Amazing really when you think of the convenience of yet another report that backs up US interventionist foreign policy. I’m not even going to discuss here whether or not there is truth contained within it because frankly at the moment it doesn’t matter. No-one will be scrutinising the evidence, asking questions of the source material. It will be taken as gospel because the powers that be want it to be that way, it is expedient for them. Just as it was to study Iran, just as it was to report lies about Iraq and cover up the truth of the necessity of invasion in Afghanistan. Now the US has 2 exit strategies for its troops in Iraq. It is almost as if they are going to march on Damascus with the words, “well since we were passing we thought we’d look in…!”

Do I doubt there are “bad” people in Syria? Not at all. Give me a country where none of the governing elite are seriously suspect. Whilst I am quite sure Syria wants to influence neighbouring countries, it would be foolish not to recognise that all countries do so in an effort to create a protection zone around themselves, this is normal even if the means are sometimes questionable. The only way to get away from this would be the anarchist principle, to abolish borders, which I agree with to a great extent, but that’s another story. The US has many many “bad” people that create protection zones for its interests across the globe but I don’t see many reports heralded in the mainstream media about that. In fact the US works its influence through trade barriers and restrictions as well as through military might. “You’ll practice free trade because it suits us and we won’t because it doesn’t.”

The German investigator in the Syrian affair, Detlev Mehlis, is careful to say that the investigation needs much more work, and that the people named in his report must be presumed innocent until proved guilty. It is of course highly unlikely that this will now happen. One can’t sully a good conclusion with triflings like evidence! Perhaps Syria should turn around and say that President Asad is immune from any prosecution and can then go around the world giving lectures on his own importance like war criminal Henry Kissinger. There will be many detractors who will say that any of us who dissent in this matter are simply doing so to be on the anti-US side no matter what. This of course is just a fudge to avoid a genuine debate of the issue.

In the case of Syria’s influence in Lebannon it has long been the case, just as Israel has long since made infractions and exercised influence in South Lebannon particularly with the South Lebanese Army. Syria’s problems with Israel relating to the seizing of the Golan Heights in 1967 are well documented and Lebannon has traditionally been a useful ally agaisnt the Israelis. Syria is part of George Bush’s convenient ‘axis of evil’ which includes lots of countries that have anti-Anerican sentiment whilst notable by their absence are many repressive regimes that keep the US sweet. So Syria is on the ‘hit-list’ and in the direct aftermath of the invasion of Iraq there were many of us that believed Syria was next and immediately in the firing line. Recent history has shown that when the US has got it in for you, it is only a matter of time before there is some charge to answer.

The fact is you cannot have an international judiciary at all if one country refuses to subject its citizens to its scrutiny the way the US currently does. It therefore undermines every single other case that judiciary may be called upon to examine. To boil it down to a legal argument it is the case of the guilty man and his defence, if he is guilty shouldn’t he be damned whatever? No, quite the contrary, for to set such a precedent is genuinely the legal road to totalitarianism because you are denying someone the right to representation and the presumption of guilt becomes enough to convict. The guilty man must be ably represented so that the case of his prosecution is subject to such scrutiny that if he is convicted it is clearly on the grounds of sound evidence. If he escapes on a technicality then justice has not been done but it is up to the prosecution to ensure that cases are watertight thus is the mantra of innocence until proven otherwise.

Look already at the actual phrases being used by the US and UK, after Syria’s denials at the involvement in the assasination of the Lebanese president, Condoleeza Rice told BBC One’s Politics Show there was at the least evidence of Syria failing to cooperate, as well as the “very strong implication” it was involved in assassinating Mr Hariri. This is very very different from irrefutable proof of Syrian involvement and yet you would think already that it is very much a done deal as far as Syria’s guilt in concerned. British foreign secretary Jack Straw has been quoted “…And they have to get the message that you cannot have a government, if I may say so, at any level going into assassinations.” Straw goes on to say that it was “very serious” that people at a high level in the Syrian regime had been implicated and that there was evidence of false testimony by senior figures. This does not sound much like the speech of someone whose mind is yet to be made up. Whilst giving evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Straw talked about Syria’s alleged involvement being “intolerable” and said that the United Nations would have to decide what action to take against Syria. He does not say that it is imperitive that the UN look into the case independently to establish the facts behind the case.

Straw’s position is unsurprising when you consider what his boss thinks -“Any implication of the involvement of Syria or any other country is something the international community has got to treat with the most fundamental seriousness and gravity because it calls into question the whole of our relationship not just with that country – but our ability to make sure the rule of law is enforced internationally.” Intersting that Tony Blair is now all of a sudden interested in the international rule of law when flouting it has not bothered him in the past.

So if our governments are so willing to disregard the presumption of innocence when it comes to international law, is it any wonder that there are many of us deeply concerned that with the erosion of our rights in the judicial processes and to privacy it can only be a matter of time before that presumption of innocence is lost for us as individuals.

Song Of The Day ~ Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor*Red letter day for the SOTD, the first time I believe that I have ever picked the current No.1 of the day.

Original Comments:


neil made this comment,
Loss / changes of individual freedom – read the last two sentences hidden at the bottom of this BBC article…. comment added :: 26th October 2005, 21:42 GMT+01

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