What I think about Guantanamo
I think President Obama has been thrown off-stride by the Karl-Rove-orchestrated assault on his perceived strengths (a very Clausewitzian and typical Rove strategy if you follow him).
With Guantanamo Obama had hoped to solve the issue by attrition and by devaluing the issue to the point where he could wrap it up with spending little or no political capital.
But now the issue is forced by the hunger strike, now in its official 100th day.
I think he must spend capital on this and if he does he will be rewarded.
The legal basis for holding these guys without charge or trial is that they are taken under the Hague and Geneva conventions in a war zone.
This runs into problems right off the bat because you are not supposed to exfiltrate prisoners of war or interned civilians from whatever country they were captured in except to return them to their country of origin.
For the same reason, the idea of returning these folks to some third country should be a non-starter.
Here is what is should be done.
Continue to hold military tribunals, but only for the purpose of status determination: prisoner of war or interned civilian.
Those who were captured under arms, had a command structure, some kind of uniform, may be found to be prisoners of war. The remainder of these folks will be found to be interned civilians.
Prisoners of war cannot be charged for fighting the enemy so long as they themselves obeyed the laws of war. The UN has also recognized the right of civilian people under arms to fight for national liberation, but that is not as well-ensconced in international law as is the rights and responsibilities of nation-states.
Civilians can be charged with criminal offenses, but they should be tried in theatre by local judges under local law (which can't be done since they have been illegally exfiltrated out of theatre) or else in their country of origin or by an international tribunal. The military commissions cannot be allowed to act as judge, jury and executioner. When military tribunals have been allowed to exceed their proper scope in the past, such as during the Civil War, the result has not been pretty.
As soon as is practicable, these men must be returned to their countries of origin, whether or not their tribunal proceedings are closed or complete.
Our intelligence should keep tabs on these guys in an open manner but otherwise let them lead their lives as best they can. It is very much in everyone’s best interest to help these folks with compensation for time during which they were improperly held or mistreated, and they all should be given enough to live and to receive medical and psychological assistance on an ongoing basis.
We are going to pay a price for letting these guys go. Here's 166 guys who are going to be very messed up and not feeling like Uncle Sam is their friend. That is the price we will pay for kidnapping, assassination, rape, torture, war crimes, running concentration camps, and 10 years of low-intensity conflict, which is what we call terrorism when we do it.
But you have to consider there’s already a lot more than 166 guys out in the world who don’t like the US.
By bringing this very real scandal front and center and highly publicizing the commissions and the procedures to return the prisoners of war and interned civilians, the ginned-up Rove scandaloids will be driven off the TV and front pages perhaps indefinitely.
What’s the reward? The issue is so corrosive of the moral authority and therefore of the power of the United States. Quite simply, it makes the US the bad guys and that’s not good. Time to end a bad situation which only festers as time goes on.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
Bioshock Infinite is a visual feast but the gameplay is eh. More specifically, the gameplay is basically Doom with visually splendid 1910 garb and steampunk weapons and technology. I find myself enjoying exploring and solving such puzzles as there are and not enjoying the tedious gunbattles. The premise for the game is promising, a self-proclaimed prophet builds a modern-day Noah’s Arc, a floating city in the sky like Swift’s Laputa, and secedes from the United States. Now Columbia is a rogue nation state going whither it will after being disowned by the United States following a massacre of Chinese civilians by the flying city in putting down the Boxer Rebellion in 1903.
The city is a creepy homage to everything evil in the idea of American Exceptionalism, from the murderous Motorized Patriot, an animatronic-like machine-gun wielding George Washington robot, to the public stoning of an interracial couple with baseballs. Where the game excels is in the art direction and the overall verisimilitude of the construction of the world. Where it fails, in my opinion, is in the introduction of what are essentially spells, the vigors. It breaks the monotony of the pistol-shotgun-machinegun tedium but so stretches the suspension of disbelief. Even moreso the gate-opening ability of companion Elizabeth, which strains credulity. If she can open a gate to Paris at will, why and how is she locked in a floating tower.
But no matter, as interactive fiction, with lots of shooting and gore, the game succeeds brilliantly. And it is worth playing just for the visual awesomeness.
Bioshock is a visual treat, a turn of the century romance and a somewhat garbled science fiction epic layered onto a rich tapestry of religion, corruption, slavery and sin. Worth a look, if not sixty dollars.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
Okay more shoes are dropping about the “Consulate” and “safe-house” in Benghazi where a total of four American personnel were killed.
The “Consulate” was not a Consulate. The Libyans just called it that. “What is clear, however, is that those who arrived at the mission — not officially a consulate, though Libyans call it that informally — came intending to inflict maximum damage on the building.”
The “safe-house” was not a safe-house. The Libyans just called it that. “Neither was heavily guarded, and the second house was never intended to be a “safe house,” as initial accounts suggested. “The seven un-uniformed, but very heavily armed men who broke through the two ambushes awaiting them and rescued the remaining US persons along with our allied militia? They were never there. “At no point were the Marines or other American military personnel involved, contrary to news reports early on.”
The first incoming mortar, in the dead of night, hit square on the “alternate location’s” gate and killed the two ex-Seals. Terrorism? You bet.
Did Ansar Al-Sharia have support from a state or states with significant HUMINT, SIGINT and satellite capability? Almost certainly.
Avengers: I enjoyed this movie even more than I expected.
My criticisms are mild: it is a superhero movie and so you know how it ends, pretty much. World saved. More bad guys incoming.
Robot monsters attack Manhattan. They proceed to devastate earth’s critical strategic assets, namely its Manhattan yellow cabs and NYPD police cars. Cue running civilians ala 9/11 or Godzilla. Like Transformers: Dark of the Moon, only with a plot and writing and acting. Hilarity ensues as HULK SMASH.
What I thought was splendid, though, was the script. It is LOL funny and has a certain tenderness to it. Like Firefly with super powers. Even the bit players get their moments to shine. And how nice to see really good actors enjoying their roles and having fun working together. Hiddleston is the cement which holds the moral compass together as Loki, the smarmy, fucked-up jealous kid brother evildoer with a God complex. Well, ok he is a God, but, notwithstanding, is trash-talking the enraged Hulk a good tactic? Not so much.
A few preliminary intra-team skirmishes establish the heroes, their motivations and assets. Iron Man vrs Thor. Thor vrs Capt. America. Hulk vrs Thor. Hulk vrs. Black Widow. Run Scarlett run!
Two huge set-piece fights, first one, they do not fight as a team and it is a somewhat mitigated disaster. Second time, a charm. Did I mention HULK SMASH?
Well worth seeing in the theatre, in 3D, with friends.
The Avengers – Official Trailer #2 (HD):
Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy
UN Security Council Announces “No-Fly” Zone over the United States
Geneva November 15, 2011
The United States defiantly announced it would continue its crackdown on peaceful anti-government protesters even as warplanes of a dozen nations in a “coalition of the willing” prepared to enforce a “no-fly” zone over the entire United States.
Speaking for the Security Council after a 13-0 vote from which the US and China abstained by being not present, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said:
“Russia is a democratic and peace-loving nation. Nonetheless, the international community cannot permit that the gross violations of human rights and international law by the United States against their own citizens, be allowed to continue. We have seen the arbitrary arrest and detention of thousands of protesters from the non-violent “Occupy” movement, plus numerous documented examples of excessive use of force against the protesters. The continued use of toxic chemical weapons is a clear violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Gas Warfare. The documented use of lead shot filled “beanbags” fired from shotguns at non-violent protesters from point-blank range is an egregious violation of human rights and international law. The US has shown it is unable or unwilling to abide by its own Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly.
“Consequently, today we have taken the following actions. All assets of the United States and US-owned corporations and persons around the world are frozen. A “no-fly” zone is in place over the United States and its dependent territories and colonies. We are establishing bases in Mexico and Canada to enforce this zone, including the option, if necessary, of destroying all land, sea and air-based defensive capabilities of the US. The United States has been placed on the list of terrorist nations, and a list of public officials and corporate leaders is being added to a sanctions list. The President of the United States, his cabinet, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as intelligence officials, are being referred to the World Court for possible war crimes prosecution. Our Spetsnaz forces are on the ground in the US assisting and supporting the dissident groups.”
In response, the US President, Barak Obama, released a statement saying, “The United States is a proud and independent nation. We do not accept that we should be dictated to by an arbitrary consortium of enemies and former allies who think that they can dictate the internal policies of the United States at gunpoint. We will crush these rats, these germs of internal dissent, and we shall never surrender to blackmail by foreign powers. Long live the United States of America!”
[yes this is satire! and hopefully remains so]
Copyright © 2011 Henry Edward Hardy