The government and opposition protesters are sharply at odds in Uzbekistan days after the eastern city of Andijan exploded into violence. A May 15 AP report claimed some 500 bodies had been laid out in a school in Andijan for identification by relatives, "corroborating witness accounts of hundreds killed" when soldiers opened fire on street protests. Medical authorities also reported some 2,000 wounded in local hospitals. However, a May 18 account on Russia's MosNews.com quotes Uzbek officials denying this very death toll. “Not a single civilian was killed by government forces there," Prosecutor General Rashid Kadyrov said. According to him the overall death toll was 169 people, including 32 soldiers. Kadyrov claimed reports of 500 or even 700 dead are “deliberate attempts to deceive the international community." He assailed the protesters as "terrorists," "criminals" and "extremists."
Allegations in the May 9 Newsweek that U.S. military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had abused a Koran, and even flushed one down a toilet, led to riots that left several dead in Afghanistan May 11. By the next day, protests had spread from Jalalabad (where they began) to Kabul, where a CARE office was ransacked, and several other cities across the country. Large, angry protests were also held in Pakistan, Indonesia, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere around the Islamic world. (Reuters, May 13)
...the more they stay the same. Or, as Yogi Berra put it, its deja vu all over again. The recent arguing (on this blog and just about everywhere else) over Iraq and the neo-cons and the supposed hijacking of U.S. foreign policy by Israel--and particularly the inevitable invocation ofPat Buchanan in this context--has prompted me to dig out something I wrote back in the fall of 1990, in the prelude to Operation Desert Storm, the conflict that set the template for the current horrific world situation. Up until now, it has appeared nowhere in cyber-space--just in a crumbling hard copy in my personal files. I think it provides some useful insights to the origin of the current debate...
Well, Pat Buchanan (whose name came up in the recent unpleasantness over anti-Semitism on this blog) noted the 60th anniversary of VE Day in his own inimitable way: by asking in a May 11 opinion piece "Was WWII Worth It?" And, of course, by promptly answering his own question: "For Stalin, Yes." What is truly appalling is less that Buchanan has written this execrable piece of revisionism than that it was run (with no rebuttal) by AntiWar.com, which mysteriously continues to have credentials on the "left" even as it becomes more and more transparently linked to the populist right.
It is always a dilemma whether to risk legitimizing evil claptrap by stooping to argue with it. But given how Buchanan's poison is insidiously creeping into the supposed "left," a few responses are probably in order.
A new study by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) finds that crimes against Muslims in the U.S. jumped by more than 50% in 2004. The report outlines 1,522 cases of harassment, discrimination or violence against Muslims last year, including 141 hate crimes, compared with 1,019 cases and 93 hate crimes in 2003. "These disturbing figures come as no surprise given growing Islamophobic sentiments and a general misperception of Islam and Muslims," said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR legal director and the report's author. (Al-Jazeera, May 12)
The former U.S. military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib prison has been removed from his command as part of a punishment that also included a fine and reprimand, the Army has announced. Col. Thomas Pappas became the second senior officer relieved of command over the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. After an administrative disciplinary hearing May 9, Gen. B.B. Bell, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, relieved Pappas of his command of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. He was also fined $8,000 and given a letter of reprimand for two instances of dereliction of duty at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and early 2004.
Just weeks after India and Pakistan took unprecedented steps towards normalization in Kashmir, the divided province is exploding into violence again. Yesterday, 13 were killed in a car bomb in Srinagar and gunfights between militants and security forces elsewhere in India-controlled Kashmir. (Times of India, May 11) Violence continues today, as a grenade attack on a Christian missionary school in Srinagar killed two women and injured 50, including 20 children. (Reuters, May 12)
Last week, Doonesbury's GI Ray Hightower blogged home bitterly from Baghdad that "Iraq is the new Afghanistan"—meaning the American public has largely forgotten that there is a war going on. Today's news indicates Afghanistan may actually be becoming the new Iraq. A top news story today is a violent anti-US protest in Jalalabad, sparked by a report in Newsweek that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay placed Korans on toilets to rattle suspects, and in at least one case "flushed a holy book down the toilet." Shouting "Death to America," protesters stoned a passing US convoy, attacked the Pakistani consulate and smashed shop windows. Four were killed and over 70 wounded when police fired on the crowd. (AP, May 11)