Cutting through the bullshit.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Soul searching

Colum Lynch reports from New York in this morning’s Melbourne Age that Lebanese Minister of Culture, Tareq Mitri, called yesterday’s UN Security Council decision to establish an international criminal tribunal to prosecute the masterminds of the February 2005 suicide-bomb killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, ‘the path of the salvation of Lebanon’.

The US also hailed the decision. "People who have committed political assassination need to be brought to justice," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to the UN. "They cannot have impunity."

Mr Khalilzad acknowledged that the council's action might trigger a violent reaction, but he said "many of us believe that the risks of not moving forward are greater".

Political assassins must never go unpunished. That would send entirely the wrong signal. Unless, of course, they are committed in pursuit of a higher principle. Like Saddam Hussein, not to delve too deeply into ancient history. Oh, but that wasn’t a political assassination. That was a legitimate execution carried out on the express instructions of the sovereign people of Iraq after due process and a fair trial. Of course. Well, then, what about Uday and Qusay Hussein? They never had their day in court, did they? Were they political assassinations? Of course not! They were fugitives from justice. The legitimate invaders and occupiers of Iraq had decided they were a threat, tracked them down and shot them to pieces. It’s only fair. After all, America did it, so it wasn’t an assassination.

What about other unpunished political assassinations? It wasn’t all that long ago that Sheikh

Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli attack on March 22, 2004. While he was being wheeled out of an early morning prayer session, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired Hellfire missiles at Yassin and both of his bodyguards. They were killed instantly, along with eight other bystanders. Allegedly, more than a dozen people were injured in the operation, including two of Yassin's sons. Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi replaced him as Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, and Rantissi himself was assassinated by Israel on April 17, 2004.

Anyway, same old, same old. It’s not who you kill – it’s who does the killing. If ‘we’ do it, or ‘our friends’ do it, it’s not political assassination. It’s execution, it’s killing a fleeing escapee, it’s combat… Same goes for terrorists, if you’re Jose Padilla, you’re a terrorist. If you’re Luis Posada Carriles, or Robert Ferro, you’re not.

So, anyway, you’d think that the Lebanese authorities might like to investigate and punish their own murderers, but as the BBC reported yesterday

A UN inquiry has suggested that Syrian and Lebanese intelligence forces played a role - which Syria denies.

And anyway, according to Robert Fisk in today’s Independent,

…the UN Security Council invoked Chapter VII of the UN Charter to create a special international court to try the suspects in Hariri's murder but the very fact that the Lebanese government could not formally request the court spoke volumes about its own impotence.

The point is that tracking down the murderers of one rich former politician in February 2005 is of the utmost concern to the UN Security Council, while the well known murderers of over a thousand Lebanese civilians and UN personnel, including attacks on ambulances and other crimes against humanity, pissing all over the last remaining shreds of credibility the UN might have been able to lay claim to last July and August, well they’re Israeli, so that’s ok then. Anway, the Israelis have already had their own painful soul searching Winograd Commission inquiry that named names and blaced the blame on the highest levels of government. Curiously, among the 21 main findings summarised on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, there is no mention of the decimation of Lebanese infrastructure, the deaths or injuries, the Qana massacre, or indeed any indication with any concern other than Israel’s failure to win.

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