Primer: Where They Stand

The Major Parties and the International Consensus

by
published in MER158

I. All states in the region, including a Palestinian state, have the right to independence and security.

US / Israel / PLO / Arab States / USSR / EEC States (bold = support; plain text = opposition)

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The Question of Palestine in Miniature

by The Editors | published September 16, 2011

The countdown to September 23 has begun. On that day, if he does not renege on his September 16 speech, Mahmoud ‘Abbas will present a formal request for full UN membership for a state of Palestine. The UN Security Council, which must approve such requests, will not do so, because the United States will act upon its repeated vows to exercise its veto. And then?

Bagram, Obama's Gitmo

by Lisa Hajjar
published in MER260

On President Barack Obama’s second day in office, one of the three executive orders he signed was a commitment to close the detention facility on the naval base at Guantánamo Bay as soon as possible but no later than one year thence. An inter-agency task force headed by White House counsel Greg Craig was established to come up with a plan. The new administration did not anticipate that this step would be controversial because, at the time, closing Guantánamo had bipartisan support, including from former President George W. Bush and Republican presidential contender Sen. John McCain. Bagram, the main US-controlled prison in Afghanistan, on the other hand, was being expanded -- like the war in that country.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Torture and the Future

by Lisa Hajjar | published May 2004

There is a popular belief that Western history constitutes a progressive move from more to less torture. Iron maidens and racks are now museum exhibits, crucifixions are sectarian iconography and scientific experimentation on twins is History Channel infotainment. This narrative of progress deftly blends ideas about “time,” “place” and “culture.” In the popular imagination, “civilized societies” (a.k.a. “us”) do not rely on torture, whereas those societies where torture is still common remain “uncivilized,” torture being both a proof and a problem of their enduring “backwardness.”

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Beating a Slow, Stubborn Retreat at Guantanamo Bay

by Charles Schmitz | published May 2005

Just under a week after the collapse of the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush issued Military Order 1 to establish principles for the “ detention, treatment and trial of certain non-citizens in the war against terrorism.” The order, promulgated on November 13, 2001, was the first step in the Bush administration’s careful crafting of the term “illegal combatant” to describe a nebulous third category of detainee outside the Geneva Conventions’ clear division of prisoners into either civilians or military personnel. “Illegal combatants” were not to be accorded the protections of either the international laws of war or the laws of the United States.

Can Military Intervention Be "Humanitarian"?

by Alex de Waal , Rakiya Omaar
published in MER187

“Humanitarian intervention,” the violation of a nation-state’s sovereignty for the purpose of protecting human life from government repression or famine or civil breakdown, is an old concept that has been given a new lease on life with the end of the Cold War. It is currently being practiced in Somalia and parts of Iraq, and has been discussed, with varying degrees of seriousness, with regard to Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan and Haiti.

Justice in Transition?

Prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli Truth Commission

by Stanley Cohen
published in MER194

Without quite the same resonance as “new world order” or “end of history,” another set of terms has rapidly become part of the international political discourse: “transition,” “democratization,” “reconstruction” and “building civil society.” Aside from their purely rhetorical uses, these terms describe real and complex political changes following collapses throughout the world of a variety of authoritarian regimes and their replacement by more democratic governments.

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Iraqi Sanctions, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

by Roger Normand
published in MER200

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American "Blood Money" and a Question of Reparations

by Susan Slyomovics
published in MER259

In the city of Lahore, Pakistan on January 27, 2011, a 36-year old American CIA contractor named Raymond Davis was charged with double murder in the deaths of two Pakistani men, Faizan Haider and Fahim Shamshad. Newspaper accounts describe Davis firing his gun at two men on motorcycles whom he believed were armed and attempting to rob him as he stopped his vehicle at a traffic signal. At the same time, reports place another US employee driving a truck nearby; in his rush to rescue Davis, this American hit and killed a third passing motorcyclist. The driver of the truck somehow managed to leave the country but Davis was unable to disappear from what escalated into a tense international and legal incident between Pakistan and the United States.

The Fateful Choice

by The Editors | published May 6, 2011

When 19 al-Qaeda hijackers attacked New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the United States faced a strategic dilemma that was unique in magnitude, but not in kind. Terrorists had killed numerous civilians before, in the US and elsewhere, with and without state sponsorship. Al-Qaeda was not the first non-state actor to present no coherent demands alongside its propaganda of the deed or to have no single fixed address. Nor were Americans the first victims of unprovoked terrorist assault to set aside political differences, at least for a time, in search of a unified self-defense.