Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hell in Brussels in the Ukraine

Soirée des 10 ans du Délirium Café//Battle of the Bands. from Delirium TV on Vimeo.

Excerpt from The War Diary of ISAF's Media Operations Centre NATO Headquarters Blvd Leopold III 1110 Brussels, Belgium. September 1, 2014 9:30 AM Au Repos de la Montagne, Montagne de Saint-Job 39. Coffee en route to work. Urgent call with regard to Emergency Poetry Reading at Cafe Delirium.  A pleasant change from the rather formal Hotel Metropole.  Also, there is nowhere else safe to have a meeting that won't be stored in Utah.  The Chief is quite emotional through the usual fog of champagne and cigars. The situation in the Ukraine is like Munich - I'm starting to get the idea that a lot happened in Munich we don't know about but whatever it was it's a good reason for dropping bombs somewhere now - and if NATO doesn't Stand Firm and Draw A Red Line a lot of important contracts will be lost.  Bombing can't solve political and historical problems but it's all we know how to do.  The Chief then read out "September 1, 1939" by W.H. Auden:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright 
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can 
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return. 

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire 
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
The Chief had clearly lost it.  This is no time for poetry, Kiev is at stake, or is it Stalingrad?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dummies for American Foreign Policy

The Council on Foreign Relations explains ISIS

Assad is bad. It's not a hard concept. And bonus, it rhymes; easy to remember. Assad is bad because...well, we can't actually remember but he's definitely not on the side of liberal democracy, as we are not. Not only that, Assad is connected to the Iranians and Hizbollah, who are very, very bad. Although, sometimes it's useful to send people to Assad who will torture them for us.  Just like we did with the Egyptians and Libyans.

Anyway, Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, which is bad. Well, we're not sure it was Assad, because he agreed to have Syria's chemical weapons destroyed, but only because the Russians made him. So it was obvious Assad had to be bombed, because he didn't understand it wasn't about the chemical weapons - we didn't actually care if he used chemical weapons against his own people, like we didn't care Saddam used chemical weapons against his own people, until it was obvious Saddam was a Bad Guy so we had to invade Iraq because.... well, we're still a little confused about that - but it wasn't a serious bombing, only bombing to Send A Message.  We're not sure what the message was, except we had bombs and weren't afraid to use them, and we wanted everybody to know that.

Many of our NATO allies were also prepared to bomb Assad because we were going to anyway, but then Obama demonstrated Lack of Moral Fibre in not bombing because he wasn't sure who or what to bomb. Also, there was crazy talk about international law, like you had to have a legal basis for bombing people.  So Obama choked and didn't bomb somebody, which made America look weak, as if it was subject to laws that weren't American.

So Obama and our democratic American allies in the Gulf did the next best thing, which was to arm the Syrian "rebels" (known in Iraq and Afghanistan as "militants", "insurgents", "extremists", "jihadists", or "Extremist Jihadist Insurgent Terrorists") so as to make Assad completely miserable, and he'd say "You're right, I'm wrong, I quit."

Unfortunately, the people we and our Gulf allies were arming turned out to be a well-organized previously unknown outfit called ISIS who were more interested in establishing a puritanical Sunni territory from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, and as an afterthought, telling Americans to fuck themselves.  This well-organized, fearless, technically savvy organization we'd never heard of (despite spending a grillion dollars a year on 19 different and feuding intelligence agencies) was able to capture American weapons donated to the Shia government in Baghdad, an ally of Iran who is bad.

So in a determined American attempt to prevent a Shia crescent between the Gulf and the Mediterranean, which would be horrible beyond words although we can't remember why, we are now threatened by a well-armed, well-organized Sunni crescent between the the Gulf and the Mediterranean, which would be good because it would restrain the bad Iranians, except that it's bad because it isn't interested in Americans at all, except as an excellent source of weapons and somebody to tell to fuck themselves. Thus the millions spent arming America's allies turns out to have been spent on its enemies, although it's not clear whether America has any friends or enemies in the Middle East anyway.

We hope this explainer explains things.  It's why we're called a "think tank."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Baghdad Green Zone good place for war crimes trial

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.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

Ratification / Accession: 02.08.1955
Reservation / Declaration: 02.08.1955;04.03.1975;31.12.1974

United States of America

Reservation made upon signature and maintained upon ratification:

Mr. VINCENT, Minister of the United States of America in Switzerland, on signing the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12, 1949, made the following declaration:

"The Government of the United States fully supports the objectives of this Convention.
"I am instructed by my Government to sign, making the following reservation to Article 68:
"The United States reserve the right to impose the death penalty in accordance with the provisions of Article 68, paragraph 2, without regard to whether the offences referred to therein are punishable by death under the law of the occupied territory at the time the occupation begins"

SOURCE: Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol.I, Federal Political Department, Berne, p.346.

It looks like Article 68 is irrelevant to torture.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy Nuremberg Day, everyone

Charter of the International Military Tribunal

Article 6.

The Tribunal established by the Agreement referred to m 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 labor 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.