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Wednesday, May 06, 2009


The ICRC, Israel, Afghanistan, and the "Battered Spouse" syndrome

The International Committee of the Red Cross has been in the news recently. Today, it's because they've been involved in confirming what, as per usual, the U.S. first denied, that dozens of Afghan civilians were killed in the latest U.S. airstrike. Of course the U.S. is sorry:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today expressed deep regret for civilian casualties caused by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan, telling the visiting Afghan and Pakistani presidents that the United States will work hard to "avoid the loss of innocent civilian life."
Afghan "President" Karzai's name is, I wager, most frequently in the news in association with the words "asked the U.S. to please try to minimize civilian casualties"; I see that phrase with regularity. Alas, it's a classic case of battered spouse syndrome. Afghanistan keeps begging for the beatings to stop, and the U.S. keeps promising "they'll do better," but next week the police (or the ICRC) will be called back for the next incident.

The ICRC was also in the news yesterday, but you wouldn't have read about it if you read American media. Internationally, the story was only carried by AFP. See if you can guess why American media failed to carry the story:

The United Nations anti-torture committee on Tuesday asked Israel to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross access to a secret detention facility where torture is allegedly being practised.

The committee of 10 independent experts demanded that Israel release information on the alleged "Facility 1391" which is situated in an "undetermined location within Israel and which is not accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross or detainees' lawyers or relatives".

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