Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
If the U.S. maintains its position miles behind the U.K., France, and even the Arab League, by continually vacillating and expressing “deep concern” at the slaughter of an Arab people fighting to emancipate themselves from the yoke of tyranny, it will be another stain on the history of American foreign policy serving to further drain the U.S. of what moral authority it retains. If we stand idly by while screams calling for the Western freedoms we so rightly extoll turn instead into the unheard screams of a madman's vanquished, we will reinforce the narrative that the U.S. only cants about freedom and democracy to serve its own interests. This, it seems to me, can only multiply hatred toward the U.S. and radicalize a betrayed population.
To those critics who predictably chime “Iraq War” at the very mention of a no-fly-zone over Libya: advocating one strategic blunder by reminding us of another does neither the U.S. nor the Libyans any good. It is unsound to analogize aggression towards Iraq to a defense of Libya, where a people currently undertaking revolutionary upheaval are suffering active slaughter and desperately calling for an international intervention which has the support of the Arab League. It would serve many of these critics, since they are so quick to raise the specter of Iraq, to remember that the no-fly-zone over Iraq was something of an effective policy, at least after 1993 when Saddam's aggressions toward patrolling aircraft were met with effective reprisals (even in the years between 1998 and 2003, during which Saddam announced he would no longer observe the NFZ, no manned aircraft were shot down).
Failure to lead the Security Council to authorize action against Gaddafi's ongoing war crimes will make a mockery of us and of the Council's credibility and force. And doing so might not be as difficult as those opposed to further action say. The U.N. General Assembly's 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide initially defined genocide as including political killings, though objection from the USSR led to a compromise which removed this criteria. But the force of international law is adequately equipped against Gaddafi with the subsequent adoption of UNSC Resolution 1674 in April 2006, which contains within it the reaffirmation of following paragraphs 138 and 139 of the World Summit Outcome Document of 2005, and compels the UNSC to act under circumstances such as the one we have so far only watched in horror:
138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and should support the United Nations to establish an early warning capability.
139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapter VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action , in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. We also intend to commit ourselves, as necessary and appropriate, to help states build capacity to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and to assist those which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.
So, as far as my limited understanding of int'l law takes me, invoking R.1674 against Libya is legitimate. A veto from the Chinese would expose them to the charge of hypocrisy, if not moral decrepitude, and would paint for the international community an exceptionally unappealing view of China's rising stardom. Similar pressures apply to Russia.
Summoning the memory of past escapades in Islamic countries is not a good argument for letting a historic opportunity to rid the world of a murderous tyrant pass us by. Libya is not Iraq. The time to act was yesterday.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Rabbi David Wolpe has asked "Why Are Atheists So Angry?" with the title of his latest article, which is devoted firstly to a complaint that his previous one *gasp* drew passionate criticism in the comments section, and secondly to his answering the title question for himself. My answer to the Rabbi is reprinted below (your reference to his unfortunate article is necessary, because I'm not going to excerpt the entire piece).
This lament is so tired, Rabbi Wolpe. Knowing full well that there is no "Humanism" section on this platform, you presume the "Religion" section as yours to claim for theism (mono, poly, or pan) and are surprised that those who feel it important to actively argue against your advocacy of supernaturalism dare to engage with your article in a critical way. Also, your title insinuates that to feel anger is somehow lesser-than, or undesirable, which is false. A lot of things cause virtuous and thoughtful people legitimate anger; your third and fourth points, for me, being two such things.
The irony of indicting atheists for not engaging with "religion's serious thinkers," of which I'm sure you consider yourself one (correct me if I'm wrong), in an article which laments those very engagements should not go unnoticed.
Furthermore, please name for me, and this is a sincere request, a few individual atheists who want for wonder. I'm anxious to see at least some seriousness on your part in support of this allegation, as so often precious little is to be found behind smears like these. I almost always find in atheists the opposite characteristic.
As a monotheist you necessarily reject as false any views of genesis which are polytheistic. You call atheists arrogant for vocally rejecting both of these views on lack of evidence, while you, yourself, in the face of reason and without evidence, make very large, if nonspecific, claims of your own. That is called "chutzpah," I believe.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Imam Usama Hasan has been threatened, shunned, and intimidated to apology for speaking reasonably about evolution - in London:
A prominent British imam has been forced to retract his claims that Islam is compatible with Darwin's theory of evolution after receiving death threats from fundamentalists.
Dr Usama Hasan, a physics lecturer at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was intending yesterday to return to Masjid al-Tawhid, a mosque in Leyton, East London, for the first time since he delivered a lecture there entitled "Islam and the theory of evolution".
But according to his sister, police advised him not to attend after becoming concerned for his safety. Instead his father, Suhaib, head of the mosque's committee of trustees, posted a notice on his behalf expressing regret over his comments. "I seek Allah's forgiveness for my mistakes and apologise for any offence caused," the statement read.
The campaign is part of a growing movement by a small but vocal group of largely Saudi-influenced orthodox Muslims who use evolution as a way of discrediting imams whom they deem to be overly progressive or "western orientated".
While I disagree that the two are compatible, both religious and scientific views are often compartmentally held in the same minds, and however unfortunate this capacity to hold mutually antithetical ideas may be, it's better to hold some reasoned beliefs than none. It's an outrage that in the capital city of a leading Western nation, even a relatively timid call for reasoned belief can condemn one to fear for one's life.
Dr. Hasan was bullied into an apology, sure, but the "offense" remains, predictably, a permanent stain:
the imam's apology seems to have done little to resolve the matter. Earlier this week, the group issued a statement saying that Dr Hasan had been dismissed from his position as vice-chairman and imam at the mosque, and describing his views as a "source of antagonism in the Muslim community". Neither he nor his father were present at the meeting that voted for his dismissal.More news in The Independent.