Washington’s bizarre stance on flotilla raid investigation

Haaretz is now reporting that,

    Israel and the United States agreed Thursday on the nature of the Israeli investigative committee that will look into the events surrounding the takeover of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla nearly two weeks ago.

This is so bizarre and poses such a threat to the American people’s true interests that I don’t know where to begin, in commenting.
The investigative committee, due to have its establishment announced in Israel today, will be an Israeli body. Haaretz says it will be headed by a retired Israeli High Court judge and the other members will include “jurists specializing in international law as well as two observers – one American and the other European.”
Haaretz reports that,

    Contacts with the United States on forming the panel have been handled by the prime minister himself and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Their main contact has been U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. It was the Americans who proposed the nature of the committee – similar to the one that investigated the sinking of a South Korean ship by the North Koreans.

What on earth do Biden and his boss think they are doing here?
Why don’t they support an international commission of inquiry under the aegis of the United Nations?
Why do they want to give any overt American “blessing” to this Israeli venture, whose proceedings and results will surely not satisfy any of the other governments of the world that– like the U.S.– had nationals aboard the flotilla boats who now have serious claims to raise against Israel for its act of piracy on the high seas?
And yes, of course those other governments include Turkey, which along with the U.S. were the only two countries to have citizens murdered during the raid. Some 30-plus other countries, however, had citizens who were wounded (in many cases grievously), or were kidnapped on the high seas and mistreated by Israel, and had their private property, including significant amounts of expensive camera and recording equipment, stolen by Israel.
Clearly, this case is not going to go away. An all-Israeli, or Israeli-US investigation will not be trusted by many (if any) other governments– either to uncover all the facts of the matter, or to give them a fair reading in the light of international law.
Turkey is just one of the many aggrieved countries that is a close military ally of the United States and a member of NATO. Indeed, Turkey has military forces operating inside Afghanistan alongside American forces.
Why on earth would Washington want to jeopardize its relationship with Turkey and these other important allies at a time when NATO is in such a perilous position in the complex, overwhelmingly Muslim land of Afghanistan?
In the past few days, a gang of Israeli apologists around the world has cranked up an extremely sleazy campaign against Turkey. (E.g. here, or even Steven Cook, here.) This is related both to Turkey’s vote against the Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran, and to the role the Turkish government has already played in demanding justice for its citizens who were murdered, maimed, kidnapped, and robbed by the Israeli military. One big theme of the campaigns has been the idea that Turkey (population 74 million) has been “getting uppity” and needs to “know its place”, etc. Another has been a more directly anti-Muslim argument.
Obama and Biden’s decision to back Israel to the hilt over the flotilla murders will simply– and quite unnecessarily– exacerbate anti-American tensions around the world.
In his recent National Security Strategy document, Obama called for strengthening international institutions, international alliances, and the international rule of law.
The guy gives a great speech. (The first great speech he gave as president outside the U.S. was in Ankara, Turkey, in the spring of 2009.)
But no-one out “here” in the rest of the world is satisfied with speeches any more. They are looking at his actions.

Flotilla: Sweden’s Bildt and other international dimensions

I’m traveling. No time to blog properly. In the meantime, here is an important-looking item:
Swedish FM Carl Bildt says Israel needs the international community to help it get out of the mess it brought upon itself with the flotilla raid. He also says he’s pretty sure the raid was illegal and that Sweden is a strong believer in upholding international law.
This article in TZ has details on the proposal UN Sec-Gen Ban delivered to Turkey and Israel on Saturday. It would be for a five-member investigation commission headed by former New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer, who’s an expert in maritime law. Ban himself would choose the other two members, one of whom would almost certainly be American. Israeli PM Netanyahu has turned the proposal down flat.
Last week, the Obama administration’s position was that it wanted to have the Israelis invesitage themselves (!)– but also to have some international presence, which they suggested should be American, involved in the investigation as well.
I cannot imagine what they were thinking! Such an investigation would be an absolute tar-baby for the U.S., because it would have to play some role in making the determination whether to accept Israel’s or Turkey’s view of events.
Bildt’s argument, that the international community should run the investigation, is a far more powerful one.
Turkey’s government is also, importantly, urging that the need for a thorough investigation should not be used as an excuse for delay and for sweeping the matter under the rug. They have urged– and I think Ban has agreed– that the investigation should be completed within two months.
International fallout from the flotilla massacre continues to rock a number of international forums. Right now, Turkey is hosting a summit meeting of the 20-member Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), of which Israel and various significant big Asian powers are members. Syria’s Pres. Bashar al-Asad is there as an invited guest. Israel has sent only a low-level consular official, fearing a torrent of post-raid criticism if any significant national leader took part.
On Wednesday, Arab League Foreign Ministers will be in İstanbul for the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has already been holding a meeting in Saudi Arabia, at which the flotilla raid has been, not surprisingly, a huge issue.
Carl Bildt, in his interview with TZ, said the EU would consider tackling the issue further in its upcoming summit meeting, scheduled for Brussels on June 17. The report also noted this:

    Bildt said this is an international diplomatic crisis, not an issue between two or three countries. “We are still in crisis mode and interviewing our citizens who participated in this aid convoy,” he said, adding that his government is asking for the return of the personal belongings of its citizens seized by the Israeli police. Bildt said 11 Swedish citizens, including a member of parliament from the Green Party, joined the aid flotilla.

I think he’s right. This is certainly not just an issue between Turkey and Israel.