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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Burma:United Nations: A lame Duck?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on October 8, 2007


Ibrahim Gambari (left) and Ban Ki Moon addressed the UN in New York today, Oct 5

The UN Secretary-General today attacked the Burmese military junta’s “abhorrent and unacceptable” crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Rangoon.

Ban Ki Moon demanded that Burma “take bold actions towards democratisation and respect for human rights” after demonstrations led by Buddhist monks were crushed by the army.

The Secretary-General was addressing the Security Council before Ibrahim Gambari, the UN envoy who returned from Burma this week, raised concerns about continuing human rights abuses.

Mr Gambari met General Than Shwe, the head of the Burmese junta, and the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a four-day trip to the country. Through shuttle diplomacy he was able to open the lines of communication between the Government and Ms Suu Kyi for the first time in years. From Times Online

UN has been criticized because its mandate to stop violations of human rights in any nation is weakened by it’s own set-up, which at one time has been voted on and accepted by 192 world nations. Or as TimesOnline put it:

“Calls for sanctions to be levied by the UN Security Council will go unheeded, however, as China is prepared to veto any punitive move. They claim that there is no reason to intervene in a purely domestic dispute.”

In a nutshell this is UN’s main problem in regards to actually making a difference in cases such as Burma – there will always be one or other Member of the Security Council to use their veto to put any measures proposed off indefinitely.

While non-binding resolutions and condemnations go on each nations record as they are issued, they have very little force exactly because they are non-binding:

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Faced with mounting world outrage over violence in Myanmar, the UN Security Council was to meet Monday under pressure to quickly condemn the military regime for crushing pro-democracy protests.

The 15-member body was to weigh a draft statement that would condemn “the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations” by Myanmar’s rulers, urge them to “cease repressive measures” and release detainees as well as all political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The non-binding text, drafted by the United States, Britain and was submitted Friday to the full council after members heard a report from UN emissary Ibrahim Gambari on his recent mission to defuse the crisis.

The Burmese Junta can leisurely meet with UN envoys this and that, and then do as they wish any way. I am thinking back to South Africa during the Apartheid era. What was it that eventually made the oppressive government buckle and fall?

One thing I remember: Individual Nations banded together, without the UN, and imposed financial sanctions. It’s hard to function if you have no trade-partners. Popular opinion and protests – world wide protests.

One thing’s for sure, it didn’t happen because of UN Resolutions.

UN wasn’t thought up to be a lame duck. It was meant to be a true World Government, with the power to actually make peace, safe-guard human rights and be an instrument of what is good – unfortunately for us all petty grievances over this and that piece of power put forward by individual nations have put the UN in a position where any of the above positive is not really achievable.

Perhaps we all need to petition our governments to recant some of their demands on the UN, so the UN can become something more than just an abbreviation we learn about in school, so maybe the UN can become The United Nations. Any time to do what is right is the right time, and the crisis in Burma is as good as any.


Posted in Burma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Hitler Analogy – when is it acceptable?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 30, 2007

The current president’s policies seem to be an extension of his grandfather’s thinking. Bush’s latest string of Executive Orders are so disconcertingly undemocratic and un-American that even the Right-wing is growing leery. Last week, Bush signed an order that would enable him to seize the financial assets of anti-war activists. And in his most troubling move to date, on May 9, Bush signed an order that states that in the event of another terror attack on U.S. soil, the legislative and judicial branches of government would become subservient to the executive. This move is precisely how Hitler concretized his power following the Reichstag fire.

The Blog – JewSchool – raised an interesting question: “When is it okay to call someone a Nazi.?”

It is interesting because the comparison to Hitler and Nazism is most often used when a debater has no arguments left for their position. It is considered bad form to use the comparison, and in most Discussion Forums it is a sure discussion killer. See Godwin’s Law.

It has also been used as a hyperbolic propagandist argument against f.i Israeli politics in regards to the Palestinians, especially by debaters on the Far Left, who somehow think they gain points by using it as an insult.

The interesting part appears when one is able to draw direct political lines between events today and those in the 1930’s and 1940’s Germany. Like the Blogger manages to do in the above quote.

The Question raises another Question – how are we to learn from history, if references to historical events cannot be made? If Hitler, the Third Reich and the Holocaust take on sacrosanct proportions in the minds of people, don’t we then loose an instrument that can and should be used for education and raising awareness of similar events taking place in our own times? What about historical, sociological and philosophical analysis – how can that be conducted if the books on certain parts of history are hermetically closed due to sensitivities of some of the victims? Isn’t that just another denial? It seems like the the slogan “Never again!” has come to mean, not that it must never happen again, but that we must never think or speak about it again. For sure, we must not point out that history is about to repeat itself in some variation.

It has been argued that the events leading up to and resulting in the Third Reich in the 1930’s were so unique that no events can be compared to them, not before and not after.

But were they? Really? The misuse of power, the political machinations, the targeting of political undesirables, followed by elimination any possible dissent – are they unique to the Rise of the Third Reich?

What about the Soviet Union? Or China? Uganda, Mozambique, Iran, Turkey, Iraq?

How about the Serbian Rise in Former Yugoslavia?

I know that Europe woke up to the plight of the Muslims in Serbia after images eerily resembling those from Bergen Belsen and Auschwitz were aired on TV – but that was long into the massacre, and for many the realization of what was happening came too late.

Could those events have been predicted and intercepted if we had been allowed to believe that this kind of evil is repeatable, because it is NOT unique, because human evil is in fact very predictable? Would we not then also have been allowed to analyze and draw parallels between events in the 1930’s and 40’s and events unfurling in our own times?

I believe that not only do we need to let go of the “sanctification” of the Holocaust and the events that led up to it as something unique, but we need to go of the permanent victimization, not just of the Jewish People and all other that perished then, but of our collective innocence. It cannot be repaired, so we might as well accept that it is gone, and live with it, learn from its demise and grow up.

Posted in Hitler, Philosophy, Third Reich | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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