Thursday, December 28, 2006
Stratfor reported the following in a "Sitrep" last night:
Ethiopia's envoy to Somalia said Dec. 27 that Ethiopian and Somalian government troops will lay siege to Somalia's capital of Mogadishu until Islamist forces there surrender, regardless of the potential for civilian casualties.
Ethiopia, it seems, didn't get the memo about "post-heroic war." In any case, its declared war against the "Islamic Courts" faction in Somalia is proceeding apace. The Islamists have apparently already withdrawn from the capital.
I will confess that I do not entirely understand what is happening here, and neither does the media, at least according to Hugh Hewitt. He has a link-rich round-up.
It is possible to describe Ethiopia as an American proxy under deep cover. The State Department's summary of Ethiopia notes that the United States has been training that country's army:
The Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) numbers about 200,000 personnel, which makes it one of the largest militaries in Africa. During the 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea, the ENDF mobilized strength reached approximately 350,000. Since the end of the war, some 150,000 soldiers have been demobilized. The ENDF continues a transition from its roots as a guerrilla army to an all-volunteer professional military organization with the aid of the U.S. and other countries. Training in peacekeeping operations, professional military education, military training management, counter-terrorism operations, and military medicine are among the major programs sponsored by the United States. Ethiopia now has two peacekeeping contingents in Burundi and Liberia.
StrategyPage reports that we have, in fact, been providing help behind the scenes:
The U.S. was apparently providing the Ethiopians with satellite and aircraft photos of Islamic Courts positions. The U.S. has a large counter-terror force to the north, in Djibouti. The U.S. may be supplying Ethiopia with cash (to pay for all the gas the Ethiopians are burning in their operations). For years, the U.S. has been training Ethiopian troops for operations like this.
Meanwhile, the UNSC is actually lining up 14-1 in support of the American position, which is that a ceasefire should not require an immediate withdrawal by Ethiopia.
The one thing I do know is that Ethiopia's war in Somalia appears for all the world like a significant battle in the war on Islamist jihad. Perhaps Somalia won't turn into al Qaeda's next base of operations after all.
Your more erudite comments are more than welcome.
Whether Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, and now Somalia the Islamist party line never changes:
"We left it to avert heavy bombing because Ethiopian forces are practising genocide against the Somali people,"
If the past is prologue, media will buy the story hook, line, and sinker.
Dan said: "You'd think after supporting Saddam and the long string of cruel dictators we've backed, we'd have learned better."
The actual lesson we learned: That approach is how you win the big fight.
The road to success is always full of trade-offs. As Singapore's patriarch Lee Kuan Yew recently said: "Consistent and comprehensive U.S. policies to contain the Soviet Union led to its imposion. The basic features of U.S. foreign policy were inclusiveness, embracing all those countries who opposed communism whatever their government."
"The basic features of U.S. foreign policy were inclusiveness, embracing all those countries who opposed communism whatever their government."
And this has led to all manner of evil committed in our name. See Iran/Iraq. See Nicaragan Contras. See the Somoza regime before that. See Pinochet. etc, etc, etc. Lord have mercy.
This evil committed in our name has contributed to the strengthening of terrorists who'd oppose us. If we fulfill the role of Great Satan, it becomes easier for the terrorists to recruit support for their otherwise unsupportable positions.
No doubt this is a US sanctioned initiative. The question is whether we've done more than sign off on it, and it would be difficult to conclude otherwise. I would venture to guess that the whole thing is a CIA sponsored operation employing the Ethiopian army in much the same way as it did the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. I have no proof of this of course, but taken in the context of other recent events- the SC resolution against Iran, sabre-rattling in the direction of Sudan- it would appear a high level decision has been made, (there's a first time for everything I guess), to take action to reverse the impression amongst our rivals that Iraq has neutered our foreign policy. Whether this will work is an entirely different question.
As that goes, in the case of Somalia, the chances appear to be good providing the US doesn't manage to get itself implicated- the likely consequence of which would be the opening the petrodollar spigot and the next in the series of jihadist migrations. The Islamist Court didn't come to power by the ballot box and there should be popular support for any government capable of providing some security and stability. This should go double for a government in exile at least as legitimate in the eyes of the world as the backward Wahabites- and far less diabolical (granted, it may prove difficult for them to shake the impression they are puppets of the Americans or for that matter, the Ethiopians). In any case, let's hope the White House handlers will have the sense to keep bumbling George off topic.
Dan: "See Pinochet. etc, etc, etc."
No one has joined the radical Islamists because of Pinochet, etc. If "Christian kindness" was the best strategy in this fight, the Islamic terrorists would be running soup kitchens rather than planting explosive devices in Iraq.
This is just another front in the war. If the US is not directly involved, it is at least indirectly supporting the Ethiopian effort. Think of this front as the Afghanistan Campaign, Part II, where a small US footprint works closely with aligned governments to defeat Islamic efforts to impose their will. If successful, it will be the model for the inevitable future conflicts that will spring up in other parts of the African continent. We have learned that the US military can be very effective when its presence is low-key, and its goal is to work alongside those forces that want our support. We have been working throughout this small piece of Africa from Djibouti for several years, and it appears that our efforts are paying off. Similar results have been seen in the Phillipines, where our SF folks have been working against the Islamic insurgents alongside the Phillipine government. This is the real form that the Long War will take, and this is how the US can prevail without inflaming world opinion. It is also eerily reminiscent of how the British and French fought their insurgencies in the 19th and 20th centuries.
I don't always agree with DEC, but this statement is easily the best response to Dan I've read yet:
If "Christian kindness" was the best strategy in this fight, the Islamic terrorists would be running soup kitchens rather than planting explosive devices in Iraq.
the vacuous moralizing is just tiresome. It seems that Dan is the Jimmy Carter of our era. Dan insists that we only have relations with pure christians whose motives are so holy that they cannot be questioned. Since no such country exists, Dan essentially demands paralysis.
We've heard this bleating endlessly and it is just useless jibber jabber. We heard "don Rumsfeld met Saddam Hussein!!! Oh my, ain't it awful?"
To which many of us patiently replied: "FDR shook Stalin's hand."
Are there limits for us? Of course but the fact of the matter is the world is a dangerous and complicated place and we have to weave our way through it.
We supported Saddam in his war against Iran. We supported Stalin in his war against Hitler. We support the ethiopians in their war against the islamic madmen. Are there downsides to these choices? certainly. but what are the alternatives? As DEC points out, the enemy never responds to kindness in a positive manner.
america's liberals begin to sound a lot like the Islamic fundamentalists. In both cases there is the expressed belief that some state of perfection is with the grasp of us mere mortals. The islamic fundamentalists belief this state will arise when everyone on the planet is Islamic. The American liberals believe this state will arrive when everyone on this planet is a socialist.
"america's liberals begin to sound a lot like the Islamic fundamentalists."
Interesting. I was thinking that, by opposing supporting and propping up genocidal madmen like Saddam, the "liberals" were sounding like Americans, while by supporting terrorists like Saddam, Pinochet and the Contras, the "conservatives" who did so were sounding a lot like Islamic Fundamentalists. The ends justify the means and any terrorists or terrorism you use to accomplish the means?
I'll stand by my opposition to terrorism.
Skip, I think the quote you were looking for was from Voltaire in 1772. “The Perfect is the enemy of the Good” My Philosophy class was years ago, I only found this because of the Google :)
Liberals have a two stanza song, and are unable to see the dichotomy.
1. We should only do International things with our allies.
2. Nobody in the world is as moral as we, therefore we should not ally with them.
So Dan, we're we wrong to join with Stalin as a means of ending hitler's rampage?
Stalin was a nasty man Dan, but we gave him everything he needed to defeat Hitler. Was that wrong? Should we have just gone down to defeat because our moral standards don't allow us to deal with people like him?
It is interesting that people bring up pinochet. A nasty man? yes indeedy. but Dan, why didn't he die in power? Uncle Fidel's gonna hang on to power till he dies, and then maybe a little while longer. Should we have supported Castro and not Pinochet? And which country is now better off economically Dan?
Frankly I think DEC got it right and you have no cogent response.
Yes siree Dan, you are the return of the son of Jimmy Carter. And what a success he was doncha think?
Oh and one more. The very young American nation had absolutely no problem doing business with Napoleon. none at all.
Terrible wasn't it? I mean imagine us selling food and raw materials to such a man. How awful of us!!!!
Should we be ashamed because we sided against England in that little fracas? I don't think so.
How about WW1? There was a big debate about which side we should join. do you recall any of that Dan? We were selling arms and food to the allies and thus sustaining them in the war. Had we embargoed everybody the war would have ended quickly with a German victory. Instead we funded the fighting.
shame on that guy Wilson, doncha think?
sorry Dan, the world is filled with tough choices and as DEC has pointed out to me on several occassions sometimes you have to compromise just to get something done.
Your unwillingness to compromise seems laudable but it ultimately makes the US ineffective. If that's your goal, why not just say so?
I was thinking that, by opposing supporting and propping up genocidal madmen like Saddam, the "liberals" were sounding like Americans, while by supporting terrorists like Saddam, Pinochet and the Contras, the "conservatives" who did so were sounding a lot like Islamic Fundamentalists.
Really? the morally pure American Liberals have NEVER propped up a nasty dictator?
Well here's a news flash Dan. The document you will find at this addy:http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/67584.pdf
Is a recently declassified analysis of the murder of two American Diplomats back in 1973.
Here's a snippet from the document Dan:
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with
the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat,
Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and
the head of Fatah.
Yes, Dan, it's that Yasser Arafat. The guy that held the record for most visits to the white house during the Clinton Administration.
The State Department KNEW that Arafat had ordered the killing of two of its own. Had they acted as you demand there would have been no Oslo accords. We should not have dealt with him according to you.
yet it was Bush who refused to meet with him. It was Bush who sent his people to every regional leader but Arafat. And the liberals in the media were appalled by this action.
the Oslo accords were useless as we both know but my point is this: it isn't a "conservative VS Liberal" argument. You guys don't hold the moral high ground on this one. clinton, the liberal icon that he is, would do a deal with the devil himself, that much is now quite clear.
You're still making the false assumption that I'm a liberal or that I care a thing about Clinton.
I've said it several times here, I don't see myself as a liberal or a conservative, or rather that I fit not so neatly in to both classical definitions, as do most people. I'm not opposed to working with, dialoging with disreputable folk. I think it unwise and immoral in the extreme to give them WMD and undue military support or legitimacy when they're using it to kill innocent people.
This seems like a notion that most on the Right or Left should be able to unite behind. It's not really that radical an idea.
Dan, but you list only bad guys of the right. Whatever you may believe about yourself, such leakage is important.
It is emotionally satisfying to gaze at the horizon, hand to heart, and be opposed to terrorism, though.
Broken record time: The US maintained for decades that we were involved in South and Central American countries because the USSR was destabilizing the area by supporting communist revolutionary groups of extreme nastiness. We supported the best we could find of those who had some chance of preventing yet another descent of an impoverished nation into the abject poverty of marxism. We admitted all along that many of these characters were unsavory.
The USSR collapsed, we left, so that those nations could decide of their own accord what they wanted to be. We were good to our word, despite all the leftist sneers that it could not possibly be so.
In light of this, the repeated complaint from the left about all the horrible dictators we supported seems shallow. We were restrained, educative, and chose the best we could. This is reality we're in, not a board game.
yet you used the terms liberal and conservative dan.
Aren't these your words?
the "liberals" were sounding like Americans, while by supporting terrorists like Saddam, Pinochet and the Contras, the "conservatives" who did so were sounding a lot like Islamic Fundamentalists.
And I mentioned Clinton not because you support him, but because he's viewed as an icon of the left.
the point remains, people will make the best choices they can, as AVI points out.
We’re surely backing the Ethopians. The official denials on the subject have an especially evasive tone to them.
If you’re going to fight a war on the other side of the world, this is how you do it. This is the exact opposite of the idiotic Iraq war. You find yourself some allies and you pay them. The Ethiopians have been fighting the Somalis forever. They’re good at it and they work cheap. We did the same thing with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and it worked out pretty well. Proxy is the way to fight a war without getting your hands dirty.
Dan, I appreciate your moral stance. However, rather than saying the U.S. should never do X, I think it is more important to think about it in terms of costs and benefits to us and to people in the region. Is it to the long term cost to all involved of Somalia being run by the Islamic Courts more or less than the Ethiopians dislodging them, probably leaving chaos (chaos is Somalia’s natural state). I don’t know. It could come out either way. I am not convinced the Horn of Africa is strategically that important anymore. Any significant terrorist training has been moved to Iraq. There is no substitute for real battlefield experience.
For my part, I’m just glad to see some old school realism creeping back into U.S. foreign policy.
More good news from Somalia:
"Several American military and intelligence sources have informed us that the Ethiopians are not taking 'foreign' prisoners on the battlefield - al-Qaeda fighters are being summarily executed."
Allen (who referenced field executions as good news), are we celebrating war crimes now?
"the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."
Forget compassion or reasonable prudence about unintended consequences, am I the only one here concerned about the rule of law?
I sure hope that we're not waging another covert war.
The coverup was pretty lousy if you're talking about it wasn't it?
Read the last few years of CJTF-HOA press releases (completely ignored by US media) and its pretty obvious what has been going in in the HOA for quite some time.
There's nothing "covert" here in any profound sense - the media has simply been ignoring the region.
As far as I can tell, Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. Even if they were, those "foreign" fighters aren't entitled to GC protections - they do not follow the rules of land warfare: they do not wear uniforms, and hide among civilian populations. I'm sorry if I can't shed a tear for Al Qeada terrorists who are summarily executed on the battlefields of Somalia...
Forget compassion or reasonable prudence about unintended consequences, am I the only one here concerned about the rule of law?
I nearly spilled my very dry martin miller's martini (up with a twist of lime) when I read this. Have you ever been outside of the U.S., Dan Trabue? It would give you an idea how fragile the "rule of law" really is, definitely a relative concept. Good luck imposing the "rule of law" on the third world.
I was asked:
"Have you ever been outside of the U.S., Dan Trabue?"
I don't travel much - can't afford to. But I have been to Nicaragua. I've visited some of the same poor villages that were terrorized by our tax dollars, by our foreign policy, by our war crimes.
I've seen the devastation caused by our well-meaning policies designed to protect us from the communist boogiemen. I've heard from the people themselves, now impoverished by our economic policies that strangle them rather than our military policies.
One widow lady said to me, "We weren't doing perfectly, but we had education for our children, farms to work on, electricity usually, relatively clean water." Then she turned her dark eyes on me and asked, "Why? Who gave this man, Reagan, the right to destroy our country?"
It is a good question deserving an honest answer. The honest answer is that we have allowed the rich and powerful to set the rules. We have set our own selfish wants above the very basic needs of our neighbors. We have said, "America first. Take our crumbs or be stepped on but don't get in our way."
That's what I learned on my one visit out of our blessed nation to one cursed by our foreign policies (as well as by some of their own leaders).
Have you been to another nation that has been the target of our foreign policies?
It was very unsporting of Reagan to level the playing field in Nicaragua. All those elections over the years deprived the good folk the chance to revel in the utopian experiences of the citizens of Romania and North Korea, for example. Moreover, by depriving the CCCP and Castro of another base, the demise of the Soviet was advanced and the legacy of Senor Che curtailed.
You did not answer my question about capital punishment.
It's off-topic but I'm generally opposed to capital punishment.
And I don't know what the hell you're talking about with Reagan. He corrupted the election process. The Nicaraguan people elected Ortega (not a perfect election, but an election nonetheless) after the Sandinistas overthrew the corrupt and oppressive (and one-time US-backed) Somoza regime. Reagan undermined the democratic process by supporting the Contras in overthrowing Ortega's gov't.
What does it take for y'all to register evil and be opposed to it? Are you just unfamiliar with the history involved?
K. Pablo, if you think Dan is naive you probably missed Miss Ladybug's curious remark about the supposed "rules of land warfare" which apparently include the requirement that soldiers wear uniforms. By this standard, he/she would've also supported the summary execution of captured minutemen in the American Revolution.
Also, it is one thing to not sympathize with the execution of Islamists on the battlefields of Somalia but quite another to celebrate it. We don't have to like our enemies to like the idea of dealing with them with some semblance of decency. The alternative is a decent into barbarism and I for one am not planning to take moral cues from the likes of Al Qaeda.
Dan, you're wasting your time with this lot.
"All those elections over the years deprived the good folk the chance to revel in the utopian experiences of the citizens of Romania and North Korea, for example."
allen, I'm a little confused. What elections? The Contras were re-branded Somoza loyalists. Somoza didn't like any election that he hadn't rigged. If Ortega wasn't democratic enough for your tastes, fair enough, but let us not pretend the "freedom fighters" were any better.
"K. Pablo, if you think Dan is naive you probably missed Miss Ladybug's curious remark about the supposed "rules of land warfare" which apparently include the requirement that soldiers wear uniforms. By this standard, he/she would've also supported the summary execution of captured minutemen in the American Revolution."
So... you're opposed the Law of War, then?
But... the Law of War has an allowance for spontaneous resistance by a population against foreign incursion provided that they themselves follow the Law of War. Who knew?
You don't know what you're talking about, and I'm sure I'm wasting my time with you. Good day.
"How many free, fair, and open elections were held in Nicaragua prior to 1990?"
According to my friends who've lived there and other friends who've visited there frequently and the Nicaraguans I met who've lived there all their lives, free, fair and open elections were held in the 1980s and they know because they voted in them.
Were they flawed? Yes. Was/is Ortega a flawed candidate? Yes. Was he the popular choice by a large margin? Yes, it appears so to anyone who has lived there or visited and asked. You still see Sandinista and Ortega signs all over the place.
As to the "free, fair and open" elections in 1990 - those elections were held at the end of a rifle. The US was telling Nica that you vote for Ortega and the Contras will continue to terrorize. The Nicaraguans had ten years of Contra terrorism and were tired of it and feared (or so the Nicaraguans I talked to told me) that if they re-elected Ortega for a third time, that the US would continue their support for the Contra war. They had no reason to believe otherwise. Don't complain to me about the "free" elections prior to the "free" election of 1990.
Between 1979 and 1986, over 100,000 Nicaraguans died as a direct result of the terrorism of the Contras, half of which were children. Since the 1990s, the death rate has been similarly high due to poverty (second only to Haiti in the region) that is a result at least partially of US foreign economic policy (their own leadership is largely responsible, as well).
This is responsible foreign policy to you? Are you familiar with US and Nica's history besides what you may have read in Reagan's biography? Have you been to Nicaragua? Talked to actual Nicaraguans?
" how many free, fair, and open elections have been held in Nicaragua in last 70 years?"
Let's see, why might there not have been free, fair and open elections in Nicaragua over the last 70 years? Let's revisit their history:
1927-1934: After five hundred battles fought against U.S. marines and sympathizers, Sandino successfully expels U.S. armed forces from Nicaragua.
1934: The U.S. withdraws, leaving Nicaraguan military officer, Anastasio Somoza as Commander of the National Guard.
1934: Under the tutelage of Arthur Bliss Lane, U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, Somoza masterminds the assassination of Augusto César Sandino.
1936: Anastasio Somoza founds a brutal dictatorship, fueled by U.S. funds, which is passed from father to son to brother for over 43 years.
1979: Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas overthrow the corrupt and brutal Somoza regime (which had become so corrupt that even the US no longer backed him...)
Yes, free and open elections have been sparse in Nicaragua. I'd have supported them having more democracy and less interventionism. You?
So... you're opposed the Law of War, then?
No, I'm just not silly enough to believe that laws apply to warfare in practice. Nor am I sufficiently maniacal to seek out loopholes in codified principles in order to justify the manhandling and execution of people that I don't like.
As that game goes, the exception you cite is neither internally consistent, (in particular, it can be read as, 'a resistance group can break the rules of war provided that they follow the rules of war'), nor actually applicable to the American Revolution, (which was not a foreign incursion, rather a war of succession, and could under no circumstances be described as 'spontaneous'- neither the war itself nor the militia which were a fixture of the colonial army).
If you tire of searching through the so-called laws of war for the golden loophole- and surely getting the sizing right will be tricky- you're welcome to change it up with the response you owe me on this. And a good day to you too pal.
So, Allen, how about some of my questions?
Would you have preferred that we weren't intervening in Nicaragua's politics for the last 70 years and intermittently supporting the Somoza regime?
Was it responsible foreign policy to support the Contra terrorists? Should the Reagan Whitehouse have been held accountable for breaking our own laws in selling arms to Iran to raise money for terrorists in Nicaragua?
Have you been to Nicaragua? Do you know anyone who lives there? Have you spoken to Nicaraguans? What do you know of their history beyond what you may have read from Right Wing organizations?
re: “100,000 Nicaraguans died as a direct result of the terrorism of the Contras”
Where did you get this number? Please link. I ask because President-elect Daniel Ortega reportedly now claims the total number of civilian deaths during the civil war as 30,000.
If I understand you, Nicaragua may have had free, fair, and open elections at some point(s) between 1936 and 2006. You believe the 1990 election was a fraud, despite being brokered and monitored by international neutral observers. You give no hint as to whether the elections of 1996, 2001, and 2006 were also flawed. I take it you find unqualifiedly legitimate only the first election of Daniel Ortega.
I was relying upon my memory of past research - always a chancy thing to do.
A quick search found your number supported here:
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Contra terrorists "only" killed 30,000 as opposed to 100,000. I apologize for sloppy reporting.
As to the elections, what I said was that there were NOT free elections from what I understand from 1934 to 1984. This was because of the US-backed Somoza regime.
What I asked you was: Would you have us support that sort of anti-democratic policy (of backing Somoza) if it were up to you? Would you have us fund terrorists if it were up to you? Would you endorse the killing of tens of thousands of mostly innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists if it were up to you?
I'm saying that we should learn from our mistakes. We ought NOT to support terrorism.
Again, I can't believe I'm having to argue in defense of not supporting terrorism!
Well, this is egregious:
By this standard, he/she would've also supported the summary execution of captured minutemen in the American Revolution.
Just exactly when were the GC's adopted? If they were adopted, as I suspect to be the case, well after our American revolution, then what were the understood principles of land warfare at the time anon?
since my interest is in naval history I am unfamiliar with the standards of conduct at the time of the Revolution. It is quite possible that the British could have hung the minute men for any number of reasons. So what?
Ladybug's point is clear: the so called islamic fighters are simply not entitled to GC protections.
the single most important "rule" is might makes right. The rules are those of the most powerful. In the case in hand here, the Ethiopians are making the rules. They are the most potent force in that field.
Frankly, I have no problem celebrating the deaths of those islamic fighters in Somalia. It's a great thing that they are dead and I fervently hope that more will die soon.
In addition, I think a great way to raise money for various charities in Iraq would be to sell tickets to Saddam's hanging. Perhaps we could do a deluxe package where one can not only witness the execution but return in a few days to piss on his grave.
During the American Revolution, I'm sure many Minutemen were summarily executed by the British. The Crown viewed them as traitors, deserving of death. The Minutemen, I'm sure, knew what they would face if captured.
And, yes, Skip, that was my point - those foreign fighters aren't entitled to GC protections, even if Ethiopia were a signatory to them.
Dan, I don't think you're saying "we should learn from our mistakes" at all.
I think you're saying that we should only have relations with those people who meet your standards of behavior.
You are applying hindsight to decisions. Looking back helps us learn but it shouldn't paralyze us. You demand that we never do anything that might have a negative out come. Unfortunately life all too often forces us to chose the lesser of two evils.
Should we support terrorists? No certainly not. Are we responsible for everything someone does because we worked with them once? NO.
We helped Stalin defeat Hitler. Stalin then went on a reign of terror in his own country. Were we wrong? ARe we to blame for stalin's purges because we supported him instead of Hitler?
Here are your own words Dan:
(which had become so corrupt that even the US no longer backed him...)
What you are saying here is that Somoza went beyond what America was willing to tolerate. Who owns Somoza's choices Dan? Us, or him?
Somoza apparently wasn't too nice a guy, yet the alternative to him was even more distasteful.
Can you speak to Fidel Castro Dan? What choices were presented to America when Fidel moved against Batista? Applying your "rules" to that situation, what was the right course for US foreign policy?
The 30,000 civilian fatalities comprise ALL casualties inflicted by both sides. So, again your reckoning is flawed. It is highly unlikely anyone could give an accurate accounting of the numbers of civilian deaths attributable to each side, but partisans do try.
You claim the Contras were a “terrorist” organization. This designation is based upon what authority? Certainly, the government of the United States made no such claim, either pre or post-Reagan. In fact, the Contras were a loosely affiliated menagerie of anti-Sandinista gaggles, having only a hatred of the Sandinistas in common. Indeed, the Sandinista regime was hardly monolithic itself. It is unquestionably true that atrocities were commonly inflicted by both sides. This should come as no surprise given the brutality of internecine warfare.
Should the foreign policy of the United States always be morally pristine? Yes. Has it ever been? No. Will it ever be? Not until pigs fly. The period of the troubles in Nicaragua corresponds to that seeing worldwide Soviet expansionism. It was the duty of the government of the United States to stall and/or turn back Soviet political and/or territorial gains. The Reagan administration took this charge much more seriously than had the previous administration.
Despite all the obvious, manifest blemishes laid at the feet of Mr. Reagan’s administration of American foreign policy, the people of Nicaragua have enjoyed four elections free of widespread violence, evidenced by the large voter turnout in each.
I doubt you will find anyone commenting at this site favoring terrorism.
I have never been to Nicaragua. I have known Nicaraguans. I have never read any Reagan biography, taking the point of TigerHawk’s father: good history must age past the life-spans of most of the participants.
Finally, in the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “As they say: You can have your own opinions, but you can't have your own facts.”
skipsailing and miss ladybug,
You're both off on tangents. The relevant point is not whether I can try the redcoats for executing Minutemen in some historical-neo-dweebie-cyber-court, but whether you feel it was or would have been just or fair or right for them to be. If as I gather, you do believe it would've been- after all, wern't illegal neither- then you would both make excellent bureaucrats. That is, if you aren't excelling already.
As for the chest thumping skip, I suppose it's possible you rejoice at the death of these enemies because you foolishly believe it makes us more safe and secure, but I'm guessing the truth is closer to your own perverse edification. Perhaps you'd like it better if they were killed mortal combat style, with they're heads ripped off and eyes gouged out? Well, that's fine and good but life's not a playstation. I'm sure I speak for a majority of Americans who are decent people when I say that I want nothing to do with your conscience or your karma.
"The 30,000 civilian fatalities comprise ALL casualties inflicted by both sides. So, again your reckoning is flawed. It is highly unlikely anyone could give an accurate accounting of the numbers of civilian deaths attributable to each side, but partisans do try."
The only reason the civil war continuied through the 80's was Reagan's support of the Contras. The Somocistas had already lost. They were resurrected from the dustbin of history for one last anti-communist proxy war. No funding for the contras, no war. No war, no death. The funding for the contras was the reason all of those people died.
We can debate its wisdom, but in retrospect, its costs are pretty clear.
Anonoymus---Personally, I rejoice in the death of our enemies because they are our enemies--because they believe blowing up busses or classrooms full of children, chopping off people's heads for trying to teach women how to read, pushing building buildings over on people's heads for being gay, enslaving little boys to ride camels, nuking israel to hasten the coming of the 12th imamn, are pretty cool things to do. I get the sense you suffer from typcial liberal trust-fund baby guilt. Please expiate your guilt/buy your nights' sleep some other way than by stealing money from me or getting me and my family blown up. If you really feel so guilty about being born rich, give your money away and go build houses in some poor third world country. We're not the lambs of (whatever-fill-in-the-blank) god, so stop trying to unload your sins on us
That was all very humorous, (not to mention informative. I wasn't aware that inheritance so increased the risk of messiah complex), but you didn't answer the question. Redcoats summary execution of Minutemen, right or wrong? Why? Go on, make a point. Everyone struggles the first time.
You're the one who brought up the Minutemen and the American Revolution. I just responded to your comment.
The Minutemen were traitors to the British Crown. To my knowledge, execution is a common punishment for treason. The Minutemen would have known what the consequences were for taking up arms against The Crown, and they did it anyway. I like to think that I would have been supportive of the Minutemen, and not The Crown, had I lived back then. If so, I could have faced execution myself, if caught. But I'll never know, because I didn't live then and can't say what I would have actually done.
To compare American Revolutionaries to the FOREIGN fighters in Somalia is foolish. A more accurate comparison would be the Somalia anti-government forces. As it is my understanding that these fighters are NOT facing summary execution.
I must have missed the humor, Dan--ahem, I'm sorry--I mean "anonymous." I don't think collectively getting on our knees to fellate our would-be enslavers because, after all, "we're no better" is a particularly funny idea. As for your sophmoric would-be philisophical delimma, please see the definition of "moral equivalence." I suppose that to you, there is no difference between people who want to kill every man woman and child on the planet who doesn't agree that it is a mortal sin to allow women to drive or to allow people to listen to music or to allow people to publish cartoons and the rebellious American colonists. People who condemn rape victims to death if they can't get four males to confirm their allegations and who bury women up to their necks and kill them by bombarding them with stones on the barest allegation of adultery are no worse than American soldiers trying to make sure your fool head doesn't get chopped off. Right? Wow, you learned a lot in your freshman philosophy class. I'm impressed.
Daddy's money is obviously being very well spent....
Why can't I find any good background on this issue. Everywhere I go to find the facts, it's completely ideologically driven. I read an interesting article on Craigslist or NJville.com this morning about the Proxy war angle, but cmon...are we responsible for everything in the world..
TheMan--ahem, I'm sorry--I mean "anonymous," I have no need to hide behind an anonymous label. My real-world name is always there to tell you who is speaking.
The reason it is important for us to come out against the tools of terrorism is because it is our moral grounding, our justification for legitimate actions we take. If we say, as some here seem to be saying, that it IS okay sometimes to use war crime-level actions (executions in the field), or support terrorists (the Contras), or support oppressive leaders (Saddam, Pinochet, Somoza, etc, etc) is that we are saying that terrorism is okay.
Instead of saying, "NO. There are some actions that are just wrong. We ought never target innocents. We ought never target children. If we're going to engage in war, then we ought to abide by some basic humanitarian rules..." instead of saying that, we are saying that it IS okay sometimes to kill innocents, to support terrorists and oppression. And once we have done that, we have said that the terrorists actions in general are okay, just that we disagree with their targets.
We must have a code we live by. I think most Americans agree with this. This watered-down, relativistic, "evil can sometimes be okay," is not only morally wrong, it is wrong-headed policy.
Once again Dan you're being vague and dodging hard questions.
I asked about the choice between bautista and castro. It's a straightforward practical example of the kind of choices America faces. You chose not to answer.
Instead you offer us pap--universally accepted homilies that offer little practical insight.
Pap? Like "Thou shalt not murder" "Thou shalt not bear false witness..."?
Do you consider moral values "pap," really?
Once again, and finally: We must have rules we live by. Otherwise, we are advocating rule of the most ruthless, the most willing to be most evil, might makes right, ends justify the means.
If you think my answer not straightforward enough, I'll say it again, more directly: We ought not have supported Pinochet. I ought not to have supported Castro. We ought to have engaged them to encourage positive change.
Where we have a dangerous dictator, we ought to encourage positive change without siding with another dangerous dictator. Why? Because it is wrong to endorse terrorism and brutality.
That seems as straightforward to me as one could expect.
I was wrong about the bureaucrat- politics appears to be your true vocation. I say that because it is more difficult to get you to answer a question than it was to get Bill admit to Monica. Next you're going to be telling me it depends on what the meaning of the word is is.
Indeed, it was me who brought up the American Revolution- I did so to highlight the painfully frivolous justification you gave for the summary execution of foreign fighters in Somalia. I had expected that my citing the parallel would make this point patently obvious, however, since willful obstinacy seems to be the order of the day on this blog, it would appear I have to spell it out:
The justification for summary execution in your original post would also justify the same treatment of Minutemen on the battlefields of the American Revolution. Given that, and given that such treatment of minutemen was or would have been immoral, not to mention counterproductive for the British, if I were the one trying to justify the shooting, beating to death, burning at the stake, drawing and quartering, etc. of captured foreign fighters in Somalia, I would consider rethinking my justification (or thinking, full stop). By contrast, you refuse to rectify the breadth of circumstances your justification applies to with any sort of moral judgment, notably not willing to say that the execution of Minutemen was/would be fine and dandy or vis versa. The, "They knew the risks..." and, "The British would have seen them as..." routines are non sequiturs (also btw, Confederates were traitors in the eyes of the North in the Civil War, but I don't recall hearing about many executions, summary or otherwise, of their troops).
In the event that you continue to find such plain language unintelligible, I will go one step further by making the type of statements I have been trying to coax out of you all this time, on my own behalf: I do not think that the circumstances of the Minutemen and that of the foreign fighters in Somalia are the same- there are significant material differences which I gather could be made clear and codified in law. However, in addition to not being in favor of the execution of American Revolutionaries, I am also not in favor of the summary execution of captured fighters for any reason. This opinion of mine is informed by the knowledge that once we throw off the standards of decency, we lose site of the empathy that makes us human. This does not mean that there shouldn't be penalties for breaking the law up to and including capital punishment. What it does mean is that we cannot yield to our own vengeance or bloodlust for our own well being, and that there is a world of difference between the two.
There now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
There is no moral equivalence or philosophical dilemma here which makes you thick in addition to a self-parody (notwithstanding the astute deduction that I am actually Dan, liberal and living on daddy's money). Hate to break it to you, but your wife didn't leave you for a trust fund baby because you aren't rich. It's the auto-fellation routine she couldn't stomach. Smell you later.
Yes, Dan, thou shalt not murder is pap. Not because it isn't a valuable constraint on human impulses but because it offers no true insight into the question at hand.
I gather from your response that you support Castro. Why? Because he appeared to be better than the man he was seeking to replace? Or because he was a communist and they automatically get a pass?
If you supported castro then you've admitted that you guessed wrong about the man. YOu applied hindsight to your own decision. Do you see my point? We have to make the best choices we can with the data that is available to us. We own our choices but the bad guys own their behavior.
Lofty morals notwithstanding we live in a world that requires hard choices. It's a hard world.
That anonymous guy must be a college professor. Such a whole bunch of words to say absolutely nothing. Bravo!
As a confirmed nightschool undergrad I developed a term for professors, and anonymous (whoever the heck he is) brought that term to mind.
The term was "Proffing". It is what professors do. Proffing is defined as the art and science of making the unimportant unintelligible.
Well done anonymous. Rarely has one person written so much and said so little. Good on ya mate.
And ladybug: you got to that boy, I'm impressed.
"I gather from your response that you support Castro. "
You gather incorrectly. I don't support Castro and I think there are serious issues with his regime. If I were a Cuban, I'd be working to get him out.
But I'm not a Cuban.
Now, to the degree that he may commit human rights violations, it is my problem. But it is not the US' place to go around willy nilly overthrowing the leaders of sovreign nations. EVEN IF we had good human rights reason to (as in the case of Saddam), we can see that there is no such thing as a neat coup. It really depends upon the free people of a nation to deal with bad leaders.
The most the US should do is support folk (but not with WMDs and not with a replacement strongman) who'd work within their nation to replace bad leaders. Lofty morals are not lofty. They are a framework for how we work out our day-to-day life. And one of those frames in that framework should always, always be: We do not support terrorism.
And now, I'm truly finished with this ridiculous argument. If there are a handful of people here who believe in the ocassional use of terrorism, you are in the minority and I pray that your tribe may decrease.
Back to the comparison of American Revolutionaries to the foreign fighters in Somalia:
Hard as it may be to say, but the British were justified in any summary execution of Minutemen during the American Revolution. The Minutemen were committing treason, and to this day, a consequence of treason is execution. By virtue of the fact that Minutemen were on a battlefield fighting against British soldiers would appear to have been sufficient evidence of their crimes against The Crown. And as far as I know, the Minutemen only fought and killed other soldiers (the British and Hessian mercenary forces).
Now, on to the foreign fighters in Somalia - it is their intent to bring Sharia law to this region, whether or not the people living there want it or not. These types of people would see women treated as no more than property, not allowed to be educated or to make choices for how a woman wants to live her life. These people would execute others for something as benign as watching a soccer match on television.
Anyhow, back to what makes one a prisoner of war, referencing Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions (source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva03.htm#art4):
Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
These people might have some chain-of-command, but they don't have a "fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance", they often don't carry arms openly, and they definitely don't conduct their operations "in accordance with the laws and customs of war".
So, whatever protections are supposed to be guaranteed to prisoners of war, these people aren't entitled to them. I would say that by virtue of them being captured on the battlefield is sufficient evidence of their crimes against Somalia.
The legal case is open and shut and has been since the start. Minutemen could be executed for treason, the Geneva Conventions require reciprocity (a practicality which is echoed all throughout the legal realm). Unfortunately, this is not where I am going. Was it right? Is it just? These questions are also relevant, don't you think? Saying that, I am less than surprised that someone who cannot differentiate between morality and legality would espouse the view that such barbarity is just, justified, right and righteous. I would try to persuade you that this bureaucratic way of thinking is unrewarding, but that's an epiphany that should be self-inspired.
In any case, you did say that "British were justified in summary execution of minutemen". In that, you may be interested to find that both General George Washington and the Commander in Chief of British forces in North America at the start of the War for Independence, General Thomas Gage, didn't agree with you. This letter is written by General Washington to General Gage on the subject. I have highlighted a few segments in bold of which I encourage you to take note:
Head Quarters, Cambridge, August 11, 1775
Treatment of prisoners
I understand that the Officers engaged in the Cause of Liberty and their Country, who by the Fortune of War have fallen into your Hands, have been thrown, indiscriminately, into a common Gaol appropriated for Felons; That no Consideration has been had for those of the most respectable Rank, when languishing with Wounds, and Sickness; that some have been even amputated, in this unworthy Situation.
Let your Opinion, Sir, of the Principle which Actuates them, be what it may, they suppose they act from the noblest of all Principles, a Love of Freedom, and their Country: But political Opinions I conceive are foreign to this Point; the Obligations arising from the Rights of Humanity, and Claims of Rank are universally binding, and extensive (except in case of Retaliation): These I should have hoped, would have dictated a more tender Treatment of those Individuals, whom Chance or War had put in your Power. Nor can I forbear suggesting its fatal Tendency, to widen that unhappy Breach, which you, and those Ministers under whom you act, have repeatedly declared you wish’d to see forever closed.
My Duty now makes it necessary to apprize you, that for the future I shall regulate my Conduct towards those Gentlemen, who are or may be in our Possession, exactly by the Rule you shall observe towards those of ours, now in your Custody.
If Severity and Hardship mark the Line of your Conduct (painful as it may be to me) your Prisoners will feel its Effects: But if Kindness and Humanity are shewn to ours, I shall with Pleasure consider those in our Hands, only as unfortunate, and they shall receive from me that Treatment, to which the unfortunate are ever intitled.
I beg to be favoured with an Answer, as soon as possible, and am Sir, etc.
The section emboldened echos my (hopelessly less eloquent) point made in the closing paragraph of my previous post to you. Once a race to the bottom has begun, barbarity is the lone victor- civilization the abject casualty. This point is also echoed in General Gage's response to Washington. Unfortunately there, I wasn't able to find a transcript. However, as it was fascinating to read, I went so far as transcribing its first half (with possible errors though none of omission) and skimming the second half, which is on the order of yada yada yada, except its humorous understated close (we'd rather not fight, but the terms the rebels are seeking are, "very distant from accommodation"). Here's what I managed to get through:
To the Glory of Civilized Nations, humanity and war have been compatible; and compassion for the subdued is become almost a general system.
Britons, ever preeminent in Glory, have outgone common examples and overlooked the Criminal in the Captive. Upon these principles your prisoners, whose lives by the Laws of the Land are destined to the Lord, have hitherto been treated with care and kindness, and more comfortably lodged than the Kings Troops in the Hospitals, indiscriminately it is true for I acknowledge no rank that is not derived from the King.
My intelligence from your army would justify severe recrimination. I understand there are of the King's faithful subjects, taken sometime since by the rebels, laboring like negro slaves to gain their daily subsistence or reduced to the wretched alternative, to perish by famine or take arms against their king and country. Those who have made the treatment of the prisoners in my hands, or of your other prison in Boston, a pretense for such measures, found barbarity upon falsehood.
I would willingly hope sir, that the sentiments of liberality, which I have always believed you to profess, will be asserted to correct these misdoings.
Notice first that General Gage acknowledges the letter of the law in his declaration that it was his intention to ignore it- overlooking, "the Criminal in the Captive". The penalty for the crime of record, treason, would of course have been execution. Notice also General Gage's use of language. He says, "compassion for the subdued"- not 'compassion for soldiers taken in arms as defined by section 13, paragraph 45 of the 4th convention on...'. This is an ideal- not a legal document- an ideal extending to all 'subdued'. Moreover, he confirms his commitment to treating captured Rebels as he calls them, and makes no distinction for militia and regulars (which at the time would've been silly as the entire army were militia). You can see the document for yourself here:
I should note again that I do no liken the circumstance of the colonial militia to that of Islamist Foreigners except in that the original legal exceptions you put forth fit both, and that that fact should fire off some synapses. Nevertheless, there is a salient commonality in that the treatment we advocate of any 'subdued' will determine the steadfastness of Washington's "unhappy breach"- and that alone is sufficient reason to warrant restraint.
I am mystified at the efforts "Anonymous" went through to develop his rather trivial point. I am further mystified that Ms. Ladybug or anyone would pay any attention to someone posting as "Anonymous". If you want to play in the sandbox, you should at least have the stones to tell the other children your name....
Bear it in mind Pablo that stones are not brains. So while you should have to possess brass cahones to don your ignoramus like gilded macaroni, you'll also find yourself as accomplished as a fart in a spacesuit and about as popular. Thanks for the inspiration Ka Ka Ka K.