As the US begins talks with the Taliban, Amnesty’s 2011 message on women’s rights must be remembered:
Above: this must never be forgotten
“We all want stability and peace, but not at the price of women’s rights. We’re told that women’s rights are a development issue, not a security issue. But women’s rights are part of what the fighting is all about.”
-Afifa Azim, coordinator of the Afghan Women’s Network, an umbrella organization of over 84 NGOs and 5,000 individual members.
“We will not abandon you, we will stand with you always…[it is] essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled in the reconciliation process.” -US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton speaking to female Afghan officials in 2010
Hard-won gains for women could be seriously compromised as the Afghan government and its international partners pursue reconciliation and peace negotiations with leaders of the Taleban and other insurgent groups, without ensuring mechanisms to guarantee human rights.
Many Afghan women fear that their rights may be sacrificed in the search for a settlement with Taleban leaders. In areas they currently control, the Taleban continue to curtail women’s human rights severely. They have carried out a concerted attack on girls’ education and have murdered women prominent in public life. Afghan women’s human rights defenders fear that their newly won rights will be severely eroded if the Taleban are brought back into government.
Read more in Afghanistan: Don’t trade away women’s human rights
Amnesty International urges the U.S. government to adopt an action plan for Afghan women to ensure that their rights are not traded away in the reconciliation process. The U.S. should make clear that human rights are non-negotiable and ensure local women are included in the transition process and that mechanisms are in place to uphold those rights after any agreement is reached.
Eric Lee of LabourStart writes:
Gokhan Bicici is a friend of mine.
In 2011, he invited LabourStart to hold its annual Global Solidarity Conference in Istanbul.
I remember the conversation well — we had in a café next to Gezi Park, just off Taksim Square.
Last night, Gokhan was filming the demonstrations.
He was brutally attacked by police and dragged off.
Incredibly, the attack was filmed and you can watch the entire minute-long video here:
If you use Facebook, please share the video widely.
As I write these words, over 11,200 people have already done exactly that.
But over 60,000 of you who are receiving this message have not yet signed up to the current LabourStart campaign demanding an end to police violence in Turkey.
Please do not delay a moment longer – sign up now:
If you have already signed up, please encourage your union to spread the news by email to as many members as possible.
Your union has thousands of members who would support this campaign if they knew about it.
This is the largest online campaign LabourStart has ever done with over 18,300 messages sent to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.
I think it can be even larger.
As for Gokhan, here is what the Independent Media Centre have to say:
“He suffered an eyebrow cut, his gas mask was broken, his iPad was confiscated and he was kept waiting, injured and handcuffed, for four hours by police who told him he had been detained but refused to tell him where he would be taken, and failed to carry out any official procedure. As of 23:30, our friend is being held inside a police vehicle in front of the Taksim Atatürk Cultural Centre, and has been told he will be taken to the Istanbul Police Directorate. We strictly condemn the abusive treatment of Gökhan Biçici, and demand that he is immediately released, that those who are responsible, who are clearly documented in various photographic and video recordings on social media, are immediately revealed and brought to trial.”
He is still being held by the police now, hours later.
Spread the word. Build the campaign.
Enemy intelligence: our occasional look at what thoughtful ruling class commentators are saying.
With no ‘good’ side to support, Michael Walzer says Washington should increase humanitarian aid rather than intervene militarily
By ELHANAN MILLER (The Times of Israel)
As President Barack Obama and other Western leaders mull arming rebels fighting the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, a leading American expert said the United States should avoid military intervention in a country where its ability to identify positive elements for the future is extremely limited.
Speaking to The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Middle East in Transition conference at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University on Wednesday, Michael Walzer, a professor emeritus of political theory at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and author of “Just and Unjust Wars” — perhaps the most authoritative book on the subject — said that his position on Syria gradually shifted from skepticism about US military intervention in the early days of the uprising to staunch opposition to it today.
“Now you have jihadi fighters on the one hand and Hezbollah on the other, and it really doesn’t look like there’s much to choose between,” Walzer said. “It’s almost impossible to describe a desirable outcome in this civil war, and if you don’t have a desirable outcome — you can’t intervene.”
Walzer’s comments come amid mounting Republican pressure on the administration of Barack Obama to arm the waning rebel groups in Syria, and Democratic indecision on the matter. Following a recent visit with rebels near Syria’s border with Jordan, Senator John McCain (R-Az) expressed confidence that the US could ensure that heavy weaponry reached “the right hands.”
But Walzer argued that it has become virtually impossible to identify “right hands” in today’s Syria.
From the early days of the Syrian uprising, Walzer argued that three conditions must be met for the US to intervene militarily, conditions that were sorely disregarded when it engaged the Qaddafi regime in Libya in 2011. Firstly, the US must “pick a winner” and make sure he is capable of governing Syria; secondly, the US must secure Assad’s weapons arsenal and prevent it from leaking into neighboring countries; and finally the new (presumably) Sunni government must guarantee the physical safety of the country’s minorities: Alawites, Druze, Christians and Kurds.
“The only way to achieve these goals is with troops on the ground,” Walzer argued, adding that no one in the American political system is willing to pay that price.
Walzer is by no means a non-interventionist. He supported American military action in places like Kosovo and Rwanda in the 1990s and in Darfur, Sudan, over the past decade. Nor does he believe that a democratic outcome is a prerequisite for military intervention where “systematic massacres” are perpetrated. For him, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in November 1978 and the Tanzanian invasion of Uganda that same year serve as models of justified military interventions, though neither were authorized by the UN and both were motivated more by geopolitical considerations than by humanitarian ones. ”But they stopped the killing,” he said.
The Syrian case is different, however.
“In Syria, there isn’t a deliberate systematic massacre of hundreds of thousands of people. There’s a war going on, and it’s being fought with great brutality on both sides, though there’s probably a greater capacity for brutality on the government side.”
As the official death toll in Syria reached 93,000 on Thursday according to UN figures, the lack of a military option does not mean the US must stand idly by, Walzer said. Humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees could be dramatically increased, he argued, and together with the Russians the US should explore the possibility of forming a transitional government.
“There are now generals from the Syrian army fighting on both sides. Maybe we could get them together and form a military junta that could stop the killing.”
Syria’s first government could not be created by elections, Walzer said, but only through negotiations between political and military forces.
“You can’t have elections where there are people whose goal is to to kill their enemies. A system of power sharing cannot be imagined if you don’t first have an end to violence, the beginning of civil society.”
Even if military intervention does eventually become justified, for instance if the government begins systematically using chemical weapons against civilians — “not experimentally, which seems to be what has happened so far” — the obligation to intervene lies primarily with Syria’s immediate neighbors and not with distant superpowers, “who are likely to do it less well.”
“The difficulty is that the Arab world is divided,” he concluded.
H/t: Prof Norm
Above: secular campaigners of all races. ‘Cardinal’ Newman doesn’t like this.
The misnamed Socialist Unity blog seeks to witch-hunt a Labour Party woman who dares to fight for secularism:
The increasingly bizarre religious apologist Andy ‘Cardinal’ Newman writes:
I first came across Anne Marie Waters when she put herself forwards for the South Swindon selection, and very unusually for a Labour politician Waters gave as her personal reference a Central Committee member of the Worker Communist Party of Iran, Maryam Namazie. It was also very difficult to get a straight answer from Ms Waters what she actually does for a living, and how it is funded.
Both Namazie and Anne Marie Waters signed a letter in 2010 to the Guardian opposing the state visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the UK.
I would submit that Newman’s use of the title “His Holiness” tells us all we need to know about this character’s attitude to religion.
Newman gives his filthy, reactionary, little game away when he admits: “alongside her bigoted anti-religious views she is also a pro-NHS campaigner, there is a danger that the left and some unions may support her for the Labour candidacy.”
The liar Newman deliberately misrepresents Waters when he suggests she made an anti-immigration broadcast. Watch it for yourself, and you’ll see she makes it absolutely clear that she’s not arguing against immigration.
Mind you, if you did want to find an example of anti-immigration agitation within the labour movement at the moment, you could do worse than check out the resolutions passed at the recent GMB congress (Mr Newman is an enthusiastic supporter of the GMB leadership), and especially motion 239 (passed with support from the leadership):
“This Congress calls on the GMB, along with the Labour Party, to present a constructive policy on future immigration, in time for the next election, to stop the growth of the smaller political parties, which in most cases are anti-trade union and racist.”
I’m sure we call all work out what that really means.
So Newman’s a rank hypocrite as well as a religious bigot and enemy of democracy, the enlightenment, and secularism.
Above: Charles Lindbergh puts the Stop The War case for non-intervention in WW2
BBC Radio 4′s ‘Any Questions’ is a pretty reliable barometer of middle-England, middle class opinion. These days, anyone on the panel who denounces intervention of any kind in overseas conflicts, can be guaranteed a big round of applause, regardless of whether the speaker is from the isolationist right or the ‘anti-imperialist’ left.
This week’s programme, inevitably, included a question about Syria, and the panel was unanimous in opposing the idea of arming the opposition, to the obvious approval of the audience. Right wing Tory isolationist Daniel Hannan put the non-intervention case most succinctly when he said “It’s not our business… in Syria we have no connections …we have no particular interest.”
Smug, shallow leftist commentator Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman and Huffington Post) chimed in with his familiar, sanctimonious riff along the lines of one sides’s as bad as the other … both sides have been accused of using chemical weapons … sending the rebels weapons or imposing a no-fly zone will just make matters worse…etc. etc…
Hannon, who made it clear that he agreed with Hasan’s isolationist conclusions, was honest enough to chip in with the following:
“A one-sided arms embargo is a form of intervention, as it was in Bosnia, as it was in the Spanish Civil War. If you’re allowing one side free access to global weaponry and denying the other [weapons] then you are in practice intervening.”
An important point, that the isolationist movement of both left and right rarely acknowledge. The assumption, all too often, is that only military intervention costs lives, while staying out of it saves lives. Patent nonsense, once you think about it, but that’s the presumption upon which people like the so-called Stop The War Coalition and their media stooges, expect us to accept their case.
Hopi Sen puts the contrary view very well in a recent piece on the cost of non-intervention in Syria:
The last decade has been a steady retreat from intervention.
We know why. We saw the terrible costs of intervention first hand, while the deaths of the Marsh Arabs, the repression of the Kurds, the brutality of Saddam’s regime (and yes, our real-politik driven complicity in that regime) were somehow forgotten. We even managed to forget that the cost of containment was a society trapped by sanctions, a price worth paying for the containment of a regime we did not wish to overthrow.
Yet now, in Syria, we also see the price of inaction.
I make the following comparison not to compare the loss, or the war, or the justice of either, but to compare our reaction to each.
The rate of violent death in Syria is already more than double that in the bloodiest year of the Iraq war. Around 170,000 have died in Iraq in the decade since the war. More than half that are dead in Syria already, and the violent deaths are increasing rapidly. Where is the outrage of the humanitarian left? Where are the marches and the vigils? The petitions and the disbelief? Where are the Anti-War Marches?
Further, doing nothing has increased regional instability. Already Hizbollah are killing Syrian rebels, with who knows what consequences for Lebanon. Israel is both nervous of Islamism and of an unstable Syrian government. Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan are having to cope with some one and a half million refugees.
These are the results of the policy we chose.
Would things have been better if we had intervened directly? Would the slaughter have been less with a No Fly zone, or airstrikes on Syrian forces mounting aggression, or if we had supported secular, moderate rebels early? Would things have been better if we had even made it clear to Russia that there was some action that we would not tolerate?
That I can’t know, just as I cannot know what would have happened in Iraq this past decade if Saddam had been left to imprison and murder his people under a sanctions regime that killed innocent civilians in order to constrain their torturers.
No-one can really know “what if“.
The awful truth is that inaction and intervention both have terrible costs, and those who decide between them cannot ever truly know what will result. Some forgot that in the last decade, choosing to believe that only intervention could have a terrible price. I don’t forget the reverse now.
Just because the policy we have pursued has become a catastrophe does not mean the policy was undoubtedly and obviously wrong.
But by God, I wish we felt more shame for what we have not done for the people of Syria.
(Read the full article here)
In all the political excitement of the past few weeks, I’ve missed the centennial of the birth of bandleader Woody Herman (born 16 May 1913 – died 29 October 1987).
Woody deserves to be remembered because of his great ‘Herd’ bands from the 1940s onwards, and because he was a very rare phenomenon in the world of (white) swing-era big bands: a leader who was universally loved and respected by his musicians (Gene Krupa is the only other case I know of)
Above: Woody on clarinet and vocals in 1964, introducing the band including Jake Hanna on drums at a crazy tempo (NB: by this time, the band was ‘clean’).
I had the privilege of seeing Woody’s band in action in the 1970′s, and they were great. I didn’t know that by then Woody was desperately tired but had no choice but to stay on the road because the IRS were after him for unpaid taxes, due to fraud by his manager.
Woody’s Herds, over the years, had included the likes of Bill Harris, Dave Tough, Flip Phillips, Ralph Burns and the famous ‘Four Brothers’ sax section of Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Herbie Stewart and Serge Chaloff.
I said that Woody was loved by all, which is true. But some of his sidemen (especially those who had “the habit”) caused him considerable grief and one – Serge Chaloff – drove even the placid Woody to retribution. Woody’s account of his revenge was told to Gene Lees and published in Bill Crow’s book Jazz Anecdotes:
Woody began to be aware of what was wrong with his collection of sleeping beauties. And he found that Serge Chaloff was the band’s druggist, as well as its number one junkie. Serge would hang a blanket in front of the back seats of the bus and behind it he would dispense the stuff to colleagues. This led to an incident in Washington D.C.
The band not only looked bad, it sounded bad. And Woody, furious at what had happened to it, had a row right on the bandstand with “Mr Chaloff,” as he called him, emphasis on the first syllable.
“He was getting farther and farther out of there,” Woody said. “And the farther he got out there he got the more he sounded like a faygallah. He kept saying ‘Hey, Woody, baby, I’m straight, man, I’m clean.’ And I shouted, ‘Just play your goddam part and shut up!’
“I was so depressed after that gig. There was this after-hours joint in Washington called the Turf and Grid. It was owned by a couple of guys with connections, book-makers. Numbers guys. Everybody used to go there. That night President Truman had a party at the White House, and afterwards all his guests went over to the Turf and Grid. They were seven deep at the bar, and I had to fight my way through to get a drink, man. All I wanted was to have a drink and forget it. And finally I get a couple of drinks, and its hot in there, and I’m sweating, and somebody’s got their hands on me, and I hear, “Hey, Woody, baby, whadya wanna talk to me like that for? I’m straight, baby, I’m straight.’ And it’s Mr Chaloff. And then I remembered an old Joe Venuti bit. We were jammed in there, packed in, and … I peed down Serge’s leg.
“You know, man, when you do that to someone, it takes a while before it sinks in what’s happened to him. And when Serge realized, he lets out a howl like a banshee. He pushed out through the crowd and went into a telephone booth. And I’m banging on the door and trying to get at him, and one of the owners comes up and says, ‘Hey, Woody, you know, we love you, and we love the band, but we can’t have you doing things like that in here.’ And he asked me to please cool it.
“Well, not long after that, I was back here on the coast, working at some club on the beach. Joe Venuti was playing just down the street, and I was walking on the beach with him after the gig one night, and I told him I had a confession to make. I’d stolen one of his bits. Well, Joe just about went into shock. He was horrified. he said, “Woody, you can’t do things like that! I can do things like that, but you can’t! You’re a gentleman. It’s all right for me, but not you!”
Woody’s ‘First Herd’ at its best (1945): North West Passage.
Howie’s Corner has already covered this bizarre story, in which the maxim ”my enemy’s enemy is my friend” is taken to its logical conclusion.
Above: this may help explain Griffin’s enthusiasm for the Assad regime and Hezbollah
Yesterday’s Times (June 12 2013) went into further detail:
BNP leader praises Assad during trip to bomb-hit Syria
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, said that Syria was “under attack” as he embarked on a surprise visit yesterday sponsored by the Assad Government.
The arrival of the far-right MEP in Damascus, apparently to challenge David Cameron’s support for arming the Syrian opposition, coincided with a double suicide bombing in the capital.
The attack on a police station in the centre of the city reportedly killed at least 14 people, but Mr Griffin insisted that all was well. “Occasional explosions in distance but life in capital normal” he wrote on Twitter. “Traffic busy, shops full of goods, Families out in sun.” Later he visited the site of the explosion, which he said smelt like an “abattoir”.
More than 80,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past two years. What began as a peaceful uprising morphed into a civil war after President Assad tried to quash it by force.
But the BNP leader praised President Assad’s secularism and tolerance and insisted that the country was under attack from “tens of thousands” of foreign fighters.
His visit came as President Putin of Russia said that Mr Assad could have prevented civil war if he had compromised with his opponents. However, Mr Putin also repeated accusations made by Sergei Lavrov, his Foreign Minister, of the West’s “double standards” in foreign affairs, suggesting that then US and other nations “pick and choose” which terrorists they were happy to work with.
Mr Cameron hopes to sign up the Russian leader to making strong condemnation of the Assad regime at next week’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, will travel to Washington today to discuss tactics with John Kerry, the Secretary of State. The pair will talk about a possible transitional government.
In recent days Mr Griffin has voiced support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group allied to Mr Assad. He said that Hezbollah’s militant wing, which the British Government believes should be designated a terrorist organisation, had done “a better job than the Met dealing with ‘British’ jihadi cut-throats in Syria”.
In the 1980s, while in the National Front, Mr Griffin sought to build bridges with Colonel Gaddafi of Libya. He also supported Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution.
Will the likes of Socialist Unity (well, John Wight, anyway), the Morning Star and ‘Stop The War’ be concerned about finding themselves in the same camp as Nick Griffin – and, indeed, using many of the same arguments? Somehow, I doubt it.
‘Voltaire’s Priest’, who founded Shiraz Socialist back in 2006, is exceptionally well informed about Turkish politics and has a number of Turkish contacts. Sadly, he’s no longer involved with the blog, but we’re still friends. I contacted him yesterday for advice about sources of information on the fast-developing crisis in Turkey, and Erdogan’s brutal clampdown on protesters…
Above: riot police in Taksim Square yesterday
Here’s a flavour:
I must be careful of words—the old cliches don’t work anymore. Freedom, democracy, liberty, tolerance—the wrong people have used them for the wrong things for so many years. Sometimes with good intentions, sometimes with bad. My ears hurt to hear them.
I gave up on The Fall after the second episode. When the series opened with the pretty, lively solicitor I knew she was going to come to a horrible end, while the camera lingered over every last second of her dying then on her post-mortem. You could practically smell the entrails.
I have to quote from the Daily Mail here:-
This visual catalogue of violence against women has even drawn criticism from that bible of the BBC, the Radio Times, and its level-headed chief TV critic Alison Graham. It was now an exception to the rule, she told Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, to see a major drama in which a woman was not raped, bound and gagged, or laid out grey and naked on a mortuary slab.
BBC executives are defending the show and their decision to renew it for a second series: they claim it provides insight into the motives of a sadistic psychopath. By beckoning viewers to share the killer’s experiences, the programme-makers say, it challenges our preconceptions about evil.
Such weasel words are insulting and obscene. The Fall doesn’t challenge evil: it wallows in it. This series is an invitation to share an extended rape fantasy.
Anyone who tries to “challenge my preconceptions about evil” can get a job cleaning up Fred West’s house in Gloucester “Evil” leaves a filthy mess and people in anguish and misery. It’s ugly, not edgily glamorous.
Look at the handsome well educated psychopath serial killer in The Fall, so buff, so clever, so handsome and compare him to the filthy toothed illiterate Fred West. Scenes are constantly juxtaposed in a crass artiness e.g. the killer washing the body of his victim and the gorgeous detective showering after an exciting zipless fuck. Gillian Anderson, who was a great neurotic Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, is affectless, a silk-shirted descendant of the other beautiful blonde and excitingly emotionless detective in The Bridge.
I like detective stories, both police procedural and comfort-telly Agatha Christies where the corpse is glanced at, tidied away and the interest is in the puzzle, the daffy characters and the period settings. The Fall pretends to a tough reality by being set in Belfast but with the elaborately patterned death-dealing it is as unreal as Midsomer Murders. Cosiness may be a little absurd, but woman-murder porn is vile.