Talal Nezameddin, Dean of Student Affairs at the American University in Beirut and author of Russia and the Middle East: Towards a New Foreign Policy and most recently of Putin’s New Order in the Middle East.
You Might also like
By Sean — 10 years ago
The BBC aren’t the only ones still sorting out South Ossetia. Mark Ames dismantles the NY Times coverage in “The Cold War that Wasn’t“. Like most American media, the Times was fully on board with the Russia = bad, Georgia = good crusade. That is until facts made it too difficult to blindly sustain that line. Even then, the Times made no overt self-criticism, and instead opted for articles showing that maybe Georgia wasn’t the glowing democracy that we all were made to believe it was. A good correction, though horribly academic when it was published two months after the conflict was over. Taking this as a cue, Ames rhetorically asks, then answers:
It’s interesting that the Times published this exactly two months after Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia–a military decision so off-the-scale idiotic that to call it a “gamble” is an insult to struggling addicts like Bill Bennett.
The real question, then, is why the Times waited until this late to question its own position–why wait until the war was long off the front pages, to publish an article about what everyone with an ounce of journalistic curiosity already knew–that Saakashvili was about as much a democrat as he was a military genius?
The push in the West by outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post to get a new cold war on hinged on two major fallacies: (1) that Russia invaded Georgia first, totally unprovoked, because Georgia is a “democracy”; and (2), that Georgia is a “democracy.”
Justin Raimondo over at Antiwar.com tackles the Georgia issue by focusing on the fact that Saakashvili’s little war got him a big payout in return, proving the profitability of being recognized as a Western-style democracy. The World Bank donors’ conference in Belgium has $4.5 billion in Western money coming to the rescue to rebuild the Caucasian nation’s “infrastructure.” That’s about a billion more than the World Bank’s initial target. Though not intended for the Georgian military, one only assume that much of those funds will find its way weapons purchases. In more honest times, the US and its European allies would have just given weapons to Georgia. However, in these politically correct, “humanitarian” times, militarism must be shrouded in the facade of aid. And the fact that none of this money will go to the real victims, the South Ossetians, is a no brainer. As Raimondo concludes, the donor’s money will most likely slither its way
through Saakashvili and his cronies, who would rather leave the shattered infrastructure of bombed-out Tskhinvali as it is today, a stark reminder of what may very well reoccur should the Ossetians persist in going their own way. If anyone rebuilds, it will have to be the Russians. The private sector aid will be used to buy up Georgian assets on behalf of Western corporate interests. The difference between the World Bank figure and the number announced in Brussels – nearly half a billion – will cover bribes, covert action operations carried out by Western intelligence agencies, and other incidentals.When challenged, proponents of foreign aid programs invariably reply: yes, but look at the minuscule numbers! Why, foreign aid is less than one percent of the total overseas budget, including, one supposes, military expenditures – but so what? The point is that these programs do real harm, in most cases achieving the exact opposite of their intended purpose. And in this particular case, the entire package is premised on a lie, and a freshly debunked one at that. What’s really going on here is that the West is rewarding Saakashvili for his recklessness, and inciting him to commit fresh assaults. This course guarantees war.Post Views: 491
By Sean — 11 years ago
The US State Department has released its Trafficking in Persons Report 2007 which details the global slave trade in mostly women and children for labor and sex. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slave trade (but not legalized slavery) and this ghastly system continues. The report seeks to “to raise global awareness, to highlight efforts of the international community, and to encourage foreign governments to take effective actions to counter all forms of trafficking in persons.” Getting governments to take serious interest in stopping the trafficking of human beings is a tall order. Few nations where the practice persists are interested in devoting the resources necessary to protect the globes most vulnerable victims.
The Report defines human trafficking as:
- Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
The scope of global human trafficking can only be estimated. According to US government research, about 800,000 people are trafficked across borders (internal trafficking is not calculated) and about 80 percent of trafficked persons are women and girls and around 50 percent are minors.
The Report categorizes countries into tiers according to their compliance with the minimum standards for combating human trafficking. Teir 1 are those who fully comply, Teir 2 are those countries making significant efforts to comply, and Tier 3 are those who don’t really try to comply at all. In addition there is a “Tier 2 Watch List” which includes countries that verge on slipping down to Tier 3.
The Government of Russia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Russia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a fourth consecutive year for its continued failure to show evidence of increasing its overall efforts to combat trafficking, particularly in providing trafficking victims with protection. Specific trafficking victim assistance legislation, pending before the Duma, was neither passed nor enacted in 2006. Russia continued modest progress in its law enforcement efforts, particularly in its trafficking investigation efforts. In early 2007, the Ministry of Interior created the federal-level Counter Human Trafficking Unit to further strengthen anti-trafficking law enforcement coordination. In July 2006, the Duma passed asset forfeiture legislation that permits prosecutors to seek the forfeiture of the assets of convicted persons, including traffickers. In January, the Public Chamber of the national government provided grants to three anti-trafficking NGOs. Two local governments signed agreements with NGOs that establish a mechanism for victim referral. Although these are positive developments, Russia has yet to provide comprehensive human trafficking victim protections, covering the entire process from victim identification through reintegration and support. Overall, victim protection and assistance remains the weakest component of Russia’s anti-trafficking efforts.Post Views: 399