Friday, June 09, 2006

Otras Cosas

Ok, so the big news out of Iraq this week is that after several months of tracking, intel, and secret stuff, the US managed to take out Al-Queda leader Zarqawi. This is being hailed as a great success.

Like one of the best movie lines of all time, "Let's not start sucking each other's d*cks just yet, ok?"

First of all, what the hell is Al-Queda and who the hell was Zarqawi. In short, not much and no one. "Terrorism" in Iraq is not being waged by Al-Queda. Sure, the loosely organized group that the US press likes to call Al-Queda operates in Iraq. But to suggest that Al-Queda is running the opposition is akin to suggesting that I'm in charge of Amway. Even our gloriously profound President admitted as much the other day.

And really, aside from providing foreign recruits, what does Al-Queda have to do with Iraq? Look, we're fighting, and losing a war we can't win. This is a domestic conflict that we ignited by taking out a stabilizing (bastard) named Saddam Hussein. Even a rank novice of the history of the Middle East is aware that the Shiite-Sunni conflict has long, deep, and religiously significant roots spanning the centuries. Like it or not, US policymakers woefully underestimated the extent, significance, and tenacity of this historical conflict and now the people of Iraq are paying a grave price. I hate to say it, but they were undoubtedly better off with Saddam.

At least in the short run. In the long run, the US led invasion might turn out to have transformative effects on Iraq and the whole Middle East. It's a possibility that can't be discounted. But don't sell that to the countless thousands that have paid the price for simply wanting to live and prosper. First they had a tyrannical and occassionally genocidal dictator that we propped up (hello Mr. Rumsfeld), now they have a constant fear of a different sort.

On a completely different note, and something I haven't seen written anywhere, I'm fairly certain that releasing photos of a dead Zarqawi is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, which the US is a party to. The first protocol to the Convention states unequivocally that, "the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities ... shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained, and marked."

I don't believe that braggadocio photos of Zarqawi is in accordance with the "rights and dignities" afforded to enemy combatants. This is especially true since it is US policy not to produce photos of US war dead or even allow their coffins to be videoed coming off the plane, something the State Department has claimed is necessary to preserve the dignity of US war dead.

Of course, Bush's State Department would probably claim that Zarqawi is not an "enemy combatant" because the Geneva Convention only applies to nation-nation conflicts and not insurgencies...a dangerous precedent at best. But of course, along with the rest of the fecal matter spewing forth from the Bush admin, the argument is fatally flawed. Article 2 cleary states that even if one of the "Powers" in a conflict is not a party to the treaty, the signatory power is still bound by the tenents of the treaty. I.E. The US is a party, insurgents aren't, and it don't matter.

Of course there's a whole 'nuther factor that should be considered when having any international legal debate and thats the principle of customary international law. "Jus cogens," as the term is formally known, states that common international practices become accepted as having the force of law when a majority of nations behave in the same way for an extended period of time. For example, it's "custom" not to invade your neighbors. Assuming there wasn't a treaty to govern the international rules of conflict (there is), it would still be impermissable to invade, say, Canada without just cause.

So, even if the US wanted to argue that the Geneva Conventions refer to "nations" and not "terrorists," a fine distinction that they would invitably lose in Court, it still wouldn't matter because Jus Cogens requires nations to refrain from a variety of practices, including publishing undignified pictures of war dead...especially to gloat. I'm not an expert, but I'm fairly certain this is an open and shut case.

At any rate, killing Zarqawi did prove one thing: when you drop 1,000 pounds of explosives on a dude's house, there's a better than average chance dudes gonna have a really bad day and might even die. Way to go USA!


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