Monday, July 30, 2012

Send the Bacons to Guantánamo...

...the matriarch, the patriarch, and the surviving brothers. They've done more damage to Canada and the world than have the Khadrs. Maybe we can do a swap.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bad Guys

See also, Battle of Lake Erie, War of 1812, decisively lost by the British Navy. Who exactly were the Bad Guys then?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christy Clark and The Great Bitumen Swamp of Alberta

In the spring of 2011 - infamous spring in Vancouver - the Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, famously said the Province of BC would not assist the City of Vancouver with extra policing during the Stanley Cup playoff final, but would be happy to contribute to the Stanley Cup victory parade.

Subsequently, after there was a riot after the Stanley Cup final due in some measure to lack of adequate policing, Christy Clark was all over the criminal investigation and court proceedings, all conducted at Provincial expense, and which she tried to get covered on television.  The word "hypocrisy" comes to mind, in large neon Day-Glo letters, flashing on and off like hideous Christmas decorations.  Fortunately, she failed.

Now, we have her "policy" on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal, which was concocted after months of dithering and is still completely confused.  The pipeline is more of a risk than an asset she says, unless of course Alberta pays us money.  Christy could wait for the result of the formal review, but since that won't come down until immediately before the next BC provincial election - if she's lucky - she apparently is impelled to launch a public relations offensive that is transparently stupid.

In fact, that's the good news:  the government of BC is so transparent that its policy is obviously stupid.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Orwell in Syria

So a Syrian Rebel, an Afghan Insurgent, and a Pakistani Militant walk into a bar.  And the bartender says, "You know, I can't tell you guys apart."

And the Rebel says, "Donworryaboudit.  Neither...can...the BBC."

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."
George Orwell
Politics and the English Language

Monday, July 23, 2012

"The failure of airborne democracy"

"2000—01 seem to support this idea:  many conversations in the Afghan capital and beyond reflected the desire of Afghans of different walks of life to determine for themselves their own political future."

Thomas Ruttig
Afghanistan Analysts Network
in  Snapshots of an Intervention:  the unlearned lessons of Afghanistan's decade of assistance 2001-2011.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Welcome Back, Khadr

Malcolm Mayes Cartoon - July 24

Photograph by: Malcolm Mayes,

So Omar Khadr might be brought back to Canada over Rob Nicholson's dead body.  It's another win/win.

Apart from the obvious advantages of not having Nicholson as Canada's Attorney-General, there is the obvious difficulty of what would happen if Khadr were returned to Canadian custody to serve out his "sentence."

Here's the Charter:
Proceedings in criminal and penal matters 11.
Any person charged with an offence has the right
(a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;
(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;
(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;
(d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
(e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;
(f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;
(g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;
[emphasis added]

So there you have it.  As a Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr is guaranteed the right not to be found guilty of a crime unless "it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations".

Khadr was tried and convicted in a court that is not recognized under Canadian or international law, or the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations; that used evidence not admissible in Canada or under international law; and that does not meet the standards for a "military tribunal" defined by the Geneva Conventions of 1949, signed by the United States and Canada.  Here's Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, regarding prisoners of war:
"Art 5.
The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.
It seems obvious that whatever went on at Guantanamo, Khadr and fellow prisoners did not enjoy the protection of the Convention and their status was never determined by a competent tribunal. Arguments that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to Khadr and his ilk are best answered in the words of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in their judgement on Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel:
When, on 8th September, 1941, OKW issued its ruthless regulations for the treatment of Soviet POW's, Canaris wrote to Keitel that under international law the SD should have nothing to do with this matter. On this memorandum in Keitel's handwriting, dated 23rd September and initialled by him, is the statement: " The objections arise from the military concept of chivalrous warfare. This is the destruction of an ideology. Therefore I approve and back the measures." ...
There is nothing in mitigation. Superior orders, even to a soldier, cannot be considered in mitigation where crimes as shocking and extensive have been committed consciously, ruthlessly and without military excuse or justification.
Keitel was hung at Nuremberg.

So if Omar Khadr is returned to Canada, he'll walk, as he should. Canada and the United States will look very stupid, and in breach of the international humanitarian law both have signed, and which the Supreme Court of Canada has said is binding.  

Nicholson  will, arguably, be complicit in a war crime.

Yessss.  Myles Kirvan should resign, like Sims did.

They should charge him with treason...

If the US government has proof that Bradley Manning consciously "aided the enemy" then they should charge him with treason.
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.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
American Constitution, Article 3 Section 3

So if Manning has adhered to America's enemies, "giving them aid and comfort," he should be charged with treason.  He hasn't.

On the other hand, his Oath of Enlistment reads:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

The Constitution is silent about the consequences of disobeying military orders in order to support and defend the the Constitution of the United States.

We're back to :

Testimony July 16, 1973, by former Major Hal Knight, USAF,  at Hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ninety-Third Congress, on bombing in Cambodia - particularly regarding falsification of records of  B52 targets - page 44

Mr. Knight.  Frankly, sir, I felt that the Senate Armed Services Committee was deceived.  On this side of the House, if you go up through the military chain, I don't imagine that anybody was deceived.

Senator Thurmond.  It was your duty to act within the military channel and to pass on anything to higher headquarters which you felt was improper, wasn't it?

Mr.  Knight.  Yes, sir, but I didn't take an oath to support the military, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  That goes beyond strictly military channels.

 (emphasis added )

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An American in the UN Security Council

Susan Rice [no relation except possibly a state of mind]
It's a win/win.

If the Security Council had approved a Chapter 7 resolution on Syria, the Russians and Chinese would have been tied into subsequent sanctions, including possible military action.  Because China and Russia vetoed such a resolution, the US is off the hook and can moan about the obstruction of humanitarian goals by the evil Russians and Chinese.

The law seems not to be on the American side.  The last time there was such a resolution - on Libya - it was approved unanimously 15-0, and then used as a justification for sustained military intervention by NATO. The subsequent "no-fly zone" resolution was approved 10-0 with five abstentions, the BRIC states and Germany.  This was not wholehearted approval, and the absence of a veto remarkable. The Chinese and Russians clearly felt burned however, and said so, and were vigilant about future devious tactics.

I say "devious" because it's clear from the UN Charter that one state cannot interfere in the affairs of another state, and certainly not to engineer "regime change."  It's not obvious that the Security Council can order "regime change" either, and I gather Russia and China don't want to set a precedent that it can.  That was where they felt burned on Libya with Resolutions 1970 and 1973:  a "no-fly zone" became a six month bombing campaign.

Of course, it's obvious that the Russians have a vested interest in Chechnya, and the Chinese in Tibet, and if the UNSC precedent in Libya is allowed to stand, there is nothing to stop the Security Council intervening in any state that incurs its displeasure, like Canada over the sovereignty of Quebec.

And despite all the fine words about the "Responsibility to Protect" it's not clear how this works in international law.  If Rwanda were to happen all over again, it's not obvious what the UN or anybody else would actually do, even if military intervention were to be approved unanimously by the Security Council. All of which is to say that any kind of intervention in Syria is fraught with uncertainty, and recent interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are anything but reassuring.  All three look like disasters, although the jury is still out on Libya.  In fact, the jury is hard to find in Libya and might remain out indefinitely.

To date, nobody knows how to do R2P, which is not to say it isn't a worthwhile idea, just very difficult.  So was the Magna Carta.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Enough with the Islamists already....

What's the difference between an Islamist and a Muslim? 

Here's the Associated Press, transcribed uncritically by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who in my opinion should know better:
 "ISLAMABAD (AP) — Gunmen killed seven people Monday at a Pakistani army camp in a city where thousands of hardline Islamists spent the night on their way to the capital to protest the government's recent decision to reopen the NATO supply line to Afghanistan, security officials said."
[emphasis added]
So, everybody but me knows what an "Islamist" is, and further, what a "hardline Islamist" is. It's of interest that the Google Blogger "compose" function, where I am now, reports "Islamist" as an unknown or incorrect word, but "Muslim" is correct. There you go. I'm with Google.  Here's the OED, who also should know better:

We're immediately back to full frontal George Orwell:

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

I don't think it's possible to say that sentence too often.

Note that the OED usage dates from 1980, if we consider the meaning of Islamist fundamentalist. Is that different from a Christian fundamentalist? Or a Jewish fundamentalist? Me, I'm an agnostic fundamentalist, or an evangelical agnostic, and I'm out to convince the world that I don't know anything for sure, including that I don't know anything for sure. Really, I'm on Karen Armstrong's side:

...most of fundamentalism, however defined, is fear of annihilation.

For what it's worth, my fear is of being annihilated by clowns who think they know what they're doing when they don't, and who - like Obama - believe they can kill people with impunity, and who know that God's on their side.

See also, Terrorism and the English Language

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How much evidence do we need?

Art 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
 (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
 Third Geneva Convention. 1949

[emphasis added]

The Myth of Article 5

Mr Lester Pearson (Minister of External Affairs) signs the NATO Treaty for Canada.
(NATO Photo Ref. no: 12323)

Article 5

"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security."

Canada has a choice about how it assists another "Party" under the Treaty.  Nothing in the NATO Charter requires Canada or any country to surrender its sovereignty to a military alliance.

[Emphasis added.  Original post 28 March 09]

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bev Oda as fall guy

Really, which Conservative cabinet minister is not an embarrassment? There's Bev and her $16 orange juice of course.  But then there's Rob Nicholson and his complete failure to repatriate Omar Khadr which, together with his attempt to extradite Omar's brother to the US on the basis of no evidence, makes for dispiriting reading, Nicholson being Canada's Attorney General with, apparently, no grasp of the law.

And we have Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence,  a guy who can't distinguish between using a government helicopter for a personal taxi and using it for a real search and rescue operation.  It reminds me of a Lyndon Johnson story.  A young Marine was showing Johnson the presidential helicopter:  "This is your helicopter, sir."  "They're all my helicopters, son."

The search and rescue thing is a bit painful since MacKay was rescued from a fishing trip by 103 Squadron at Gander so he could attend a political event in London, Ontario, transported by executive jet from Gander, and then got flown back to Halifax so he could attend the Pictou Lobster Festival, and then a kid got stranded on an ice flow off Labrador and died.  There are practical reasons this happened, but the optics are terrible.

Then there's Vic Toews..... well, it's all been said.

Jim Flaherty might possibly escape as Finance Minister, but it was Flaherty who stood up in the House of Commons in the dark days of 2008 and claimed the Canadian economy was just swell, and is now lecturing other countries on Canada's financial probity.  I think crow gives you indigestion, or would if you had any integrity.

Then there's Jason Kenney, Immigration Minister, who improperly used his office to keep George Galloway out of the country for no good reason, while allowing in Anne Coulter, whose views of Islam are so offensive that were she to make the same remarks about Jews, she'd be labelled anti-Semitic.

So now Elizabeth May among others is suggesting that the whole "not" thing with the Kairos funding originated higher up the chain of command than Bev, the command that is now ditching (call Search and Rescue!) Bev Oda.

So not.

There's no good reason for this clip except it's so good.