Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No to "Wider War" -- Yes to Infinite Gitmo

Wired Magazine reports, Osama’s Dead but Congress Wants a Wider War
While the original Authorization tethered the war to those directly or indirectly responsible for 9/11, the new language authorizes “an armed conflict with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces,” as “those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens.”
We don’t need a wider war.  We need a narrower and quieter one, a war where we take out terrorists and no one even knows.  A war where a bearded bomber suddenly turns around and wonders, "Hey, where's Achmed?  He never spends this this much time with the goats..."

We need to narrow our scope to military assistance for those nations who want our help and are willing to shed their own blood, not ours.  Our military is uniquely suited to such light footprints, military assistance, and silent operations.
The proposal is a big expansion of executive authority, giving the president the ability to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against those terrorist groups he decides are U.S. enemies. (Wired)
Executive authority? He already has it. Like any authority, if a president abuses it and brings negative attention on us, congress could take that authority away. That is how our system of checks and balances works. It is far superior to a new and expanded open-ended war on terror, which legal expert Karen Greenberg rightly calls “terrorism creep.”

Gitmo: A Model Prison

Here is where I part company with the article:
“But the administration’s stated antipathy to the new authorization makes sense when considering a major chunk of the proposal would keep Guantanamo Bay open practically forever.”
We should keep Guantanamo open forever. We should turn it into a model prison to house international criminals, invite in the EU, citizens of the world, the UN and the International Red Cross.  We could even invite in the International Criminal Court with their powdered wigs for the entertainment value.  But seriously, we need a venue outside US and European territory where we can prosecute dangerous international terrorists and other criminals who prey upon humanity.

In this brave new world of supranational criminal gangs and terror networks, we need a standing Nuremburg Trial, transparent and open to the world.  Establish an international legal framework and we could have a serious way to deal with the illiberal forces that threaten civilization. We should accommodate European sensibilities and strive to legitimize Gitmo as a kind of Spandau Prison for the new millennium.  I don't care if the Euros oppose the death penalty.  I'll settle for life in prison for convicted global murderers.  This will only work within an internationally-agreed upon framework.

Cut theAfPak Gordian Knot

There are two reasons we haven't kicked double-dealing Pakistan to the curb.  They have nukes, and we need their help to prosecute the war in Afghanistan. They grant us overfly rights needed to get from our gulf bases to landlocked Afghanistan, and we also do a lot of overland resupply from Pakistan.

Leave Afghanistan to sink back into it's corruption and violence, and we no longer need Pakistan. Let China have a go.

What do you think?

Further Reading:
Reason – Steve Chapman
Leslie Gelb – Mission Accomplished
Max Boot - Bin Laden's Death Changes Little


Unknown said...

"The proposal is a big expansion of executive authority, giving the president the ability to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against those terrorist groups he decides are U.S. enemies."
Problem with that idea is Obama would never use that authority outside of our boarders. He will, however, use it within the boarders, against his own people.

Z said...

I love that "Where's Ahmed? He's never spent that much time with goats before!" :-) We could use a LOT more of that. (poor goats!)

Mark Adams says what I was going to say only better... the authority could backfire on US.
Also, Obama would never use that authority not only outside of our borders but AT OUR BORDERS. Nice if he suddenly got tough there, huh? REALLY tough? LIke if the Administration supported those States' actions in protecting themselves (from future Democrat voters?)
Your info on Pakistan kind of stopped me in my tracks; lots of geopolitical shenanigans, of course. Sounds to me like the last thing Pakistan would like is our leaving Afghanistan$$$ Do you think they'd foment trouble there? you can bet we're paying somehow for their allowing our use of their country.

Silverfiddle said...

Pakistan would like us to stay, but to do their bidding. It's not evil, nations are always trying to get others to do their bidding. They accommodate us in exchange for billions. I think we need to cut the ties and get the hell out.

Pakistan won't foment trouble in Afghanistan. They will put the Taliban back in power and back them with money and arms, turning them into a client state that provides a buffer.

Once that's accomplished, the NW Frontier settles down and terrorism in Pakistan subsides because the nation is now back firmly in the Islamist camp. The new focus will be Kashmir, where *sigh* we'll probably be back helping India.

All messy, but it's China and Russia's backyard, not ours. My only concern would be for India

Anonymous said...

Leaving Afghanistan before they've got at least a chance of becoming stable would validate all the Bush detractors that said it was a mistake in the first place.

Perhaps it was a mistake, but it's one that we have to fix if we are to be perceived as a responsible nation.

I see where you're going with Gitmo, that it should remain open but not be so secretive. I think that's a solution that would satisfy both camps, those who think it should remain open because of its practical application and those who think it should close because it is a "secret prison."

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: Afghanistan will never have a chance at stability, and it was a mistake for us to try. Once we chased the taliban out we should have turned the keys over to the Norther Alliance and let the fighting continue.

It will take a large, powerful iron fist. We've got it but can't use it. No one else has one big enough.

If Afghanistan really does contain trillions in mineral wealth, China will move in a create pockets of stability where it needs it for extraction.

Pakistan severing US ties will pacify the Pashtun belt with the taliban back in control. People up north will continue historic trade ties with the Stans, and the people of the West are already plugged into Iran.

Rob said...

Yeah, ya had me at "Where's Ahmed?"

There's a reason why people fear getting caught doing something wrong in Mexico. The reputed Mexican prison hellholes are a significant deterrence for those who might color outside the lines.

Similarly (but on a grander scale) this should be Gitmo. Let it be known that this is the place nobody comes back out of alive. Give the international community a signal that we're serious about this shit. Let 'em know that we are willing to inflict torture or death upon anyone we have in one of Gitmo's cells.

Silverfiddle said...

I love your fervor, Rob, but you missed the point (or more likely, making sarcastic fun of it ;)

We need to set a broad western standard on how people behave if they want to live within the walls of civilization.

Burning churches, cutting off genitalia, honor killing, acid attacks, death threats to cartoonists... These are things a decent society should discourage.

Jersey McJones said...

Terrorism is a criminal activity and should be treated as such. We are not, have never been, and really can't be at war with criminal activity. It fits neither the definition of war nor the definition of terrorism.

As for GITMO, it is a stain, a huge mistake, and probably illegal.

There is nothing good about any of this.

I am ashamed of my country over this.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Afghan is a lost cause, Gitmo is very necessary and, who is going to worry if a big time terrorist disappears evry now and then?

Jersey McJones said...

GITMO is the cowards way of dealing with terrorism, and it has been an unmitigated failure. We are a nation of laws - we should act like it.


Anonymous said...

As a blogging community, we should implement a rule for discourse:

If you're going to refute or criticize the way something has been handled, then you must provide a viable alternative.

So Jersey, what would be the solution to the Gitmo problem beyond just "shutting it down"? How would you deal with the terrorists that would be less "cowardly"?

Jersey McJones said...

It's tricky, Jack, I know. But there are alternatives, though they vary from case to case.

There would be cases that should be tried here, cases that should be tried abroad by foreign powers, and circumstances where use of deadly force are justifiable, making judicial procedures moot.

By creating this quasi-legal system epitomized by GITMO, we have undermined or credibility and the rightness of our cause.


Most Rev. Gregori said...

Silverfiddle, sad to say, the government of the United States has not had a system of "checks and balances" for a really long time now. It began to disappear back in 1913 when the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Banking Act was passed, and it has just about entirely disappeared right after 9/11.

The Congress passes legislation that they know is unconstitutional and the Executive Branch signs them into law, knowing they are unconstitutional. Then the Supreme Court declares them constitutional knowing full well they are not.

And in the mean time the president keeps usurping more and more power that he/they know is unconstitutional. When a new Congress or administration takes over, they NEVER pull back any of those usurped powers, instead they just add to them.

So, if all three branches of government refuse to abide by the Constitution and if no one in authority will stop them, then who will or who can?

Anonymous said...

I'll buy that for a quarter. I wouldn't say we've undermined the rightness of our cause so much as undermined our virtue in pursuing it.

The cause itself, freeing ourselves from the fear of terrorism and bringing these predators to justice, is noble no matter how we execute it. We only undermine our authority to pursue it.

Silverfiddle said...

I don't understand your objections, Jersey.

I just stated we should declare the war on terror over. We should still reserve the right to snatch or kill any global criminal who threatens us.

We need to set up an agreed-upon framework for trying international terrorists. Gitmo is just the place. We should not be tying up New York City for such trials, and many smaller countries don't want the hassle or danger of trials on their soil.

Gitmo is a perfect venue to hold trials of an international nature. As I said, invite in the International Red Cross, and anyone else who wants to observe or watchdog.

Jersey McJones said...

"Justice" is the key word there, Jack. What we've done with GITMO does not jive with our justice.

Silver, we have laws for terrorism. We never needed any more.

Rev. Gregori put it perfectly.


WomanHonorThyself said...

Problem with that idea is Obama would never use that authority outside of our boarders. He will, however, use it within the boarders, against his own people...well said..great work usual the tyrants are ruling over us and the masses are sleeping thru it all!

Country Thinker said...

Jersey is right that we are a nation of laws - or were. The decline in the rule of law in this country is, in my humble opinion, one of the causes of our economic malaise. No one knows what the rules are anymore.

Afghanistan is looking like Viet Nam. Pakistan and China are working to win Karzai over. The only way we prevent Afghanistan from becoming a Chinese satellite is to stay there for the forseeable future or invite it to become the 51st state.

Silverfiddle said...

Why fight over a turd? Let China have it, and the headaches that go along with it.

I agree we are a country of laws.

Finntann said...

Detaining POWs and Unlawful Combatants in a military prison outside the borders of the United States and trying said personnel certainly does fall within the rule of law, concept of justice, and the principals embodied by the Constitution.

You are confusing a place and a system with the alleged extra-judicial practices executed there.

I think that's SF's point. Don't close it, open it up to international participation.

GITMO in and of itself is the perfect location. In theater, it's a target, in the US, it's a target. GITMO is isolated and out of the can't easily get there without the complicity of either the US military or Cuban government. It's a place you can't get to from here, or pretty much anywhere, without cooperation and precoordination.

Another ideal place, which would require the assistance of our British allies would be Diego island in the British Indian Ocean Territory that is nothing but a military base (ours and theirs). The point is, the location is virtually untouchable by terrorist groups.

Don't confuse the prison with the practices.

Jersey McJones said...


What are you talking about? Obama's done it abroad as much more than any president ever!


"The only way we prevent Afghanistan from becoming a Chinese satellite is to stay there for the forseeable future or invite it to become the 51st state."



What POW's??? What "war"??? From what in the constitution do you interpret we can endlessly detainee "combatants" without a declared war for bounties on a foreign base???

There is nothing constitutional about what you just said!

Seems like buffet constitutionalism to me, my friends.


Finntann said...

An unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of International Humanitarian Law also known as the Law Of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action.

The Supreme Court in Ex parte Quirin ruled:

"…the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. The spy who secretly and without uniform passes the military lines of a belligerent in time of war, seeking to gather military information and communicate it to the enemy, or an enemy combatant who without uniform comes secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war by destruction of life or property, are familiar examples of belligerents who are generally deemed not to be entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but to be offenders against the law of war subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals."

Subsequent to the ratification of the Geneva convention, 10 USC 948a Section 1, Subchapter 1 states: "Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission."

As to the supremacy of treaties, treaties are recognized as US law, they, like US law are still subject to the supremacy of the US Constitution. Thus, you could not restrict the free speech of Americans via an International Treaty. As recognized US Law, they are also subject to subsequent action by our legislative branch to amend or rescind.

This is where you liberals lose the notion of Sovereign Nation. As if an international treaty on hate speech for example, could trump the Constitution. The Geneva Convention is no more binding upon our legislature than the Convention on Shipowner's Liability.

If you have problem with US Law, I suggest you take it up with your elected representatives or the Supreme Court, because frankly, having sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, I don't give a damn what anybody else says, Swiss, French, British, or the UN.

For all your spouting of international law and the Constitution you seem to have a very limited grasp of it.

The Geneva Convention, which is what I presume you cite as law applies to all cases of declared war or any other armed conflict which may areis BETWEEN TWO OR MORE OF THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES. Although one of the Powers in a conflict may not be a party to the present convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power (non-signatory), if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof.

Last I checked, none of the unlawful belligerents we are fighting (Taliban, Al-Qaeda, etc.) with abide by the convention, ergo there is no legal requirement for us to reciprocate.

Finntann said...

As to what war? Are you joking?

Iraq: The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled: "The text of the October Resolution (H.J.Res 114) spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an 'authorization' of such a war".

A formal congressional declaration of war was not required, nor was the wording "declaration of war" required in the legislation authorizing it.


Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, et. al: S.J. Res. 23 "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons that he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occured on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons."

Consistent with the section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statuatory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

Iraq: H.J. Res. 114 "the President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and (2) enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(c) War Powers Resolution Requirements

(1) Specific Statutory Authorization

"Consistent with the section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statuatory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution."

And since you seem so fond of latin legal phrases, all I need say is "jus ad bellum".


Finntann said...

Wall of text crits Jersey for 67,959... lol

Seems like ignorance to me my friends.


MathewK said...

"Executive authority? He already has it."

That's true, last time i checked he didn't even bother asking Congress for an OK on the Libyan quagmire. It's like the armed forces of the United States are his personal army or something.

And the way to deal with those savages in pakistan is to assist India.

Anonymous said...

I agree and sympathize with everything SilverFiddle has said. I agree with the Reverend Father as well in his assessment of our progressive abandonment of the constitution.

No one has ever been able to conquer Afghanistan. Britain and the Soviets failed in the attempt, and now we are wasting blood and treasure by the ton every week -- and for what?

Afghanistan is a situation that could produce no happy ending for us -- or any Western nation. We need to get out of there.

The war in Iraq was a foolish mistake. Let's admit it, stop trying to justify it, and move on.

Getting involved in Libya, even in a minimal capacity, is another piece of folly.

I'm not an isolationist, but I believe we have no business interfering in the internal affairs of other nations no matter how horribly they are behaving, unless the violence and injustice in one of those places poses a direct threat to our sovereignty, our safety or our solvency.

If savage bastards want to murder each other in wholesale lots, I say let 'em. The world would probably be better of without people who would put up with despotism and perpetual violence anyway. Would you want your son to be dragged to his death through the streets of Mogadishu or any other Turd World hellhole for no discernible purpose?

Who the heck do we think we are anyway trying to play Policemen and Wet Nurse to the entire planet? We don't have the resources for that, and even if we did, it would still be wrong.

The role we played in winning WWII was thrust upon by Fate. We couldn't avoid it, but we couldhave and should stopped playing that role once we had rehabilitated Japan and war-torn Europe.

Instead we threw away our advantage at Nuremberg and were instrumental in forming the UN and placing its headquarters on our shores. This led to our foolish acceptance of the absurd notion that there could and should be such a thing as "International Law" -- a set of strictures artfully designed by Marxists to tie our hands in future battles, give our ruthless, savage, unprincipled, utterly lawless enemies a tremendous advantage, and thus bring about the Decline and Fall of Western Hegemony.

We are bankrupting ourselves in pursuing these useless, endless wars with no hope of victory or any sort of tangible gain.

Ron Paul is absolutely right. If we are to save ourselves, we must end the Warfare-Welfare State.

~ FreeThinke