Good news, bad news, and dumb news

Good:

Dostum’s day of reckoning may be approaching, albeit slowly:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has ordered his national security team to investigate reports that U.S. allies were responsible for the deaths of as many as 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war during the opening days of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday that he doesn’t know what how the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance behaved in November 2001, but he wants a full accounting before deciding how to move forward.

I’m often displeased with the Obama Administration’s approach to justice at home and internationally, but it’s pretty clear that this administration doesn’t hold its predecessor’s view that war crimes aren’t really war crimes when they are committed by U.S. allies.

Bad:

Akbar Ganji on the “Rise of the Sultans” and the evolving authoritarianism of the Iranian state:

Khamenei and his supporters have been snuffing out dissent among intellectuals, political parties, labor unions, clerical seminaries, and civil society groups. They have been enhancing ideological uniformity at the senior level of government by defaming previously high-ranking officials, such as former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. They have also been extending their control over state corporations, large industries, and banks in a bid to create a state-run form of capitalism that would benefit them.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad’s plan has already received a warm welcome from Iranian arch-conservatives, some Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, and members of Israel’s political right who oppose peace in the region. Should it materialize, the resulting state would resemble the totalitarian militaristic bureaucracies of Latin America in the 1980s and of certain countries in the former Soviet bloc.

Like those states, the new Iranian regime would be hell-bent on restructuring the ruling class, eliminating influential opponents, and accumulating capital. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad may speak in the name of the people and the nation, but they have methodically resisted the demands of any professional group and have defied the formation of trade unions, syndicates, and political parties. They are fundamentally against democracy, including even those semi-democratic institutions that currently exist in Iran, such as elections and the parliament. Their ideal regime would create a state-run capitalist class eager to profit in international markets to the detriment of blue-collar workers in Iran and any independent private sector. It would be a rentier state based on political allegiances, brimming with discrimination and corruption and maintained by the machineries of oppression. If left unchecked, Khamenei’s efforts would further consolidate power in the hands of a select few — all but guaranteeing the ultimate triumph of sultanism in Iran.

Dumb:

Via Registan:

[…] if the Azerbaijani regime seriously can’t handle a video of a guy dressed in an oversized animal costume playing a violin it can’t be a good omen for freedom of speech on the interwebs in Central Asia.

Yeesh. Facepalm.

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