The Lexical balancing act of the « international community, » M. Frindéthié

When it comes to denouncing war crimes and human right abuses in Cote d’Ivoire, the United Nations and its satellite media do go through some convoluted acrobatics in their choice of words. Last Friday, rebel Chief Alassane Ouattara’s troops, aided by UN and French helicopters and military transport vehicles, made a lightening progression from Bouake (Central Ivory Coast) to Abidjan (South). The trail of Ouattara’s army toward Abidjan was marked by hundreds of grisly massacres: more than 800 civilians were killed; many pregnant women were first raped, and then disemboweled. Yet, the UN have been very timid in squarely condemning the war crimes that Ouattara’s army carried out. In fact, since 2002, neither the UN nor the “international community” have squarely condemned Ouattara’s tens of thousands of civilian assassinations and human rights abuses. While even in the absence of evidence the United Nations and the “international community” have pilloried President Gbagbo for alleged human right abuses and have repeatedly threatened send him in front of an international tribunal, the language with which the “international community” and the UN qualify the documented slaughters committed by Ouattara has been very lackadaisical. Liberian authorities arrest 100 Liberian mercenaries reentering Liberia after a paid excursion in West Cote d’Ivoire, but will not admit that these are Ouattara’s mercenaries. Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, expresses concern for the killings of 800 civilians in Duekoue, and immediately douses his concern with a dose of skepticism by speaking of “unconfirmed reports.” President Obama calls on Ouattara to ensure that his armies do not pillage foreigners’ properties and fails to mention the killings in Duekoue by Ouattara’s troops. On April 2, the United Nations acknowledges that 220 civilians were killed by Ouattara’s “forces” and just immediately attempts to balance the dent by announcing that yes, 100 people were also killed by Gbagbo’s “mercenaries.” As for Secretary of State Clinton, her logic is perlocutionary: whatever crimes are committed in Cote d’Ivoire, whoever commits them, be they from Gbagbo’s camp or Ouattara’s, Gbagbo made them do it, in the way the devil makes one do things out of one’s volition. Therefore, Gbagbo must go in order for things to fall into place, in order for Ouattara to exorcise the insanity that makes him do things in spite of himself and to regain his humanity. For the “international community” Ouattara will become human again once Gbagbo is out of sight.


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