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Not Anti-War -- Just on the Other Side:

The appalling George Galloway (a British Member of Parliament) says that the assassination of Tony Blair would be "morally justified." Christopher Hitchens in Slate has the story.

By the way, I do agree that the assassination of an enemy Prime Minister is, as a matter of the laws of war, quite a different matter than the deliberate targeting of civilians who aren't participating in the war effort. Likewise, a Nazi attempt to assassinate Winston Churchill during World War II would not have been a war crime of the same sort as Nazi deliberate murders of civilians. (Depending on the circumstances, it might not have been a war crime at all, or it might have been a far lesser violation of the law of war.) Similarly, if al Qaeda were to simply attack the Pentagon, that too would not be a war crime on the level of deliberate targeting of civilians, though of course it would amply justify continued military retaliation against those who are making war on us. (I can't speak with similar confidence about the actual 9/11 attack on al Qaeda, because it involved a hijacked civilian aircraft, which might make the analysis different.) Not all of one's enemies' military attacks are at the same time inherently atrocities -- for some, the actions' moral repugnance stems from the ends to which they're aimed, rather than the means that are used -- though the attacks should be dealt with by force even when they aren't atrocities.

My point, therefore, is not that Galloway's position is an endorsement of the most serious sorts of war crimes. Rather, Galloway's position simply shows, as the title of the post indicates, that he's on the side of his country's (and my country's) enemies.

DK:
Perhaps a better example for you is the consistent (and publicly acknowledged) American attempts to target Saddam Hussein, Mullah Omar, and Col. Khadafi during military action against their countries. You are right that Galloway is on the other side, but, our side clearly treats enemy leaders as military targets.

IMHO the biggest problem with this strategy is that it doesn't seem very effective, and it has a high cost in collateral damage.
5.30.2006 6:38pm
Mitchell Freedman (mail) (www):
Professor,

When Ann Coulter said about Clinton, in 1997 or 1998, that she believed the only choices for Clinton were "impeachment or assassination," had she gone beyond the protection of the First Amendment?

And was she, too, helping the side of any enemies of America who called for the defeat or merely a war against America?

Since Coulter's comment, which I recall when she uttered it, I have been amazed Coulter still has standing invites to appear on national television political talk shows. And I also must note that if Michael Moore had used such language against our current president, I have little doubt an official federal prosecution of Moore would have been seriously considered--and most pundits in corporate owned media would not be willing to accept a defense by Moore, similar to the usual Coulter caveat, of: "Hey, it's only a joke."
5.30.2006 6:49pm
BarryG:
Ideas have consequences. Liberals like Galloway who believe that Bush, Freedom, and Judeo-Christian morality are evil, inevitably side with anyone who takes a contrary position no matter how absurd. Just as an example, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, the vast majority of liberals and leftists had no qualms marching together with the homophobic, anti-semitic, misogynist extremists from CAIR. Pink-haired transgendered pacifists share only one value with burka-clad jihadists - a hatred of western morality.
5.30.2006 6:53pm
Bobbie:
If you believe, as many do, that the war in Iraq, which has killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people, including innocent civilians, is a moral travesty, then you might also believe that it would be morally justified for someone to kill the leaders of the war effort. This doesn’t mean you support the enemy.

Lets assume the worst case scenario. Blair (or Bush) launched the war in Iraq to kill innocent civilians. Someone says it would be morally justified to kill Blair (or Bush). Is that considered being on the side of the enemy? If you're trying to make a descriptive claim, defining yourself to be correct -- i.e., if you think it’s morally justifiable to kill the Prime Minister, you’re part of the enemy -- then fine. But there's clearly a normative judgment involved in your post that you haven’t defended. Why is Galloway on the side of your country's enemies? Because he thinks at least one of their goals is morally justified?
5.30.2006 6:53pm
Enoch:
I can't speak with similar confidence about the actual 9/11 attack on al Qaeda, because it involved a hijacked civilian aircraft, which might make the analysis different.

Might? What is the basis for doubt here? Al Qaeda unquestionably deliberately intended to kill the civilians who were aboard Flight 77. This was a crime and an atrocity by any stretch of the imagination.
5.30.2006 6:56pm
poster child (mail):

Professor,

When Ann Coulter said about Clinton, in 1997 or 1998, that she believed the only choices for Clinton were "impeachment or assassination," had she gone beyond the protection of the First Amendment?

And was she, too, helping the side of any enemies of America who called for the defeat or merely a war against America?

Since Coulter's comment, which I recall when she uttered it, I have been amazed Coulter still has standing invites to appear on national television political talk shows. And I also must note that if Michael Moore had used such language against our current president, I have little doubt an official federal prosecution of Moore would have been seriously considered--and most pundits in corporate owned media would not be willing to accept a defense by Moore, similar to the usual Coulter caveat, of: "Hey, it's only a joke."


Ah, the time-honored reductio ad anncoulterum argument...
5.30.2006 6:58pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Gee, which side is BarryG on? Do they ban commenters here any more?

EV is correct that Galloway's remark puts him, if not on the same side as al-Qaeda, at least in their league.

The only defense I could imagine would be for Galloway to say that he really meant "morally justifiable," that is to say, that a set of morals which would justify Blair's assassination exists. Since EV agrees with that in his post, I guess that would get Galloway off the hook.

Seems like an implausible defense to me, but I have to remember that not everyone is terribly careful with his terminology.
5.30.2006 7:04pm
Confused:
I loathe Galloway and I have read many monstrous things that he has said. Within that galaxy, this seems quite modest, and the quote has been pretty aggressively decontextualized, especially here where Eugene doesn't provide even one sentence of Galloway's own words.

I can't find a link to the entire GQ interview, but here's the exchange as best I can cobble it together.

Galloway was asked: "Would the assassination of, say, Tony Blair by a suicide bomber - if there were no other casualties - be justified as revenge for the war on Iraq?"

Galloway answered: "Yes it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it, but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable, and morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5020222.stm

If one starts from the premise that the war in Iraq is to be "revenged" -- as the interviewer does (and, as I imagine, Galloway does) -- then Galloway's answer doesn't seem wholly unreasonable to me. What would be a more appropriate form of revenge? Donning a uniform and blowing up a British serviceman with an IED?

It also doesn't necessarily seem to be an endorsement of our country's enemies, since the avenger in the scenario is likely kin to one of the "thousands of innocent people in Iraq" killed during the war. (I am a staunch supporter of this war, but it's true that innocents have been killed in it by our soldiers, almost always through inadvertence.) I don't know that he's necessarily the "enemy" of the United States or Britain, except w/r/t the reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Just as many conservatives were sympathetic to say, the actions of Randy Weaver, without being in favor of the Aryan Nation taking over the country, it seems like someone who felt that the war was unjustified could be sympathetic to a bereaved Iraqi exacting some revenge without wanting al-Qaeda to blow things up or whatever.

As I say, Galloway is scum. But this is one of his less outrageous outrages.
5.30.2006 7:05pm
J..:
Galloway was on Big Brother UK (beyond his other stances). I"m pretty sure he'll take any press he can get and he isn't someone to take seriously.
5.30.2006 7:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Galloway ... isn't someone to take seriously.
Why not? In what way are his political positions easily distinguishable from the left wing of American politics and academia? Dressing up in a cat suit makes him look like a buffoon, but in most of what he says, he is hard to distinguish from Michael Moore, Code Pink, or any of the other Democratic Party radicals.
5.30.2006 7:25pm
frankcross (mail):
He supports nuclear disarmament and the nationalization of industry. There are a few on the left wing who argue for that but you have to go a long way left. Which Democratic party radicals favor disarmament and nationalization? Anyone significant? Have any of them called for the Arabs to kill Western soldiers, or Blair, like Galloway has?
5.30.2006 7:34pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
First off, your contention that the Pentagon is a legitimate military target is correct. However Al Qaeda is not justified in targeting it since they have no legitimate claim to make war against anyone, since they are not the legitimate military arm of any sovereign government, so any action they take can't be an act of war, only a criminal act or an act of terrorism. (Whether any of our actions in Iraq are legal are a discussion for another day).

As for targeting the civilian leadership of a country you are legitimately at war with for assasination, that is most definitely a war crime, as they are protected by diplomatic immunity (generally targeting anyone who is not in uniform or shooting at you is considered a war crime). When the civilian is also commander in chief of the military I would still argue such a targeted assasination is still a war crime if the leader doesn't hold an official military title. In Tony Blair's case, he is not even in the military chain of command as the Queen, not the Prime Minister, is the nominal Commander in Chief of the British Military.
5.30.2006 7:35pm
Mark F. (mail):
So the killing of Hitler or Stalin would have been a war crime in World War 2?
5.30.2006 7:42pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
Freder: "When the civilian is also commander in chief of the military I would still argue such a targeted assasination is still a war crime if the leader doesn't hold an official military title. In Tony Blair's case, he is not even in the military chain of command as the Queen, not the Prime Minister, is the nominal Commander in Chief of the British Military."

How convenient...
5.30.2006 7:45pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
So the killing of Hitler or Stalin would have been a war crime in World War 2?

The targeted assasination of either would be--as would be the assasination of Roosevelt or Churchill. And of course, the assasination of any head of state is currently a clear violation of U.S. law.

And remember, Stalin was our allie.
5.30.2006 8:08pm
Sameer Parekh (mail) (www):
In any case, it doesn't appear to me that discussing whether or not the actions of the enemy are warcrimes or not indicates that you actually support the enemy. I could easily, for example, state that an Iraqi soldier in the chain of command, wearing a uniform and acting per orders, firing at American troops in battle, would be acting morally. That wouldn't change the fact that I would want the Americans (whose side I'm on) to kill him.
5.30.2006 8:36pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I don't think Mr. Frederson's analysis is right. As to the supposed ban on assassination of heads of state under U.S. law, here's an earlier post of mine on the subject, plus another here, which points to a more detailed and in my view quite persuasive legal analysis.

As to our treaty obligations, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, which we've signed, only bans targeted killings of heads of state when they're traveling outside their home country.

As to the law of war, I found this essay (which I also link to in the second post linked to earlier in this comment) to be quite persuasive, and my sense is that its position that a commander-in-chief is a legitimate military target is a sound one. Nor do I think it would matter if a prime minister is only the de facto commander-in-chief as opposed to the de jure one.
5.30.2006 8:50pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Mr. Parekh: Galloway said the actions are "morally justifiable," not just that they aren't war crimes.
5.30.2006 8:58pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Sameer said: "I could easily, for example, state that an Iraqi soldier in the chain of command, wearing a uniform and acting per orders, firing at American troops in battle, would be acting morally. That wouldn't change the fact that I would want the Americans (whose side I'm on) to kill him."

I think most of the comments here are losing track of the cogent ends/means distinction Prof. Volokh tried to draw in the post. The Iraqi soldier's means are justified by the commonly accepted rules of war, but that had nothing to do with his ends being justified.

If defeating the United States and Britain is a moral goal, then targeting their armies, and perhaps their leaders, is morally justifiable. For those of us who don't believe this goal is moral, such attacks are less atrocious, but still immoral.
5.30.2006 9:05pm
Sameer Parekh (mail) (www):
I don't see how that distinction, between "morally justifiable" and "warcrimes" makes much difference in the argument. (Of course, I do agree that Galloway is in fact on the other side. I just don't think that this statement is evidence of that fact. So perhaps there's no point to this argument, but this -is- a legal blog, so. =) In my example, I think that the Iraqi soldier was morally justified in shooting at the American soldier. That still doesn't mean I was on his side or wanted him to win.
5.30.2006 9:14pm
Scenescent (mail):
The example that comes immediately to mind is the Russian Revolution - the Bolsheviks brought down the tzarist government and killed various figures of power for reasons that had a lot to do with their actions as part of the Triple Entente, but I'd hardly say that made them allies of the Triple Alliance.
5.30.2006 9:25pm
Francis:
EV: if you are correct (per your 7:50 pm post) that a Commander-in-Chief is a legitimate military argument, then Mr. Galloway is agreeing with you.

Has the duly constituted iraqi government surrendered to Coalition forces? Has the Iraqi government issued a legal order that hostilities against Coaltion forces cease? Is there, as a matter of Iraqi law, a legitimate government, or does the failure of the head of state to appoint key cabinet ministers give rise to an argument that there is no legitimate government?

It seems to me that there is a legitimate (albeit weak) argument that forces loyal to Saddam have established a government-in-exile (in country) and are lawfully continuing hostilities against invading forces.

If so, then Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush are legitimate targets.

[for the bomb-throwers in the crowd: No, I personally don't believe that this argument is persuasive. But unless there is NO argument that Iraqi resistance to US occupation is legitimate under international rules of war, Mr. Galloway has at least a colorable claim that Bush and Blair are legitimate targets for Iraqi resistance forces, based on EV's own legal analysis.]
5.30.2006 9:35pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Dressing up in a cat suit makes him look like a buffoon, but in most of what he says, he is hard to distinguish from Michael Moore, Code Pink, or any of the other Democratic Party radicals.

Cramer is, ah, disingenuous. Unless Timothy McVeigh was a "Republican Party radical."
5.30.2006 10:19pm
Prestigious Law School Grad (mail):
if al Qaeda were to simply attack the Pentagon, that too would not be a war crime on the level of deliberate targeting of civilians,

True, but it would be a serious war crime (the "supreme international crime" actually) for other reasons, namely, because it would constitute aggression, made criminal by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter, and precedent established by the Nuremberg Trials.

Rather, Galloway's position simply shows, as the title of the post indicates, that he's on the side of his country's (and my country's) enemies.

Not sure I understand your point. What exactly constitutes being "on the side of [one's] country's . . . enemies" and why is that by itself relevant? If I speak out against the war, am I not "on the side" of America's enemies (at least as far as our "enemies" are defined by the Pentagon)? And if so, does that fact alone make me immoral or dangerous somehow?

I think you need to adjust your position to more clearly express when one is "on the side" of the enemy and when that is wrong. I imagine your real contention is with Galloway's justification of violence, not with a third-grade concept such as which "side" he is "on."
5.30.2006 10:48pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
To consider the Al Qaeda issue according to law, I'd argue that the attack on the Pentagon is a legit military target-- provided that the atacker is another nation. AQ was not such a government. It was a criminal organization. Therefore no action on the part of AQ is an act of war-- by definition it cannot be. I agree there is a difference in killing officials and killing civilians-- but I think in the case of AQ it is a moral or emotional difference. As a matter of law, I see them as equal as AQ did not have the ability to declare war.

On that, I never understood this whole "terrorism" thing. What is terrorism? Isn't it just acts done to terrorize people? (Yes, I'm aware I shouldn't be using the word in its own definition.) It seems to me that we are merely burying crimes under this umbrella term terrorism. The hijackings can be, if you want to use International Law, not a war crime, but rather the international crime of piracy. Piracy extends to the sky. Then they were used to blow up buildings and kill thousands of people. Isn't that some form of arson and large scale murder? Not a war crime-- Just a good ol' regular crime.
5.30.2006 11:09pm
Prestigious Law School Grad (mail):
18 USC 1030:

The Pentagon would certainly be a legitimate military target during a war, but that doesn't meant that attacking it is not a war crime. If Canada were to bomb the Pentagon tomorrow, that would constitute the international crime of aggression. Likewise, military bases in Iran are legitimate military targets in the event of a war, but the U.S. would be guilty of aggression if the military bombed Iranian bases without provocation.

So, there's more to this issue than simply distinguishing between leigitimate military targets and civilian targets.
5.30.2006 11:34pm
Silicon Valley Jim:
Which Democratic party radicals favor disarmament and nationalization?

As I recall, in 1993 or thereabouts, Hillary Clinton was leading a campaign to nationalize health insurance. The weasel phrase was "single-payer health care", but it sure looked, waddled, and quacked like nationalization.

Dressing up in a cat suit makes him look like a buffoon, but in most of what he says, he is hard to distinguish from Michael Moore, Code Pink, or any of the other Democratic Party radicals.

Cramer is, ah, disingenuous. Unless Timothy McVeigh was a "Republican Party radical."


Timothy McVeigh did not sit next to a former President at a Republican party convention. Michael Moore did.
5.31.2006 12:16am
Silicon Valley Jim:
or, rather, Michael Moore sat next to a former President (Jimmy Carter, who wasn't really a President, but he played one on television) at a Democratic party convention.
5.31.2006 12:18am
therut:
And the gleeful Democrats who went to opening night to see his great propaganda piece. Remember them. I do and will never forget.
5.31.2006 1:15am
JT Wenting (mail):
Isn't openly siding with an enemy of the state in time of war high treason?
Isn't high treason usually punishable by death after a military tribunal?
5.31.2006 1:34am
Prestigious Law School Grad (mail):
JT Wenting:

Isn't openly siding with an enemy of the state in time of war high treason?

Only in a fascist dictatorship. In a democracy, the population is allowed to support whomever they wish, so long as they do not provide material support to the enemy.

You conservatives have a lot of trouble with the concepts of freedom of thought and independent thought, don't you?

"Isn't high treason usually punishable by death after a military tribunal?"

Yes, though it doesn't require a judgment from a military tribunal; a civilian court will do. Incidentally, the same is true of grave violations of the Geneva Conventions (and cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners constitutes a grave breach), under the War Crimes Act. This means Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld better hope they never face prosecution. Oops.
5.31.2006 2:00am
Eugene Volokh (www):
You mean the same tribunal that would have punished Saddam Hussein for his various war crimes, had the allies not invaded? Or is it the tribunal that punished the French leaders for excesses in the Algerian War, and the English leaders for excesses in the fight against the IRA? Every war unfortunately has episodes of military misconduct, episodes that need to be punished but that generally do not lead to prosecution of government leaders -- except in situations where the enemy has committed truly mass atrocities (the ill-prosecuted Rwanda and Yugoslavia examples, or the somewhat more efficient post-World War II trials).

I rather doubt President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld are quaking in their boots at the International Law Pipe Dream Brigade's threats. Even if their harshest critics' accusations were correct (which they are not), there'd be nothing to fear. Whether one is a friend of the current Administration or a foe, one ought to keep a sense of reality about the actual scope of international law and international legal institutions.
5.31.2006 2:31am
Questioner:
Professor Volokh: "I rather doubt President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld are quaking in their boots at the International Law Pipe Dream Brigade's threats. Even if their harshest critics' accusations were correct (which they are not), there'd be nothing to fear. Whether one is a friend of the current Administration or a foe, one ought to keep a sense of reality about the actual scope of international law and international legal institutions."

I agree, one more piece of evidence that law and justice are not synonomous...
5.31.2006 2:49am
SJK (mail):
"It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of people in Iraq as Blair did."

Apparently Mr. Galloway has no moral problem calling the leader of his government a mass murderer in the middle of a war with zero proof. Then he has a audacity to call Blair's assassination morally justified?

The only way the terrorist and insurgents will win in Iraq is if Blair and Bush pull troops out of the country. The enemy can see these kinds of quotes from supposedly credible people in the British and US governments and will have reason to fight on. They may also influence citizens in putting pressure on those governments to pull out of Iraq.
5.31.2006 4:20am
Jeek:
Only in a fascist dictatorship. In a democracy, the population is allowed to support whomever they wish, so long as they do not provide material support to the enemy.

In modern war - and particularly in an insurgency - "non-material" support is perhaps even more significant than material support. Treason is also often held to encompass broadcasting propaganda (i.e. a non-material support) for the benefit of the enemy - thus the conviction of William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) and Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) after WW2.

You conservatives have a lot of trouble with the concepts of freedom of thought and independent thought, don't you?

You liberals have a lot of trouble with the concept of "loyalty to your country in time of war", don't you?
5.31.2006 9:46am
jallgor (mail):
I often chuckle at bold declarations of what constitutes "international law". The idea that making aggressive war was "made criminal by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter, and precedent established by the Nuremberg Trials" is simply laughable. For good or for bad (and I think it's sometimes both) there is no real international law. To the victors go the spoils still holds true. For my part, I think the Nuremburg prosecutors should have given more thought to the "crimes" they charged both as a matter of creating a real ad sustainable precedent and as a matter of focusing on true evils like the holocaust versus trumped up charges like making aggressive war.
5.31.2006 10:07am
hey (mail):
As always, the only true war crime is to lose. The aftermath in the Balkans is showing that there is a second war crime: to come from a small, weak country that want to join the EU. Outside of these two cases, there are no "war crimes".

I do appreciate the Western entente as expressed in the many Geneva conventions and other treaties on the Laws of War and proper conduct, and believe that they are in everyone's best interest. They should not, however, be viewed as operative when confronting insurgencies, terrorists, and guerillas. US soliders have not been granted real quarter or the niceties of Geneva since WWII, and even then only patchily by the Germans (Japanese treatment of prisoners being beyond disgusting, no matter what any leftist claims about the "horrors" of Abu Grhaib it and Gitmo are paradisiacal compared to the plesantries of IJA, NVA, NKA, and PLA, never mind the headchopping terrorists in Iraq, the Phillippines, and Afghanistan). Given this, the plaintive cries of leftists that they are the only protection for US soldiers is nothing but an exceptionally bad joke.

As to High Treason and fascism... As always, the leftists don't know what actual fascism is, nor do they know the history of the world or the actual policy of any other country than the US. Outside of US Consitutional protections of speech and restrictions on treason prosecutions, mere speech is recognised as the most frequent element of treason and support of foreign enemies. Haw Haw and Tokyo Rose are but a few who have been justly prosecuted for treasonous speech. While unfortunately restricted by leftists (along with the death penalty), High Treason is definitely operative law. Meanwhile, there are stupednous quantities of cases where pure speech is either a crime or an aggravating factor. Sexual harrassment (in the US), incitement of hatred (in the UK, including a proposed extention to ban the criticism of any religion on any grounds), counseling to commit a crime (UK and Canada) are all pure speech crimes, while all hate crime enhancers in the US purely punish speech (punching someone in a bar vs yelling "I hate f*****s/n*****s" and punching someone in a bar).

Prestigious Law School Grad is exposed as a pretentious, ignorant prat. Unsurprising. Of course, IANAL, and so my opinion applies equally to everyone encompassed by the last three words of PLSG's pseudonym.
5.31.2006 10:50am
Freder Frederson (mail):
I don't think Mr. Frederson's analysis is right. As to the supposed ban on assassination of heads of state under U.S. law, here's an earlier post of mine on the subject, plus another here, which points to a more detailed and in my view quite persuasive legal analysis.

Well, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that there was a declared war with Iraq. Even the Attorney General has unequivocally stated we never declared war on Iraq. However, I think your analysis of the Uday and Qasai situation was correct because it was akin to a police action--the military went to arrest them and they resisted resulting in a shoot-out that ended in their deaths. The [mis-]targeted bombing of the restaurant that "intelligence" indicated Saddam was eating at before the invasion is a whole different kettle of fish as that was definitely an assasination attempt (collateral damage be damned) against a head of state who apparently posed very little threat to the U.S. All it achieved was killing about forty civilians.

As for the targeted killing of enemy leaders during times of war, I would still argue that it is still illegal under the Geneva Conventions. National, civilian leaders are not combatants, and targeting of non-combatants is always illegitimate. Now of course, the government buildings they operate out of are legitimate targets for attack, so if the leaders are killed when those buildings are bombed, no crime has been committed. Such distinctions are important, talk to anyone in the Army about the proper use of a .50 cal machine gun and you will start a heated debate about whether it can be used against personnel or only equipment.

In modern war - and particularly in an insurgency - "non-material" support is perhaps even more significant than material support. Treason is also often held to encompass broadcasting propaganda (i.e. a non-material support) for the benefit of the enemy - thus the conviction of William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) and Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) after WW2.

Those people actually worked for and were paid by the enemy powers (they broadcast from Berlin and Tokyo) so their support was hardly non-material. Read the Constitution, it is very specific as to what constitutes treason (Art. III, Sect 3):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

5.31.2006 10:56am
johnt (mail):
Given that the Muslim Murderers have initiated the war, as they have initiated past bloodshed in the past, a not to fine moral distinction can be drawn between Galloway's comment and any comparison to Churchill or other world leaders. Throw in Gallaoway's previous comments about murderous Islam and you have a snide endorsement of an extension of their noteworthy bloodthirstiness.
And yes, Ann Coulter. What would liberals do without her? She is the rock thay cling to for defense and cover. "Ann Coulter said, Ann Coulter said", well she hasn't done a simulated shooting of a President on radio, she hasn't done the Ward Churchill bit, nor off broadway shows on assination, or carried posters calling for the hanging of the VP , and no, I never remember her defending, obliquely or otherwise people who have killed thousands of Americans. Nor has she compared American forces to Nazi concentration camp guards.
I would suggest that those desperate individuals who cling to Coulter like a life raft in order to negate the venom from their side clean up the filth in their own backyards first. Give it up kids!
5.31.2006 11:32am
Freder Frederson (mail):
For good or for bad (and I think it's sometimes both) there is no real international law.

No international law? What a steaming load of crap. Ever take an international flight or mail a letter to a foreign country or use a passport? Ever buy a product made in a different country? Without "international law", none of that would be possible. Sheesh.

What you don't like is the idea is that there should be a system of international human rights laws. Why this scares you so much is beyond me. Has this country become so corrupt and degenerate that we have something to fear from international scrutiny? Well maybe the fact that we have made people disappear and are torturing people in secret prisons is beginning to weigh on your conscience and you are ashamed. I know I am.

The difference between you and me is that I want the people who are committing these crimes against humanity in my name held to account. You apparently, either don't want to know about it, want it to be kept secret, or worse yet, agree with such practices.
5.31.2006 11:36am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Freder. You can quote the statute all you want, and make the case that many actions don't qualify for treason and sedition prosecution. The narrowness of the statute comes from the old days when, the king, owning everything and being sovereign over everything, could call practically every crime treason, since it was directed at his sovereignty or property, or something. That was too broad and too politically useful for political enemies.

However, your statute does not preclude anybody from thinking and saying that certain actions amount to aid and comfort to the enemy, are treasonous in intent and result and, unfortunately, the bastard is going to skate. The "nyah-nyah" is particularly infuriating and no doubt results in hopes for an accumulation of life's little vexations for the bastard in question. But, no, it doesn't qualify under the statute. And, since people aren't saying it does, saying it doesn't is hardly a useful application of pixels.
5.31.2006 11:42am
Freder Frederson (mail):
However, your statute does not preclude anybody from thinking and saying that certain actions amount to aid and comfort to the enemy, are treasonous in intent and result and, unfortunately, the bastard is going to skate.

Well, I thought as Americans, we believed above all else in the Constitution. That is what makes us American, regardless of our diverse origins. Treason is the only crime that the founders saw fit to specifically define in the Constitution. And as you imply, it was because they knew how badly treason and sedition statutes were misused by the British to quell dissent.

As far as I am concerned, people who throw around accusations of treason and call people who disagree with the actions of the government traitors are supremely un-American. Treason is a most serious charge and should not be hurled willy-nilly at people you simply disagree with or you perceive as undermining the goals of the current leadership of the country unless you truly believe they are running afoul of the Constitutional definition of treason. The U.S. has only prosecuted 30 or so treason cases in our entire history--we didn't even press the case against Jefferson Davis--so to call someone a traitor is a very serious charge indeed.
5.31.2006 12:12pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
thus the conviction of William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) and Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) after WW2.

How pathetic to hold those up as examples to be followed. Particularly Joyce, of whom A.J.P. Taylor so memorably wrote that he was executed "for making a false statement when applying for a passport, the usual penalty for which is a small fine."

People like Jeek--security uber alles!--make dictatorships possible. Thanks, Jeek. Go ruin some other country, okay?
5.31.2006 12:15pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
While I agree that only serious cases deserve the label of "treason", I am not limited by the constitution in using the term where I deem it appropriate. In fact, I think I'll limit it to the number of times I've been called "fascist", which gives me a good deal of work to do to catch up.

Part of the nyah-nyah when treason is committed is that the actor simply lies about his desired end. Thus, calling "pacifism" when caught committing an act which has a result and intent of providing aid and comfort to the enemy but doesn't rise to the level of treason by statute is somehow presumed not to be treason. It's self-defined. If the traitor isn't boasting of being a traitor, he's okay with a good many, while he goes about being a traitor.

Additionally, consider the political and social repercussions of actually filing even a slam-dunk case of treason.

The folks who claim to be all concerned about the law and its narrowness will have to find a different excuse. Not one in a hundred is actually interested in the law except as handy. No act of real treason, no matter how egregious, will be considered prosecutable by any, single, solitary person now quoting the constitution on the subject. Constitution, schmonstitution. Something else will have to be discovered, and will be.
5.31.2006 12:36pm
Doc (mail):
It would be very much appreciated if in discussions of this type, people who refer to the Geneva Conventions and what they prohibit or permit would show some familiarity with those documents. Specific Citations would be most helpful in evaluating those claims. As someone who used to teach the Geneva Conventions, I find that most people who refer to them in arguments have no idea what they really say-- I would daresay that most who reference the Conventions have never really read them. It is also useful to note which nations have adopted/agreed to/are bound by the various documents--- Much of the argument I hear and read above is based on the Additional Protocols of 1977, which the US has not ratified and therefore cannot be considered to be bound by (ICRC arguments that they now are "customary humanitarian law" notwithstanding). Doc
5.31.2006 12:46pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
It would be very much appreciated if in discussions of this type, people who refer to the Geneva Conventions and what they prohibit or permit would show some familiarity with those documents.

Was that directed at me? Well okay, When I said the civilian leadership of a country were not combatants and should not be targeted I was referring to Protocol I, Chapter II, Article 50 (1) which defines civilians as:


1. A civilian is any person who does not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4 (A) (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43 of this Protocol. In case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian.


And Article 43 says:


Art. 43. Armed forces

1. The armed forces of a Party to a conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct or its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or an authority not recognized by an adverse Party. Such armed forces shall be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, inter alia, shall enforce compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.

2. Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict (other than medical personnel and chaplains covered by Article 33 of the Third Convention) are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities.

3. Whenever a Party to a conflict incorporates a paramilitary or armed law enforcement agency into its armed forces it shall so notify the other Parties to the conflict.


The parties covered by Article 4 (A) (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention are:


Art. 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.


You are being incredibly disingenuous and dishonest. You implied, without coming out and saying it, that I have not read the conventions or understand what they say or that I was somehow incorrect in my assessment that deliberately targeting the civilian leadership of a country was illegitimate under Geneva. So instead of attacking my arguments on the merits you merely sought to undermine my competence.

So now I will challenge you directly. Is it legitimate for military personnel to deliberately kill unarmed non-combatant civilian government officials under the Geneva Conventions? If so, under what reading of the Conventions is this acceptable?

Or were you just trying to make me look like an ignorant fool when you knew I was 100% correct?
5.31.2006 1:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Freder. The question is whether it is legitimate for US troops to do so. Your reference to "military personnel" does not address the question.
5.31.2006 1:31pm
Jeek:
Those people actually worked for and were paid by the enemy powers (they broadcast from Berlin and Tokyo) so their support was hardly non-material.

Fatuous. If you broadcast enemy propaganda "for free" - on your own time and own dime - you are no less a traitor than if you got paid.

How pathetic to hold those up as examples to be followed. Particularly Joyce, of whom A.J.P. Taylor so memorably wrote that he was executed "for making a false statement when applying for a passport, the usual penalty for which is a small fine."

That's what they used to hang him, but he was no less a traitor for all that.

Those are both excellent examples, in that if they are not traitors, then nobody is a traitor and the term has no meaning whatsoever.

People like Jeek--security uber alles!--make dictatorships possible. Thanks, Jeek. Go ruin some other country, okay?

Wow, that was amazingly infantile.
5.31.2006 1:42pm
Jeek:
Read the Constitution, it is very specific as to what constitutes treason (Art. III, Sect 3):

Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw Haw adhered to the Axis cause, and provided the Axis with aid and comfort. Where does Art III state that the aid/comfort has to be material, and that the traitor has to get paid for providing this aid/comfort?
5.31.2006 1:49pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The question is whether it is legitimate for US troops to do so. Your reference to "military personnel" does not address the question.

I assume US troops are a subset of "military personnel". But if you are being picky, we can limit it to US troops. I still want to know how it is legitimate, under the Geneva Conventions, to deliberately kill non-combatant government officials of an enemy power.

Through this thread Eugene has implied that killing foreign leaders is legitimate and Doc has implied I didn't bother to read the Geneva Conventions. I know Doc is wrong and I think Eugene is wrong on the law.

I have laid out my argument--Civilian leaders are simply not combatants under the Geneva Convention and therefore deliberately targeting them for assasination is a war crime. I want to hear counter arguments, not aspertions on my ability to Google and read the Geneva Conventions.
5.31.2006 1:56pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The author of these words--
You liberals have a lot of trouble with the concept of "loyalty to your country in time of war", don't you?
--thinks I'm "amazingly infantile." Ha!
5.31.2006 1:59pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Where does Art III state that the aid/comfort has to be material, and that the traitor has to get paid for providing this aid/comfort?

Sheesh, I provided the language for you. You didn't even have to link to it. The Constitution requires an "overt act". Speech alone isn't enough.
5.31.2006 1:59pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Freder. The next question is whether the section of the GC to which you refer applies to us...as in, did we ratify it? Are we a signatory?

I would caution you on too strong a reliance on the GC. See where it requires the other side to adhere to the laws of war? Most of our recent enemies didn't, which means the GC didn't apply. You want to go down that road? Tell you what. I'll swap you GC-like treatment for the enemy footsoldiers who otherwise wouldn't qualify for the right to whack the bastard who put them--and our guys--into the fight.

Is there some part of treaty law that says when the other side ceases to abide by it, our side is no longer bound? It may be practically and morally right to act as if it were still valid, but are we legally bound?
5.31.2006 2:19pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Freder. The next question is whether the section of the GC to which you refer applies to us...as in, did we ratify it? Are we a signatory?

Well, the answer to that is yes and yes. We are not a signatory to Article V of the Conventions (alternately called the additional protocols) although we have agreed to abide to the principles of that convention. The definitions I cited are from articles I and III. As I understand it, the reason we don't like Article V, is it bans some types of weapons we still have in our arsenal (e.g., Napalm and chemical weapons, although we have since disavowed the use of chemical weapons).

As for whether Geneva is applicable in Iraq, that point is not open to debate. The President has stated unequivocably that the Geneva Conventions are fully applicable in the Iraq conflict. Of course Donald Rumsfeld openly admitted, on camera during a press conference, to a serious breach of the accords and implicated George Tenet in the same crime when Rumsfeld said that he deliberately hid detainees from the ICRC at the request of Tenet. Why he and Tenet weren't fired immediately and charged with a federal crime is beyond me.
5.31.2006 2:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
So it seems that the GC applies in Iraq because of the generosity of our president, not because the treaties require it.
Since they don't apply--the president's word is that we must act as if they do--Rumsfeld and Tenet's actions, if as described, did not breach the treaty, but did disobey the president's generous order. Since this is applied at his discretion, I guess he discretioned it shouldn't apply in this case.

But, if a president were not so inclined to be generous.... Let's say the chickenhawk arguers are stymied because he had a son captured, tortured and killed, and his generosity is stretched a bit. A lot. Broke, actually.
Without the order to pretend the GC applies, then things could be ugly.
In that case, I guess we'd have to ignore the GC and think of something else. Or, not "we", exactly. Some of us. Best identified by their ironclad fidelity to the letter of the GC--unless inconvenient in which case to the spirit, or the reverse.
5.31.2006 2:48pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Certain speech can indeed qualify as an "overt act" for treason purposes, as the Axis Sally case holds; see PDF pages 65 and 66 of my Cornell Law Review Speech as Conduct article for more discussion and more citations. I think that only speech that's actively in league with the enemy -- whether funded or expressly directed by it -- ought to be covered, but it's a complicated question to which we don't have a firm answer from the Court's caselaw (as the pages I point to, and the cases they cite, suggest).
5.31.2006 2:51pm
NY (mail):
Freder,
Wouldn't it be legitimate [lack of better word] for US military agents to assassinate certain enemy politicos under the Geneva Convention since the application of the Conventions are premised on conflicts involving High Contracting Parties?

Part I. General Provisions

Art. 2. In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peace-time, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.

...

Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.


I don't have the cite to when the US agreed to the Conventions, but note that 18 USC 2441 specifically implements the Conventions as against US troops and nationals.

So 18 USC 2441 requires a grave breach of a Convention. But the Convention applies only between High Contracting Parties (or abiding non-Parties). So the US, in a declared war or not (contra somebody above talking about only declared wars counting for Geneva purposes), must abide by Conventions in its dealings with other High Contracting Parties or non-parties agreeing to abide by the Convention, but not non-parties otherwise. So the US could assassinate nationals of non-abiding non-Parties under the Conventions, just not those of High Contracting Parties or non-Party abiders.

If we are talking about Saddam, was Iraq a party to the Conventions or, if not, did they agree abide by the Conventions?
5.31.2006 3:02pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
So it seems that the GC applies in Iraq because of the generosity of our president, not because the treaties require it.
Since they don't apply--the president's word is that we must act as if they do--Rumsfeld and Tenet's actions, if as described, did not breach the treaty, but did disobey the president's generous order. Since this is applied at his discretion, I guess he discretioned it shouldn't apply in this case.


Well no, Geneva applies in Iraq because both Iraq and and the U.S. are signatories to the Conventions. It would take a determination by the President or the Congress (I'm not sure which) that Iraq was in breach of the Conventions before the U.S. could legally disavow the Conventions in the Iraq conflict. Individual soldiers or even the Secdef don't have the right to say, "hey this guy isn't fighting fair, I'm going to torture somebody or take reprisals against civilians".

The President stated numerous times that the Geneva Conventions were fully applicable to the Iraq Conflict, he never made a case as to why they shouldn't be or disavowed the Conventions in the case of Iraq, unlike Afghanistan (unless he was lying to the American Public and there is some super secret document saying Geneva really doesn't apply, but then I would question such a documents legality and I would say it is yet another ground for impeachment). Consequently, all U.S. personnel are bound by the strictures of the Conventions, even the President.

Unless of course, you believe the president is above the law.
5.31.2006 3:07pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Wouldn't it be legitimate [lack of better word] for US military agents to assassinate certain enemy politicos under the Geneva Convention since the application of the Conventions are premised on conflicts involving High Contracting Parties?

Well, aside from the morality of turning soldiers into assassins, you still have to overcome US law and general international humanitarian law. Do we really want to be known as a country that sends out assassination squads to kill leaders we don't like? Wasn't one of the stated reasons for invading Iraq that Saddam plotted to Kill Bush '41?
5.31.2006 3:17pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
If Bush said the GC applied, that was his order. It was not a judicial finding.

The problem is to determine whether the other side acts in accordance with the laws of war, or is disqualified under the GC. It's clear as can be that the other side does not abide by the laws of war, which means they don't qualify. If it requires a judge to say so, I suppose we can find one to rule on the case--how would you find one with standing?--but as a matter of reality, the GC doesn't apply unless treaties are inherently required to be, if necessary, one-sided.

This is different from the president saying that we will act as if the GC applies, which is his discretion.
5.31.2006 3:29pm
NY (mail):
Do we really want to be known as a country that sends out assassination squads to kill leaders we don't like? Wasn't one of the stated reasons for invading Iraq that Saddam plotted to Kill Bush '41?

Maybe and, if it is true that their was a plot, yes.

Maybe: maybe we should be known as a country that kills, as allowed under the Geneva Convention, non-GC leaders we don't like. Makes the rest want to join the GC. And I suppose that's better than being known as a country that gives everyone a hug even after kick us in the twig-and-berries.

If we did go to war over an assassination attempt against our politicians, wouldn't that be considered a self-help, self-regulation situation: Iraq and the US, both parties to the GC, one party violates the GC by attempting to assassinate the other's leadership (under your reading of the GC), the would-be victim attempts to bring the violating party to justice...with an armored division. How else would the GC remedy violations?
5.31.2006 3:31pm
NY (mail):
sub "there" for "their". Idiots...gosh!
5.31.2006 3:32pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
If Bush said the GC applied, that was his order. It was not a judicial finding.

Mr. Aubrey, that makes no sense. It's been assserted that we're a signatory and Iraq's a signatory. Do you disagree?

The U.S. doesn't adhere to treaties at the President's good pleasure.
5.31.2006 3:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Anderson, Freder.

The GC applies as long as the other party adheres to the rules of war. You can look it up. It's in the GC. Also in contract law in which one party's continued failure to comply releases the other party.

In Iraq the other party is not complying. In addition, the enemy is not "Iraq" but instead qualifies someplace between bandits and insurrectionists, with a strong admixture of asshole. "Iraq" is on our side. The assholes are not.

Now, since the GC does not apply--although we may need a judge to say, "What you see before your very eyes you are now legally allowed to believe"--we either abide by it or we don't, at our discretion.
5.31.2006 3:53pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
The GC applies as long as the other party adheres to the rules of war. You can look it up. It's in the GC. Also in contract law in which one party's continued failure to comply releases the other party.

The topic of this post is the legitamacy of killing national leaders and whether they are a legitimate target for deliberate killing during war. My argument is that under the Geneva Conventions, the civilian leadership of any country are not combatants (unless of course they physically take up arms and fight) and cannot be deliberately targeted (although the government offices where they may be found are indeed legitimate targets).

You have provided zero evidence of any violations of Geneva vis a vis coaltion forces during the time the government of Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq during the current conflict nor am I aware of the U.S. government alleging any significant breaches that would justify our disavowal of the Conventions with regard to the government or military of Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein's government was recognized as the legitimate representative of Iraq and a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. President Bush repeatedly stated, even after the fall of Saddam's regime, that Geneva was fully applicable to our troops and detainees in Iraq. So I really don't understand what you are arguing about. Whether you like it or not, whether or not the insurgents are playing by the rules of Geneva, the President has stated repeatedly and forcefully that the Geneva Conventions are fully applicable to our operations in Iraq.

Consequently, anyone who violates the Geneva Conventions by either actions or inaction in Iraq, even the Secretary of Defense, is subject to prosecution.
5.31.2006 4:12pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Freder. The GC applied to SH's Iraq up until shortly after the shooting started. At that time, the Iraqi forces, such as they were, began violating the laws of war. Bingo. End of GC applicability as a matter of its internal language. Unless you want to make the point that the GC is legally a one-sided treaty where the abrogation by one side does not release the other side.

Bush insisted we play by the GC rules at that point, even though, by GC standards we didn't have to. So the current applicability, even today when the government is on our side and we are looking at terrorists and insurrectionists, is a matter of Bush's say-so.

You are not aware.... C'mon. How about not wearing uniforms? Killing civilians as a matter of policy? Not being answerable to a state or quasi-state or similar institution? No rank structure? Holding no territory? Having no government? Oh, never mind. You know this as well as I do.

If there is any actionable moment, it would be the first night of the bombing, when it could be said we were looking for SH, instead of his HQ. After that, when his army disintegrated to be replaced by non-uniformed terrorists, the GC did not apply. Or perhaps the point could be made that the terrorists did not qualify, but that SH did, still being head of state. But if the head of state is directing war be fought in direct contradiction to the qualifying requirements of the GC, is he still covered?

Now, I've done judo in an earlier phase of my life and I find I've done a judo-like thing. You are now on record as putting the greatest faith in the wonderfulness of the GC. When it becomes inconvenient, you'll have a more difficult time climbing down. Thanks for the help.
5.31.2006 4:29pm
jallgor (mail):
Freder
All of the examples you gave: "Ever take an international flight or mail a letter to a foreign country or use a passport? Ever buy a product made in a different country?" have nothing to do with international law and everything to do with agreements between countries. Tomorrow any country in the world could stop accepting your mail, refuse to allow you to fly over their airspace and stop shipping their products. "Law" implies that there are a set of rules that everyone must abide or face punishment. The word law also implies some sort of uniform application. Finally, if something is truly a law you can't have the choice of "opting out" of it. So I reiterate my belief that there really is no such thing as international law. There are simply conventions and agreements. Indeed, I don't think it is really possible to have a legitimate international law without eliminating the sovereignty of individual nations. Anything else is just a contract. That was my only point so I'll ignore the assumptions the rest of your response made since I believe they are not warranted.
5.31.2006 4:30pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Freder. The GC applied to SH's Iraq up until shortly after the shooting started. At that time, the Iraqi forces, such as they were, began violating the laws of war. Bingo. End of GC applicability as a matter of its internal language. Unless you want to make the point that the GC is legally a one-sided treaty where the abrogation by one side does not release the other side.

As I have stated repeatedly, if the President had stated that because Iraq had committed serious and sustained breaches of the Conventions, the U.S. was no longer bound by its strictures in Iraq, you might be able to make that argument. But he never said any such thing. In fact he repeatedly stated the exact opposite, that the U.S. was fully bound by Geneva in Iraq. We went quickly from being an invading force to an occupying one as Saddam quickly lost control of his country. As an occupying force, regardless of how viscious the insurgency was, we had no option but to comply with Geneva. Our status as an occupying power that is a signatory to the conventions obligates us to follow the Geneva Conventions regarding Occupying Forces.

In the short time from the time of the invasion until the the total collapse of Saddam's regime, Saddam's forces more or less obeyed the rules of law.

As for the other points you made, the only one that is specifically prohibited by the Conventions is killing civilians. Insurgent and resitance groups that don't wear uniforms are recognized as legitimate combatants by the GC. And where does it say you have to hold territory or have a government to be a combatant? Besides, all this is moot now as we are no longer an occupying force so we are bound by agreements between the current government of Iraq and the U.S.
5.31.2006 4:54pm
Jeek:
The author of these words--thinks I'm "amazingly infantile." Ha!

At least I was being ironic. Apparently you were serious.

The Constitution requires an "overt act". Speech alone isn't enough.

Making a speech on behalf of the enemy isn't "overt"? Hard to think of anything more overt than broadcasting to millions!
5.31.2006 5:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Where did I get that stuff? I read your citations.

If you don't hold territory, if you don't have a government, you're not a country for purposes of the GC. That's why the application of the GC in Viet Nam was a one-sided choice. The Viet Cong didn't qualify, and since the NVA weren't there, according to Hanoi, the guys who claimed to be NVA weren't covered, either.

The GC applies because the signatories say it does and the parties are acting in a manner to qualify. What a president says is irrelevant. Bush said we will apply and be bound by the GC, which he wouldn't have had to say if we really were bound.

The GC has an exception for stout-hearted locals who pick up their weapons and fight when invaded. Unfortunately for your case, that didn't happen. The irregulars were organized in advance to fight as irregulars, including violating the laws of war. It has since been discovered that the suicidal tactics of some Iraqi civilians was coerced by the irregulars. "Run that checkpoint or we'll kill your family."
SH seems to have taken advantage of our "rush to war" when we sat for months with our collective thumb where the sun don't shine, pretending the UN had integrity.
So, it seems we may have been in violation of the GC for the first few hours of the war, presuming our motivation was assassination of SH. If it wasn't, if we were after his HQ, it was legit.
After that, SH was directing illegal fighting and became a target.
5.31.2006 5:11pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
If you don't hold territory, if you don't have a government, you're not a country for purposes of the GC. That's why the application of the GC in Viet Nam was a one-sided choice. The Viet Cong didn't qualify, and since the NVA weren't there, according to Hanoi, the guys who claimed to be NVA weren't covered, either.

We quickly became an occupying power in Iraq--the UN certified us as one and we claimed to be one. As an occupying power we are obliged to follow the Geneva Conventions regardless of how badly local insurgents or remanants of the defeated powers treat us or whatever crimes may commit. So you are just wrong about our obligations after the collapse of Saddam's government.

As for the initial invasion. We could debate until the end of time whether the Saddam Faydayen were legitimate combatants or not or whether there were other significant breaches of the Conventions by Saddam's forces in the first couple weeks to constitute a "grave breach" of the Convention which would absolve us of our responsibilty to follow the GC (but only until we were declared an occupying power). But even if there were such breaches made, they were not officially reported to the Swiss and we did not officially notify anyone of our intent not to follow to Conventions in Iraq.

So we are right back where we started. You simply can't say, "I think Saddam's army violated Geneva, therefore anything the U.S. does is fine with me". Especially when the U.S. government is adamant that Geneva was and is applicable in Iraq.
5.31.2006 5:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
My point is that the U.S. government made a gift to the people and the terrorists of Iraq by insisting on the GC. That is our choice.

Now, if I think the GC doesn't apply someplace, then whatever the US does is either fine with me, or not, based on my sense of morality. But if GC doesn't apply, it....doesn't apply and its strictures....don't apply. I can look to it as a valid way to behave, just as I look to any number of moral instructions which have no standing in law.

The requirement of official notification is an interesting concept. It changes none of the facts on the ground, but only the point of whether we are bound to the GC, or only think it's a good idea and so act in accordance with it. That it would be necessary implies rather strongly that the other parties are not complying, which was obvious. Otherwise there'd be nothing to report. So my point that the other parties are not complying stands. I'm sure you are not saying that an act which is not reported does not exist. Therefore, the need to report means an act is questionable. Therefore, further, I repeat there were acts which were questionable and our failure to report did not make them non-events. So when I say the other side was not complying, it does not require a report to the Swiss to be valid.
I suspect the reason we did not report is that we planned on a seamless change from being bound to not being bound but complying anyway.
Have we reported such things before in other circumstances? Other than hearing sneers from the left about whining, what would be the result? Oh, yeah. Howls about how we're preparing to abandon GC and switch to genocide.
As a practical matter, the US will almost always abide by GC, even if not bound. Among other things, the left would never allow that any action by our enemies constitutes non-compliance and the political response in this country would be terrible. Not that the left actually cares about the GC, except when convenient to handicap the US.
Anyway, the time will come when some folks hearabouts will find the GC unduly constraining on their buddies and I expect we'll be coming back here to find out what they said when things were different.
5.31.2006 6:02pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
My point is that the U.S. government made a gift to the people and the terrorists of Iraq by insisting on the GC. That is our choice.

You are missing my point. After we officially became an "Occupying Power" in Iraq we had no choice but to comply with the Geneva Conventions. We were bound by them simply because we are a signatory and we were occupying a country. It doesn't matter how badly the people of the occupying country treat us, we have to abide by the Conventions whether we like it or not. Prior to becoming an occupying power, we could have opted out of the Convention if we claimed that Iraq had committed grave breaches of the convention, but we didn't. Even if we had done so, the Conventions would have once again become applicable once Saddam fell and we became an occupying power.
5.31.2006 6:11pm
Neal R. (mail):
I'm no supporter of Galloway, but if he's on the "other side," remind me again what the "sides" are?

Is it "United States (and allies) vs. Al Queda," "the United States (and its allies) against the Iraqi Baath regime," "the entire civilized world vs. the terrorists/terrorism/terror," "United States (and allies) vs. the Islamofascists," "the U.S. and the new Iraqi government against the Iraqi insurgents," "Sunnis vs. Shiites," "Democracy vs. Tyranny (Lybia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia excepted)," or just plain "Good vs. Evil"?

It's not clear to me from the Slate story who Galloway thought would be justified in assasinating Blair. Nor is it clear to me who Professor Volokh -- or for that matter the President -- has in mind when he discusses "the enemy."
5.31.2006 6:44pm
Questioner:
Richard Aubrey:

"The GC applied to SH's Iraq up until shortly after the shooting started.


This is the main practical problem for efforts to civilize war: it is typical that the conventions are "obeyed" only when there is no war. Once wars begin, everyone has their reasons to make exceptions.

"At that time, the Iraqi forces, such as they were, began violating the laws of war."

How? By invading a sovereign nation that had not attacked them?
5.31.2006 7:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Questioner. Don't be DO (deliberately obtuse). Among other things, Freder provided the requirements for combat forces to be covered by the GC. The Iraqis, beginning shortly after the ground invasion, stopped complying.

The reason the GC applied until shortly after the shooting started was that SH was the legitimate head of state and the state was in being. However, shortly after the bombing--the ground invasion came quickly--the Iraqi forces which would generally be recognized as military left for home. The remainder--except whichever Republican Guard forces were still in being--fought as terrorists and irregulars and francs-tireurs, all of which is not in compliance. So, from before the bombing until it turned into a pre-planned guerilla/terrorist resistance, a very short time, the GC applied. Once the bad guys quit complying, the GC was not self-applicable, having within it provisions for one party to get out if the other party cheats. The GC after that was unilaterally imposed on the US by the US.
5.31.2006 7:30pm
SG:
Neal R.

Just to clear up the confusion for you. "The other side" is the side that strives to kill you, your family and your fellow citizens; "your side" is the side that wants you, your family and your fellow citizens remain living.

When someone says that you, your family, or some of your fellow citizens deserve to die, they're on "the other side".

It may take some time, but with practice it's really pretty simple to keep the two sides straight.
5.31.2006 8:19pm
Prestigious Law School Grad (mail):
Jeek:

You liberals have a lot of trouble with the concept of "loyalty to your country in time of war", don't you?

How is my opposition to the Iraq war disloyalty to my country? A foreign policy decision to launch a war, made by a small cadre of Washington bureaucrats, initially accepted by half the population only after massive deceit and propaganda, now opposed by the majority of the population, IS NOT a policy attributable to the "country." In fact, I believe, strongly, that those who support a war that will ultimately undermine American interests are the disloyal ones. Your type of thinking - that any policy announced by our illustrious leaders must be embraced with open arms - is a relic of totalitarianism.

jallgor:

I often chuckle at bold declarations of what constitutes "international law". The idea that making aggressive war was "made criminal by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the UN Charter, and precedent established by the Nuremberg Trials" is simply laughable. For good or for bad (and I think it's sometimes both) there is no real international law. To the victors go the spoils still holds true.

You are absolutely correct that international law applies only to those who lose wars. But that doesn't mean the law does not exist. It does exist, though there is a serious problem with enforcement.

Of course GWB and his fellow architects of destruction will never face prosecution, but that doesn't mean they are not guilty of crimes, serious crimes in fact.

trumped up charges like making aggressive war.

So what is your position on aggressive war as a crime? Do you share the German defendants' view that a country always has the right to go to war for whatever reasons it wants?
5.31.2006 8:29pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
When someone says that you, your family, or some of your fellow citizens deserve to die, they're on "the other side"

So does that mean all those people who accuse me of treason because I am against this war and believe the president to be a war criminal who should be impeached and tried for them (along with other members of the administration) are "on the other side"?
5.31.2006 8:46pm
SG:
PLSG,

You're wrong. Plain wrong. It's not a Bush war, it's not a Republican war, it's not a neocon war. Congress voted on the issue, and passed the AUMF. At that point it became an American war. The decision to invade Iraq had 90% approval at the time. As is clearly your right, you may disagree with the policy decision, but that's all a sunk cost at this point.

So to you and Freder, what makes you disloyal (IMO) is not your opposition to the foreign policy of the US government (and be clear, regime change in Iraq was US policy during Clinton's term as well, nor did the assements of Iraq's potential threat change with administrations), but the seeming unwillingness to consider the alternatives. All I can see from you is that America should be defeated in Iraq because you hate the president.

Well, in 2009 somebody else will be president. It might even be someone you approve of. Will an American defeat in Iraq make that new president's job easier or harder? Remember, they may be trying to do things that would meet with your approval. Note: I'm entirely leaving aside moral dimensions of the killing field that Iraq would become if we were to withdraw at this point. Clearly, you don't care, except to the extent that you could blame the evil adminstration.

The great thing about our system is that there's a feedback mechanism to bring things back when they get too far out of whack. But people like you want to see the nation harmed because harm to the nation harms the current administration.
Now, perhaps you don't view yourself that way, but that is unquestionably how you come across. Read your comments. That's why (as you say) people have called you "disloyal" and "traitorous".
5.31.2006 9:29pm
Smitty18 (mail):
Could a person who whacked a public official that was perceived or actually was a hostile traitor to the individual, state and Constitution have have any legetimate defense and get a pass from a jury?

Would an assasin be entitled to prosecute their victim for treason as part of their defense?
5.31.2006 10:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Smitty. There's always juror nullification, although the proponents of that usually have something else in mind.

I suppose justifiable homicide might be a useful technique. But remember this is a democracy and most of the time we'd prefer to either unelect the guy or prosecute him. Murdering him thwarts the will of the people.

However, you bring up a point about the possibility of a Manchurian candidate.

In the early seventies, there was a good deal of pretend fear of Nixon declaring nationwide martial law. The pretenders were pretending, since their dinner was not running down their pants. Which it would have been, considering their self-described importance to the resistance to incipient fascism. They'd have been the first rounded up and they seemed pleased with the prospect. Not real.

Anyway, if a public official does something screwy and maintains power illegally, that's a new item.
My advice is to forget the defense, do your thing and take one for the team.

If the guy's dead, you attack his character, but I don't think you can try him. He wouldn't be capable of helping with his defense.
5.31.2006 10:39pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
All I can see from you is that America should be defeated in Iraq because you hate the president.

Where on earth do you get the idea that I want America to be defeated in Iraq. Quite the opposite is the case. My displeasure with this Administration arises mostly from the fact is that they have completely bungled everything they have done from the very first day of this presidency, from ignoring the threat of terrorism prior to 9/11, to not devoting enough troops to Afghanistan and implementing effective domestic responses immediately after 9/11, to the misguided and misdirected adventure in Iraq that both diverted resources from Afghanistan and did not commit enough forces to ensure stability in Iraq. Finally, the use of fear, torture, illegal and unconstitutional methods to chip away at our Constitutional rights and our standing in the world has made us less, not more safe.

No, I want to get rid of this president because he is an incompetent fool who is destroying the military and leading us to defeat in Iraq. Maintaining our current policy ensures we will lose.
6.1.2006 12:26am
Christopher Cooke (mail):
First, it seems clear to me that the Geneva Conventions applied and continue to apply, to the US with respect to Iraq. I don't think that a serious case can be made of serious breaches by the Iraqi forces during the first 2 months of the invasion, by which point I would argue we became an occupying force under the convention (remember the "Mission Accomplished" speech in which Bush declared an end to major combat operations?). So, Freder is right, we can't kill civilian heads of state in Iraq or in other countries that are signatories.

Second, to SG, spare us the "history" lecture about the "war" especially when you misstate the facts, and the "disloyalty" accusations for those who opposed this military action. Congress did not declare war, as an Authorization to Use Military Force is not a declaration of war (consult the Congressional Research Service report on the distinctions between the 2, if you doubt me). And, the decision to invade Iraq never enjoyed 90 percent popularity in any published poll that I have seen; you appear to be confusing the decision to attack the Taliban, which did enjoy this level of support, with the the decision to invade Iraq. The Bush Administration's entire rationale for invading Iraq was premised on, to be charitable, false information: that Saddam had "Weapons of Mass Destruction," which made him an imminent threat to the US. Do I really need to quote Bush's "mushroom cloud" speech for you? Has listening to Rush or Hugh Hewitt really made you forget this stuff? I opposed the Iraq war because I thought it would create problems for us in the Arab world (I would say I was correct in this assessment) and because I thought (wrongly believing the Bush administration) that our troops might suffer very high casualties from the WMDs that Saddam supposedly possessed. Does that make me a "disloyal" American? If so, I guess President George H. W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker are also "traitors" as they opposed the war as well. And, just because I opposed the decision to invade, and think Rumsfield and Bush have violated numerous laws in carrying out this war, please don't assume that I or others like me wish our country to be defeated in Iraq, as "revenge" on the Bush administration. Personally, I think we have to salvage something from this mess, if only for the Iraqis whose country we have so screwed up, and to prevent the formation of a rogue state that will be a threat to us. How we can get there is not clear to me, but I would agree with Zbignew Brzezinski, who said we should have the current Iraqi leadership propose a timetable for our withdrawal. He said that, in effect, those who are unwilling to propose such a timetable will probably leave when we do, whereas those who are willing to do so will probably stay and fight. But, of course, you probably think he is a traitor too.
6.1.2006 1:03am
Prestigious Law School Grad (mail):
The American Legion opposed the war in Kosovo. Are they traitors?

I guess the sheep-people will have to think of an exception to their dissent=treason doctrine!
6.1.2006 2:29am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Christopher. There were and are numerous reasons for the Iraq invasion besides WMD. Has listening to Democratic Underground addled your brain?
6.1.2006 9:12am
Neal R. (mail):
SG,
Actually, that doesn't really clear things up. There are lots of folks who think that lots of my fellow citizens "deserve to die" for various reasons. I assume, for example, that you don't mean that anyone who supports the death penalty is "on the other side." I really would like to know how we are to define the conflict known as the GWOT and what the "sides" are in that "war." Please explain.
-Neal R.

p.s., please note that I am not defending Galloway and I think his remarks, as usual, were reprehensible.
6.1.2006 10:22am
SG:
Wow, I didn't think the concept of "the loyal opposition" was really that hard to grasp. There was a time to speak out against going to war. That time has passed. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, however misguided it may have been, has happened. The course of action received up-front congressional approval. The commander-in-chief who led the war effort was re-elected. Congress continues to appropriate funds for military activities. The war has about as much democratic legitmacy as any action the government is ever going to make. American troops are in Iraq because it represents the will of the American people, as expressed throught their duly elected representatives.

So, if you wish to argue against the current course of action as part of the loyal opposition (and make no mistake, I have lots of issues with how the war is being run), don't argue against the past (we can't uninvade), and don't argue against the administration, but argue for America's best interests going forward and explain why your preferred course of action would be beneficial for the country.
6.1.2006 11:48am
SG:
Christopher,

Please, go re-read your history, including the mushroom cloud speech. It was more subtle and broader than you remember. The administration's argument over WMD (which was not the entire argument, even in the mushroom cloud speech) was representative of the consensus of American intelligence across the Clinton and Bush administrations, as well as the British, French and Russian intelligence estiamtes. While it was wrong, it was hardly unique. And the Duelfer report states that while stockpiles of WMD didn't exist, the WMD programs remained in a state to be restarted as soon as sanctions lifted.

You are right about the public opinion. Only 69% of the public support the war at the outset, although 86%
of the public thought Iraq supported groups that have plans to attack the US, and 81% thought that Iraq was a threat to the US. So ~90% of people believed Iraq was a threat to US security, but only 70% actually supported going to war.

I would say you are incorrect in your opinion about the Iraq war's effect on the US's standing in the Arab world. It was always bad. But the US presence (and military superiority) has made Al Qaeda in Iraq choose to make regular Iraqis their targets. By bringing Jihadism to Arab lands, the Iraq war has caused a drop in Arab public approval and support for Jihadi causes.

Plus, Libya has disarmed and Syria has withdrawn from Lebanon. Both actions are pretty strongly tied to the US invasion. There've been unintended consequences, but they haven't all been negative.

FWIW, I think the US ought to sponsor a binding Iraqi referendum on the continuation of a US presence in Iraq. It would really give some meaning to all the talk of democracy, and regardless of the outcome, it would legitmate America's action. There's no shame or defeat in leaving when asked by the Iraqi people. And there's no crime in staying if invited.
6.1.2006 12:20pm
SG:
Neal,

I may have misread snark into your original comment, and replied with snark of my own. No doubt, rhetorically the current situation is a mess. Our "leaders" have been spectactularly unwilling to lead. I can't fault anyone who finds the constantly shifting rhetorical sands to be unsuitable for building on.

"Global War on Terror" What a stupid name, and conceptually idiotic. You can't have a war on a concept. Or even if you could, you shouldn't because a concept can't surrender. Even as a metaphor it's bad, because the war isn't metaphorical, it's real.

I'm sympathetic to the dilemma, however. There's two co-mingled groups of people, one enemies, the other potentially allies, but both groups call themselves the same name: Muslim.

So I don't know what you call the other side. But like pornogrophy, I can recognize the enemy when I see him. I think Galloway qualifies.
6.1.2006 12:52pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
To Richard and SG: I am quite familiar with many of the stated as well as unstated reasons put forward by the Administration for why we should invade Iraq. I would posit that one should reread Wolfowitz's paper, written in 1992 or thereabouts, calling for a US invasion, if you want to gain a clearer understanding of his thinking and reasons for advocating this policy, consistently, since the end of the first Gulf war.

The threat posed by WMDs, and Iraq's defiance of various UN Security Council resolutions regarding its WMD programs, was the number one reason cited then, in all public addresses, by all of the Bush Administration officials, for why we had to invade. By the way, I too thought Iraq had these weapons and posed a regional (not US) threat to security, but of course I only knew what the Bush Administration told me, and what I could read or see in the news media.

The "threat" was supposedly that Saddam would share WMDs with terrorists, such as Al Qaeda, who would then use them against us. I didn't buy that argument then, as I thought WMDs were like crown jewels, much too valuable for Saddam to share (he is not a raving Islamic ideologue, unlike, apparently, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, Khan, who shared his nuclear secrets with the Arabs and Persians for ideological reasons). I thought, if anything, Saddam posed a regional threat to Israel and Iran. Israel has shown she is quite capable of defending herself, while Iran, I was not too concerned about.

Nowhere on the Bush Administration's top three list of reasons we must invade Iraq was "bringing democracy to Iraq." The Bush Administration knew that that reason would not garner sufficient political support for a war, so they downplayed it (although they mentioned it too). Likewise, nowhere on the publicly displayed list was Iraq's oil reserves, but, if you read Wolfowitz's papers, securing a non-Saudi Arabian source of oil, from a regime that was not hostile to Israel and the US, was a key reason for him as to why we needed to topple Saddam. Of course, the Bush administration did not talk about the oil supplies as a reason for the war, except sometimes euphemistically in discussions of Iraq's "strategic" importance. Now, "bring democracy to Iraq" is all they have left for why the war was the "right thing" to do and worth the lives of all of our troops, and the hundreds of billions of US taxpayers' dollars. Had the Bush Administration put forth humanitarian intervention as its real reason for going to war with Iraq, at least the American public would have debated this matter with their eyes wide open about the true threats posed y Saddam, the war's likely costs and its likely benefits. Christopher Hitchens, whose articlee on Galloway started this post, has long advocated toppling Saddam for these reasons, having witnessed firsthand Saddam's brutality to the Kurds, whom he greatly admires. I sympathized with these views, at the time, but did not find them wholly persuasive.

And, my main point is it is not disloyal to the US or to our troops to point out that, at a minimum, we were misled by the Bush Administration ---sometimes deliberately by certain of its officials (Cheney and Rumsfield, chiefly--- about (1) the likely and actually anticipated costs of the war, (2) the military's assessment about the ease of winning the war and the levels of troops required to accomplish these objectives; and (3) the prewar intelligence that the Bush Administration actually possessed about Saddam, WMDs, and his purported links to Al Qaeda. If we don't point out these "misstatements" now, how can we prevent these or other politicians from repeating such misstatements and mistakes in the future, with respect to Iran or North Korea, or any other rogue state?

As for Galloway, I agree with Hitchens' blistering indictment of the man as a corrupt, totalitarian supporting pig. If I were Tony Blair, I wouldn't indict the man for treason or incitement, I would just ignore him.
6.1.2006 2:04pm
Neal R. (mail):
SG,
I appreciate your frank response. It seems to me that no one really knows how to define "the enemy" or the "other side" in Iraq or in the broader so-called "war on terror." That's a significant problem. And it saps a lot of the rhetorical power from saying that Galloway is "on the other side." Whose side? The side of Al Qaeda? Al Qaeda in Iraq? Saddam-loyal Sunni insurgents? Shiite militias like Al-Sadr's? Angry Muslims protesting the Mohammed cartoons? Afghanis who deeply resent our continued presence in their country? Angry and alienated Mustlims around the world who may agree with Galloway's sentiment but are not engaged in agression against the U.S. or its allies?

I think we would all benefit from dropping the concept of a monothilic "enemy" or "other side" and engaging in a meaningful discussion of foreign policy objectives that reflects an understanding of a very volatile and complicated situation in the Middle East made more volatile and more complicated by the many blunders of this administration.
6.1.2006 2:09pm
jallgor (mail):
PSLG: I don't know if you are accurately articulating the German defendant's arguments regarding the allegation that they were guilty of making agressive war but my point is this: Countries have "the right" to do whatever they want, they may just have to suffer the consequences when they are done. There are no rules that countries are required to live by. There are no international crimes because there is no world government. It's not just a problem of enforcement it's a problem of conception. "Law" requires a sovereign entity both for enforcement and legitimacy (which go hand in hand). In order for their to be international law there has to be one sovereign enity that rules the entire world or it doesn't work as a matter of theory or practicality.
6.1.2006 2:35pm
SG:
Christopher,

The war was not misprojected. It happened pretty much right on plan. Bringing forth a new democratic government is what has been off-plan and over-budget. But since we're midwifing the world's first Arab democracy, we've got nothing to compare it against. We don't know if we're doing good, bad, or as could be expected.

My belief is that what we're seeing with militias and suicide bombers is how power politics gets played in the Middle East, and it isn't predominantly a function of the US
presence, it's more a function of a power vacuum. The US has (for good or ill) been very reluctant to step into this vacuum. No one can in good conscience claim that this has been some colonial occupation. We've tread very lightly.

The way our government works is through checks and balances. The adminstration made it's case with best-case projections. You can put scare quotes around whatever you like, but I haven't seen anything that strikes me as a lie. Sometimes wrong, but then again, all the people claiming millions of refugees and WMD attacks on Israel were wrong too. Were they also lying? I don't think so.

Some things have gone well, some things have gone poorly. Strategy, tactics, and rhetoric have all adapted with the times. What more do people want? Perfection is the goal, but it can't be the standard. By setting perfection as the political standard, you tie the hands of every future president. Is that cost really worth it to "get" this administration? They'll be gone in 2.5 years anyways. And the next president will have to deal with Iraq and the Middle East.
6.1.2006 2:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
As has been pointed out before--conceivably by me--Truman got blindsided twice in Korea, once when the Norks invaded and once when the Chicoms came south.
In addition, he led off our response with Task Force Smith--google that one up when you get a minute--and ended up with a draw, after putting up far too long with a guy who wanted to nuke Manchuria, and let the Formosan army invade mainland China as Big Cheese General. And that was just Korea.
Anybody who is complaining about things not going well is either far too ignorant to be able to find his way to this site or deliberately obtuse, trying to fool somebody who is far too ignorant to find his way to this site.

In the world stuff goes wrong. In the world of angry international relations, the stuff that goes wrong is frequently because of capable or at least cunning guys on the other side who want to screw you up. No, I don't mean liberals. I mean other countries or other foreign enemies.

And then there are liberals.
6.1.2006 3:00pm
The Enemy Within:
Richard Aubrey:


And then there are liberals.


And then there are the Republican'ts -- to paraphrase an old saying, with leaders like these, we don't need enemies.
$8 Trillion of National Debt, growing daily....
All Al Qaeda has to do is sit back and watch the US borrow its way into poverty. As Warren Buffet said, we aren't headed to an "ownership society;" we are going back to the days of sharecroppers.


SG:

The adminstration made it's case with best-case projections.


Well, that was a little short-sighted, wasn't it? Perhaps it would have been more prudent to use realistic assumptions. The dot-com bubble is a great example of what happens when people base their finances off of "best-case projections." I don't think anyone asks for or expects perfection, but honesty would be a good start.
6.1.2006 4:01pm
SG:
The Enemy Within:

You missed my point. Our system is adverserial. The adminstration made the best case they could. I believe they were honest, albeit wrong in part. The opposition made their best case. I believe they were honest, although also wrong in part. After each side made their case, a decision was made. And here we are.

Note that I'm only talking about the debate for public opinion. I don't know what the internal process looked like. But with national defense, I hope they're doing minimax optimization. At least with Iraq, that's clearly been acheived. As bad as Iraq may be (and I don't think it's all that bad), the worst case threat to the US from Iraq is a whole lot better know than under any other conceivable alternative. From that perspective, Iraq has been a smashing success.

And, as Richard Aubrey alludes to, from a historical perspective, Iraq has been a smashing success. So yes, I do think you're expecting perfection.

Or, more likely, I think you (and others) didn't approve of the administration to begin with and now engage in selective perception, seeing only the negative (which surely exists) and while dismissing anything positive (which also surely exists).

BTW, I do think the administration grossly underestimated the pain of a instituting a constitutional democratic republic in Iraq. I do think they've learned and adpated, and I don't know that anything would have made the transition appreciably easier. I don't think foreknowledge of the transition pain would have changed the decision to invade, but it would have changed the rhetorical strategy.
6.1.2006 4:39pm
The Enemy Within:
SG:

As bad as Iraq may be (and I don't think it's all that bad), the worst case threat to the US from Iraq is a whole lot better know than under any other conceivable alternative.

Reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and arrive at different conclusions. While the threat from Iraq may be reduced, it is also possible (even likely) that the resources we have devoted to that cause have left us more vulnerable in other areas. As Rumsfeld pointed out, there are things that we don't know we don't know. Our ability to respond to such unforseeable events, should they arise, has been materially reduced.

And, as Richard Aubrey alludes to, from a historical perspective, Iraq has been a smashing success.

We have 150,000 troops in Iraq and you are talking about the "historical perspective!" How quaint. To quote Yogi Berra, it ain't over... I don't have a crystal ball, and don't pretend to know how it will turn out over there, but I think its a bit premature to call our adventures "a smashing success," or for that matter, "a catastrophic failure."

So yes, I do think you're expecting perfection.

Nope, just honesty.

Or, more likely, I think you (and others) didn't approve of the administration to begin with and now engage in selective perception, seeing only the negative (which surely exists) and while dismissing anything positive (which also surely exists).

Yeah, that must be it. It couldn't possibly be the result of an objective analysis of our policies, the implementations thereof and the results (or lack thereof).

I do think the administration grossly underestimated the pain of a instituting a constitutional democratic republic in Iraq

Now there's an understatement. Can you explain to me why anyone thought that it would be easy to impose democracy on a region that had been ruled by autocrats for at least a generation, was divided between three major ethnic/religious groups (and many smaller ones) that distrusted each other and had a history of brutality, with economic wealth disproportionately concentrated in the hands of a group of minority oppressors, ..... Really, the outcome should not have been too hard for anyone to predict. OF course we would be welcomed with open arms....
6.1.2006 5:18pm
SG:

It couldn't possibly be the result of an objective analysis of our policies, the implementations thereof and the results (or lack thereof).


Well, here's my analysis (in no particular order):

Positives:

+ There is no longer any threat against the US from Iraq
+ The US no longer has troops deployed to defend Saudi Arabia, removing an Islamic irritant.
+ The US no longer is enforcing an (increasing leaky) sanctions regime whos effect on the Iraqi population had become a public relations disaster for the US
+ Saddam Hussein no longer rules Iraq, and is no longer funding terrorist operations in the region.
+ The Libyan nuclear program now resides in the US
+ The A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network has been exposed.
+ Syria no longer occupies Lebanon.
+ Al Qaeda has taken to attacking Arab muslims in Iraq, driving a wedge between the Islamic fundamentalist movement and the average Arab Muslim.
+ The US now has 150,000 battle veterans located on the border of Iran.
+ The US presence in Afghanistan, which is a logistical nightmare to support, has been overshadowed by our presence in Iraq, which is a much more supportable theater of operation.
+ A representative democracy in Iraq seems to be taking shape
+ The US has a visceral understanding of the limitations of its intelligence agencies.

Negatives:
- The US has suffered ~2400 deaths and a much larger number of injured
- The US has spent some $300 billion and counting.
- The US has aggravated world opinion.
- Iran was and is a larger threat than Iraq, but I doubt there is the political will to confront Iran after the Iraq experience.

But, as you say, reasonable people can differ. I'd be interested in seeing your list.

And yes, when I look at the positives versus the negatives, I think by any historic measure it's been successful.


Can you explain to me why anyone thought that it would be easy to impose democracy [in Iraq given it's history]


Well, as no shortage of people were quick to point out in the runup to the war, Iraq was the most secular country in the Middle East, with the highest standards of living and respect for women's rights. If democracy would work anywhere, that would be the place. Combine that with the frequent assertions by the President that all humanity wants to live in freedom (I believe he's sincere), and you've got a true believer. True believers are often wrong.

I think it was a mistake to declare democracy as victory condition. It's a nice to have, but not strictly necessary for the US to acheive its goals. In fact, I think the desired goals have already been acheived, and if we hadn't foolishly added a democratic Iraq as a requirement, I'd agree that we should withdraw, albeit a withdrawl to the east...
6.1.2006 9:39pm
Some Guy (mail):
Wow. Reading the comments above, I can't help but wonder if this is really where we've gotten to, now? People have so little identification with their country, that they're willing to endorse the ENEMY's killing of their political folks simply because they disagree with the politics of their leaders.

Yes, they're probably just moron high school Koz Kiddies trolling around, but still, was that sort of treasonous thought ever acceptable even from children? And is this the new generation, so idiotically selfish that they are willing to sell out and piss on everything their forefathers fought and died for just for a little political gain today?
6.2.2006 8:17am
The Enemy Within:
SG:

If democracy would work anywhere, that would be the place.

Again, there is room for disagreement, but I would argue that there is a better shot of establishing a western democracy in Iran, where you have a more homogenous population and a history of a democratically elected leader as recently as 1951. As far as your score sheet is concerned,
(i) I don't think Iraq was ever a significant threat,
(ii) moving troops from Saudi Arabia to Iraq hardly seems to be a meaningful salve to Arabs seeking to capitalize on the presence of "infidel troops" in the Dar-al-Islam to provoke civil unrest,
(iii) I could not agree more that the sanctions were a failed abomination,
(iv) Saddam Hussein was an abomination and it is a good thing that he no longer controls Iraq,
(v)- (vii) I am not sure there is a causative relationship here,
(viii) I don't know how broad-based the support was for Al-Qaeda after 9/11. While the atrocity of their actions has horrified people around the globe, I am not sure it harms their efforts to recruit individuals with homicidal tendencies or coerce other people into providing them safe harbor (I am not saying you are wrong about this, only that I don't know if this "victory" is real),
(ix) are the 150,000 troops battle hardened or battle fatigued? I speak to many people in the military, and not all of them are enthused about the present state of affairs and many of them are PO'd about being given responsibilities and duties for which they were inadequately trained -- let's be honest, this one cuts both ways,
(x) perhaps I am dense, but I don't understand the point;
(xi) don't count your chickens til the eggs are laid. Jury is out.

In terms of negatives, I would say that
- first and foremost is the point that Iran was always the greater threat and there is going to be little resolve to commit to a serious military action there;
- the cost of the war has forced America to borrow an incremental $300 billion or so, much of which has been financed by countries in the Middle East, Russia and China - it is never a good thing to be dependent on financing from your strategic (potential) adversaries;
- the heightened tensions in the middle east have enabled China to forge much stronger relations with Iran and other LDCs, which may create a strategic threat over the intermediate term;
- we have a president who, with 2.5 more years in office, faces extremely low popularity due in large part to the fact that many people feel he misrepresented the reasons for which we were going to war;
- the US reputation has been tarnished by its participation in the unavoidable, nasty and brutal realities of war;
- many experienced and loyal officers within the military are extremely disenchanted with the civilian leadership.
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Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the specifics, I still don't understand how you can evaluate the "historic" success of any of these things.

Some Guy:

People have so little identification with their country, that they're willing to endorse the ENEMY's killing of their political folks simply because they disagree with the politics of their leaders.

It cut's both ways. People on the right and the left have been advocating such measures for their adversaries for quite some time. who was it who invited Al Qaeda to San Francisco?
6.2.2006 2:34pm
Doc (mail):
Freder, back to my original post and your response.... No, my comment was not directed specifically at you, but was a general request for people to use real citations and references instead of general references to "The Geneva Conventions"-- that makes discussion much more focussed and less emotional. However, since you undertook to answer, I will thank you. You have directly proved my point, however, with your references. As I suspected, all of your citations come down to the Additional Protocols of 1977--- These are NOT "The Geneva Conventions". They are a series of two protocols "additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949" (their official title) which have been adopted by many states-- They are in no way an official part of the first 4 Geneva Agreements. They have in fact been specifically rejected by the USA, for several reasons. Thus, they cannot in any way be considered binding on the USA. Their applicability to other nations may of course be considered in discussion, but let's not try to gloss over some very real problems. The basic fact is that the issue of whether or not civilian members of a government at war may be targetted is not really addressed by the Conventions of 1949-- in fact, several of the references you use show that this lack of definition was recognised by the 1977 Diplomatic conference. Even within the Additional Protocols, there are references which seem to imply there is still an unresolved issue in this regard. For example, AP II, article 13 para 1, states "civilians shall enjoy the protection of this Part, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities." Note that this did not read "...hostilities as part of the armed forces, local resistence to occupation, or levee en masse". I would argue that a civilian government official whose mission is to direct the activities of the armed forces, who gives orders to the generals, who organises their supply systems, etc. is "taking a direct part in hostilities". That of course is an arguable point, but I think it is logically consistent-- would hostilities go on without the direct participation of such individuals? If that argument is accepted (which I realise you will not), then enemy government leaders in the military chain of command are certainly as legitimate targets as are the enemy's general staffs and military HQ. Just for purposes of argument (although I do not accept AP I, which you seem to), see Art I para 2, which makes a distinction between "civilians" and "combattants", not between "civilians " and the "armed forces"-- it is clear that some people who could be seen as civilians in some contexts can be seen as "combattants" in others. Although you can interpret the original 4 Geneva Conventions in many ways, the basic fact is that this issue is not really covered nor discussed in them-- Look at the titles of the first 3 to see what they deal with-- none directly discuss this issue. The fourth Convention could conceivably do so. Article 5 of the 4th Convention clearly notes that there are civilian individuals to whom the convention does not give protection-- these individuals are those who "engage in activities hostile to the state", or to the "occupying power". Thus, not all "civilians" are considered to be automatic beneficiaries of the protection of the 4th Convention. There are obviously some civilians who do not benefit -- and we could discuss for weeks who these individuals could be, since it is not clearly defined in the Conventions. Thus, it is very clear to me that the Conventions simply do not address this issue clearly. Perhaps there is some other "rule of international law applicable in armed conflict" (API Art 2(b)) which could apply? If so, what is it?

Note that this is not an agreement with Galloway, nor is it intended to urge the assassination of, or attack on, any government leader. But, it is intended as a discussion of the relevant international law. Doc
6.4.2006 6:33am