WESTFAILURE:

March 22, 2007

Europe’s approaching train wreck (Stanley Kober, March 22, 2007, International Herald Tribune)

The momentum toward independence for Kosovo seems irresistible because it is unlikely that the predominantly Albanian population there will accept anything less. […]

If 1244 is ignored, it is unreasonable to expect that our actions would not be treated as a precedent to ignore other UN resolutions in the future. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have both made this point.

Russia, and many other nations, have been irritated by the tendency of NATO countries, and the United States in particular, to bypass the Security Council when they cannot obtain a resolution they want.

The dilemma confronting policymakers is acute. Kosovar aspirations cannot be denied much longer, but the effort to satisfy them absent an agreement with Serbia is bound to alienate the Serbs and, by extension, the Russians.

And if we craft solutions that bypass existing law, we should recognize that we are creating opportunities for mischief down the road.

Indeed, if we attempt to buy peace at the expense of law, we might find out we end up with neither.

With Ahtisaari’s declaration that further negotiation is pointless, Europe’s trains — Kosovo independence vs. Serbia’s territorial integrity, legitimacy vs. law — are hurtling toward each other.

If the Russians (and possibly the Chinese) oppose revision of Resolution 1244 to grant Kosovo effective independence, and if the United States and its allies ignore these concerns and endorse the Ahtisaari plan, the reverberations will be felt well beyond the Balkans.

It’s a quaint enough notion that regard for international law forbids the majority of a discrete territory from declaring themselves a state, but you have to ignore at least the 20th and 21st centuries to still believe it.


NO ONE HAS SOVEREIGNTY IN AN UNGOVERNED AREA:

February 12, 2007

U.S. fires into Pakistan to hit back at Taliban (ROBERT BURNS, 2/12/07, The Associated Press)

Asserting a right to self-defense, American forces in eastern Afghanistan have launched artillery rounds into Pakistan to strike Taliban fighters who attack remote U.S. outposts, the commander of U.S. forces in the region said Sunday.

The skirmishes are politically sensitive because Pakistan’s government, regarded by the Bush administration as an important ally against Islamic extremists, has denied that it allows U.S. forces to strike inside its territory.

The use of the largely ungoverned Waziristan area of Pakistan as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters has become a greater irritant between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan put in place a peace agreement there in September that was intended to stop cross-border incursions.

It’s a free-fire zone.


TRANSCENDING TRANSNATIONALISM:

April 4, 2006

International laws hinder UK troops – Reid: Defence secretary calls for Geneva conventions to be redrawn (Richard Norton-Taylor and Clare Dyer, April 4, 2006, The Guardian)

John Reid demanded sweeping changes to international law yesterday to free British soldiers from the restraints of the Geneva conventions and make it easier for the west to mount military actions against other states.

In his speech, the defence secretary addressed three key issues: the treatment of prisoners, when to mount a pre-emptive strikes, and when to intervene to stop a humanitarian crisis. In all these areas, he indicated that the UK and west was being hamstrung by existing inadequate law.

Mr Reid indicated he believed existing rules, including some of the conventions – a bedrock of international law – were out of date and inadequate to deal with the threat of international terrorists.

“We are finding an enemy which obeys no rules whatsoever”, he said, referring to what he called “barbaric terrorism”.

Unless the rules of war could be guaranteed to bind our enemies–which they never have and never will–they’re not just useless but intolerable.


NOT AS MUCH AS THEY DESERVE FOR ADOPTING TRANSNATIONALISM:

March 29, 2006

Judicial activism or restraint? (Walter E. Williams, March 29, 2006, Creators Syndicate, Inc.)

Are federal, state and local justices appointed to office to impose their personal views on society or to interpret law? Is it a judge’s duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and state constitutions in the cases of state and local judges, or is it their duty to uphold foreign law and United Nations treaties? Should what a judge sees as “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights govern court decisions, or the U.S. Constitution?

It was the former – not the U.S. Constitution – that determined last year’s Roper v. Simmons decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the execution of a convicted murderer because he was 17 years old at the time of his offense. […]

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker has little patience with his colleagues who use their office to impose their values instead of applying the written law, but he’s in trouble for saying so. Judge Parker wrote an opinion article that was published in the Birmingham News on Jan. 1. It criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that banned executions for murderers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes. […]

Joel Sogol, former chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation committee, filed a complaint against Judge Parker with Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The complaint charges Parker with violating Alabama’s judicial ethics standards when he publicly criticized his eight Supreme Court colleagues and the Roper v. Simmons U.S. Supreme Court decision. Sogol says that Judge Parker’s criticism breeds contempt for the law.

Sogol has it wrong. It’s the court’s failure to meet its constitutional duties that breeds contempt for the law.

At any rate, we can all agree about the contempt.


SOMEWHERE BOMBER HARRIS CRINGES:

February 15, 2006

Special report: America’s Long War: US introduces radical new strategy (Simon Tisdall, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, February 15, 2006, The Guardian)

>European governments are still digesting the contents of the US report and are expected to give full responses in the next few weeks. But initial reaction appears to be one of caution.

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it had been consulted by the Pentagon as the review was drawn up and was pleased to see references to working with allies. As the consultation took place, Royal Marine commandos arrived at their base in southern Afghanistan yesterday at the start of a mission described in the Commons by government opponents as confused and unclear.

But British commanders expressed concern that increased attacks on suspect terrorists using drones – in which decisions are made rapidly by secret watchers based thousands of miles away – could have legal implications. They also highlighted potential infringements of sovereignty and the bypassing of political controls and of established rules of engagement.

Never mind the 21st century political correctness that would pass up a shot at the enemy just because of transnational legal fictions, if they haven’t figured out yet that our recognizing the sovereignty of others depends on their meeting our liberal democratic standards then they have their other foot in the 19th century.


A FEW GOODIE-TWO-SHOES MEN:

January 21, 2006

The Army’s deadliest enemy is at home (Max Hastings, 22/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Last week’s court-martial proceedings against a Royal Navy submarine captain accused of bullying his officers made bleak reading. I have no opinion about the merits of the case, and no sympathy with bullies. Like most people who care about the Armed Forces, however, I felt my heart sink at yet another public embarrassment. Their via dolorosa seems endless.

There are high-profile prosecutions (many of which collapse) resulting from alleged misdeeds in Iraq; fears about the impending deployment in Afghanistan; regiments disbanded and recruitment ailing; controversy about the treatment of recruits. The Sunday Telegraph reported last week on despondency at Catterick’s Infantry Training Centre, where instructors live in fear of accusations of abuse. […]

We are getting ourselves into a shocking tangle about what we expect from warriors. Throughout history, it has been understood that wars make unique demands on those who fight them. These can be met only by creating a service ethos utterly different from civilian life, not least in its willingness for sacrifice.

Today, politicians and lawyers have thrust upon the Armed Forces restrictions and legal burdens designed to drive them into line with modern civilian practice. This is madness. Those who administer the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick are scarcely allowed to impose discipline on new recruits, lest they quit or sue.

Many line battalions have to run their own training programmes for alleged trained soldiers from the ITC, to render them fit to serve. Faced with the most rudimentary discipline – punctuality, kit inspections, morning runs, obedience to orders – many young men literally pack up and go home.

The excesses of European Human Rights law are bad enough in civil life, but disastrous when imposed upon the Services. The current issue of British Army Review carries a letter from a veteran warrant officer, suggesting that young soldiers no longer find it acceptable to give “casual salutes” to officers. The First Sea Lord, Sir Alan West, said this month that the Armed Forces face “legal encirclement” from human rights. Every officer knows what he means. Circumstance and misguided policy unite against discipline, confidence and morale.

The one good thing is that rendering the human beings totally unfit to wage war will get us to use our non-human lethal means more readily. Of course, that’s hardly a humantiarian result, but then the Human Rights crowd isn’t really interested in that anyway.


THE BREAD IS BUTTERED ON THE U.S. SIDE:

January 8, 2006

Jordan will not hand US citizens over to ICC (Reuters, 1/08/06)

Jordan’s parliament on Sunday approved a law that prevents Amman handing over U.S. citizens accused of war crimes to the international criminal court, lawmakers said.

The United States is firmly opposed to the ICC, set up in 2002 as the world’s first permanent global war crimes court, fearing it will be abused for politically-motivated cases against its troops and citizens. […]

Instead, Jordan would be required to surrender them to the custody of the U.S. government, in apparent contravention to Jordan’s obligations to the ICC.

They know who the good guys are.