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From our department of headlines we thought we'd never see:
That's from the AP.
Human Rights Group Criticizes Terrorists
BAGHDAD -- Insurgent groups in Iraq are committing war crimes by targeting civilians in mass killings, abductions and beheadings, a human rights group said today.
Human Rights Watch, which often has criticized abuses by U.S. forces in Iraq, turned attention in its latest report to terrorist groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah.
Human Rights Watch also said the disregard for the lives of civilians in the mostly Muslim country was backfiring in terms of popular support for the insurgency elsewhere in the Arab world.
Update: Quotes above are from Washington Times version of AP story - which now appears to be unavailable on web. (Will speculate the AP didn't use "terrorist" in original.) No other versions I can find use "terrorist" - otherwise, same story.
Update 2: Okay, this is close: Insurgents in Iraq are drawing criticism for terrorism - but weak.
That's a staggering admission from the NGO cult.
Let's see how many decades go by before they repeat the observation.Posted by Insufficiently Sensitive at October 3, 2005 10:44 PM
Everyone's been wondering what type of metrics could be used to judge success or failure in Iraq.
I consider this to be positive evidence of success. Even the NGOs recognize that the insurgency is doomed to failure. They are merely rowing back to shore up their semblance of credibility with the increasingly likely victors.Posted by ThomasD at October 3, 2005 10:54 PM
Since the headline on the linked article is "Insurgent groups accused of war crimes," I have to leave this on the list of "Headlines I Think I'll Never See." I like your headline better, though; more consise, and punchier.Posted by reneviht at October 3, 2005 10:57 PM
For all the bashing of NGO's, does anyone stop to consider that the reason they're not all about issues such as terrorism, 24/7, isn't due to some issue of immorality, but due to pragmatism?
If a government, especially a liberal democracy such as America, does things contrary to some conception of human rights (Such as the abuses at Guantanemo that Ian Fishback, an American hero, is currently being hung out to dry by the Pentagon for whistleblowing), you can harangue the government enough and maybe get a policy change.
The terrorists -- you think they're ever going to listen to Human Rights Watch? HRW is full of pragmatic types. They like to get things DONE. They're not moral relativists who don't talk about the terrorists because they think "The West and the terrorists are just as bad", or something silly like that. They devote their time to the problems they think they can actually change.
If the terrorists ever change, it'll be because we scare them, or destroy them using hard and/or soft power. A Human Rights Watch report will have nothing to do with it.
I'm often the first guy in line to note it when groups like HRW and Amnesty overreach, but to get all smarmy and act like they're not on the side of the good guys is missing a fundamental truth.Posted by Joe at October 3, 2005 11:02 PM
Joe, I understand your reasoning and even have some sympathy with it, but it's rather like looking for your keys where the light is better. We would not approve of a teacher who gave A's to all her worst students as a matter of course but graded her good students harshly.
If the NGO reps are taking this tack, I haven't heard of it. Perhaps some of them started that way. I usually encounter justification of criticism because it "draws attention to" problem X or Y, which they feel is worth their selective outrage.
I think it boils down to a false sense of usefulness. If they concentrated on what are real human rights abuses, they would spend all their time speaking to people who cared not. That would make them useless. They can't bear the thought.Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at October 3, 2005 11:17 PM
Hey, when the coach says your tactics are backfiring, it's time to rethink things.Posted by mikem at October 3, 2005 11:21 PM
Joe, I'm not buying it. I was a member of AI back before they got their Nobel. We wrote letters to the governments of Northern Rhodesia, South Africa, the USSR, and other tyrannies. Imprisonment of non-violent dissenters, torture, and state-sanctioned murder were the big issues then. None of these governments was particularly responsive to public sentiment. When AI or HRW takes this long to notice that one side is cutting off heads, long after they notice that the other was putting panties on heads, I can't help but question their impartiality, judgment, or sense of priorities.
HRW is doing this as a CYA exercise. Having performed the ritual of denunciation, they will return to bashing the US while pointing to this as evidence of their even-handedness.Posted by Mitch at October 3, 2005 11:22 PM
It's not a matter of us "acting like they're not on the side of the good guys" it's just that we define "being on the side of the good guys" as "Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
Although I think sometimes we on the so-called right tend to fall into the trap of appearing to have a focus on just one aspect of the political discourse, simply because we are likelier to loudly criticize that which makes us ANGRIER. And shading, coloring, slanting, or editing the truth to be "more effective" is one of those things that make me very ANGRY. (To an extent, we all do it, every day, in many small ways. That is not the same as overlooking mass murder to vehemently criticize a denial of rights.)
It's also fairly certain that we are outraged by the thought that the 'other side' (including the AP and other members of the media) is also criticizing loudest that which makes _it_ ANGRY, rather than any "allocation of resources" type of argument. It has certainly harmed their creditability with me, that they have only argued against errors, mistakes, and bad policies on our side, without heretofore criticizing the people who are MURDERING their way through the issue.
I, mean, hey, I disagree with the political agenda of the CPUSA, but I don't try to blow them up. Maybe if I shoot a few of them and the government locks me up in Gitmo, then they can defend me? ;-)Posted by ubu at October 3, 2005 11:23 PM
The problem with that is that not everyone in the world approaches the issue with the same assumptions about the relative morality of the Western democracies and the terrorists. And if they only hear critiques of the one side, what effect will that have on their beliefs?
Besides which, this is hardly the first time Human Rights Watch has made criticisms against people who are unlikely to listen. But even if the targets of the criticism don't listen, other people will.Posted by Ofc. Krupke at October 3, 2005 11:24 PM
The pilot light in hell must be out. Wow.Posted by Jeremy at October 3, 2005 11:30 PM
Nahhh, I think HRW just got their TV fixed.Posted by mrbill at October 3, 2005 11:34 PM
Of what relevance are the "Human Rights Organizations" nowadays? They squandered their credibility utterly. Now they remind me of nothing so much as their MSM peers: hoping to rekindle (or at least salvage) some respect among a sizable part of the population by stating the obvious. Too little, too late. Credibility/Relevance=long gone.
And it's a shame, because those groups (Amnesty, HRW) were once important, vital, and helped the world. But now, who really cares who they condemn or don't condemn. Certainly not the terrorists (that the AP cannot even call by name) and certainly not the 50%+ of the US population that reads blogs or listens to talk radio.Posted by S at October 3, 2005 11:42 PM
Human Rights Watch also said the disregard for the lives of civilians in the mostly Muslim country was backfiring in terms of popular support for the insurgency elsewhere in the Arab world.
My cynical side is saying that this paragraph reveals the reason: the attacks on civilians are beginning to repulse the bankrollers, hence are counterproductive. People may even be in danger of forgetting that the US is the bad guy and root of all evil, although HRW's press release is quick to remind us:
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the ensuing military occupation has resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths and sparked the emergence of these insurgent groups.
Iraq was, after all, a place of butterflies and laughing flowers before the "US-led invasion", and Zarqawi was but a simple craftsman living peacefully in his native Jordan. This is well known. The press release is also careful to mention prominently that:
“U.S. forces have used excessive and indiscriminate force, tortured detainees and held thousands of Iraqis without due process,” Whitson said. [...]
Previous Human Rights Watch reports have documented the U.S. military’s use of indiscriminate and excessive force, illegal detentions, and the use of torture at places like Abu Ghraib, as well as torture by the Iraqi police (see list below).
I guess I'm not as impressed as some. An organization that claims it's dedicated to human rights has finally, after a year and a half, figured out that terrorist groups - excuse me, "Iraqi insurgents" - are attacking civilians in the most savage and brutal of ways, and that this might be considered a bad thing. Gosh.
I didn't used to be this cynical. But the last four years....Posted by jaed at October 4, 2005 12:22 AM
The only way to defeat international terrorist organizations is to deprive them of legimitacy, sympathy and support. They have to be shown to be the universal pariah they truly are.
NGOs like Human Rights Watch are exactly the right organizations to do this. The fact that so few groups have taken up this responsibility thus far is disgracful and a stain on their reputations.Posted by Mark at October 4, 2005 12:28 AM
But... but... I thought Americans were the only real terrorists and war criminals?
Must... adjust... worldview...Posted by TallDave at October 4, 2005 12:56 AM
Color me unimpressed. The insurgency in Iraq has been running a campaign of carnage and terror directed at the civilian population for over two years now. The point is to cow the Iraqis, and convince them that getting us to leave is the only way to end the suffering. These people (the "insurgents") are ruthless sadists. And HRW is only catching on now?
The fact that they would mention us in the same paragraph with these psychopaths is an absolute insult. HWH's press release oozes moral relativity and "understanding" for the insurgency. I also believe that they are pleading with the insurgency, "Just issue a statement condemning the violence, and we will go away!"
Equally amusing was HRW's consternation at how the atrocities were eroding Arab public opinion. Don't they frigging get it? The insurgency could give a crap about opinion polls. They're religious fanatics. They would gladly incinerate every Iraqi if it meant the defeat of the Infidels.Posted by godfodder at October 4, 2005 03:42 AM
"Human Rights Watch also said the disregard for the lives of civilians in the mostly Muslim country was backfiring in terms of popular support for the insurgency elsewhere in the Arab world."
I haven't read the report but the way this line is quoted almost makes it sound like Human Rights Watch is trying to guide the insurgency to more effective tactics. What business is it of Human Rights Watch whether a certain policy is "backfiring" in some other country? Human Rights Watch's reason for being, I gather, is to be a neutral observer monitoring the adherence to human rights of the subjects of their reports? I would think they would use pretty objective standards to measure that sort of thing. Why they are judging the reaction of people in a third country is beyond me. Either there are violations or there are not. The support or lack thereof of outside parties to the activities of those under examination is irrelevant. Like I said, it sounds more like they are trying to be a coach than an observer.Posted by kcom at October 4, 2005 03:53 AM
The reaction here to HRW speaks volumes about how the far-right employs shifting standards of right and wrong.Posted by Wilson Kolb at October 4, 2005 07:37 AM
None of you is cynical enough. These so-called "human rights" groups are hypervigilant when it comes to the US, but are quick to make excuses and look the other way at truly blood-thirsty tyrants. In this case, they simply want to sound the alarm that the insurgents are losing popular support. So, hoping to be part of the defeat of the US, they are telling the insurgents to lay off the suicide bombs aimed at civilians (bad PR!), and concentrate on killing coalition forces instead.Posted by jmurphy at October 4, 2005 01:14 PM
> The reaction here to HRW speaks volumes about how the far-right employs shifting standards of right and wrong.
Some people will never get it. After HRW 'discovers' serious human rights issues that the rest of the planet... remember Danny Pearl... has known about forever, it is the 'far right' who employs 'shifting standards of right and wrong'.
Yeahhhh. Uh-Huh. Darn those far-right standards-shifters!
Of course, us far-right wingers (I never knew I was far-right until this bozo told me) sorta gave up on the human rights activists when they condemned the U.S.'s use of their own reports of Saddam's atrocities to justify war.
"No, no! When we portrayed Saddam as a inhuman monster, we never intended for you yanks to do something about it! Fascists! Murderers!"
Oh yeah... WHOSE standards are shifting, did you say? Maybe the standards of the people who can't abide the use of THEIR OWN WORDS when it's the wrong people using them?
Ya think?Posted by Ryan Waxx at October 4, 2005 02:59 PM
The MAIN answer for why the human rights NGO's act this way is more simple, more cyncical, and less calculating than most here appear to believe.
Although their worldview DOES taint their actions... the simple truth is that condemning the same old mass-murderers and tyrants just doesn't bring in the donations and print the mass-mailings like America-bashing does.Posted by Ryan Waxx at October 4, 2005 03:02 PM
Film, I agree with a lot you said but an efficient “media war” should be aimed toward the persuasion or conversion of Western individuals & the few Middle Eastern types who are open to opposing viewpoints. “Terror groups,” much of the Western hard-core left & most Islamic individuals will never be convinced of anything that runs counter to their ideology & the beliefs of their “spiritual” leaders. To wage a “media war” to gain adherents from those elements is a waste of time & energy. The focus of counter-propaganda should be on those that it has a chance on which to have an effect. I have to smile when I read the quote below:
“ … the sooner the left figures this out, the sooner we can convince the terror groups to stop fighting and begin reforming.”
Film, the majority of the left & virtually all of the terror groups have absolutely no chance of “reforming.” I do agree that the so-called ‘human rights groups’ could play a part in the consciousness of those who are open to the facts if those groups would be even-handed in their scrutiny & analysis of violations. That said, I have little hope, notwithstanding the all too scarce example in the above post, that these ‘human rights groups’ will lose their anti-American bias anytime soon. One anti-terrorist report does not a fair ‘human rights group’ make.
Ryan, a few things to say to you:
1. Human Rights Watch's recent report on insurgents in Iraq not the first time that group has condemned terrorism. HRW has condemned suicide bombings and other terror attacks by Hamas and other Arab groups, and has been harshly critical of the Palestinian authority. It has also been critical of Israel's conduct, which of course offends those who want HRW to take a side in that conflict.
2. You should have no shame about being a far-right winger, but I think everyone regardless of their ideology should try to apply a single standard of human rights. That said, I pretty much expect Third World countries and paramilitary groups to commit atrocities. It doesn't mean that I approve of them, it simply means they don't surprise me very much.
3. I am a left-winger. I condemn torture wherever it exists, regardless of who commits it. Torture is always wrong and it should always been investigated and punished. I am especially offended when the U.S. implements a policy of torture, because I expect our country to have higher standards than those of Third World dictators and paramilitary squads. I think it's sad that so many far-right wingers are willing to excuse American torture.
john moulder, a question:
You have accused left-wingers of being close to opposing viewpoints. I disagree. Please proove me wrong by providing three examples of opposing political viewpoints to which you are "open," and briefly explain what makes you "open" to them. Once you've done so, I will provide three examples of my own.
Thank you.Posted by Wilson Kolb at October 4, 2005 08:17 PM
Wilson Kolb, you smell like filthy undies.Posted by Stankleberry at October 5, 2005 07:15 PM
Well, Mr Kolb, your wanting to hold the US to a higher standard has interesting implications.
Specifically, that the US is able to behave it's self, while other countries are not.
Isn't that a pretty clear assumption on your part that those other countries are inherently inferior to the US?
Aren't the people insisting that the other countries be held to the same standards the US is held to assuming the other countries are equal to the US, or at least, potentially so?Posted by Phillep at October 5, 2005 08:08 PM
I think the American political system is superior to those of Third World dictatorships, and I think at least in the past that the U.S. has generally held itself to standards higher than the world average. I want to keep it that way.Posted by Wilson Kolb at October 5, 2005 08:52 PM
Your comment, sir (?), was non productive. Mr. Kolb asked for a logical response. Since you had none, you opted for ad hominem. Bad form, sir.
Pat'sRick©, the smell of Wilson Kolb was making me feel sick, so I thought I should tell him about it. He needs to wash his underpants with soap so they don't smell so bad anymore.Posted by Stankleberry at October 5, 2005 09:50 PM
Stankleberry, I'm going to teach you a thing or two about ad hominems. First off, a posting that consists of nothing but an ad hominem always reflects badly on the poster. Secondly, therefore, if you're going to effectively use an ad hominem it's in your interest to combine it with a substantive comment. And thirdly, the most effective ad hominems are usually narrow and carefully aimed.
Calling someone a poopy-britches is, well, juvenile. Even in schoolyards, it tends to fade after about the fourth grade. Which, naturally, begs a question.Posted by Wilson Kolb at October 5, 2005 11:34 PM
Wrong.Posted by Stankleberry at October 6, 2005 01:05 AM
"I think the American political system is superior to those of Third World dictatorships, and I think at least in the past that the U.S. has generally held itself to standards higher than the world average. I want to keep it that way."
Yeeeeay! Long live modern American dictatorship!