Saturday News And Notes

Is The United Nations Neutral? For many Palestinians and Israelis, there is no middle ground when it comes to choosing sides in the current conflict. For some nations, there is not much more middle ground. But what about the United Nations, which is supposed to be the negotiator, the neutral party.

David Bosco, an assistant professor of international politics at American University, believes the organization is proving unsuccessful in its efforts to remain neutral as it becomes involved in bitter conflicts with very little middle ground. In particular, Bosco examines the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a small agency that recently discovered munitions in a UN school and returned those weapons to Hamas.

Bosco is the author of “Five to Rule Them All: The UN Security Council and the Making of the Modern World” and “Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics.”

“But the agencies of the United Nations, including UNRWA, carry an additional burden. They are attached to a global organization that is, in fact, highly political. U.N. humanitarian operations fall under the very loose purview of the organization’s General Assembly, comprising more than 190 often fractious states,” he writes.

“While the agency did not initially seem to consider grandchildren of refugees to be refugees, today all patrilineal descendants are eligible for registration, and people whose connections to refugee status are quite tenuous are eligible for UNRWA services,” found a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Remembering The 1944 Warsaw Uprising
On August 1, 1944, thousands of the residents of Warsaw, Poland rose up against German forces and managed to take control of the city, holding it for  63 days before being forced to surrender. Once they regained control, the Nazis expelled the survivors and set the city ablaze.

The National Interest looks back on the events that began on that fateful summer day.

Today’s Terrorists Are A More Deadly Breed
In the good old days, terrorists were more ham-handed. They were more directionless mobs than they were cohesive forces.

That is different today, according to an op-ed authored by Robert H. Scales,a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, and  Douglas A. Ollivant, a fellow at the New America Foundation’s Future of War project.

And that is particularly true of Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Some observers of the transformation admit that Hezbollah now is among the most skilled light infantry on the planet. And now there is Hamas. Gone are the loose and fleeting groups of fighters seen during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. In Gaza they have been fighting in well-organized, tightly bound teams under the authority of connected, well-informed commanders. Units stand and fight from building hideouts and tunnel entrances.” the analysts maintain.

The strengthening of these groups could have potentially dangerous and deadly consequences in the next decade of the War on Terror. The Israelis are currently experiencing those consequences as they face terrorist groups that now pair “their fanatical dedication with newly acquired tactical skills.”

That, the authors contend, means that “renewed intervention might generate casualties on a new scale” in future wars.

Are Gaza Palestinians Innocent Victims?
Writing in Bloomberg View, Ramesh Ponnuru says he finds himself encountering those who contend there are no true “civilians” among Palestinians. The argument they make is that since they might have cast a vote for Hamas, they’re essentially participants in its terrorism.

“That argument is wrong and dangerous, and it ought to be repudiated,” he argues.

“Civilians may even be complicit in some sense in the evils of war — for instance, by voting in a war-making government. Yet they’re noncombatants because they’re not involved in warfighting in any direct way, and their killing can’t be justified as an extension of the principle of self-defense,” Ponnuru asserts.

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