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Friday, April 04, 2003

Skeptical, but Respectful, Brother Dickinson Responds to
Calls for Decorating Private Lynch

Tony Adragna
Dan gave a heads up on his GIGO submission
She was kept alive by her murderous captors as a trophy. Her survival and rescue is a miracle story. God bless her. The events surrounding her capture and captivity, one may assume torture given her condition upon extraction, remain unknown. They may be classified. Left to her own, I suspect Private Lynch would tell a true and unembellished account of her ordeal. This would be welcome to some but would disappoint many. The press, never satisfied with facts, credited her [torture, broken bones, watching mates tortured and killed before her eyes and kryse-nose what else being insufficient] with taking multiple Kalashinkov rounds [there would be no other kind] and being stabbed in close-quarters-battle before submitting to capture. Oh, and only after she exhausted her ammunition slaying Death-Squadders wholesale, much in the manner of Ralphie Parker dispatching Black Bart and his gang from his kitchen window by shooting them all in the rumps with his Red Ryder Daisy BB gun [with a compass in the stock] until they all lay in his back yard with Xs where their eyes would be. Many back here in CONUS are already awarding her Hero status inluding a Silver Star. Blogger LT Smash envisions a MOH.
And furthers to that, "Behavior of a Soldier taken prisoner is defined as Duty and behavior is prescribed."

Conduct "above and beyond the call of duty" is defined as that which the omission of would not subject the servicemember to censure for failure to perform a duty. Certainly duty is always prescribed, but Brother Dan misses The Point: There is no duty to surrender [nor is there any duty to continue fighting a forlorn hope — she could have surrendered without failing her duty].

It's not Private Lynch's conduct as a POW that's singularly meritorious, but her conduct before capture. She is credited by several sources in Iraq — from whom the media got the so far sketchy details — with action that defintely qualifies as intrepid gallantry while engaged in hostilities [that is,. before she became a POW].

There will, of course — and of necessity — be an investigation into Lynch's conduct. But, if the initial info proves true, PFC Lynch certainly deserves the MOH.

Michael Kelly, Journalist Hero

Will Vehrs
American journalism and commentary has lost a powerful voice in a tragic accident in Iraq. Atlantic Monthly editor and Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly left the comfortable office life to be embedded with an American combat unit so he could cover the war first hand. He had to know that he was risking his life, but his desire to report the truth made that risk worth taking.

The death of Michael Kelly diminishes American journalism. God bless him as our prayers go out to his loved ones.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Russia, France and Germany Want Sanctions on Iraq Maintained?

Tony Adragna
From today's WaPo"U.S., Allies Clash Over Plan to Use Iraqi Oil Profits for Rebuilding"
Russia, France, Germany and other key Security Council members are seeking to preserve U.N. management of the Iraqi oil industry. The Security Council president, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, told reporters today that the 15-nation council has voiced its commitment to the principle that "Iraq's oil belongs to the Iraqis" in intensive daily discussions on the fate of Iraq's oil industry. "The council must make an effort to preserve . . . Iraq's sovereignty over its oil," he said.
Remember, France et al have been trying to undermine sanctions since the begin. Is this hypocrisy?

Yes, it is! You can't have the UN controlled "Oil for Food" program without the sanctions
U.N. control over Iraqi oil is firmly rooted in the sanctions imposed after the 1991 Gulf War, a British official said. "All these questions about the Iraqi oil industry are totally academic until the sanctions are suspended, and the sanctions are not going to be suspended at the request of Donald Rumsfeld," the official said. "There is a temptation to say why should we be subtle after we weren't supported in the Security Council. We certainly hope people will resist that temptation."
But, the sanctions are soon to be defunct. With Saddam gone, chemical & biological weapons rounded up, and most importantly [because the former points would be irrelevant if this last point ever obtained] with the restoration of a civil society where respect for basic principles of humanity are evident, there's no reason for the sanctions.

So, I have a suggestion for any Administration officials who might be QP readers [hey, ya never know!]: Draft a Resolution lifting the Sanctions. Let's see France et al vote against it...

PFC Jessica Lynch Deserves A Medal — Which One?

Tony Adragna
So, I was talking to a guy from IT — 20 year US Army vet — 'bout PFC Lynch's actions, and I called it intrepid gallantry — he looked at me, smiled, and, without asking me what I meant by that, agreed that "she deserves it."

Here's what he knew I was talking 'bout
The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who while a member of the Army, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty...
Lynch was wounded, knew that by not surrendering she would probably die, but she kept fighting — that's "gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" so far as I'm concerned.

And it was definitely "above and beyond the call of duty" — there is no duty to keep fighting in the situation she found herself.

The only thing left is whether the action was "conspicuous" — will somebody step forward with a testimonial? I hope so! If not, then maybe the Army will accept instead what they know from "monitored communications and from Iraqi sources in Nasiriyah whose reliability has yet to be assessed" as sufficient.

If Lynch gets the Medal of Honor — I believe she should — she would be only the second woman, and the first female soldier, ever to recieve the award [per the Congressional Medal of Honor Society"Mary Walker was the only woman awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor at Bull Run on July 21,1861", but she was a civilian "Assistant Surgeon", not a member of the military. For her civilian status she was in 1917 deemed ineligible notwithstanding her bravery for the award, and the honor was withdrawn. The Medal was restored to Dr. Walker in 1977]

I say she gets The Medal...

Addendum: Before I get any email informing me that the MOH is reserved for cases where the actions saved the lives of others, let me put that notion to rest — It's simply not so. While those cases are most deserving, actions of the type Lynch performed do qualify. Read over some Medal of Honor Citations. Not a few are for action unrelated to saving someone else's life, or the mission, at risk to self.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Does It Matter That Neither the U.S. nor Iraq Have Ratified "Protocol I"?

Tony Adragna
The Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) defines at Article 37 the "Prohibition of Perfidy"
1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;

(b) The feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;

(c) The feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and

(d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
How can the US claim that Iraq is violating an article of law that the US itself hasn't ratified?

Easy! While we've been careful to make sure our conduct conforms to Protocol I, the US claim doesn't rely on Article 37 of that protocol. What ASD Clarke said at the news briefing was
The Iraqi regime is engaged in other deadly deceptions. They are sending forces out carrying white surrender flags or dressing them as liberated civilians to draw coalition forces into ambushes. Both of these actions are among the most serious violations of the laws of war. Known as perfidy or treachery, such acts are strictly prohibited because they make it extraordinarily difficult for coalition forces to accept surrendering forces or protect civilians. Some liken these acts to terrorism. Such acts involve the enemy willfully violating the laws of war while simultaneously taking advantage of the coalition forces' compliance with that law.
"Laws of war" are not limited to the relevant articles of Protocol I, but also "principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience," as noted in Article I of the Protocol. Indeed, the Protocol is in most part a restatement of the law of war as it existed in its several codified iterations since 1899, and as custom prior to that.

To wit: The prohibition of "perfidy" at war, or the "kill[ing] or wound[ing] treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army" [Article 23, Hague II; July 29, 1899] is a generally accepted principle of the law of war, and is binding on parties to armed conflict irrespective their non-ratification of Protocol I.

And regardless our objections to Protocol I, both the US (by ratification) and Iraq (by accession) are bound to observe the underlying Convention — Geneva IV.

What is the US objection to Protocol I? In a nutshell, it's paragraph 3 of Article 44
3. In order to promote the protection of the civilian population from the effects of hostilities, combatants are obliged to distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack. Recognizing, however, that there are situations in armed conflicts where, owing to the nature of the hostilities an armed combatant cannot so distinguish himself, he shall retain his status as a combatant, provided that, in such situations, he carries his arms openly:

(a) During each military engagement, and

(b) During such time as he is visible to the adversary while he is engaged in a military deployment preceding the launching of an attack in which he is to participate.

Acts which comply with the requirements of this paragraph shall not be considered as perfidious within the meaning of Article 37, paragraph 1 (c).
That's a lot too much like: I'm a combatant... now I'm not... ooops, here I am again. This Protocol was supposed to address issues related to legitimate concerns of indigenous folks fighting for self-determination against colonial powers — as an American I can't object to the wanting of throwing off the yoke of some foreign power. But the practical effect of this provision... well, just look at the Israel - Palestinian conflict.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The Real Reason For Arnett's Firing

It's the hair
Comb-overs are just so passe...

Seriously, Jack Shafer doesn't like the reason for Arnett's firing — "[...]Having opinions shouldn't be a firing offense. Credulous behavior, on the other hand …"

Monday, March 31, 2003

Now This is Voter Apathy...

"Who will I vote for?" Alberto Dima repeats the question with a tone of bemusement as he sits in the barber's chair. "I am torn," he says, "between Shaquille O'Neal and Homer Simpson."

"No, no," Omar Menendez says as he trims Dima's thick beard. "Bart Simpson. I like Bart Simpson for president." Menendez lifts the scissors for a moment and turns to his partner, Guillermo Fonzi, awaiting customers in the chair next to him. "Guillermo, who will you vote for for president?"

"You are both crazy," replies Fonzi without lifting his gaze from a magazine. "I am voting for Clemente," referring to a popular cartoon character here.

"Ah, this country," he adds with disgust. "We have this horrible economic crisis and our politicians give us nothing but clowns and crooks to choose from for our next president."
WAIT, it gets better. After chronicling what it is about the current situation in Argentina that's got Argentines so cynical & apathetic, we get this
"People really feel like our politicians are the same: out of touch or corrupt," he said. "I think probably the two most popular politicians in Argentina right now are Lula and [Rudolph W.] Giuliani," he said, referring to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil's newly elected populist president, and the former mayor of New York. Giuliani, known here for his crackdown on crime, is popular among Argentines weary of growing urban lawlessness.

Kamikazes, Saboteurs & Terrorists: Are there important distinctions?

Tony Adragna
The recent car bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq has given rise to a debate over whether the act was a defensible use of "guerrilla tactic", or an act of terrorism. I'll get to my opinion later, but first let me answer the titular: Yes. To explain I need to give a quick run down on who and what they do for each of the three categories, and the distinctions should then be obvious.

What we generically call kamikaze is a person who is, or seems to be, on a suicide mission. For the purpose of this discussion let's give a bit more qualification to that definition. Japan's WWII kamikze were indeed "suicide bombers", but they were members of a regular military force, performed their missions using military aircraft, and engaged only military targets. Regardless the tactic employed, these men and their actions could in no way be construed as contrary to any conventional limits on conduct of armed conflict.

Saboteurs — whether on suicide missions, or part of something akin an organized long-term resistance — are persons who aren't necessarily members of a regular military force — though they could be — but who nevertheless restrict their activities to targets of militarily or political significance behind enemy lines[i.e. in occupied territory, or in an opponent's home territory]. Saboteurs who do not wear a uniform — including members of a military who have abandoned their uniforms and are acting in guise — are not persons protected by convention. Instead, international law vis a vis the treatment of spies applies to such persons — that is, they may be treated as criminals, subject to trial & punishment under either domestic law by civilian courts, or under martial law by military tribunal. [n.b. the above does not pertain to uniformed members of a military force, whether regular or irregular]

Where saboteurs in guise may claim at least some minimal moral legitimacy in that they discriminate between legitimate targets and targets of no military or political significance, terrorists are oft said to be indiscriminate. That's true insofar as when terrorists do attack legitimate targets, they do so in ways that seem a disregard for noncombatants. But, I argue, it's not so much a disregard for noncombatants as an intent to cause as much, or even more harm to noncombatants as to legitimate targets. In fact, terrorists oft forgo the pretext of a legitimate target, instead directly attacking noncombatants with the purpose of causing as much death and destruction to civilians as possible.[forget the "political purpose" — it's not a good qualifier since war too has ultimately political purposes.]

Attempts to justify terrorism as the only effective means to injure a militarily superior force must be rejected, because as the tactical objective of terrorism is to target civilian populations. This is never a morally defensible tactic — it is rightly considered murder, just as purposefully indiscriminate targeting of civilians by military forces is considered murder.

If you haven't yet figured out where I'm going with this, here it is: Discriminating between combatants and noncombatants.

The reason why there are laws of war requiring the wearing of a uniform, the nonabuse of flags of truce, etc., isn't to make easier the killing of enemy combatants. Rather, it's to make easier the protection of noncombatants [I want to be doubly clear here — the rules exists not for the benefit of combatants, but for the protection of noncombatants. That's what makes the abuse of these rules never justified]. The kamikaze presents no problem for us here. Since he acts neither in guise of noncombatant, nor targets noncombatants, it's impossible to mistake some noncombatant for a kamikaze. The saboteur in civilian clothing presents problems because, even though his intent isn't to injure noncombatants, his presence among noncombatants exposes them to suspicion & danger. I need say no more about the terrorist.

So, what about the car bomber? In my opinion he's not a terrorist — at least, what happened wasn't an act of terrorism. I'd count him a saboteur [in guise? Maybe, since he might have been a member of the military]. However, that doesn't make the act morally defensible — if the suicide bomber had survived, he'd still be subject to prosecution and punishment for a crime[Update: Actually, the specific warcrime here would be "perfidy", as Human Rights Watch correctly points out]. What's more troubling than that single incident, though, is what looks to be coming down the pike — Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda, Hammas, etc. trained terrorists who would not only by their presence put noncombatants at risk, but may intentionally target noncombatants who who don't toe the Saddam line [as well as presenting a threat to humanitarian aid givers post bellum].

'Course, Iraqis who don't toe the Saddam line have always been in danger — that's my preferred reason for us being over there...

Addendum: If you still don't get how certain actions of Iraqi troops make it harder to discriminate in favor or protecting noncombatants, read this...