity markets is a few hours away, and already both the S&P and Dow futures are locked limit down, that is, futures trading has been suspended for a half hour or until the markets open. The FTSE 100, DAX, and CAC 40 are sharply down, as were the Asian markets overnight. All this while OPEC announces a 1.5bn (or million, I'm hearing conflicting terms) barrel cutback in oil production.

Diplomacy is indeed the art of the possible. It requires endless patience and readiness to pounce on any opportunity, and lo, the current financial crisis rears up. While I take anything coming out of the Russian press with a huge dose of salt, this story from the Rossiyskaya Gazeta, George W. Bush Called to Order points to an amusing plight the free-wheeling, open-market neocons (or neoliberals, whatever you want to call them) have placed themselves in.

That open global markets lead to a de jure loss of a little bit of American sovereignty. (Where it hurts, too--in the Amerikan business sector.)

Of course, this depends on what agreements come out of the ongoing negotiations, as well as what new financial sector regulations are adopted in the U.S., but the point is, because the mess caused by Amerika's pro-business, anything-goes climate has spilled over our borders, Amerikan financial titans have little choice but to take seriously any impositions foreign finance ministers might wish to make. Not that I think they particularly care, but Amerikan exceptionalism lies at the core of everything their political bedfellows believe in. Still, I wonder to what extent the $700bn Paulson bailout plan is an ideologue attempt to maintain the notion of Amerikan economic hegemony.

What a change from Bretton Woods. Amerikan exceptionalists must be tearing their hair out.

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News Digest & Comment - 30 September 2008

by papicek Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 08:43:05 PM EST

Well, my first ET post at last.


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