Friday, August 30, 2013

massacres that matter and massacres that don't....,

medialens | According to the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Research, 1,295 Egyptians were killed between August 14-16, with 1,063 losing their lives on August 14 alone. The violence was one-sided, as the Guardian reported:
'But the central charges – that most Brotherhood supporters are violent, that their two huge protest camps were simply overgrown terrorist cells, and that their brutal suppression was justified and even restrained – are not supported by facts.'
To put the slaughter in perspective, 108 people were killed in the May 25, 2012 massacre in Houla, Syria, which was instantly blamed by the West on Syrian president Assad personally, leading to a storm of denunciations and calls for a Western military 'response'.
So how does the US-UK political response compare on Libya, Syria and Egypt?
The Guardian quoted Obama's view on Libya in an article entitled, 'Obama throws the weight of the west behind freedom in the Middle East':
'While we cannot stop every injustice, there are circumstances that cut through our caution - when a leader is threatening to massacre his people and the international community is calling for action. That is why we stopped a massacre in Libya. And we will not relent until the people of Libya are protected, and the shadow of tyranny is lifted.'
With standard objectivity, the Guardian described this as 'a stirring speech', one that placed the US 'unambiguously on the side of those fighting for freedom across the Middle East'.
How did this US commitment to human rights manifest itself in the aftermath of the vast massacre committed by the Egyptian military junta on August 14? Obama commented:
'We appreciate the complexity of the situation... After the military intervention [sic] several weeks ago, there remained a chance to pursue a democratic path. Instead we have seen a more dangerous path taken.
'The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt's interim government [sic] and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest. We oppose the pursuit of marshal law.'
Obama cancelled joint military exercises but he did not even suspend the annual $1.3 billion of aid to Egypt's armed forces. Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, commented:
'This is a rocky road back to democracy. We continue to work at it.'
The New York Times noted that the $1.3 billion in military aid 'is its main access to the kind of big-ticket, sophisticated weaponry that the Egyptian military loves'. Global Post listed the 10 biggest 'defence' contracts involving major US corporations like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and AgustaWestland.

Spencer Ackerman wrote in the Guardian:
'Perhaps the most mystifying thing about the cosmetic US response to Wednesday's massacre in Egypt is the reluctance for the US to use its massive aid leverage over Cairo's generals.'
This must indeed be 'mystifying' for journalists who believe that the United States is 'unambiguously on the side of those fighting for freedom'. Indifference to mass slaughter notwithstanding, Ackerman affirmed the happy truth:
'Paramount among US concerns was that the military not massacre Egyptian civilians.'
UK foreign secretary William Hague, who has tirelessly demanded war against Libya and Syria in response to crimes real, imagined and predicted, had this to say about the killing of many hundreds of civilians in Egypt:
'Our influence may be limited - it is a proudly independent country - and there may be years of turbulence in Egypt and other countries... We have to do our best to promote democratic institutions and political dialogue....'
Patrick Cockburn supplied a rare, honest summary of at least part of the ugly truth:
'For all their expressions of dismay at last week's bloodbath, the US and the EU states were so mute and mealy-mouthed about criticising the 3 July coup as to make clear that they prefer the military to the Brotherhood.'
This helps explain why the Lexis media database finds exactly two articles containing the words 'Egypt' and 'responsibility to protect', or 'R2P', since July 3. One is a single-sentence mention in passing in an Observer editorial focusing on Syria. Ironically, the other cites a statement issued by Egypt's interior ministry after the August 14 bloodbath:
'Upon the government's assignment to take necessary measures against the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, and out of national responsibility to protect citizens' security, the security forces have started to take necessary measures to disperse both sit-ins.' ('Voices from the violence,' Independent, August 15, 2013)
R2P is simply not an issue for the US-UK alliance in Egypt. But what is so striking is that R2P is simultaneously not an issue for the ostensibly objective and independent 'free press'.