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Another one lost

Posted by Helen Friday, December 03, 2004

Some of our readers may have noticed articles about a recent report by the International Committee of the Red Cross in which that supposedly apolitical organization was complaining about conditions for Taliban and Al-Quaeda detainees at Guantanamo. Some of those readers will recall that there had been previous reports about Abu Ghraib. There had also been stories of the Red Cross pulling out its workers from Afghanistan and Iraq because it was dangerous (understandable but perplexing – if there were no danger and hardship the Red Cross would not have been called in) and, even, refusing to function because it disapproved of the American-led coalition.

Before we all note that the Red Cross had never once complained about conditions in Iraqi gaols (or many others) we need to point out that not complaining is the entirely proper procedure for that organization.

The Red Cross League was founded after the Austrian-Italian war by the Swiss Henri Dunant (hence the symbol – the Swiss flag reversed) and was given immunity by the Geneva Convention in times of war.

Since 1864 it has acquired an enviable reputation for its tireless activity in war and peace, helping the sick, the wounded and prisoners of war. The Red Cross, because of its special position within the Geneva Convention has been able to help prisoners in many different countries and in many conditions. It is one of the black marks against Stalin’s leadership of the Soviet war effort is that he had refused not only to sign the Geneva Convention, thus abandoning those millions of Red Army soldiers who had been taken prisoner, but would not even help the Red Cross to find them and organize food parcels for them.

All this activity depended entirely on the Red Cross remaining outside politics, negotiating directly and confidentially with governments and upholding the terms of the Geneva Convention.

This is no longer so. The ICRC has become a political organization, with its own agenda, which is, unsurprisingly, anti-American and anti-Western. In fact, it has joined that great group of NGOs and transnational organizations (tranzis) who have effectively declared war on liberal democracy and its greatest representative, the United States.

Part of the Red Cross’s abandoning its duties can be seen in some of the tasks it takes on. Its British branch, for instance, has a well-staffed office that deals with asylum seekers and their problems. There are many organizations, both governmental ones and NGOs in Britain that deal with asylum seekers and their problems. Why does the Red Cross need to concern itself with it all?

At least that is harmless. When it comes to the war against terror, the ICRC has positioned itself clearly against the coalition forces, when it is supposed to have no position at all. It has, as I pointed out above, manifestly failed in its duty in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It has made statements that showed the reason for its reluctance to carry on with its job is a dislike of the anti-terrorist coalition and its aims.

With the report on Guantanamo, the ICRC has gone even further. It has now openly proclaimed itself to be anti-American and, in order, to criticize that country, it has wilfully misinterpreted the terms of the Geneva Convention. The ICRC report demands POW rights and, even, greater than POW privileges for combatants who are not in uniform and who specifically target civilians. That is not in the terms of the Geneva Convention.

The ICRC criticizes American interrogation methods, though its idea of what counts as psychological pressure seems rather fey: uncertainty about the term of imprisonment is apparently one such example. It also criticizes the American habit of sending in doctors to examine the prisoners at Guantanamo.

Another good organization lost to the transnational oligarchies and the self-appointed elites, who feel that they should be in charge of political decisions, without being accountable to anyone. Let us remember that the ultimate political expression of that mentality is the European Union. The tranzis’ hatred for the United States is caused by their understanding that with all its faults, that country is the strongest protector and promoter of liberal, accountable democracy in the world. One day Britain, the country where most of those ideas were born, will once again line up on the side of true democracy.