Friday, August 31, 2012

Who built this?

"War is a racket."

There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making.
Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
Not in Italy, to be sure. Premier Mussolini knows what they are being trained for. He, at least, is frank enough to speak out. Only the other day, Il Duce in "International Conciliation," the publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:
"And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace... War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it."
The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.

War Is A Racket        
A speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

Butler was one of the few people to win the Congressional Medal of Honor twice.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Ambassador Ryan Crocker named Yale’s first Kissinger Senior Fellow"

The headline is a summary of American foreign policy disasters for decades. It's beyond satire.  Of course, that's nothing new.  

Tom Lehrer: I don't know how that got started. I've said that political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize. 

"The Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy is a program of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs in collaboration with International Security Studies and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. The center brings prominent statesmen and academics to campus as Kissinger Senior Fellows and Kissinger Visiting Scholars, and also hosts an annual conference and a variety of other events relating to international affairs. The Johnson Center was made possible by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s recent donation of his papers to Yale and a gift from Charles B. Johnson ’54 and Nicholas F. Brady ’52. Read more about the center.
“I am so pleased to learn that Ambassador Crocker will teach at Yale,” said Kissinger. “He has been a remarkable diplomat, and he has served the United States with great distinction in some of the most challenging assignments in the entire Foreign Service.”
Crocker will teach a three-week module on Afghanistan in Yale’s “Gateway to Global Affairs” undergraduate lecture course this fall, as well two additional seminars for undergraduate and graduate students in the spring semester. He is currently on leave of absence from Texas A&M University, where he serves as the dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
"That exception was of course Vietnam, which Crocker does not even allude to even though his foreign service career began there just as the U.S. war there was drawing to its dismal end. He might well have said that taking over Iraq and Afghanistan flew in the face of lessons that Vietnam should already have taught. But serious Vietnam lessons—those that are well grounded historically—remain radioactive. Political leaders and the foreign policy establishment don’t want to get close. They have many ambitions but glowing in the dark seems not one of them."

Michael H. Hunt: Ryan Crocker and the Imperial Reckoning

Ambassador Crocker arrested for hit and run, DUI

Maybe there's a price for denial.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yogi Berra and the New York Times

"The optics aren't what they look like."
   (New York Times Managing Editor Dean Baquet quoted by Politico)

The Times got to a fork in the road and took it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Canadian Torture Lite

Ottawa allows RCMP, border agency to use torture-tainted information 

The Canadian Press Published Friday, Aug. 24 2012, 4:18 PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Aug. 24 2012, 5:15 PM EDT

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. NO exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

Article 3

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Criminal Code of Canada

  •  (1) Every official, or every person acting at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of an official, who inflicts torture on any other person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
  • Marginal note:Definitions
    (2) For the purposes of this section,
    « fonctionnaire »
    “official” means
    • (a) a peace officer,
    • (b) a public officer,
    • (c) a member of the Canadian Forces, or
    • (d) any person who may exercise powers, pursuant to a law in force in a foreign state, that would, in Canada, be exercised by a person referred to in paragraph (a), (b), or (c),
    whether the person exercises powers in Canada or outside Canada;
    « torture »
    “torture” means any act or omission by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person
    • (a) for a purpose including
      • (i) obtaining from the person or from a third person information or a statement,
      • (ii) punishing the person for an act that the person or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, and
      • (iii) intimidating or coercing the person or a third person, or
    • (b) for any reason based on discrimination of any kind,
    but does not include any act or omission arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
  • Marginal note:No defence
    (3) It is no defence to a charge under this section that the accused was ordered by a superior or a public authority to perform the act or omission that forms the subject-matter of the charge or that the act or omission is alleged to have been justified by exceptional circumstances, including a state of war, a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency.
  • Marginal note:Evidence
    (4) In any proceedings over which Parliament has jurisdiction, any statement obtained as a result of the commission of an offence under this section is inadmissible in evidence, except as evidence that the statement was so obtained.
  • R.S., 1985, c. 10 (3rd Supp.), s. 2.
[Emphases added]

STATUS AS AT : 23-08-2012 10:12:34 EDT
9 . Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
New York, 10 December 1984
Entry into force
26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27(1). 1
Registration :
26 June 1987, No. 24841
Status :
Signatories : 78. Parties : 151
Text :
United Nations,  Treaty Series , vol. 1465, p. 85.
Note :
The Convention, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, was adopted by resolution 39/462of 10 December 1984 at the thirty-ninth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  The Convention is open for signature by all States, in accordance with its article 25.
Participant 3 Signature Ratification, Accession(a), Succession(d)
Afghanistan  4 Feb 1985  1 Apr 1987
Albania 11 May 1994 a
Algeria 26 Nov 1985 12 Sep 1989
Andorra  5 Aug 2002 22 Sep 2006
Antigua and Barbuda 19 Jul 1993 a
Argentina  4 Feb 1985 24 Sep 1986
Armenia 13 Sep 1993 a
Australia 10 Dec 1985  8 Aug 1989
Austria 14 Mar 1985 29 Jul 1987
Azerbaijan 16 Aug 1996 a
Bahamas 16 Dec 2008
Bahrain  6 Mar 1998 a
Bangladesh  5 Oct 1998 a
Belarus 19 Dec 1985 13 Mar 1987
Belgium  4 Feb 1985 25 Jun 1999
Belize 17 Mar 1986 a
Benin 12 Mar 1992 a
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)  4 Feb 1985 12 Apr 1999
Bosnia and Herzegovina 4  1 Sep 1993 d
Botswana  8 Sep 2000  8 Sep 2000
Brazil 23 Sep 1985 28 Sep 1989
Bulgaria 10 Jun 1986 16 Dec 1986
Burkina Faso  4 Jan 1999 a
Burundi 18 Feb 1993 a
Cambodia 15 Oct 1992 a
Cameroon 19 Dec 1986 a
Canada 23 Aug 1985 24 Jun 1987
United States of America 1 18 Apr 1988 21 Oct 1994 
12.On 3 June 1994, the Secretary-General received a communication from the Government of the United States of America requesting, in compliance with a condition set forth by the Senate of the United States of America, in giving advice and consent to the ratification of the Convention, and in contemplation of the deposit of an instrument of ratification of the Convention by the Government of the United States of America, that a notification should be made to all present and prospective ratifying Parties to the Convention to the effect that: "... nothing in this Convention requires or authorizes legislation, or other action, by the United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is this a doorknob I see before me?

From a normal Canadian point of view, the Romney-Ryan/Gekko-Galt ticket looks like a no-brainer.  It's crazy.  Candidates are going out of their way to savage international law and trash the American Constitution.  Meanwhile Obama, the great black hope, is way ahead of the game, arrogating power normally attributed to God, any God, to strike people dead without reference to any law, principle, ethic, or common sense.

It's a tough choice.

There should be third alternative.  Unfortunately, this does not seem possible.  Ralph Nader has been running for years on a platform of  law, principle, ethics and common sense, but he is clearly way out in left field, not a Serious Person, and he can be safely ignored.  Except that he's probably right and everybody else wrong.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Guantánamo shuanggui

Somewhere in outback China, beyond the reach of due process

Somewhere in outback Cuba, beyond the reach of due process

The Four Thousand

Reporters at the briefing pointed out that the U.S. has invoked the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the past, which states, "The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission." But Nuland declined to get into that issue, saying only that the Brits were invoking British law in this case. "Well, if you're asking me for a global legal answer to the question. I'll have to take it and consult 4,000 lawyers," Nuland said. "With regard to the decision that the Brits are making or the statement that they made, our understanding was that they were leaning on British law in the assertions that they made with regard to future plans, not on international law." Pressed on whether or not the United States has been involved in the Assange extradition in any way, Nuland said not as far as she knows. She added that she doesn't think the Justice Department was planning on charging him with anything anyway. "My information is that we have not involved ourselves in this," she said. "But with regard to the charge that the U.S. was intent on persecuting him, I reject that completely."

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

OK Victoria, I'll bite.  How many lawyers does it take to read the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961? Lessee, if you have 4000 lawyers, and each lawyer has one neuron, and you've got your own neuron, that works out to...wait a sec...carry the one....

Monday, August 20, 2012

Buzzfeed does Margaret Wente

Ten things you need to know about Dieppe
  1. The Germans had guns.
  2. It's good to have a plan.
  3. If you have a plan involving 5,000 soldiers, and tell them about it, then cancel because of the weather, then do it all again six weeks later, somebody might hear about it.
  4. Margaret Atwood doesn't know so much about World War II.
  5. You can't believe everything Churchill tells you.
  6. Churchill and Stalin and Roosevelt were about as reliable as The Three Amigos.
  7. Montgomery and Mountbatten were, like, such bitches.
  8. You can't invade Iraq and make popcorn at the same time.
  9. The Gestapo didn't recycle.
  10. The United States makes the best bumper stickers in the history of the world, in a walk.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

907 dead Canadians don't make Dieppe a good idea.

"Despite our losses, the raid has been termed a great success." 

Seventy years after the Dieppe Raid, the received wisdom is that it provided essential lessons for the D-Day landings.  What lessons? Germans have guns? It's good to have a plan?  If you have a plan and tell the 5000 soldiers involved, then postpone the whole thing for six weeks, word might leak out to (what are now known as) The Bad Guys?

Winston Churchill on Dieppe.
"On the 17th I received news of the attack on Dieppe, plans for which had been started in April after the brilliant and audacious raid on St. Nazaire." - page 509
"However, I thought it most important that a large-scale operation should take place this summer, and military opinion seemed unanimous that until an operation on that scale was undertaken, no responsible general would take the responsibility of planning for the main invasion." - page 509
Meanwhile back in Moscow, a week previously, Churchill told Stalin:
"We could land six divisions, but the landing of them would be more harmful than helpful, for it would greatly injure the big operation planned for the next year. War was war but not folly, and it would be folly to invite a disaster which would help nobody." - page 479
"Dieppe was a pathetic failure. Sixty years later, it seems obvious that Jubilee was a bizarre operation with no chance of success whatsoever and likely to result in a huge number of casualties." - Juno Beach Centre
“Whether the affair [the Dieppe Raid] was in fact the out-and-out failure which many believed it to be, and if it was, how much responsibility should properly be attributed to Mountbatten are questions which can be answered only if one has decided what it was supposed to achieve. Yet this fundamental question proves extraordinarily difficult to answer. Brian McCool, the Principal Military Landing Officer, was interrogated by the Germans for two days after his capture. At the end he was asked: “Look, McCool, it was too big for a raid and too small for an invasion. What was it?’ ’If you can tell me the answer,’ he replied, ‘I would be very grateful.’”  Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten, New York : Harper & Row, 1986, ©1985, pg 186
The curious thing Churchill did about Dieppe was nothing.

First of all we have the minutes of Churchill’s meeting with Stalin at the Kremlin August 12, 1942, when he gave his frank view on the futility of a Normandy landing, dear to Stalin’s heart, as above. Then we have Churchill’s description, it’s a sales pitch really, for a second front in Italy rather than France. He’s probably right. History supports that he was right. But what about Dieppe?

Is it possible – are we expected to believe – that Churchill knew nothing about the Dieppe Raid? Having spelled out to Stalin the disastrous consequences of an immediate attack on France, and given Churchill’s voluminous correspondence with his military advisors – are we really to believe he knew nothing about the Dieppe Raid that occurred one week later?  He said he went over the plans himself.

The alternative hypothesis, loathsome though it is, is that Churchill knew very well about Dieppe, and spelled out his premonitions for Stalin, and then let it happen as a demonstration to Stalin of the folly of such an adventure, the better to get Stalin to sign on with the second front in Italy idea, an idea Churchill believed, maybe, probably correctly, was the best strategy, and to stiffen Stalin's resolve in the Caucasus.

In that case, Churchill would have used Canadians literally as cannon fodder for a higher purpose. It’s happened before. This is the first thing that seems to make sense of Dieppe, other than some random psychotic event of war that harks back to the delusional Douglas Haig, and brings in the whole problem of Mountbatten vs. Montgomery, Mountbatten getting much of the blame for Dieppe and Montgomery having burned his papers after the event. There is no good interpretation.

The soldier who said everything twice
Joseph Heller - Catch 22
They rolled Yossarian away on a stretcher into the room with the other soldier who saw everything twice and quarantined everyone else in the ward for another fourteen days. 'I see everything twice!' the soldier who saw everything twice shouted when they rolled Yossarian in. 'I see everything twice!' Yossarian shouted back at him just as loudly, with a secret wink. 'The walls! The walls!' the other soldier cried. 'Move back the walls!' 'The walls! The walls!' Yossarian cried. 'Move back the walls!' One of the doctors pretended to shove the walls back. 'Is that far enough?' The soldier who saw everything twice nodded weakly and sank back on his bed. Yossarian nodded weakly too, eyeing his talented roomate with great humility and admiration. He knew he was in the presence of a master. His talented roomate was obviously a person to be studied and emulated. During the night, his talented roomate died, and Yossarian decided that he had followed him far enough. 'I see everything once!' he cried quickly.
When Rees once remarked on the confusion and excitement at Combined Operations Headquarters, Montgomery said reflectively:  “Yes, Admiral – [Mountbatten],  Admiral – [Mountbatten].  A very gallant sailor.  A very gallant sailor.  Had three ships sunk under him.  Three ships sunk under him.” - Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976  Colin Baxter, pg 33
Anyway, we’re back to what Churchill didn't do. Having just spelled out the impending disaster to Stalin, why wouldn't he have been outraged by Dieppe if he hadn’t known about it, called Mountbatten and a host of military planning bozos on the carpet and fired them? After all, he'd just fired Auchinleck. Instead, we get “Oh, dear.”
If Mountbatten had indeed laid on the operation without the prime minister’s authority, Churchill’s fury would have been terrible and must have left some mark – on Mountbatten at least! - Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1887-1976: A Selected Bibliography By Colin F. Baxter, pg. 34
So now, having watched my country getting shot up in Afghanistan courtesy of Rick Hillier and his gutless political accomplices    an equally crazy adventure of no defined objective (Dieppe made D-Day possible; Afghanistan stopped guys from Saudi Arabia blowing up the CN Tower)  I’m starting to have dark suspicions about Dieppe. What was said “off the record” to Stalin at the meeting on August 12, 1942? What was discussed about a demonstration “in good faith” of the futility of a Normandy invasion? What cables are we missing between Churchill and Stalin after Dieppe? Are we to believe that Stalin didn’t notice Dieppe? Are we to believe that Churchill didn’t draw his attention to it?  Why are there no records?
In discussion with Admiral Mountbatten it became clear that time did not permit a new large-scale operations to be mounted during the summer (after Rutter had been cancelled), but that Dieppe could be remounted (the new code-name "Jubilee") within a month, provided extraordinary steps were taken to ensure secrecy. For this reason no records were kept but, after the Canadian authorities and the Chiefs of Staff had given their approval, I personally went through the plans with the C.I.G.S., Admiral Mountbatten, and the Naval Force Commander, Captain J. Hughes-Hallett."  - page 510.  And Montgomery burned his.
As it turns out, the cannon fodder view was suspected by former Brigadier General Forbes West, who was there.

Arthur Kelly on Dieppe: A battle doomed to fail for all the wrong reasons

Arthur Kelly, Special to National Post | Aug 17, 2012 6:20 AM ET | Last Updated:Aug 16, 2012 6:02 PM ET
More from Special to National Post

What remains to be answered is if there was another element at play shaping events. The late Brigadier General Forbes West of Toronto thought so, identifying a political reason for the raid’s launch. “I feel that from the day planning began, it was intended to be a failure,” he revealed to me in his home 23 years ago. “Perhaps not as costly a failure, but a failure nevertheless. The British were being pressed by the Russians and Americans to open a second front, so we were put in with the firm intention of being destroyed. Men at the Chiefs of Staff level would consider 4,000 casualties a small price to pay for convincing the Russians and Americans an invasion would be a disaster.”
Myself, I prefer the general incompetence hypothesis to devious conspiracy.  Either way, the idea that Dieppe paved the way for D-Day seems very painful.
Mistakes happen in planning and strategy. War always leads to deaths in action and many inevitably occur as a result of blunders. But let us no longer wallow in conspiracy theses and in seeking to blame the British or this commander and that senior officer. The Canadians wanted to get into action, as Victoria Cross winner Lieutenant-Colonel C.C.I. Merritt said after the war. "We were very glad to go, we were delighted. Taken prisoner during the raid, Merritt recalled, "We were up against a very difficult situation and we didn't win; but to hell with this business of saying the generals did us dirt." Colonel Merritt died in Vancouver two years ago, but his judgment was and remains the most sensible assessment of the tragedy of Dieppe.  Dieppe, 60 years on: What is the truth? J.L. Granatstein National Post, 2002
Colonel Merritt gets special mention in the CBC radio report at the time, above.  But how is this sensible? How could Dieppe have been "won" any more than Afghanistan can be"won" or Vietnam been "won?"

Update:  The Enigma Variation

There is a new theory put forward by Canadian historian David O'Keefe, and the essence is that the entire Dieppe Raid was engineered to capture a new version of the Enigma Machine coder, this one with four rather than three rotors.  It's a very comforting hypothesis, even if the raid failed.  In this version of events, there would have been a comprehensible explanation of the purpose of the raid, even if it had been botched.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The man who mistook his mink for a submarine

I read this "good OpEd", from which I learned that Sweden has a very good judicial system and Julian Assange is impertinent.

Carl Bildt is a former Prime Minister of Sweden, and a member of the Board of the Rand Corporation, none of which disqualifies him from having an opinion about the Julian Assange extradition, particularly because he is now Sweden's Foreign Minister. On the other hand, Carl once thought mink constituted a threat to Sweden's national security, and now seems to think Twitter is a professional diplomatic channel.

And then of course there is his heartbreaking tweet of staggering stupidity:
Also, here's part of Amnesty International's country report on Sweden, 2012
Ahmed Agiza, who had been subject to rendition, was released from prison in Egypt. Concerns were raised that many Romani asylum-seekers from Serbia were being denied access to a fair asylum procedure. Forced returns to Eritrea and Iraq continued.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Sweden failed again to introduce torture as a crime in its Penal Code.
  • On 2 August, Ahmed Agiza was released from prison in Cairo, Egypt, having been held for over nine years following an unfair trial before a military court. Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari, both Egyptian asylum-seekers, were detained in Sweden in December 2001 and subjected to rendition from Sweden to Egypt on a CIA-leased plane. Both men subsequently reported that they had been tortured and ill-treated while being held incommunicado in Egypt. In 2008, the Swedish government awarded both men financial compensation for the human rights violations they had suffered. However, an effective, impartial, thorough and independent investigation into these violations remained outstanding. [Emphasis added] 
Following his release, Ahmed Agiza applied for a residence permit in Sweden in order to be reunited with his family who still lived there. Awarding him a residence permit would help to ensure that he received full and effective redress for the violations he had suffered.
If I were Assange, I would not be reassured by any of this.

And now we have the United States and Canada trying to short circuit a meeting of the OAS to discuss the implied threat of the United Kingdom to the embassy of Ecuador in London, on the grounds that the matter is "bilateral."

Sure it is.

US in pursuit of Assange, cables reveal
Philip Dorling
The Age, Melbourne August 18, 2012
In May, Senator Carr told a Senate estimates committee hearing: "We have no advice that the US has an intention to extradite Mr Assange … nothing we have been told suggests that the US has such an intention." However, the Australian embassy in Washington reported in February that "the US investigation into possible criminal conduct by Mr Assange has been ongoing for more than a year".
The embassy noted media reports that a US federal grand jury had been empanelled in Alexandria, Virginia, to pursue the WikiLeaks case and that US government officials "cannot lawfully confirm to us the existence of the grand jury". Despite this, and apparently on the basis of still classified off-the-record discussions with US officials and private legal experts, the embassy reported the existence of the grand jury as a matter of fact. It identified a wide range of criminal charges the US could bring against Assange, including espionage, conspiracy, unlawful access to classified information and computer fraud. Australian diplomats expect that any charges against Assange would be carefully drawn in an effort to avoid conflict with the First Amendment free speech provisions of the US constitution.
Read more:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wikileaks in Vienna

Soviet Embassy Fire, January 1, 1956
The embassy was destroyed. Besides illustrating the tensions of the Cold War, for many people in Ottawa it was a lesson in the extra-territorial rights of embassies and their staff. The land that embassies are located on is technically considered the territory of that country. The only way the fire department could have forced their way in that night was if the fire posed a specific risk to Canadian life and property. Laws remain the same today.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
Done at Vienna on 18 April 1961

Article 22

1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

Article 22 confirms the inviolability of mission premises – barring any right of entry by law enforcement officers of the receiving State and imposing on the receiving State a special duty to protect the premises against intrusion, damage, disturbance of the peace or infringement of dignity. Even in response to abuse of this inviolability or emergency, the premises may not be entered without the consent of the head of mission. Article 24 ensures the inviolability of mission archives and documents – even outside mission premises – so that the receiving State may not seize or inspect them or permit their use in legal proceedings.

The United Kingdom signed the Convention in 1961.  Nothing in the subsequent declarations and reservations or objections on record from the UK has anything to do with Article 22.

Meanwhile, back at the Embassy....

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange
ABC Australia "4 Corners"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

HAPPY 71st BIRTHDAY, Atlantic Charter! (especially para. 8)

Churchill's draft of Atlantic Charter, basis for both the UN and NATO, now at each other's throats.  What would he do?

Crime and Punishment and Rob Nicholson

"Everyone has moved very quickly to respond. Why? Because our client has nothing to hide. Neither do the Americans," Brydie Bethell, one of Khadr's lawyers, said Monday.

"Why didn't the minister bring this request to our attention before? This could have been dealt with over a year ago."

U.S. will release Omar Khadr tapes for Toews' review
Public Safety minister says he wants to see sealed interviews before decision on return
CBC News

Moreover, the remedy of a stay of extradition proceedings did not, as the Attorney General submits, allow “an admitted terrorist collaborator to walk free”. Khadr is liable to prosecution in Canada for his alleged terrorist crimes.  The stay granted by the extradition judge does not impair the Attorney General’s ability to exercise his lawful powers to commence a prosecution in Canada. 
Court of Appeal for Ontario
United States of America v. Khadr, 2011 ONCA 358

This was Omar's brother, Abdullah, of course, but the same argument applies.  If Omar Khadr committed a crime, the Attorney General of Canada is free to try him, given that his Guantanamo "trial" did not conform to either American domestic or international criminal law, as stated by the Supreme Court of Canada.  On the other hand, if the Charter applies (as the Supreme Court says it does), Omar can't be tried twice for the same alleged offence.  Also, if he hasn't committed a crime defined by Canadian or international law at the time of the offence, he walks.  That would leave Nicholson "twisting slowly, slowly in the wind."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Curiosity and the F-35


This project cost about the same as 5 F-35s that don't work and have no use.

Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Columbus, Darwin, Galileo, Copernicus, Mendel, Newton, Fourier... curiosity.  It's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

London Charter - August 8, 1945

...which was one day before Nagasaki and two days after Hiroshima.

J. Robert Oppenheimer with General Leslie Groves at Trinity Site, July 1945.

"If there were to be a decision on whether to use the bomb, that decision would be made - theoretically, at least - not by Leo Szilard and the disaffected Chicago scientists but by the nation's leaders.  Yet during the long spring of 1945, few of the men at the top seemed willing to even talk..."
The General and the Bomb

"President Truman knew of these diverse and conflicting opinions.  He must have engaged in some real soul-searching before reaching his final decision."

Now It can be Told:  The Story Of The Manhattan Project
By General Leslie R. Groves

Dissenters from the decision to use the bomb....


" [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."
- Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, pg. 380

In a Newsweek interview, Eisenhower again recalled the meeting with Stimson:
"...the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
- Ike on Ike, Newsweek, 11/11/63


(Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman)

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."
- William Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441.

 by Doug Long

London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, 
August 8, 1945


 Art. 6. The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to in Article 1 hereof for the trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis countries shall have the power to try and punish persons who, acting in the interests of the European Axis countries, whether as individuals or as members of organizations, committed any of the following crimes.

The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility:

(a) ' Crimes against peace: ' namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;

(b) ' War crimes: ' namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

 (c) ' Crimes against humanity.- ' namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated. Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan.

ICRC Document

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Great Guantánamo Kangaroo Epidemic

There is a certain black humour to this whole thing. Satire can't keep up with it.

Omar Khadr is accused of murder, which is a good old-fashioned crime. If he was a Canadian citizen visiting Afghanistan at the time of the alleged crime, he should be tried in Afghan criminal court, or he should have been, 8 years ago or whenever. If he is alleged to have committed a war crime, he should be tried by an appropriate tribunal. Given that there was no effective civilian government at the time of the alleged offence, the legal remedy would be to try him in Canada where he is a citizen, where we have both the legal resources and precedent to try international criminal law cases and obtain convictions.

If he were to be tried under international criminal law in Canada, the Supreme Court has ruled that his Charter Rights have already been grossly abused [2008 SCC 28]. Apart from that, he'd have to be charged with a crime and the prosecution would have to provide evidence.

If he were to be tried in the United States however, he would have habeas corpus on his side, as well as the fact that the United States signed the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949. The events of "9/11" may have "changed everything," but they didn't change international law.

The fact that he's being tried in limbo by a court that doesn't exist according to law that was enacted after the alleged crime occurred by a legislative assembly that has no jurisdiction, reeks of kangaroo. It makes Kafka seem unimaginative.

I'd really, really like to see the Government of Canada try to put Khadr in jail. According to the Nuremberg Principles, complicity in a war crime is also a war crime, and the Government of Canada is complicit in "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Section 3  of the Third Convention, same as Section 3 of the Fourth Convention) as well as Section 11  of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bring him home.  I want to see Rob Nicholson suffer.

Updated from a previous post.  End all sentences with uptalk?

Bones for Beginners

Islamic Medical Texts at the National Library of Medicine

Maqalat fi al-‘izam lil-muta‘allimin (MS P 26, item 3) (Treatise on Bones for Beginners)
 مقاله فى العظام للمتعلمين
by Galen (d. ca. 216 AD) جالينوس

According to early Arabic sources, there were sixteen (or fifteen) Galenic treatises, or groups of treatises, that were considered fundamental to medical teaching in pre-Islamic Alexandria and in the early centuries of Islam. These are often referred to as the Alexandrian "Canon" of Galenic treatises. One of these groups of fundamental writings were four short anatomical treatises that were intended as introductory texts in anatomy. The group comprised a treatise on bones for beginners, one on the anatomy of the muscles, one on the anatomy of the nerves, and one on the anatomy of the veins and arteries. see A.Z. Iskandar, "An Attempted Reconstruction of the Late Alexandrian Medical Curriculum," Medical History, vol. 20 (1976), p. 235-258. The present manuscript is a copy of the treatise on bones for beginners, known in Latin as De ossibus ad tirones. For other copies of the Arabic text, see Sezgin GAS III, p. 83-4 no. 7, and Ullmann, Medizin, p. 40 no. 13. The Arabic translation of the treatise has not been published. The original Greek was edited and translated by M.G. Moore, Galen: Introduction to the Bones (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1969). Earlier English translations from the Greek were made by C.M. Goss and E. Goss Chodkowski, " 'On Bones for Beginners' by Galen of Pergamon: a translation with commentary," American Journal of Anatomy, vol. 169 (1984) p. 61-74, and by C. Singer, "Galen's Elementary Course on Bones," Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, Section on History of Medicine, vol. 45 (1952) p. 767-776. The Greek text was published earlier in C.G. Kuehn, Claudii Galeni opera omnia (20 vols., Leipzig, 1821-1833), vol. 2, p. 732-778. see also Gerhard Fichtner, Corpus Galenicum: Verzeichnis der galenischen und pseudogalenischen Schriften (Tübingen: Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, 1985; rev. ed. 1996), p. 17-18 no. 12.

The Arabic and Islamic worlds were doing serious scholarship at a time when Europe and North America were not.  So not.