Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I think the U.S. needs a tutor.


Just like the Big Four at Versailles and Don Rumsfeld have articulated in the past, The New York Times apparently also thinks America must advise the Iraqis on how to govern themselves.

Whereas Wilson said the ex Ottoman Empire territories needed 'tutelage', and Rumsfeld equated the occupation to teaching a child to 'a ride a bike',' now the New York Times credits the U.S. with 'tutoring' Iraqis in the 'Rule of Law.' Hamdullah li Amerika. I mean if anyone knows a thing about justice, it's surely America, especially with regard to the Middle East. Our just wars, followed by just occupations, just imprisonments of over 26,000 Sunni men without charges, and just torture at Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib.

Check out Article 22 of the Treaty of Versailles: "To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant. The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League...

The Treaty of Versailles used the work 'tutelage' to justify the mandate system it created to govern territories in the Ottoman Empire, based on the idea that inhabitants of these lands were just not ready to rule themselves in the 'modern world'. Most consider this system one of hypocrisy, discrimination, imperialism, and Orientalism.

I am curious what makes one modern? The violent oppression and occupation of other peoples and territories? Guess some things don't change.

I might be growing overly protective of the Middle East and its abilities; this post might be a long shot. But I have a problem with the claim that Iraqis need someone to explain the logistics of a legal system and the idea of justice to them. Even though it is something they have lived without for years - nationally and internationally - if allowed security and time, Iraqis can form their own system of justice. Last time I checked there weren't a lot of court hearings going on in war zones.

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