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Terror: the Legal/Military Conundrum

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Is terror a military or a criminal problem?

Therein lies the conundrum at the heart of the ongoing debate over how best to fight terror while protecting civil liberties.

Terror, at base, is a criminal offense. It is nothing more than a crime with political motivation. Terrorists represent no country, have no fixed geographical boundaries. They are a collection of individuals bound only by their beliefs. The metaphorical “war” on terror is just that — a metaphor, like the “war” on drugs or poverty.

But the military has a role, too. First and simplest is when a terror group receives state support, as in Afghanistan; then fighting terror shades over into conventional war until such time as the state support ceases. If terrorists resort to a guerrilla war, that too is a military responsibility — although with limitations peculiar to antiinsurgent operations. The rest of what I would call the “hard” side of fighting terror — Striking known terrorist training sites, killing terrorist leaders and the like — also are more properly a military task than a police task.

But this leads to confusion about what, if any, rules apply. There are laws that govern warfare and there are laws that govern crime and they are very different, both in what they allow and in their scope and purpose.

Laws that govern crime are geared toward the long term — minimizing, catching and deterring criminals instead of trying to eliminate them. They assume that the problem will be with us always, and come up with ways to keep it under control while still respecting the rights that are important to a free society. Call it a “chronic condition” approach.

Laws that govern warfare envision certain fixed and rigid limitations — that there is a front line, that there is a conflict between nations wielding uniformed armies, that there will be an easily defined point of victory. War is a temporary national emergency, with a clearly defined battlefield within which rights do not exist: laws of war spring from agreements between nations, not the text of the Constitution. Call it an “emergency surgery” approach.

The problem with the assumptions behind “emergency surgery” is that none of them are true when it comes to fighting terror. There is no front line, no nation, no uniformed armies, no easily recognized victory, no clearly defined battlefield, and the conflict is expected to last a very long time.

Precisely because it is ill-fitted to the task, there are tremendous dangers in treating terrorism entirely as a military concern:

• Erosion of civil liberties;
• Incarcerating minor “combatants” for years or even decades regardless of the severity of their actions;
• A heavy cost in lives and treasure;
• Erosion of popular support at home and creation of more enemies abroad;
• An overreliance on force that, in the long-term, will be less effective than legal, diplomatic and intelligence efforts.

Criminal law, then, is better suited to the problem that terrorism poses. Accepting that, the question becomes how to define the respective roles of the military and law enforcement.

I’ll go through them from easiest to hardest.

1. In a clear civilian situation, such as breaking up a terror cell in Chicago, law enforcement rules apply. That means warrants, probable cause and due process.

2. In a clear battlefield situation, such as someone captured during a firefight, military rules apply. However, prisoners captured in such cases must be dealt with in specific ways (see below).

3. U.S. citizens deserve due process and access to the courts in nearly all cases.

4. Civilians caught in the middle of an insurgency, a la Iraq, should be accorded as many rights as possible. They can be detained by the military for short periods for security reasons, but within a reasonable time (a week, say) must either be charged as an “enemy combatant”, turned over to civilian police for nonmilitary charges, or released.

5. Anyone defined as an “enemy combatant” should have the right to challenge that designation. Most such cases would be a slam dunk (“suspect was caught during a firefight”), but they should get a hearing. This is not “normal” wartime practice, but this is not a normal “war”.

6. “Enemy combatants” can only be held until the end of the specific war they were involved in. To be held longer, they must be charged and convicted of actual crimes. Insurgents captured in Iraq, for example, must be released when the fighting in Iraq ends unless they can be linked directly to terrorism.

7. Because some insurgencies may last a very long time, we should make an effort to categorize insurgents by the threat they pose. The truly dangerous would be locked up until the insurgency ends; minor players would be released after serving shorter sentences. That way you’re not locking up a halfhearted foot soldier for decades. Like with any offense, recapture would result in a much harsher sentence.

8. In areas where we are not in charge, we will strive to work with the ruling government. But if the rule of law is weak or nonexistent — Think Yemen, for example — or the ruler is not a reliable foe of terror, we reserve the right to kill or capture proven terrorists whenever we can. This is less a military/civilian issue than a diplomatic one; I include it here for completeness.

There are a few specific steps we should take to make this happen:

1. Congress should make clear that we are not in a war in a conventional sense, so the President cannot claim extraordinary inherent authority. If they wish to grant him specific authority in specific places, they can do that, giving him broad powers to operate in Iraq or other places abroad. But we should not fall into the “war” trap a second time.

2. Congress should clearly state law enforcement’s pre-eminence, and outline which laws apply in which situations.

3. We should clarify the warrant rules to ensure that showing a reasonable suspicion of terror links will allow eavesdropping — but that such a link *must* be shown.

4. We should stop trying to keep certain prisons or prisoners outside of any law, be it U.S., international or the Geneva Conventions. All prisons and all prisoners should be protected by one of those sets of law.

5. We should allow open inspections of our prisons by accredited organizations such as the Red Cross.

6. We should ensure adequate funding for antiterrorism investigations, and if necessary create specific terror-related charges that guarantee lengthy prison terms for true terrorists — whether their planned attack is successful or not.

Saying terrorism is primarily a law-enforcement issue is not “going soft” on terror — it is recognizing that the nature of terrorism is more effectively addressed by criminal law than military law. A vigorous enforcement effort — backed by a limited but vigorous military role — will defeat terrorism more surely, and at less cost in both money and civil liberties, than if we allow the “war” metaphor to rule our thoughts and actions.

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About Sean Aqui

  • beast

    here

    Probe finds terrorists in U.S. ‘training for war’
    Neighbors of Muslim encampment fear retaliation if they report to police
    Posted: February 17, 2006
    1:00 a.m. Eastern

    © 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

    Entrance to Hancock, N.Y., encampment (Courtesy Northeast Intelligence Network)
    The Pakistani terrorist group Jamaat ul Fuqra is using Islamic schools in the United States as training facilities, confirms a joint investigative report by an intelligence think tank and an independent reporter.

    A covert visit to an encampment in the Catskill Mountains near Hancock, N.Y., called “Islamberg” found neighboring residents deeply concerned about military-style training taking place there but frustrated by the lack of attention from federal authorities, said the report by the Northeast Intelligence Network, which worked with an Internet blogger, “CP,” to publish an interim report.

    The neighbors interviewed, who asked not to be identified, said they feared retaliation if they were to make a report to law enforcement officials.

    “We see children – small children run around over there when they should be in school,” one neighbor said. “We hear bursts of gunfire all of the time, and we know that there is military-like training going on there. Those people are armed and dangerous.”

    The resident said his household gets “nothing but menacing looks from the people who go in and out of the camp, and sometimes they yell at us to mind our own business when we are just driving by.”

    “We don’t even dare to slow down when we drive by,” the resident said. “They own this mountain and they know it, and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can’t even do that. Who wants to buy property next to that?”

    Jamaat ul-Fuqra, or “community of the impoverished,” was formed by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in New York in 1980. Gilani, who refers to himself as “the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr,” has stated his objective is to “purify” Islam through violence.

    Gilani also is the founder of a village in South Carolina called “Holy Islamville.”

    The encampment in Hancock, N.Y., is run by a front for Jamaat ul-Fuqra called Muslims of the Americas Inc., which operates a school known as the International Quranic Open University Inc.

  • beast

    Is the US government “fighting” terrorism, or “training” terrorists in the US? It would seem that the US is actively training terrorists by turning a blind eye on all sorts of islamic dementia on it’s territory. Probably in order to encourage terrorist acts so that they can then claim war measures, and confiscate everyone’s legally owned guns and then do some cleansing of christians, a la Stalin.

  • troll

    “terror” is a psycho-social problem…

    acts of international terrorism are criminal – similar to piracy – and must be dealt with under the rules of international law

    if ever there were a time for the UN to ‘step up’ with some serious enforcement ideas this is it

    the military forces used in the effort ideally should be those ‘guys’ with the blue helmets

    (…but then the US government wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the situation so opportunistically to globally position its troops…never mind)

    troll

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Oddly, none of these responses actually address the original post, which deserves some recognition for perfectly deliniating the problem we face in dealing with terrorism with mechanisms designed to fight conventional warfare. Great job, Sean.

    I do think you left out a very important element in your second section, however. We need to redesign and restructure at least a portion of our military away from emphasis on conventional warfare and towards a combination of counterinsurgency and peace keeping work. We could actually make the military considerably smaller if we had a larger number of personnel who were specifically trained, equipped and supported in doing this kind of work which seems to be more and more necessary. This would include more emphasis on language training, interrogation skills, political, administrative and diplomatic techniques and of course covert skills including assassination.

    Dave

  • Sean Aqui

    Dave,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. In a previous entry I outlined something similar to what you mention — a need for more special forces units, along with the intelligence-gathering capabilitieto properly target them. We shouldn’t turn our entire army into a counterinsurgency force, because we need to retain the capability to fight and win a serious conventional war. But we definitely need to boost our unconventional capabilities.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Sean, outstanding piece. Well thought out and argued. I agree with Dave about reforming the military to fight a different kind of war (as, oddly does the military, which means I agree with the military, which means it’s time to take a nap and relax.)

    You’ve codified the distinctions well, which allows people to fine tune or disagree with specifics without losing the fundamental soundness of your thesis. Now if only Congress & the Administration would read your post!

    In Jamesons Veritas

  • Bennett

    Wonderful piece, Sean!

    I agree with Dave and Mark on the need to re-focus on the task at hand, and thank you for the strong truth you bring with this post.

    Salut!

  • Dave Nalle

    You see, this is the price you pay for writing a good post. Everyone agrees and the discussion goes nowhere. The blogosphere rewards loony ranting, not good sense like this.

    Dave

  • troll

    new title for this post: Kinder Rules Governing the Propagation of US Influence Through Force

    this one: *3. U.S. citizens deserve due process and access to the courts in nearly all cases.* is particularly off base…

    US citizens have the right to due process

    here’s another shocker: *8. In areas where we are not in charge, we will strive to work with the ruling government. But if the rule of law is weak or nonexistent — Think Yemen, for example — or the ruler is not a reliable foe of terror, we reserve the right to kill or capture proven terrorists whenever we can.*

    the US has no such right…only the might

    concerning comments re: redesign of the military to meet the ‘new’ needs:

    the US has been planning for ‘low-impact’ counterinsurgency/counter-terrorism since the early 70s and has devoted significant $ in small and combined arms training to accomplish related goals over the years…and if you think that the US suffers from a dearth of assassins waiting on a dime for ‘actionable intelligence’ concerning Osama you are deluded

    if you want to do some redesign start with the R&D and procurement processes that reward corruption and impede the smooth supply of top quality equipment

    concerning military diplomats see this piece by Robert Kaplan from ’04…it’s not clear how this will work out – in Afghanistan the question is who’s been playing who

    ‘clarify’ the US position and laws all you want – the problem of international criminals needs a solution based on international law and enforcement

    troll

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Very interesting piece on American infiltration in not too well known places, Troll. Robert Kaplan is a pretty common name. I knew one fellow in high school, I knew of another who specialized in penis enlargement. I don’t think the two are the same as this fellow here. That’s three all tolled.

    But seriously, folks, (Ruvy bows to the late Sam Orbaum of the J-lem Post) I would pay careful attention to the content of Kaplan’s article and abstract what might happen elsewhere. This involves shedding all the pretty delusions about due process and respecting the sovereignty of other nations. By getting rid of all the high school civics baggage, you get to see how the world really works. And it ain’t pretty.

  • troll

    if you enjoy Kaplan here’s his latest on the topic…I see that to get access to my other link to his old article you have to suscribe

    troll

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    ‘clarify’ the US position and laws all you want – the problem of international criminals needs a solution based on international law and enforcement

    Give me a moment while I catch my breath from laughing.

    Okay.

    International law and enforcement? You mean the UN? Half of them are the ones who ought to be arrested? International law enforcement means one hand with a gun and the other out for bribes. It’s a joke. If you want something done right you have to do it youself.

    Dave

  • troll

    rock on with your badass John Wayne ‘Do-It Yourself’ self Mr Empire

    troll

  • troll

    let me rephrase #13:

    rather than go it alone the US should work through the UN to build the consensus and force necessary to suppress terrorists

    troll

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Let me translate #14:

    “rather than go it alone the US should yield to terrorists, give them whatever they want and hold no one accountable for their actions – it’s the UN way.”

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Troll,

    I like the positiveness in your approach. Halevai, if only the world could work that way. Maybe, when the messiah finally comes, it will.

    But I’ve seen what the UN has done in my neck of the woods, and frankly were it up to me, I’d blow up their HQ on Armon haNetziv with them in it.

    I could riffle through the record of the UN elswhere, but I’d need a barf bag, and since there isn’t that much food in the fridge…

    The US is the main force supporting terrorism on the planet. Its president is head waiter for the Saud family, which is behind most of the Moslem terrorism on the planet in one way or the other, if not all of it.

    Most of the rich companies in your country rely on an oil economy and are addicted to oil and the fact that oil is presently sold in dollars. They have no interest in unhorsing the thugs who seized control of Mecca and Medina 80 years ago with the money of the Union Bank, the thugs who have turned much of Islam into a vicious and cruel reflection of the concepts of Mohammed.

    How many times does one need to repeat this essential fact?! There is no such a thing as Islamo-fascism! There is the Wahhabi sect of Islam wih its pretensions to world domination. Either you are with ‘em or you are agin ‘em. George W. Bush, the scion of a family of headwaiters for foreign agents, is with ‘em. And so is a substantial portion of your government, because it is dominated by the oil and banking establishment.

    It is this that keeps Jews and Arabs at each others throats, not to mention other fights.

    This is the reason that keeping soldiers in Iraq borders on foolishness.

    There are other issues involved here that can threaten world peace. There are the messianic beliefs of the Shia – something which propels Iran to seek the spotlight. There is the starvation of North Korea – and the fact that they have the capability of launching nuclear missiles if it pays. There are the ambitions of China, of Russia and even of Europe.

    But aqs far as Moslem terrorism goes, it is the US cooperation with Saudi Arabia that undermines worlds stability and endangers your freedom.

  • troll

    I agree that the 2001 AUMF and the US ‘war on terror’ are part of a broader con job based on oil politics

    as for the UN – I agree that it has a weak record (understatement)…but – assuming for a moment that non-violent conflict resolution and the maintenance of international law are the gaols – what other international organizations exist to build from – ?

    troll

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Troll,

    Assuming that the goals you list above are goals to be striven for, and they are not unreasonable, I do not believe any mechanisms presently exist.

    Wherever you look, you find the corrupting influence of Dubya, the Big Red, White & Blue Dog, and the international oil and banking establishment – or that of the Vatican, with its own agenda of domination disguised as “Pax Christianica.” If not them, you find all the other wonderful folks I listed in comment #16.

    That means there can be no justice – only fixes for the oil & banking establishment and its cronies.

    One needs a serious overthrow of the present system and a way to break with the destructive patterns of past overthrows of systems that have led to war.

    I know of only one such idea – the messianic Redemption. It’s one of several of the reasons I have faith in G-d. There appears to be nothing left to rely on.

  • lumpy

    wow, ruvy. the best solution to world problems u can come up with for the world’s problems is armageddon? sorry, I think we ought to shoot just a bit higher than that.

    plus, your complaints about banks and oil really don’t fly. they’re just businesses doing business. if they went away tomorrow someone w.se would step right in and do the exact same thing.

    this whole oil conspiracy thing is becoming pretty transparent. it’s just code talk for the illuminati bullshit we’ve been hearing for years. the new world order conspiracy bullshit just doesn’t hold up in the cold harsh light of truth.

  • troll

    messianic Redemption or Pax Americana…what a choice

    troll

  • Dave Nalle

    If that really were the choice I’d go with the Pax Americana, because America’s philosophy is and always has been one of ‘live and let live’ – except in those instances where those we’d be glad to leave alone think killing us is their purpose in life.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave,

    Pax Americana – if it is to be indeed peace – has to be accomplished by ditching the tie to the Saudi thug-ocrats, a fact you refuse to see. For a guy who’s lived in so many places in the world, you have an awful big blind spot about that. You may be willing to live and let live – the Wahhabi thugs your business establishment has tied itself to are not.

    Even if Pax Americana were to be accomplished at the sacrifice of the Jewish people and the home they seek, or even at the destruction of the moral system we represent (presently under way in the US and Europe), you would still not have peace till the Wahhabi thugs were exterminated and their murderous philosophy expunged from Islam. While Bush and the rest of the oil and banking establishment are not Wahhabi, the fact that they have empowered this bunch of killers and still support them says something very evil about them.

    Lumpy, the concepts I’m talking about with messianic Redemption are not your standard Christian drama – Jesus in one corner and the Debbil in the other on a huge boxing ring on the top of Mt. Megiddo.

    And if you take the trouble to look at who sits on what corporate board – something you can do these days with relative ease – and trace who buys what, you ‘ll see that there is a very real oil and banking establishment that is sucking your country dry. You don’t have to like that – I know I don’t. But just because I don’t like reality doesn’t change it.

    Every now and then – not often – you see this oil and banking establishment acting. Occasionally, you can see the beast for what it is. But most of the time, they hide behind the bullshit they let you swallow in the establishment media and complain in frustration and puzzlement.

  • Dave Nalle

    Pax Americana – if it is to be indeed peace – has to be accomplished by ditching the tie to the Saudi thug-ocrats, a fact you refuse to see. For a guy who’s lived in so many places in the world, you have an awful big blind spot about that. You may be willing to live and let live – the Wahhabi thugs your business establishment has tied itself to are not.

    Woah, Ruvy. When did I ever say anything good about the Saudis or the Wahabis? The Saudis are smart and they know how to work westerners, but they’re far from indispensible. And the Wahabis are a true blight.

    While Bush and the rest of the oil and banking establishment are not Wahhabi, the fact that they have empowered this bunch of killers and still support them says something very evil about them.

    I doubt that until relatively recently Bush and his cohorts really even knew what the hell a Wahabi was – it was just another Muslim sect to them. They don’t deal with the extremists, they deal with the western-educated, very urbane and very business savvy princes, so their impression of Saudi Arabia is rather more positive than that of those of us who see the larger picture.

    Lumpy, the concepts I’m talking about with messianic Redemption are not your standard Christian drama – Jesus in one corner and the Debbil in the other on a huge boxing ring on the top of Mt. Megiddo.

    Hey, that version sounds like much fun.

    But as for the rest of your comment I think Lumpy may have had a point with connecting it all to conspiracy mania.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave writes: I doubt that until relatively recently Bush and his cohorts really even knew what the hell a Wahabi was – it was just another Muslim sect to them. They don’t deal with the extremists, they deal with the western-educated, very urbane and very business savvy princes, so their impression of Saudi Arabia is rather more positive than that of those of us who see the larger picture.

    When Prescott Bush and his far more intelligent associates helped cut deals with ibn Saud back in the ’20’s, there was nothing urbane or princely about the man. I suspect that tales of these wild Arabs have been floating around the Bush family for decades. Now they may be rich, princely, urbane, etc. A few billion dollars and a shower will generally do that for you.

    The Wahhabis wanted to control Mecca and Medina and kick out the Hashimi ruler there. They were hungry for power. And this is what the boys from the Union Bank understood. Sect shmect. Power they understood. That is why a deal was cut.

    As for “conspiracies.” I didn’t want to retype this. I left this story some time ago on a different comment.

    In the spring of 1973, a junior to mid level employee of the World Bank was told to write up a report explaining the benefits or the tripling of the oil prices on the world’s economy.

    So he went to his office and started to crunch numbers and could not find any benefits. The employee returned to his supervisor telling him this. The supervisor gave him the “do you like your job?” lecture – “we don’t pay you to think, we pay you to do what you’re told. Now go back to your office and come back with a report!”

    Jon Hulley, the employee, was very disturbed about this and eventually this story got published in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal – I forget which paper Jon told me. After a flap in the news, Jon left the World Bank.

    But the oil prices did triple later that year. Why they tripled later that year is not that important. The plan had been in place.

    That tripling of oil prices significantly affected the economy in the US. But the oil companies made out like bandits – and the power of the Saudis increased exponentially. Madrassas began to open all over the world, Middle East Studies Departments were funded all over the world.

    Was this a conspiracy? No, it was highway robbery executed by rich firms on the richest economy in the world, but this was no conspiracy at all – it was good business.

  • Dave Nalle

    Regarding the Bushes and the Wahabis, I guess I should have gone into more detail. From what I’ve observed religion has virtually no meaning to the Bushes, regardless of their political posturing. And coming from that totally secular/power oriented perspective they expect to see the same thing in others. So they don’t see the Wahabis as any more meaningful or relevant except as dupes than the American religious right are. In a certain context they’re right, because these extremists have little impact on their world of international business – but that doesn’t mean the extremists aren’t dangerous.

    As for your World Bank story, do you have a source with names and documentation, because it sure sounds like pure urban legend as it stands. It’s just what a certain type want to believe, which makes me inherently suspicious.

    Dave

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The source for the World Bank story is Dr. Jon Hulley himself. It happened to him, and it was quite enlightening to him. I don’t remember all the details of the story as he told it to me in 2004, like the name of the supervisor or the exact paper the story broke in, etc. but I could look up some kind of documentation.

    As for your paragraph on the Bushes. Looking at the Wahhabi as a westerner, I substantively agree with you. But the point is that this is the world view of a secular westerner interested in money. In order to deal with the danger the Wahhabi present, one has to comprehend their world and be able to see the world through their eyes.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Just an additional pointer, Dave. The name is John Hulley, and it turns out he worked for ten years at the World Bank. He’s all over the internet, but the story he told me I haven’t found yet.

  • ss

    Dave:
    I suspect your right about the Saudi royals looking down their noses at the clerical establishment, but there is one big difference.
    Bush can’t afford to throw the RR any scrap that would offend the middle and give the Democrats an issue to run on.
    The Saudi royals, on the other hand, gain their legitimacy from wahabism, and have done everything they can to make it ‘the middle’ in SA (and with the former Aramco’s money they set up a cradle to grave state that makes it easy for them to set the middle) While I believe they are feuding with an element of what they’ve made, the royals have no intention of throwing the baby out with the bath water. They’ll use this feud to play us the exact same way that Musharif is using his feud with some old friends to play us, accept intead of asking for F-16’s, they’ll claim they need to keep their ‘oil perk’ rentier economy flush with cash right now, and oil won’t drop below $40 a barrel for a long time.

    Ruvy:
    The real problem is the secrecy the Saudi royals have so succesfully draped aroud their whole country. If someone got rid of the royals and there was no general mayhem, just some clerics blowing themselves up, well I imagine even the ghost of Prescott would be all for that at this point.
    It’s the prospect of 3-4 million (or more)potential fanatics going off right next to that 12-14 million bpd that has everyone to scared to make any sudden movements.
    I’ve heard this ethanol promise before, and the fact that it didn’t come until after Katrina makes me kind of leary. With a lot, a whole lot of luck, maybe the alternative energy crowd will be able to box in the Prez and the first step can finally be taken.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The only people I know who can look at the world through non-western eyes are those who have lived for substantial periods of time in foreign cultures at a level where they have to interract with the common people. Very few of our presidents can claim that experience and certainly none of the Bushes. It usually isn’t sufficient to be an ambassador for 4 years, though it’s better than nothing. GWB doesn’t even have that much international experience. Hell, I don’t think his parents were even big on European vacations when he was a kid. So to him, like 90% of Americans, Wahabis are basically just westerners in funny clothes, and there’s no question the Saud family go out of their way to cultivate that impression.

    Dave

  • ss

    Troll:

    Neither the US nor the UN has a record so enviable they should be condemning each other instead of fixing their own problems.
    The problem with the UN is that it’s great at writing international law, but they still set up refugee camps without proper security. Put another way, the UN can’t even enforce international law on (largely) unarmed refugees in their charge. The result is whoever gets the biggest gang together the quickest in those camps winds up running the place, with long term results like Palestinian politics being dominated by rival gangs.
    Meanwhile we’ve been bragging about how we spread democracy, but if there’s not chaos in these new democracies there’s probably a leader willing to throw publishers in jail if they print anything that threatens powerful interests, or else machine gun toting armed guards at all the new Taco Bells (my boss just got back from Honduras)
    Ever since the Soviet collapse it’s been one big power grab on both sides, with both sides trying to blame the other for a litany of failures and trying, pathetically, to claim the biggest piece of a couple of mediocre successes.
    Koffi was saying the right things for a while, but he went off track. And Bush forced in Bolton, so he made it pretty clear he just wants to drub the UN to score points with his base back at home.
    Until the UN and the US both clean up their acts and work together, nothing either one does is going to turn out very well.
    Though specifically to your point, if the US refuses to write any legal recourse for the potentially wrongly accused into its new laws, then the US should have to submit to international law.
    We won’t, and the UN is too dependent on our money to do anything about it, but yeah. If we want to enforce the law internationally we should follow international law.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    From all accounts Bolton is doing an excellent job at the UN and not actually causing as much controversy as was expected. He’s taking a hard line with some of their excesses, but mostly seems to be doing positive things. Regardless of personal complaints about Bolton no one ever argued he wasn’t qualified for the job.

    Dave

  • troll

    [bracketing my tendency to uncompromising pacifism…

    while sending UN troops to Dafur isn’t exactly non-violent conflict resolution it would beat standing around watching…

    Bolton does appear to be pushing on that front

    if troops are sent I hope that they are prepared to absorb the irrational violence this time and won’t simply run away

    a successful international intervention to stop a genocide might make other cooperative enforcement efforts under UN auspices more popular and therefore possible

    …end bracket]

    troll

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