Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Africa - anywhere in Africa - is the new Afghanistan

When you've got a hammer, everything looks like a nail...

"In subsequent years this condition has been allowed to grow in an alarming manner. Military people can always rationalize almost any problem's becoming military and thus susceptible to a military solution. They dislike interference on the part of the State Department when that Department sees serious political consequences stemming from the use of military force.
I have discussed problems of this nature in the Pentagon, and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on many occasions. I remember quite vividly a senior officer in the Pentagon referring to State Department officers who were raising questions about the political aspects of Alaskan statehood. The General referred, rather derisively I thought, to State Department people as "those field marshals in striped pants."
Actually, it was the generals who were wearing the striped pants. The State Department acquiescence in the policies of the War Department was a most alarming portent of what was to come. The State Department translated this into a foreign policy described as "brinkmanship." Obviously this was not a policy. It was a slogan."
James M. Gavin
On to Berlin
"A fighting general's true story of airborne combat in World War II"
Viking Press, 1978, pg. 355-357

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rob Nicholson's dream

One more time: Terrorism and the English Language

"... for Owl, wise though he was in many ways, able to read and write and spell his own name WOL, yet somehow went all to pieces over delicate words like MEASLES and BUTTERED TOAST.”
A.A. Milne

The Supreme Court of Canada has somehow gone all to pieces over the word “terrorism.”    On the other hand as Glenn Greenwald said, the New York Court of Appeals is even more confused.  That’s Greenwald’s problem but he’s an American  and more than equal to it

Meanwhile, I’m a Canadian fan of Canada’s Supreme Court and independent judiciary.  I like to think the Supreme Court judgement of 2008 [2008 SCC 28] laid it on the line, forever and unanimously:

The principles of international law and comity of nations, which normally require that Canadian officials operating abroad comply with local law and which might otherwise preclude application of the Charter to Canadian officials acting abroad, do not extend to participation in processes that violate Canada’s binding international human rights obligations. 

And I have no doubt the legal reasoning in [2012 SCC 69] is equally impeccable.  And yet somehow the main problem isn’t dealt with.  The main problem is that terrorism is a useless concept.  Even if it were clearly defined – which it isn’t – “terrorism” however defined is a crime covered by the Criminal Code of Canada as it existed at the time of the Air India bombing in 1985, international criminal law as it has existed in Canada since 1998, and in any other example you care to mention.

The formulation of  “terrorism” in the Criminal Code of Canada Section 83.01 (in force since 2001) is in two parts:  the first lists crimes that were already crimes under international conventions; the second is of violence against people or destruction of property, the destruction having to result in violence against people, also crimes.  The only distinction between these (terrorism) crimes and existing crimes is the motive, the motive being "in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause.”

And yet, the motive is useless.  Timothy McVeigh undoubtedly had a motive for blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma, but there is no evidence it had any effect on anybody, within the meaning of the Criminal Code of Canada, and I’m sure it was already a crime in Oklahoma to blow up buildings, particularly without warning and with people inside. Also, McVeigh was crazy. Similarly, the planting of bombs on Air India Flight 182 in June 1985, apparently the work of Sikh terrorists in British Columbia (“a Canadian atrocity” as Justice Major put it), must have had some kind of undefined motive (revenge possibly) but the bombing had no political or other effect on Canada, India, Air India, or anybody else (within the meaning of Section 83.01) except that airport security was increased.  It was however a crime at the time, and the guys who did it also crazy.  

Nevertheless, the Indian Army did not invade Surrey, BC, in “self-defence” (like NATO in Afghanistan) to “root out” the source of terrorism in Canada, even though the Canadian government and its agencies incompetently ignored warnings that the bombing was going to happen.  I’m imagining an Indian Bob Gates:  “We’re in British Columbia because we were attacked from British Columbia.” 

I’ll go off on a tangent here to point out that it’s hard to find  the Air India final report, as opposed to Stephen Harper’s propaganda about it, which I speculate is due to Justice Major’s conclusion that the current government (Harper’s)  – as well as previous ones that weren’t Harper’s  – obstructed the work of the commission.  I thought that obstruction of justice was also a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 139.2). I don’t think this is entirely tangential given that Harper is obsessed with crime and we’re discussing the definition of terrorism as a crime with which the Canadian government is also obsessed, although incoherent about the definition.

Anyway, the only successful terrorist operation I know of was 9/11, in the sense of deliberately causing civilian casualties for a political or military purpose, and having that purpose achieved.  A handful of guys from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, armed only with primitive weapons, brought down some American icons and lured the USA into land wars in Asia that have bankrupted America financially, morally, and politically.  On the other hand, although 9/11 was obviously criminal (mass murder), it fails to meet the necessary but not sufficient test of “terrorism” for the purposes of Canada’s Criminal Code Section 83.01(b)(i)(B):
“ whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the public or the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada...”

In these terms, 9/11 fails to meet the test because it neither intimidated a civilian population, nor compelled any government or organization  “ do or to refrain from doing any act...”
I suggest that “terrorism” as now defined in law – anybody’s law – is sloppy, useless, and corrupt.  The term short circuits higher cortical function in politicians, citizens, and the judiciary, and connects the primitive brain directly to the gonads.  The killing of civilians is murder, whatever the motivation.
Meanwhile, the fundamental justice of British parliamentary democracy has not changed.  As Winston Churchill said:
You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great principle of  habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the State.  The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and whether particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian Governments whether Nazi or Communist.

The uses of the words “terror,” “terrorist,” and “terrorism” have been the most political, dishonest, and brainless debasement of English in the last three decades.  Or on the other hand they have been the most effective, if the desired effect is what George Orwell said about democracy:

In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

So we can transmogrify Orwell into the present context:

In the case of a word like terrorism, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call an act terrorism we are condemning it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that they oppose terrorism, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

Of course the Security Council Resolution 2085 (adopted unanimously on December 20, 2012) conveniently doesn't define “terrorism”  either, or what in fact the goals are for involvement in Mali, how the UN will know when the goals are achieved, what the criteria for withdrawal are, and what “all necessary measures” are.  Would this include another “no fly zone”?  The last “no fly zone”  in Libya resulted in the current problem in Mali.  Conveniently at the UN, there is no institutional or individual responsibility for the consequences of the resolutions, or even accounting.

In the interests of clear thinking, maybe we should talk less about  terrorism and more about crime; in fact, only crime.  Unless of course crimes are committed by governments  “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause.”  In that case as Orwell said:  “In power politics there are no crimes, because there are no laws.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Asian Horde, same as the Old Asian Horde

“Would you rather fight them here or in Pasadena?”
Maybe we could beat them in Pasadena.
Michael Herr

Now, after multiple Crusades, Monstrous Threat of the Ottoman Empire, Containment of the Yellow Peril, propping up of dominoes in Vietnam, and GWOT, now we have the Canadian Crusade!  The enemy is in our midst!  Any mild mannered computer scientist or accountant of the Muslim faith might at any moment veer off inexplicably into Extremist Jihadist Islamist Terrorist (EJIT) conspiracies that threaten the integrity of western democracies that have taken them in in good faith, confident that they would adhere to our democratic tradition and yet it is not so.

Therefore, we must be constantly vigilant!  Report any suspicious activity (as they announce in British railway stations) to the authorities!  There is no telling where this noxious weed will spring up next, and if we are to continue to enjoy the "luxury" of parliamentary democracy (as Jim Judd would have it) we have to realize that the safeguards of British parliamentary democracy are no longer adequate (Winston Churchill was wrong), and we must countenance suspension of habeas corpus, the use of secret trials, and collaboration with unsavoury secret services (like the CIA) for the greater good.

That the most damaging breach of intelligence in Canada was conducted by a white guy for money doesn't matter.  The fact that the breach hasn't made any difference to anything also doesn't matter. That's not the point!  The point is we can't trust These People who are brown and possibly Muslim (although they might be Sikhs but it's the same thing), and who don't share our values or what used to be our values.

It is perhaps time to speak out and suggest the rounding up of all brown people, settling them into internment camps, and auctioning off their property.  Only by these drastic means can acts of terrorism be avoided!  Except of course for Wiebo Ludwig who wasn't brown, but he was crazy.  Guy Fawkes wasn't brown, come to think of it, or whoever killed Pierre Laporte.  Then there was Tim McVeigh. And now we have  Christopher Dorner:
“We will not tolerate this reign of terror,” said LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Yeah, well these are exceptions that prove the rule.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wrong, wrong, wrong....

Critical mass building to abolish senate: Hébert 

The behaviour of senators recently has made people beyond the senate’s traditional opponents call for its abolition.
Critical mass building to abolish senate: Hébert
British Parliamentary Democracy does not exist in a vacuum:
"Thus we arrive, by our ancient constitutional methods at practical working arrangements which show that Parliamentary democracy can adapt itself to all situations and can go out in all weathers."

Prime Minister Winston Churchill
British House of Commons
8 September 1942

The Australian upper house is elected by proportional representation. It's as if Canadians have no idea what goes on in other jurisdictions, even if they're based on the most successful form of democracy in human hstory, evolved by the British, whatever else you might think of them. Evolution, yes; revolution, no.  The Italians invented cappuccino. There you go.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Commissar Order and "unlawful combatants"

Before Operation Barbarossa began in 1941, the Wehrmacht determined that Soviet prisoners taken during the upcoming campaign were to be withdrawn from the protection of international and customary law. Orders issued to subordinate commands suspended the German military penal code and the Hague Convention, the international agreement that governed the treatment of prisoners. Although the Soviets had not signed the Geneva Convention regarding POWs, the Germans had. Article 82 of the convention obliged signatories to treat all prisoners, from any state, according to the dictates of humanity.
In March 1941, Hitler issued what has come to be known as the 'Commissar Order,' which clearly spelled out the future nature of the war in Russia. The coming conflict was to be 'one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness.' It also instructed Hitler's subordinates to execute commissars and exonerated his soldiers of any future excess. 'Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned,' the Führer stated. 'Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it.'
At a subsequent gathering to explain the application of this order to senior army officers, General Edwin Reinecke, the Reich officer responsible for the treatment of POWs, told his audience: 'The war between Germany and Russia is not a war between two states or two armies, but between two ideologies — namely, the National Socialist and the Bolshevist ideology. The Red Army [soldier] must be looked upon not as a soldier in the sense of the word applying to our western opponents, but as an ideological enemy. He must be regarded as the archenemy of National Socialism and must be treated accordingly.' Reinecke continued with the admonishment that this must be made plain to every officer taking part in the operation,'since they were apparently still entertaining ideas which belonged to the Ice Age and not to the present age of National Socialism.' Under the direction of the Commissar Order, immediately after capture all Soviet political officers should be killed and that thereafter, under a'special selection program of the SD [Sicherheitsdienst, the Nazi Party's security service], all those prisoners who could be identified as thoroughly bolshevized or as active representatives of the Bolshevist ideology' should also be killed.
Yeah, well here's the propaganda, not all wrong:

Here's what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg had to say about Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel before they hung him

Keitel is indicted on all four counts. He was Chief of Staff to the then Minister of War von Blomberg from 1935 to 4th February, 1938; on that day Hitler took command of the armed forces, making Keitel Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces. Keitel did not have command authority over the three Wehrmacht branches which enjoyed direct access to the Supreme Commander. OKW was in effect Hitler's military staff.
Crimes against Peace
Keitel attended the Schuschnigg conference in February, 1938 with two other generals. Their presence, he admitted, was a " military demonstration," but since he had been appointed OKW Chief just one week before he had not known why he had been summoned. Hitler and Keitel then continued to put pressure on Austria with false rumours, broadcasts and troop manoueuvres. Keitel made the military and other arrangements and Jodl's diary noted " the effect is quick and strong." When Schuschnigg called his plebiscite, Keitel that night "briefed Hitler and his generals, and Hitler issued " Case Otto " which Keitel initialled.
On 21st April, 1938, Hitler and Keitel considered making use of a possible "incident," such as the assassination of the German Minister at Prague, to preface the attack on Czechoslovakia, Keitel signed many directives and memoranda on " Fall Gruen," including the directive of
30th May, containing Hitler's statement: "It is my unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia by military action in the near future." After Munich, Keitel initialled Hitler's directive for the attack on Czechoslovakia, and issued two supplements. The second supplement said the attack should appear to the outside world as " merely an act of pacification ,and not a warlike undertaking." The OKW Chief attended Hitler's negotiations with Hacha when the latter surrendered.
Keitel was present on 23rd May, 1939, when Hitler announced his decision " to attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity." Already he had signed the directive requiring the Wehrmacht to submit its " Fall Weiss " timetable to OKW by 1st May.
The invasion of Norway and Denmark he discussed on 12th December 1939, with Hitler, Jodl and Raeder. By directive of 27th January, 1940, the Norway plans were placed under Keitel's " direct and personal guidance." Hitler had said on 23rd May, 1939, he would ignore the neutrality of Belgium and the Netherlands, and Keitel signed orders for these attacks on 15th October, 20th November, and 28th November, 1939. Orders postponing this attack 17 times until Spring, 1940, all were signed by Keitel or Jodl.
Formal planning for attacking Greece and Yugoslavia had begun in November, 1940. On 18th March, 1941, Keitel heard Hitler tell Raeder complete occupation of Greece was a prerequisite to settlement, and also heard Hitler decree on 27th March that the destruction of Yugoslavia should take place with " unmerciful harshness."
Keitel testified that he opposed the invasion of the Soviet Union for military reasons, and also because it would constitute a violation of the non-aggression Pact. Nevertheless he initialled " Case Barbarossa," signed by Hitler on 18th December, 1940, and attended the OKW discussion with Hitler on 3rd February, 1941. Keitel's supplement of 13th March established the relationship between the military and political officers. He issued his timetable for the invasion on 6th June, 1941, and was present at the briefing of 14th June when the generals gave their final reports before attack. He appointed Jodl and Warlimont as OKW representatives to Rosenberg on matters concerning the Eastern Territories. On 16th June he directed all army units to carry out the economic directives issued by Goering in the so-called " Green Folder," for the exploitation of Russian territory, food and raw materials.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
On 4th August, 1942, Keitel issued a directive that paratroopers were to be turned over to the SD. On 18th October Hitler issued the Commando Order which was carried out in several instances. After the landing in Normandy, Keitel reaffirmed the order, and later extended it to Allied missions fighting with partisans. He admits he did not believe the order was legal but claims he could not stop Hitler from decreeing it.
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." Keitel testified that he really agreed with Canaris and argued with Hitler, but lost. The OKW Chief directed the military authorities to cooperate with the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in looting cultural property in occupied territories.
Lahousen testified that Keitel told him on 12th September, 1939, while aboard Hitler's headquarters train, that the Polish intelligentsia, nobility and Jews were to be liquidated. On 20th October, Hitler told Keitel the intelligentsia would be prevented from forming a ruling class, the standard of living would remain low, and Poland would be used only for labour forces. Keitel does not remember the Lahousen conversation, but admits there was such a policy and that he had protested without effect to Hitler about it.
On 16th September, 1941, Keitel ordered that attacks on soldiers in the East should be met by putting to death 50 to 100 Communists for one German soldier, with the comment that human life was less than nothing in the East. On 1st October he ordered military commanders always to have hostages to execute when German soldiers were attacked. When Terboven, the Reich Commissioner in Norway, wrote Hitler that Keitel's suggestion that workmen's relatives be held responsible for sabotage, could work only if firing squads were authorised, Keitel wrote on this memorandum in the margin: " Yes, that is the best."
On 12th May, 1941, five weeks before the invasion of the Soviet Union the OKW urged upon Hitler a directive of the OKH that political commissars be liquidated by the Army. Keitel admitted the directive was passed on to field commanders. And on 13th May Keitel signed an order that civilians suspected of offences against troops should be shot without trial, and that prosecution of German soldiers for offences against civilians was unnecessary. On 27th July all copies of this directive were ordered destroyed without affecting its validity. Four days previously he signed another order that legal punishment was inadequate and troops should use terrorism.
On 7th December, 1941, as already discussed in this opinion, the so-called " Nacht und Nebel " decree, over Keitel's signature, provided that in occupied territories civilians who had been accused of crimes of resistance against the army of occupation would be tried only if a death sentence was likely; otherwise they would be handed to the Gestapo for transportation to Germany.
Keitel directed that Russian POW's be used in German war industry. On 8th September, 1942, he ordered French, Dutch and Belgian citizens to work on the construction of the Atlantic Wall. He was present on 4th January, 1944, when Hitler directed Sauckel to obtain four million new workers from occupied territories.
In the face of these documents Keitel does not deny his connection with these acts. Rather, his defence relies on the fact that he is a soldier, and on the doctrine of " superior orders," prohibited by Article 8 of the Charter as a defence.
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.
The Tribunal finds Keitel guilty on all four counts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Terrorism is a dead parrot

For practical purposes there is no such thing as terrorism. There is murder, and there are war crimes. Murder is covered by the Criminal Code of Canada. War crimes are covered by the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act. That's it.

To Peter van Loan from Winston Churchill, FYI

Government will review anti-terrorist law: Van Loan
Canadian Press

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan says there's a need for change to the federal government's national security certificate system. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press) The federal government has launched a sweeping review of its rickety national security certificate law, The Canadian Press has learned.

"We are working on it actively, very actively, and recognize that the current situation is not ideal — and that there is a need for change," Peter Van Loan, Canada's public safety minister, said in an interview.

The review could scrap or revamp a law used to arrest and deport non-Canadians considered a threat to national security. Certificates have existed for three decades, and more than two dozen have been issued since 1991, when they became part of federal immigration law.

But legal challenges and upbraidings from judges over miscues by Canada's spy agency have seen recent cases slow to a crawl, or collapse completely.

"I'm contemplating what we would do in the future, and whether that is an appropriate instrument," Van Loan said.

Miscues?! Is that different from criminal negligence or obstruction of justice?

Anyway, here's Winston on the same subject:

Prime Minister to Home Secretary 21 Nov 43

I expect you will be questioned about the release of the Mosleys. No doubt the pith of your case is health and humanity. You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great principle of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the State. The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and whether particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian Governments whether Nazi or Communist. It is only when extreme danger to the State can be pleaded that this power may be temporarily assumed by the Executive, and even so its working must be interpreted with the utmost vigilance by a Free Parliament. As the danger passes, persons so imprisoned, against whom there is no charge which courts and juries would accept, should be released, as you have been steadily doing, until hardly any are left. Extraordinary powers assumed by the Executive with consent of Parliament in emergencies should be yielded up when as the emergency declines. Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a man or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.
from Closing the Ring, pg. 679

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wait. What?! Is @InfoAlerteBot moving to Beijing?