Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finally some real action against six American rogues

Several books have been written, and many articles have been published in august international legal journals, and long winded lectures have been delivered at prestigious universities, international organizations, and hallowed halls around the world by international experts in criminal law; but only a few have taken any meaningful action against the perpetrators of some of the most brutal acts and despicable crimes on our planet: the kidnapping and transportation of men to some dark dungeons in secret prisons in foreign lands, in a process euphemistically called “Extraordinary rendition”.

“Extraordinary rendition” is an extra-judicial act of abduction and transportation of people to secret prisons scattered around the world, without obtaining a legal order issued from a court of law. It is an abominable act perpetrated often with the cooperation and connivance of nations not averse to practicing such barbarity.

Some of the nations that facilitated such shocking, and blatantly illegal acts are none other than our friendly, permanent allies such as Britain, France, Germany, and Italy; and allies of mutual convenience such as Australia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan; and, in a class by itself, Syria. Poland and Romania are also suspected of lending the USA a helping hand. The BBC has reported that, according to a report from Europe's human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, fourteen European states colluded with the CIA in secret US flights for terror suspects. The report states that Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Germany and Cyprus provided "staging posts" for rendition operations, while the UK, Portugal, Ireland and Greece were "stop-off points", and that Italy, Sweden, Macedonia and Bosnia allowed the abduction of residents from their soil.

The criminal policy of Extraordinary Rendition meets the definition of War Crimes as enunciated in the Rome Statute that constitutes the foundation of the International Criminal Court in Hague, in the Netherlands. It has been established that under the pretense of waging a “War on Terror”, nearly 100 people have been subjected to this barbarous act. They have been tortured using techniques such as water boarding, banging on the head, sleep and food deprivation, and forcing them to sleep in the nude on cold floors.

Now comes the news that, a courageous man of unimpeachable character, moral fortitude, and a strong conviction that the perpetrators of these despicable war crimes and crimes against humanity must face justice at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. Mr. Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, Illinois, USA, has filed a complaint against American citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, and Alberto Gonzales, whom he refers to as the “Accused”. He has petitioned the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to obtain international arrest warrants against George Bush and his co-accused.

Even though the United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, because the Accused had ordered that these men be subjected to extraordinary rendition - the kidnapping and subsequent torture - they have committed acts considered as crimes under the ICC statute, within the territories of many ICC member states. And so the ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute the Accused for their ICC statutory crimes. He has also requested the prosecutor to formally submit to the “Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” of the Accused under Rome Statute Article 15(3).

I have been waiting to hear this good news for over two years now. And I am happy and terribly relieved that Professor Francis A. Boyle has persevered, against heavy odds, to complete the task. I hope Professor Francis A. Boyle will follow this complaint, soon, by filing an additional complaint against George Bush and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for committing War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity by bombing and invading a disarmed Iraq without any provocation. The destruction of the city of Fallujah, and the infrastructure of Iraq, its roads, bridges, electricity generating plants, and water treatment centers, and the slaughter of more than a million Iraqis, and the displacement of 4 million more as refugees, in my opinion, constituted even graver War Crimes than the “Extraordinary Rendition” implemented by them.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Evident Decline of the USA in the Last Decade, and the Inevitable Rise of China

Much has been written about the rapid rise of China in the last decade as a major world power. On its front page, The New York Times, for example, last year published several articles describing China’s modern super-high-rises, its gleaming towers, and wide super highways that connect its major cities, and ultra modern stadiums, and clean parks. At a time when America’s economy is stagnating, China’s economy is booming.

Unemployment rate is well over 10% in the United States, with cities such as Detroit registering unemployment of 30% or more. Officially, the unemployment rate in Detroit is around 30%, but according to the Detroit News, the actual figure is closer to an almost unimaginable 50%. The number of the homeless throughout our nation is at a bewildering level, with more than three million houses repossessed in the last two years alone, and with three million more houses awaiting their turn to be repossessed this year. At a time when the number of families that are unable to feed their children is rising to shameful levels here, with reports that one out of four children in America goes to bed hungry, China’s booming economy is incomprehensible to the average American who does not read news papers or international magazines.

I have read that tourists who were dazed by what they saw in Beijing and Shanghai were shocked even more when they returned to New York, Detroit, or Los Angelus, and saw our dirty subways and crumbling infra-structure, and graffiti scrawled walls needing a coat of paint, and dirty floors needing a thorough scrubbing, and trash on the curbs, and desperation in the eyes and anxiety in the faces of the millions of the unemployed and the newly homeless. Judging from readers’ comments in national newspapers and magazines, there is increasing evidence that people have finally begun asking in earnest the question: What happened to America?

What happened is quite simple, actually. There is no mystery to it. Americans’ priorities changed in the last decade. We became war-obsessed. Even now I shudder when I recall vividly how some newscasters in the USA cheered loudly as bombs fell on the sleeping civilians in Iraq, during the abominable “Shock and Awe” carnage broadcast live on several TV stations worldwide; and here in New York, on a major network, two anchormen pounded their fists on the table, laughed, and roared, and showed a video clip again and again of a bridge in Iraq being bombed with precision missiles, and a truck on the road speeding and falling down the bridge and tumbling into the river.

While we continued to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, year after year, on needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chinese continued to spend about 45 to 50 billion dollars per city in both Beijing and Shanghai in the last two years, building soaring high-rises and sparkling towers and new museums, widening and repaving the roads, clearing all the trash, and improving their infra-structure. As a result, Shanghai has replaced Paris as the Queen of the cities at night time. With its economy booming, last year more cars were sold in China than in the USA, for the first time in over six decades. And China also built the fastest train on earth, the new magnetic levitation train, Maglev, that runs at an astonishing 430 KPH(Kilometers per hour, or about 267 miles per hour).

The rise of China and the decline of the USA will continue so long as the war-obsessed America continues the two wars initiated by us, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the one war in Palestine fed by us - by supplying tanks, bombs, missiles, and phosphorus bombs, and 2.9 billion dollars to Israel each year. We financed the wars using trillion dollars borrowed mostly from China and Japan.

It’s quite obvious to all but the close-minded, that our priorities had changed in the last decade. Our decline was inevitable. It will get much worse here in the USA for the poor and middle class people in the next four years. The rich, of course, will continue to prosper, and get excellent health coverage. Unburdened by the expenditures of needless wars, the Chinese will continue to spend billions of dollars to improve their infra-structure, agriculture, and health care.

As grave as our economic decline has been, our moral decline has been even more startling and precipitous. There is no doubt now that the detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons were indeed tortured, as revealed by the classified “torture memos” that were released by the Justice department, to comply with a court order that the ACLU obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. Also, the world is aghast that hundreds of detainees were held in captivity for more than seven years without being charged of any criminal activity, and that several prisoners were even tortured to death.
Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ

Monday, January 4, 2010

For the first time in his political career, Mahmoud Abbas stands resolute.

From the time Mahmoud Abbas was elected as President of the Palestinian National Authority on January 15, 2005, even though he had sworn to serve the Palestinian people and to advance, protect, and defend their interests, he had acted as if he were a secret Israeli agent striving to preserve and protect Israel’s interests. It appeared as if he listened attentively to the wishes and directives from Israel, and awaited orders from the White House, and in each instance complied faithfully, and without complaints. He could be summoned by American Presidents, as President Obama in fact did in September 2009, and came to the Plaza hotel in New York obsequiously, looking quite sullen, to shake hands with Netanyahu, at the “tripartite summit”.

When Israel started the Gaza War, assaulting helpless civilians, bombing houses, schools, mosques and hospitals, and dropped white phosphorus bombs on fleeing civilians, and as world-wide condemnations of Israel poured in, Mr. Abbas shut his mouth and did not criticize Israel for several days. Even the BBC took note of his behavior. In its report on Thursday, 5 November 2009, it commented: “Mr. Abbas has walked a delicate line between appeasing Israeli and US demands that he improve security and participate in peace negotiations, and popular Palestinian pressure for genuine political and economic progress. And he has, in the past year, undermined his already fragile poll ratings with misjudged comments and actions. Even Fatah supporters were angered when Mr. Abbas was slow to condemn the punishing military assault that Israel launched on Gaza in December 2008, and criticized the Hamas rocket fire Israel said it was trying to end.”

On many occasions, and several times during the Gaza War, Mr. Abbas’ words and actions prompted me to stop and think and wonder: Is he the President of the Palestinian people, or is he an agent of the Israeli government, doing its bidding, but paid for his efforts by the United States, in dollars borrowed from China?

But in October, 2009, something strange, startling, and least expected happened to the Middle East peace process restarted by President Obama. In June President Obama had assured Mr. Abbas privately that he would insist that Israel cease from its settlements expansion in the occupied land, and publicly President Obama had even demanded that Israel freeze all its settlement activities as called for by the Road Map to Peace. However, as Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton stood by Netanyahu in Jerusalem in a joint press conference and praised him effusively for agreeing to slow down – but not freeze - Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, and described Netanyahu’s decision as “unprecedented” and worthy of praise, Mr. Abbas, shocked in Ramallah, opened his eyes and realized that the Obama administration was brazenly taking Israel’s side in the conflict. He felt humiliated and outraged that he had been made to appear like a fool, again. The fact that Mrs. Clinton’s news conference happened only weeks after the tripartite hand shake fiasco at the Plaza hotel on September 22, 2009, only made his anger and pain worse. Then came the White House directed and orchestrated fiasco of the handling of Geneva based U N Human Rights Council’s Goldstone Report on the Gaza War. President Obama put enormous pressure on Abbas to write to the UNHRC asking for a delay in endorsing the report. President Obama’s intention was obviously to shield Israel from the bad publicity and the damage to its image engendered as a result of the vote. But the plan backfired, and Mr. Abbas faced the scorn of almost the entire Muslim world. Mr. Abbas realized that he was duped again with Israel’s and Washington’s connivance.

Embarrassed, shocked, and deeply pained, Mr. Abbas resolved that he can not let either Israel or the White House push him around any more, and that he had to take a firm stand. He announced that he will not participate in peace negotiations until Israel freezes all settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well. He knows that the settlements are illegal, and that the UN resolutions regarding the settlements support him, and that the International Laws regarding occupied lands favor him, and so he has resolved to not budge. It was as if he had decided to take a firm, unwavering stand. And for the first time in his political career, Mahmoud Abbas has stood resolute.

He has even announced, repeatedly, that he will not seek reelection. I guess he has had enough of being pushed around, and pulled with strings like a puppet. I am not surprised at his resolve, and that he is fighting back. After all, even normally docile rats put up a ferocious fight when cornered, don’t they?

But I am astonished that Mr. Abbas did not stand on a stage in Ramallah and say loudly, “Et tu Obama? Then retire Abbas!” I half expected to hear the words gushing from his lips.

Yesh Prabhu, Plainsboro, NJ