The Global Citizen
So there's good news and bad news about the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia's efforts to bring surviving members of the Khmer Rouge to justice for the heinous crimes they committed from 1975-1979.
I have never testified before Congress. Many friends of mine have, and while they said it is an honor and a thrill, it can also be nerve wracking and - well - in some cases flat out embarrassing. Frank Gaffney, who my colleague Scott Paul has written about due to Gaffney's staunch opposition to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOS), testified last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As noted by The Washington Post the other day, Mr. Gaffney made a goof:
"Frank Gaffney, a Pentagon official in the Reagan administration and a leading critic of the long-debated Law of the Sea Treaty, said he wears "with the greatest of pride, a token of an award that I received from the Navy League of the United States." The watch "was given to me," he said, "because of confidence in my judgment about what is in the long-term interests of the Navy." And the treaty, he said, is certainly not in the Navy's or the country's interests.
But Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) brushed aside the memento.
According to a Washington Post report: "More than a decade after the United Nations was criticized for failing to stop genocide in Rwanda, the world body is more able to prevent another such atrocity, scholars and U.N. officials said on Wednesday."
However, it seems to me, that that's the right answer to exactly the wrong question. The question should be: Is the United Nations able to prevent genocide? Answer: NO. It can't, and never will, without far greater international political will. Sure the UN's record of genocide prevention in places like Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan is imperfect and in need of marked improvement, but considering the lack of timely, robust political support for genocide prevention within the international community that's to be expected. Without the full support of member countries, whether it be financial, logistical, or military, the UN cannot promise a fundamentally different response to tomorrow's genocide.
A thoughtful Jean-Marie Guehenno, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, stated:
"We've been haunted in the last 15 years by what happened in Yugoslavia and what happened in Rwanda. And none of us can avoid the question, would that happen again?" he said.
The relationship between the United States and the U.N. has often been compared to a marriage. This October will be their 63rd anniversary. Like most marriages there are moments when life is wonderful, and moments when it is not. As in any relationship, we need to find common ground and rules we can all live by. We need to sit around the table and iron out the family's problems.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating a briefing held in the Capitol on U.S. policy for the 62nd United Nations General Assembly. The program featured Kristen Silverberg, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. This is one in a series of briefings and discussions sponsored by the United Nations Associations Council of Organizations. The Council is a coalition of over 100 nongovernmental organizations and I serve as a member of its Washington DC executive committee.
Recently, my colleague Rich Stazinksi wrote two very insightful pieces about the confluence of global issues , presidential politics and sports.
Today, in a similar note, I hope you will join me in wishing Etan Thomas the best of luck as he undergoes heart surgery . Who is Etan Thomas? If you are a sports fan you will recognize him as the muscle-bound center of the Washington Wizards, an NBA basketball team. If you are more than a casual fan of hoops, you also know that Etan is "More Than An Athlete," which is the title of a book of poetry he wrote.
His poetry pulls no punches, as he opines on an array of social justice issues ranging from the war in Iraq, to climate change and issues of racism and the death penalty.
He also is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post .
Our thoughts and prayers are with you Etan.
I've had something of a one-track mind these past few months, as regular readers of this blog might have noticed. The Law of the Sea has been the subject of at least half of my recent posts and an even greater percentage of my advocacy focus.
"What is needed is more strategic thinking in progressive circles about what battles are worth having in order to achieve more systemic success. I think that consensus is impossible in the left -- and thus we need the Matt Stollers of the world to find some like-minded associates and begin hatching the campaigns that matter, and ignoring the ones that don't."
I couldn't agree more and I think the example that Steve offers - the opposition to the Bolton nomination - was a battle well chosen. It was very important on its merits: it successfully weakened and then partially removed an extremely negative element from the administration. But just as important was its execution. Thanks to some smart group decisions on strategy and message, the Bolton campaign is making current battles against pugnacious nationalism more winnable than before.
One is a Democrat running for his party's nomination for president; the other is a Republican also vying for his party's nod to lead our nation. Yet this Friday, Senators Joe Biden - the Democrat - and Sam Brownback - the Republican - will make a joint campaign appearance in Des Moines, Iowa.
While CGS does not endorse a candidate for President we do track what they say very closely and try and get them on the record as much as we can.
While we have not worked on the Iran issue, I feel that people need to look at a recent troubling vote made by Sen. Clinton in which she voted to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
Maureen Dowd lays out the case for why this was such a worrying vote.
Key quotes here:
....By throwing in with Joe Lieberman and the conservative hawks on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard issue, she once more overcompensated in a cynical way. She?d like to paint Obama as the weak reed who wants to cozy up to dictators, while she's the one who will play tough....Her camp seems to think her vote was a safe one because W. and Cheney do not have the time or support to bomb Iran, and that Bob Gates can stop it. But she may be underestimating W. and Cheney.
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