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Taliban War Crimes_ Human Rights Groups Finally Notice. - By Christopher Hitchens

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PD F -X C h a n ge O W ! N y bu to k lic C m C lic k to bu y N .c O W ! w .d o 2/16/2011 Taliban war crimes: Human rights groups fin… PD F -X C h a n ge w o .d o c u -tr a c k c u -tr a c k .c BRIEFING NEWS & POLITICS ARTS LIFE BUSINESS & TECH SCIENCE PODCASTS & VIDEO BLOGS Search ALSO IN SLATE HOME / FIGHTING WORDS : A WARTIME LEXICON. News Flash: The Taliban Violate Human Rights The human rights community finally notices the Taliban's war crimes. By Christopher
  Taliban commander Mullah MohammedOmar News Flash: The Taliban ViolateHuman Rights The human rights community finally notices the Taliban's war crimes. By Christopher Hitchens Posted Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, at 11:06 AM ET Even in a week that concentrated all eyes on the magnificentcourage and maturity of the people of Cairo, a report from Kabulbegan with what must surely be the most jaw-droppingopening paragraph of the year. Under the byline of theexcellent Rod Nordland, the New York Times reported:International and local human rights groups working inAfghanistan have shifted their focus toward condemningabuses committed by the Taliban insurgents, rather thanthose attributed to the American military and its allies.The story went on to point out that the Taliban was culpable for more than three-fourths of all civilian casualties and informed us that some human-rights groups are now so concerned that they are thinking of indicting the Taliban for warcrimes. The activists' concern, Nordland went on, would have been unheard-of a yearago, when all the outcry was directed at casualties inflicted by NATO contingents.The story became more mind-boggling as itunfolded. One had to ask oneself what hadtaken the human-rights community so long.After all, there are war crimes and there is thecrime (established at Nuremburg) of planning towage aggressive war. The Taliban seized powerin Afghanistan in the first place by indiscriminateviolence, played host to al-Qaida forces thatmurdered several thousand civilians in one dayon American soil, and for almost a decade hasbeen employing systematic cruelty againstcivilians and fighting an undeclared war, withoutuniforms or formal command structure, against aforce that is upholding a U.N. mandate for therebuilding of the country. Moreover, during itsperiod in power, it ran the country as a vastconcentration camp, enslaving the femalepopulation and conducting a campaign of extermination against the Hazara minority. Howis it possible to mention this enormity in thesame breath as the forces that are opposed to it? Dickerson: Neither Obama Northe Republicans HaveExplained Why Cutting theDeficit MattersWhy Modern Apostasy—Like Paul Haggis' Split withScientology—Is So UnusualHow LCD Soundsystem IsTrying To Foil Ticket ScalpersWhy Did CBS Go Public WithNews of Lara Logan's SexualAssault? View My Network on Slate » MOSTREADMOSTE-MAILED ALSO IN SLATE GET TODAY IN SLATE RECOMMENDED FOR YOU [what's this] 1. The Girl Who Wanted Revenge In a new memoir, Stieg Larsson's longtime partner settlesscores and positions herself as the Millennium saga's rightfulguardian. By Sasha Watson | Feb 14, 2011 2. The Right To Remain Silent Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court silences are lessworrisome than his private speeches.BRIEFINGNEWS & POLITICSARTSLIFEBUSINESS & TECHSCIENCEPODCASTS & VIDEOBLOGSSearch HOME/ : A WARTIME LEXICON. FIGHTING WORDS PRINTDISCUSSE-MAILRSSRECOMMEND...REPRINTSSINGLE PAGE Sign up for Slate's  daily newsletter.Enter your e-mail address. Is Queen Rania the Next Target of MiddleEastern Violence? (The Stir by CafeMom) Kirstie Alley Letter to Carrie Fisher: Don't DoJenny Craig! (The Stir By CafeMom) Counterfeit Combat: Hardest Notes to Fake (CNBC) Cantor: Spending debate could cut intoplanned recess ( The Best Paid Jobs Without a Degree (eHow) 2/16/2011Taliban war crimes: Human rights groups fin…  MORE FROM SLATE MORE FROM THE WEB The turning point, in the mind of the human rights activists, appears to have occurred inlate January, when a Taliban suicide-murdererkilled at least 14 civiliansin the Finest Supermarket in Kabul. Among the slain was a well-known local campaigner namedHamidaBarmaki, whose husband and four small children were also killed. One wonders inwhat sense this was the Taliban going too far—women are killed and mutilated by themevery single day in Afghanistan. Yet let the terror reach one of the upscale markets orhotels that cater to the NGO constituency in Kabul, and suddenly there is an abruptchange from moral neutrality.Perhaps it is fortunate for the Taliban that they take few, if any, prisoners and maintainno places of detention—at least they don't have to face the righteous scrutiny of thosewho (like Amnesty International and Julian Assange) have seriously comparedGuantanamo to the Gulag. Moreover, their refusal of any military discipline makes it hard if not impossible to distinguish their corpses from others who may have been killed in anairstrike. And can you imagine a Taliban fighter being disciplined by his superiors formurder, or demoted for lack of care toward the local population, as has happened severaltimes with U.S. officers and soldiers? In a striking instance of the compliment that vicepays to virtue, sadistic Mullah Mohammed Omar, former dictator of Afghanistan and nowTaliban commander, attempted to issue a code of conduct to his supporters in 2009.This was supposed to warn against the killing of innocents but seems only to have incitedfurther brutality and the use of ever-more-random methods.However, is it possible to imagine Mullah Omar going even that far if the NATO forceswere not in the country to begin with? Plainly, he must have heard at least indirectly fromelements of the local population (he appears to have his base across the Pakistaniborder in Quetta) that there is some perceptible difference between opening a clinic anddestroying it; between starting a village school for girls and setting it on fire or hurlingacid in the faces of the pupils; between guarding polling booths and visiting villagers atnight to intimidate them not to vote.I'll concede that something remotely like the same is true of NATO's previous over-reliance on airstrikes and infliction of consequent damage. After representations from theAfghan authorities, those rules of engagement have been amended. And indeed,American soldiers are under instructions to risk their own lives rather than to err on theside of anything resembling indiscriminate ground fire. (One sometimes wishes thosesame Afghan authorities were more deserving of the sacrifices that are made on theirbehalf.) But learning from previous misapplied tactics is altogether different frompersisting with random suicide-murder, roadside bombs aimed at the most vulnerable,deliberate targeting of females, and the other elements of the Taliban armory.I can only too well remember attending some press conferences in Pakistan in the winterof 2001 and seeing the unbearably smug expressions on the faces of various humanrights and relief spokesmen who were concerned lest the military operation against theTaliban should disrupt their relatively modest efforts. They failed or refused to see thatthe removal of the Taliban was a necessary precondition of any serious relief andreconstruction. It's heartening to learn that, almost a decade later, they are at least opento the awareness that the Taliban is the worst offender. The next stage—may it comesoon—will be the realization that the Taliban does not violate human rights, but entirelylacks the concept of their existence. Like Slate on Facebook. Follow Slate and the Slate Foreign Deskon Twitter. TODAY'SPICTURESTODAY'SCARTOONSTODAY'SDOONESBURYTODAY'SVIDEO By Dahlia Lithwick | Feb 15, 2011 3. Hipsters v. Scalpers How LCD Soundsystem is trying to foil professional ticketresellers. By Annie Lowrey | Feb 15, 2011 4. On a Mission The new Broadway musical by the creators of South Parkisn't anti-Mormon. Like all of their work, it's anti-stupidity. By Christopher Beam | Feb 15, 2011 5. Frank Gehry Is Back The architect's New World Center in Miami is his best work inyears. By Witold Rybczynski | Feb 16, 2011 Inside NewtGingrich's financialempire Would this dog be your Westminster winner? (Vi...WikiLeaks, Twitter, free speech at issue in Va...CBS details 'brutal' attack on Lara LoganMORE FIGHTING WORDS COLUMNS News Flash: The Taliban Violate Human Rights The human rights community finally notices theTaliban's war crimes. Christopher Hitchens | Feb. 14, 2011 Would America Have Been Better Off Without aReagan Presidency? His simple-mindedness had a touch of genius to it. Christopher Hitchens | Feb. 5, 2011 The Shame Factor When will dictators learn not to treat their people likefools? Christopher Hitchens | Jan. 31, 2011 Search for more Fighting Words articlesSubscribe to the Fighting Words RSS feedView our complete Fighting Words archive L.A. county employee dies at desk, nobody notices. ambush ever? Or just the worst of CPAC?WATCH: Jong-il's birthday presents: Two $50,000 Steinwaygrand pianos and a $16 million yacht. WATCH: 165 Comments Or join the discussiononthe Fray Add Yours Like This StoryFollow Slate's  Fighting Words Less counterinsurgency, more killingand capturing.As we digest the WikiLeaksrevelations, a new book offers thesoldiers' perspective.Tom Little and Dan Terry, aidworkers killed in Afghanistan lastIs Jennifer Aniston a Drunk? (from The StirBy CafeMom) Katie Holmes Offers World's WorstReason For Pregnancy (from The Stir ByCafeMom) IBM's Watson Routs Humans onJeopardy! (from TheStreet) Cartoonists' take on Egypt. 2/16/2011Taliban war crimes: Human rights groups fin…  Login required, click here to begin Share This Page Follow Today, 16:19:52–Flag–Reply Today, 13:24:28–Flag–Reply Today, 16:27:16–Flag–Reply Today, 11:30:57–Flag–Reply Liked byInigo Smith Christopher Hitchensis a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at theHoover Institution. Photograph of Mullah Omar by Getty Images. CancelPost Inigo Smith The job of human rights organisations is not only to prevent human rights abuses in the immediateshort term but also to draw impartial attention to breaches and to secure human rights in the longterm. I don't feel that the behaviour of organisations like AI are always compatible with thatobligation, and Jim Flamming's claim that it would be silly to demand that human rights groups spend80% of their time and effort in criticizing the Taliban and only 20% on PGFs. is certainly notcompatible. To argue that it's better for HROs to highlight the abuses by coalition forces simplybecause it's easier for them to do so is, as RedWell rightly said, like a drunk looking for his keys underthe street light because that's where the light is. As for the argument that coalition forces should beheld to a different standard  of human rights, this is patently absurd. Do the people advocating thiseven understand the concept of human rights? Chris Harris Sounds like a child whining but they did the same thing and didn't get caught for it! I for one am gladwe are held to higher standards than the Taliban and would hope that we wouldn't judge our actionsby the yardstick of theirs. Inigo Smith  You obviously don't understand the concept of universal human rights then. If youactually bothered to extrapolate the logic of what you have just said, you wouldrealise that you have essentially just implied that the Taliban should legally beconsidered as sub-human  . You wouldn't be the only one though. Sarah Palin hasimplicated this in pretty unsubtle terms on numerous occasions now. Failix If you search for the keyword Taliban on the AI website, you will find that the overwhelmingmajority of search results has something to do with the condemnation of coalition forces; looking atthese results, you'd almost think that the overwhelming majority of human rights violations wascaused by coalition forces, yet we know this is certainly not the case.Organizations like AI misrepresent reality; when they say they're fighting human rights violations in Afghanistan but then accuse the US and its allies 8 times out of 10 of violating human rights, one getsthe impression that the US and its allies are the major source of human rights violations in Afghanistan. Mujokan When I did that, result number 4 was Taleban should be prosecuted for war crimes in Afghanistan . Result 7 was Pakistan: 'As if Hell fell on me': The human rights crisis innorthwest Pakistan . But there's not much point Amnesty spending half its effort on Oprah Winfrey to Interview Michael VickFantasia Skipped Grammys Over Aretha Franklin TributeSnubPresident Obama Wins Battle Over Fighter JetRumsfeld Was the Worst Defense Secretary EverWhy Do the World's Fattest People Live on Islands?Photo Essay: The Path to Revolution Is Not AlwaysGlorious FEATURED ADVERTISER LINKS August, spent decades helping needyAf ghans.Candid Queue: Jeremy StahlNew York Times Editor Bill KellerThinks He Is a MagnificentRhinoceros [what'sthis] What Content Marketers Can Learn fromthe Agricultural Industry (from ContentMarketing Institute) Yearly Salary of an Anesthesiologist (from eHow) Login updates and a correction SPONSORED CONTENT 2/16/2011Taliban war crimes: Human rights groups fin…  Today, 16:07:34–Flag–Reply Today, 16:49:21–Flag–Reply Today, 02:50:03–Flag–Reply Liked byJim Flammang Yesterday, 23:14:33–Flag–Reply Liked byJim Flammang Yesterday, 20:00:20–Flag–Reply  Yesterday, 19:19:35–Flag–Reply each side. Amnesty is mostly concerned with political prisoners and unfair trials. Theirtechnique is public pressure through the media, letter-writing campaigns, and so on.The Taliban doesn't tend to take prisoners and they don't respond to media pressure,being extremist religious fanatics.There could be a rule I suppose... Every AI statement about misdirected airstrikes orBagram abuses should end with the line 'But the Taliban are worse' . The thing is thatalmost everyone knows that already, and it becomes a kind of political correctness toalways have to repeat it. Inigo Smith I'm not sure about the legalities, but to me, a misdirected airstrike is not so much abreach of human rights, as a terrible cockup due to bad intelligence, for which 'headsshould roll' as they say. A husband hacking his young wife's nose and ears off with aknife, on the other hand, is the most grotesque mockery of human rights, and onemight argue that it is cases like this that Amnesty International should be moreconcerned with. AI should at least be aware of what sort of portrayal of the situationthey are depicting through their actions, and whether this portrayal is accurate. TheWestern public's perception of the situation in Afghanistan plays a vital role in thefuture of the country, and therefore the securing of human rights. Also, I wouldn't be so naive to say that 'everybody knows already' that the Taliban isinfinitely worse than the coalition troops. I think there are a great deal of people whosimply lap up what is fed to them without ever thinking critically about it.  Ashton Webb News flash: Those NGO's (of which I was recently a part) were calling out the horrors of the Talibanregime back when the outside world still prefered to look away. When a new player came on to thescene the human rights campaigners, as is thier mandate, focused their attention on the coalitionforces, who surely need to be held to a different standard than beasts like Mullah Omar. Under closerscrutiny the american forces, as Mr. Hitchens describes, have made some important policyadlustments to reduce the number of civilian casualties. This acomplished, the NGO's are now shiftingthe attention back onto the Taliban. Sounds like a plan to me. lifeboatb Human rights groups have been fighting the Taliban since they came to power--back when U.S. oilcompanies were trying to make deals with them. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, andthe United Nations have all been reporting on Taliban atrocities ever since the group came into being.RAWA, Eve Ensler, Women for Women, and many other groups have been working to help local Afghans assert themselves against Taliban warlords. I don't know what Hitch is talking about here.Maybe he needs to expand his knowledge of human rights organizations. Michael M Clarke It is a travesty that the entire world does not rise up and march in the streets, demanding theextermination of the Muslim Extremists, in order to show these thugs they are the minority, to showthem how evil they are. Josh we in the Galactic Federation just don't understand or appreciate the Klingon ways of relating towomen. From the Klingon Love Manual: Lesson One: tIhIngan maH! We are Klingons! Sons and daughters of Qo'noS exclaim this in times of great joy, such as in battle or in the throes of passion.To the Klingon, battle and lovemaking have much in common. No Klingon life is complete without bothexperiences, and they invest themselves fully in those experiences. Burning with acid, stoning, beheading with a rusty saw tooth blade--in the West some of theseactivities shared between men and the women who love them might be considered abusive ;however there is a very long, rich tradition of afghani and muslim culture which we, as westernersand outsiders, have no right to question. The fact that many of these activities, including marryinggirls as young as 6 ( or 9! as some would righteously object ) are religiously sanctified and proscribed just makes it more clear that UN intervention in the name of human rights in these regions is a grosshypocrisy that is just a flimsy mask for colonialism and profiteering. C L Its this way in many situations. But Mr. Hitchens you are as culpable as the rest of them. You highlightany bad thing an Israeli (whether acting on his/her own or as a member of the government) longbefore you'd rail against the Arab on Arab (Palestinian on Palestinian) violence that occurs with farmore frequency.That being said I think its great that you are spending time and energy focusing on the atrocities thatgroups like the Taliban are inflicting on their own brethren. 2/16/2011Taliban war crimes: Human rights groups fin…
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