Friday, August 11, 2006

Because I'm Too Lazy to Write My Own Post

Timothy Garton Ash has an interesting article in The Guardian discussing the issue of democratization as a sustainable long term foreign policy goal which is increasingly coming under fire.

Baghdad Burning talks about the fact that increasingly in Iraq it has become far too dangerous to step outside ones house without wearing a hijab. So much for bringing freedom of choice to the Iraqi people.

The Washington Realist reflects on some different assessments of the terrorist threat, quite pertinent in light of this morning's news.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

That Pesky Thing Called the Geneva Convention

Just warning you this post is mostly one long quote from the Washington Post. If you can't be bothered reading the whole thing I'll quickly summarise:

Pesky immoral foreigners are accusing freedom loving Americans of behaving badly and threatening to try them for war crimes. They are doing this just to REIGN IN AMERICAN POWER. This is bad. The Bush administration are therefore going to try and change the law so that things like torture, the rape and mutilation of non-combatants, and other acts of violence and inhumanity are acceptable behaviour for American soldiers.

"The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments. . .

'People have gotten worried, thinking that it's quite likely they might be under a microscope,' said a U.S. official. Foreigners are using accusations of unlawful U.S. behavior as a way to rein in American power, the official said, and the amendments are partly meant to fend this off.'

Smith explains: "The amendments would narrow the reach of the War Crimes Act, which now states in general terms that Americans can be prosecuted in federal criminal courts for violations of 'Common Article 3' of the Geneva Conventions, which the United States ratified in 1949. . .

"Common Article 3 is considered the universal minimum standard of treatment for civilian detainees in wartime. It requires that they be treated humanely and bars 'violence to life and person,' including murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture. It further prohibits 'outrages upon personal dignity' such as 'humiliating and degrading treatment.' And it prohibits sentencing or execution by courts that fail to provide 'all the judicial guarantees . . . recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.' . . .

"Former Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo . . . said that U.S. soldiers and agents should 'not be beholden to the definition of vague words by international or foreign courts, who often pursue nakedly political agendas at odds with the United States.' . . .

"But [retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey S.] Corn, the Army's former legal expert, said that Common Article 3 was, according to its written history, 'left deliberately vague because efforts to define it would invariably lead to wrongdoers identifying 'exceptions,' and because the meaning was plain -- treat people like humans and not animals or objects.' "

Thursday, August 03, 2006


From the Internationl Herald Tribune:

'Talabani and Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani played down accusations against army and ministry officers, suggesting that those who have been seen robbing armored cars and kidnapping dozens of civilians were not representative of the force as a whole.

"We've started to make real progress in establishing and training our employees despite well-known challenges," Bolani said.'

It's comforting to know that politicians the world over use the same fluffy, vague language to obfuscate reality. "Well-known challenges" would certainly get top marks.