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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘j.e. dyer’

J.E. Dyer: A Tale of Two Embassies

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Are liberty and the right to intellectual freedom – including free speech – on “the right side of history”?  I’m increasingly unsure how the Obama administration would answer that question.  I’m even a little unsure how the American public would answer it.  The latest and most disturbing case in point is the handling of the situation with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was escorted out of the US embassy in Beijing this week and left in the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Chen, who is blind, was transported to the US embassy on 22 April by well-wishers in China, barely escaping pursuit by authorities.  To secure his departure from the embassy compound, the US agreed to a deal with China by which Chen and his family, who have been tortured and subjected to a brutal form of house arrest for seven years, would be allowed to live, undetained, near a university where Chen could pursue academic studies.  No information has been released as to how the features of that deal would be verified.

Chen reportedly made the decision to leave the embassy when he was told by American personnel that his wife would be beaten by authorities if he did not give himself up.  Chen is in a Chinese hospital, in an extremely vulnerable position, and has been making appeals through the foreign media for help for him and his family.  He has now officially requested asylum of the United States.

Embassies do not make a practice of publicly spiriting asylum-seekers out of host nations, although the embassies of a number of nations, including the US, have quietly assisted over the years in getting asylum-seekers to safety.  During the Cold War, there were official procedures for handling the issue in US embassies and consulates.  Nevertheless, in a publicized case inside the country the dissident seeks to leave, the embassy will not, during normal peacetime relations, take him out of the country by force majeure.

What the embassy can do, however, is offer refuge to the dissident.  The grounds of the US embassy, anywhere in the world, are sovereign US territory.  And what the United States can do is put pressure not on the dissident, but on the dictatorial communist government, to allow Chen and his family to be reunited, and to travel abroad if that’s what they want to do.  Such pressure is more effective when the US has the dissident in safety, and is clearly going to withstand any pressure to give him back to a government that has been torturing and imprisoning him for his beliefs.

The US can put a spotlight on the dissident’s plight, and ensure that the world is watching anything the communist authorities do to his family.  More than that, the president can make it a personal priority to see the dissident released into a safe situation – abroad, if necessary or desired – and a promising future.

How do we know a president and his embassies can do this?  Because it’s what was done by two presidents – Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan – for two Russian Pentecostal Christian families in the former Soviet Union.

On 27 July, 1978, two Pentecostal families from Chernogorsk, in Siberia, burst into the US embassy in Moscow, seeking American help to leave the country.  They had been attempting to emigrate from the USSR for as much as 20 years (in the case of one of their number), which had resulted only in more assiduous oppression by the Soviet authorities.

Of President Carter, we may say that he did at least the minimum by allowing the Pentecostals to remain in the embassy (where they eventually lived for five years).  There is an interesting echo of the accounts of embassy pressure on Chen in this exchange in October 1978 between Carter and the press (view it here in the papers of the Carter administration):

Q:  Mr. President, a family of Russian Pentecostals, the Vaschenkos, are seeking asylum and are lodged in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  They said in letters that have been smuggled out that the embassy is bringing subtle, emotional pressure to expel them into the hands of the Russians, probably at great risk.  Did you direct the embassy to seek their ouster, or are you willing to give them asylum and visas?

The President.  They are Russian citizens, as you know, and have been in the embassy in the Soviet Union, in Moscow, the American Embassy, for months.  We have provided them a place to stay.  We provided them a room to live in, even though this is not a residence with normal quarters for them.  I would presume that they have no reason to smuggle out correspondence to this country since they have the embassy officials’ ability to transmit messages.  I have not directed the embassy to discharge them from the embassy, no.

Reagan had a more proactive approach, one remembered and affirmed by others in later years.  His concern for those suffering persecution in the communist world was genuine and passionate.  Kiron Skinner wrote about Reagan’s intervention with Soviet authorities – including direct appeals to Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov – in his 2007 book Turning Points in Ending the Cold War.  (See excerpts from pp. 103-4 here.)  According to Skinner:

By the summer of 1983, at the height of the Cold War chill, Reagan and Andropov had privately worked out the details of the Pentecostals’ release from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the families were allowed to leave the country.  As Secretary [of State George] Schultz writes in his memoir, “This was the first successful negotiation with the Soviets in the Reagan administration.”  Schultz further notes, “Reagan’s own role in it had been crucial.”

Skinner recounts further the release of well-known dissident Natan Sharansky in 1986 (then known, before his emigration to Israel, as Anatoly Scharansky), as well as Reagan’s advocacy for the Pentecostals and the army of intellectual dissidents in the Soviet Union on his radio program in the 1970s.

J.E.Dyer: The Last Thing You Will Need to Read About Obama and the SEAL Operation Against Bin Laden

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Every American Officer and Soldier must now console himself for any unpleasant circumstances which may have occurred, by a recollection of the uncommon scenes in which he has been called to act, no inglorious part; and the astonishing Events of which he has been a witness–Events which have seldom, if ever before, taken place on the stage of human action, nor can they probably ever happen again. For who has before seen a disciplined Army formed at once from such raw Materials? Who that was not a witness could imagine, that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that Men who came from the different parts of the Continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education, to dispise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of Brothers? Or who that was not on the spot can trace the steps by which such a wonderful Revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our Warlike toils? …

[The Commander-in-Chief] presents his thanks in the most serious and affectionate manner to the General Officers, as well for their Counsel on many interesting occasions, as for their ardor in promoting the success of the plans he had adopted–To the Commandants of Regiments and Corps, and to the other Officers for their great Zeal and attention in carrying his orders promptly into execution–To the Staff for their alacrity and exactness in performing the duties of their several Departments–And to the Non-commissioned officers and private Soldiers, for their extraordinary patience in suffering, as well as their invincible fortitude in Action–To the various branches of the Army, the General takes this last and solemn oppertunity of professing his inviolable attachment & friendship–He wishes more than bare professions were in his power, that he was really able to be useful to them all in future life; He flatters himself however, they will do him the justice to believe, that whatever could with propriety be attempted by him, has been done. And being now to conclude these his last public Orders, to take his ultimate leave, in a short time, of the Military Character, and to bid a final adieu to the Armies he has so long had the honor to Command–he can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations to their grateful Country, and his prayers to the God of Armies. May ample justice be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven’s favors both here and hereafter attend those, who under the divine auspices have secured innumerable blessings for others: With these Wishes, and this benediction, the Commander in Chief is about to retire from service–The Curtain of seperation will soon be drawn–and the Military Scene to him will be closed for ever.

George Washington’s farewell address to the Continental Army, 2 November 1783

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/revolution/farewell/index.html

Our citizen soldiers are unlike those drawn from the population of any other country. They are composed indiscriminately of all professions and pursuits–of farmers, lawyers, physicians, merchants, manufacturers, mechanics, and laborers–and this not only among the officers, but the private soldiers in the ranks. Our citizen soldiers are unlike those of any other country in other respects. They are armed, and have been accustomed from their youth up to handle and use firearms, and a large proportion of them, especially in the Western and more newly settled States, are expert marksmen. They are men who have a reputation to maintain at home by their good conduct in the field. They are intelligent, and there is an individuality of character which is found in the ranks of no other army. …

When all these facts are considered, it may cease to be a matter of so much amazement abroad how it happened that our noble Army in Mexico, regulars and volunteers, were victorious upon every battlefield, however fearful the odds against them. …

But our military strength does not consist alone in our capacity for extended and successful operations on land. The Navy is an important arm of the national defense. For the able and gallant services of the officers and men of the Navy, acting independently as well as in cooperation with our troops, in the conquest of the Californias, the capture of Vera Cruz, and the seizure and occupation of other important positions on the Gulf and Pacific coasts, the highest praise is due.

James K. Polk, message to Congress after the Mexican-American War, 5 December 1848

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=29489&st=valor&st1=#ixzz1teRtvws6

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

J.E. Dyer: Finally, the Obama Doctrine – “Atrocities Prevention”

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Numerous news outlets have reported on the new Atrocities Prevention Board unveiled by President Obama as part of commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, and quite a few have expressed skepticism. It’s one thing to create a board, another entirely to take action using the tools of national power.

Defining “atrocity” will be a stiff challenge.  If something seems awful but the US administration doesn’t really want to intervene in it, will it be defined as an “atrocity”?  If it’s defined as an atrocity but we don’t do anything other than blather about it, what exactly will be the point of the Atrocities Prevention policy?

Presumably, a due-out from the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) will be a periodically updated list of which foreign activities and ongoing events the United States considers to be atrocities.  The absence of any such communication will render the APB so pointless as to be a daily unfolding satire.  Silence from an Atrocities Prevention Board is inherently untenable.

Yet assembling that list will be a heavily politicized process.  Will we call “atrocities” things we have no power to intervene in?  If the American people are reluctant to take on an “atrocity” intervention, is there any political value for the president in having the atrocity officially identified?  A divided Congress may have been inert in the last 18 months, but when overly provoked, as with the endless, punch-pulling Vietnam intervention, Congress becomes a snorting, stamping elephant.   How would a president acting on the proposals of an Atrocities Prevention Board deal with Congress?

If atrocities are defined and declared on a regular basis, yet remain undeterred, the atrocity list will lose its impact in the same way the Homeland Security terror-alert system has.  “Yeah, we’ve got some atrocities going on out there,” the average citizen might say.  “I don’t know what they are, but there’s some kind of board for that.”

Institutionalizing indifference to mass murder – to use The Weekly Standard’s formulation – is one of the obvious hazards of boardifying the US posture on “atrocity.”  There are a couple of others worth mentioning.  One is contingent:  the APB’s leadership under Obama.  The president has appointed Samantha Power– the brain behind the “responsibility to protect” non-hostile kinetic military action in Libya – to head the APB, and she is on record as calling Israel a “major human rights abuser.”  Here is her 2002 proposal for intervening in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict:

What we don’t need is some kind of early warning mechanism there, what we need is a willingness to put something on the line in helping the situation. Putting something on the line might mean alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import; it may more crucially (sic) mean sacrificing—or investing, I think, more than sacrificing—billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.

Getting a US military intervention force in Israel past Congress would be interesting.  The American politics of this are a head-scratcher, but so is the definition in this case.  If Power were to be specific about what she considers “human rights abuses,” one can only presume she would be speaking of checkpoints, the security fence between Israel and Gaza (the security barrier with the West Bank had not been constructed in 2002), and Israel’s military attacks on terrorist strongholds in Gaza.

One question this raises is what the APB would term terrorist attacks by Hamas.  Presumably a single terrorist incident is not a “mass atrocity” – if the Holocaust is taken as the standard – but how about systematic terrorism of the same kind, and against the same people, over decades?  Terrorist organizations do commit mass atrocities, as they have in Colombia and Russia, among other places.  Are terrorists to be intervened with like national governments?  How about syndicate crime, like the cartel thugs who have slaughtered more than 50,000 Mexicans in the last five years?

Meanwhile, are India and Pakistan abusing the other’s populations with their border barriers in Kashmir?  Perhaps even more informative, is the UN committing a human rights abuse by sponsoring (and managing) the security barrier between the Republic of Cyprus and the unrecognized Turkish-occupied portion of the island?

Is the existence of border-security measures a justification for armed intervention?  And if it is, how does it fit into the “mass atrocity” construct?  If it doesn’t justify armed intervention, on the other hand, but something else – what is that something?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/j-e-dyer-finally-the-obama-doctrine-atrocities-prevention/2012/04/30/

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