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870
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
06-28-2005
04:55 AM ET (US)
Okay, time out. Now you've all got it out of your system, I'm suspending posting to this forum and replacing it (in future) with a new one on writing. Seems a shame, but I suspect any new influx of conversationalists is likely to reignite the puddles of napalm in the corners.
869
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-28-2005
03:56 AM ET (US)
I'm off to be GOH at WesterCon until next Tuesday. See y'all later.
868
Tony Quirke
06-27-2005
09:28 PM ET (US)
Guys, this topic is titled "Writing".

It is for the discussion of Writing, not the Geneva conventions.

Noted. I'll even pass over the temptation to address the latest idiocies.
867
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
07:20 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/27/2005 8:53:49 AM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

It is for the discussion of Writing, not the Geneva conventions.


-- OK, I'm perfectly ready to stop here.
 
I wasn't the one who brought it up in the first place.
 
However, I'm not going to let any cheap shots or false assumptions pass; anyone does that, anywhere at any time, and I'll get right in their face.
"No duty to retreat", as the law says here.
866
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
06:54 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/27/2005 8:17:19 AM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

We're not in a conventional war here. A lot of the outcome hinges on a propaganda war, where if we win the propaganda war, the flow of new recruits for Al Qaeda dries up; whereas if we lose the propaganda war, they obtain an inexhaustible supply of
new recruits, vitually ensuring that the war on terror will go on indefinitely. Through Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, we have single-handedly given the enemy by far the biggest victory in this propaganda war they have achieved to date. -- complete horse manure.
 
Before 9/11, while we were still essentially ignoring him, Osama was running _five thousand_ terrorist trainees through his camps in Afghanistan _every year_.
 
They made their first try at blowing up the World Trade Center in 1994.
Shortage of willing recruits was not his problem.
 
Let's face some facts: al Qaeda's objectives, and often its tactics, have broad popular support in the Muslim world.
 
Not a majority, except in some individual countries, but a big minority. Tens of millions of people, possibly hundreds of millions.
 
Millions upon millions of people want to kill all the Jews and slaughter the infidels and impose medieval theocracy, ideally on everyone. It's an ocean of bestial, genocidal racist hate.
 
This animosity to us is not based, at seventh and last, on anything we do.
It's based on what we _are_. It's based on the fact that we're wealthy and powerful, and they're weak and backward, and they wish it was the other way 'round.
 
In other words, being soft and accomodating and "sensitive" will produce more terrorists, not less, because they'll attack when they sense weakness. It's like bleeding in the water near sharks.
 
The way to deter them is demonstrate ruthless, irresistable power. People fight, on the whole, because they think they can win. Suicide bombers aren't the product of despair, but of hope.
 
Despair just makes most people submissive and passive. It's hope, however crazed, that produces warriors.
 
We didn't beat the Nazis by making them love us or addressing their "legitimate grievances"(*); we did it by demonstrating, in the ashes of Hamburg and the corpses of the battlefield, that we were more powerful than them and that we were fully prepared to kill them all.
 
(*) that approach was tried, by Chamberlain among others. Didn't work too well.
865
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
06:41 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/27/2005 2:42:25 AM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

1. Part of the problem is that many of the people in Gitmno and Abu Ghraib were not captured at the scene of the crime
-- most were. And several who persuaded the interrogators that they were innocent and were accordingly released...
 
...were later caught fighting us again, after boasting of how they fooled the credulous, sentimental infidels.
 
Better safe than sorry. As I said, it's a war -- and in war, innocents suffer. Sorry, that's just the way it is.
 
During WWII, the father of a friend of mine was in a Canadian armored-car unit in Belgium. They conducted "reconaissance by fire".
 
When I was a kid listening to his war stories, I asked him what this meant. He replied that it meant shooting up farmhouses with a .50 calibre Browning -- whose bullets will go through an ordinary house wall as if it were paper.
If there were Germans in the building, they shot back. If it was Belgian farmers, they just died.
 
As to prisoners, in the unit of a guy I met (2nd Infantry, fought from Normandy to Bohemia) they had two sets of orders for them.
 
One was for when they had time and people to spare, and it was "take them back to the trucks", which meant exactly what it said.
 
If they didn't, it was "take them down to the end of the road", which had an unspoken codicil: "And shoot them".
 
Which he did -- he was the squad BAR gunner, and had an automatic weapon, so he got the unpleasant job of finishing them off.
 
Putting a gun to the head of a prisoner in the field and telling him to talk or die was also fairly common.
 
>The humane treatment of prisoners is a necessity because of those innocents
at least.
 
-- no, it isn't. As I said, innocents die in war. If you're not prepared to kill innocents, you can't fight at all.
 
>2. You don't get to be "the side of good" just by saying so.
 
-- actually, all you have to do is look at the other side. Ba'athists (fascists), al-Qaeda... have you ever _listened_ to these people? The 'fierce war' against the 'evil concept of democracy'?
 
>"Good" is what you do. "Good" is treating prisoners decently.
 
-- see above. We shot and tortured prisoners in WWII, and we burned whole cities full of innocent civilians to the ground.
 
The transport-net bombing of France just before D-day killed tens of thousands of French civilians, who weren't even enemy nationals.
 
War is hell. Hadn't you been told?
864
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
06:23 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/26/2005 7:46:18 PM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

after an illegal invasion.
-- that's an oxymoron. "Intra armes, silent leges"; when weapons speak, laws are silent. The behavior of a sovereign state is not governed by laws.
It can make war when and as it pleases. That's the perogative of sovereignty.
863
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
06:22 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/26/2005 7:46:18 PM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

And, of course, your country is also torturing Iraqis.
-- what torture? Putting a bag over someone's head is not torture.
You want torture, I'll give you torture: "Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a tortur center equipped with electric wirs, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual, and four beaten and shackled Iraqis... The men... said that they had been tortured with shocks and flogged with a strip of rubber for more than two weeks... Ahmed Isa Fathil, 19, said he had never seen the faces of his captors, who occasionally shispered at him "we will kill you."
 
Nice company you want to keep.
 
 
 
 

That is
to say, people who have taken up arms against an occupying army
after an illegal invasion. Insurgents. Resistance fighters.
"Red Dawn" style patriots.
862
JoatSimeon@aol.com
06-27-2005
06:18 PM ET (US)
In a message dated 6/26/2005 7:46:18 PM Mountain Standard Time, qtopic+15-cysSFgyrHZf@quicktopic.com writes:

And, of course, your country is also torturing Iraqis. That is to say, people who have taken up arms against an occupying army after an illegal invasion.
-- "Liberation", in fact.
 
> Insurgents. Resistance fighters.
 

-- actually, the analogy would be Afrikaner AWB terrorists fighting us if we'd invaded and overthrown the apartheid government.
 
Shia Arabs and Kurds comprise 80% of the population of Iraq. Besides foreign jihadis (mostly Saudis), the insurgency is solely based on the Sunni Arab minority which supported Saddam Hussein.
 
That is, it's the product of a minority of fascists who want to overthrow the government chosen by the people.
 
You're on the side of the Nazis again. You might want to reconsider.
861
Charlie StrossPerson was signed in when posted
06-27-2005
10:54 AM ET (US)
Guys, this topic is titled "Writing".

It is for the discussion of Writing, not the Geneva conventions.

If you want to discuss the war in Afghanistan/Iraq/Gitmo, by all means ask me to add a forum for that purpose. But you've wandered so far off topic here that if you continue I'm going to freeze comments to this thread and start a new one on writing. And if I do that, I will start deleting postings that go too far off the subject.

(If you want to continue discussing terrorism, the place to do so is here; or you can go discuss the Iraq situation here instead.)
Edited 06-27-2005 10:55 AM
860
Peter
06-27-2005
10:18 AM ET (US)

"You ought to ask yourself a question: here we are, at war with people who've declared they want to kill or enslave us all and destroy our civilization, and your instinctive impulse is to cark at your own side, and sympathize with the sort of people who blow themselves up in restaurants full of mothers and children."

"Why, exactly, do you have this reflex?"

---

We're not in a conventional war here. A lot of the outcome hinges on a propaganda war, where if we win the propaganda war, the flow of new recruits for Al Qaeda dries up; whereas if we lose the propaganda war, they obtain an inexhaustible supply of new recruits, vitually ensuring that the war on terror will go on indefinitely. Through Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, we have single-handedly given the enemy by far the biggest victory in this propaganda war they have achieved to date. Have we obtained information that even comes within a fraction of making up for this victory we've handed them? I very much doubt it.
859
Ray
06-27-2005
04:43 AM ET (US)
"It's interesting to watch who reflexively tries to handicap the side of good and empower that of evil."

"You ought to ask yourself a question: here we are, at war with people who've declared they want to kill or enslave us all and destroy our civilization, and your instinctive impulse is to cark at your own side, and sympathize with the sort of people who blow themselves up in restaurants full of mothers and children."

"Why, exactly, do you have this reflex?"

1. Part of the problem is that many of the people in Gitmno and Abu Ghraib were not captured at the scene of the crime, they were rounded up later. Inevitably, some or many of those in prison are _not_ the sort of people who blow themselves up in restaurants. They are the sort of people who are just trying to live their lives. The humane treatment of prisoners is a necessity because of those innocents at least.

2. You don't get to be "the side of good" just by saying so. "Good" is what you do. "Good" is treating prisoners decently. Torturing them puts you on the side of "evil".
(If you want to argue that its just us against them, and you have to choose us - fine. That's a rational - if sociopathic - argument. But then stop bringing good and evil into it)

3. Do you have that fiver on you, or do I have to write off to a newspaper to get it?
858
Tony Quirke
06-26-2005
09:47 PM ET (US)
(i) You ought to ask yourself a question: here we are, at war with people who've declared they want to kill or enslave us all and destroy our civilization,

When exactly did Afghan taxi-drivers declare they wanted to kill or enslave us all and destroy our civilization, Stirling? New York cab drivers, okay, but Afghanis?

ii, -- that's individual persons, as I said. It simply doesn't apply in this instance.

Why - because you say so?

They're held as individuals. The Third Convention is quite clear: "Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal." That's in article 5 of the one signed, by the US in 1949 (or possibly 1950).

iii, It's interesting to watch who reflexively tries to handicap the side of good and empower that of evil.

It's interesting to watch people who use terms such as "good " and "evil" without regard for actually demonstrating an undrestanding of which side their tactics put them on.

iv, Law, in the sense of binding, enforceable edicts, is the product of sovereign power.

Can you tell us what the first power of the President mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 2 Section 2 of the Constitution is?

v, When they think it's in their interests to disregard treaties (or customary methods), they do so. Eg., we simply renounced our nonproliferation treaty with the USSR some time ago.

And when exactly did the US renounce the Charter of the United Nations, Stirling? Date, please. States have a right to renounce treaties - when they ignore them or disregard them, this is regarded as dishonourable.

vi, In the current situation, the _entire organization_ we are fighting is in violation, and hence _none_ of its personnel have any protection.(*)

Really? I refer you to the Third Convention, Article 4, Section 1, the sixth category of "Prisoners of War" mentioned. We also note that the US treated with the Taliban prior to Sept. 11th, suggesting that it considered it the de facto government of Afghanistan, which was logical based on its control of the country.

And before you go on about them all being "terrorists", that determination is left by the Conventions to a competant tribunal - which you are not.

And, of course, your country is also torturing Iraqis. That is to say, people who have taken up arms against an occupying army after an illegal invasion. Insurgents. Resistance fighters. "Red Dawn" style patriots.
857
S.M. Stirling
06-26-2005
06:37 PM ET (US)
Apologies: I was unclear as to why the tribunal provision didn't apply in this case.

The tribunal provision is designed to separate the sheep from the goats -- those who are entitled to the protections of the Convention from those who aren't, in a situation where most are but some aren't.

It's aimed at segregating _individuals_ who have violated the provisions of the Conventions, from a mass who _are_ entitled to the protections.

In the current situation, the _entire organization_ we are fighting is in violation, and hence _none_ of its personnel have any protection.(*)

_Everyone_ on the other side is in violation, by definition.

It's not a matter of determining whether one individual wasn't wearing a uniform, or any other specific violation, since the organization for which they were fighting doesn't abide by the Conventions as a matter of policy.

For example, during WWII the Germans didn't abide by the Conventions on the Eastern Front; it wasn't a matter of individual violations, but of deliberate and systematic disregard ordered from the top.

Therefore the Soviets were under no obligation to treat German POW's any better than the Germans treated theirs; and in point of fact, they didn't.

Conversely, in NW Europe, Italy and North Africa, the German army (generally speaking) abided by the Conventions in its treatment of British and American soldiers. Hence we were obliged to respond in kind.

I hope that's clearly put.

(*) of course, there might be a question as to whether some individual wasn't in fact a member of al-Qaeda or the Taliban or whatever. However, that doesn't bring the Conventions into the picture either, of course.
856
S.M. Stirling
06-26-2005
06:28 PM ET (US)
"International Law" is one of the illusions of our age.

There is, in fact, no such thing as "international law" in the sense far too many people use it; the type of prat who thinks the UN is some sort of global legislature or embryonic government. Or that its pronouncements are anything but statements of opinion from the sort of organization that puts Syria and the Sudan on its Human Rights Committee.

Law, in the sense of binding, enforceable edicts, is the product of sovereign power. It applies within the boundaries of sovereign states, who enforce it through their courts and police, and ultimately by the military in the event of insurrection.

States make treaties with each other, and abide by them as long as they please. When they think it's in their interests to disregard treaties (or customary methods), they do so. Eg., we simply renounced our nonproliferation treaty with the USSR some time ago.

Nothing constrains them except the threat of retaliation by other sovereign states.

It's rather like the relations between Mafia families, who also make treaties with each other and have customary methods of solving disputes. When those don't suit, they "go to the matresses".

International affairs is not ruled by law, since there is no world government and nothing beyond or above the authority of the State. It's an anarchy _sensu strictu_, ruled by force and its threat.

The above is a descrptive statement: it's the way things are.

Prescriptive statement: that's exactly the way it should be.

The sovereign nation-state is the sole possible locus of democratic self-government.

Witness recent events in Europe, where the people mounted a roar of protest at having authority leached away from the places where they can hold it to account. "The People" exist only in the context of "the nation".
855
S.M. Stirling
06-26-2005
06:16 PM ET (US)
More generally, since we're fighting people who don't follow the rules, _the rules don't apply at all_.

This is elementary logic. If we were bound by the rules, and they weren't, it would be impossible to fight them effectively.

They want a war to the knife, they get a war to the knife. War by the "Hama Rules", which are simple: a) rule or die, b) there are no rules.

It's interesting to watch who reflexively tries to handicap the side of good and empower that of evil. There's some psychological mechanism involving an unacknowledged self-loathing at work.
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