RANGER AGAINST WAR: Everything Ancien is Nouveau Again <

Monday, April 07, 2008

Everything Ancien is Nouveau Again

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

, Sound of Music

My soul has dwelt too long

With one who hates peace.

I am for peace;

But when I speak, they are for war

--Psalm 120

If they kill more Russians, they win.
If we kill more Frenchmen, we win.

Boris Gruschenko:
What do we win?
--Love and Death

The French Revolution followed on the heels of the American Revolution, and both were based upon the concept that individuals had rights and were entitled to legalities that superseded and were more fundamental than the right of kings and governments to impose arbitrary rules upon the citizenry.

The blatant barbarism of imprisoning citizens at the Bastille without legal justification was the match that ignited their revolution
, and the storming and destruction of that prison was the symbol for the French Revolution. Fast-forward 210 years and 23,000 Iraqi citizens are now imprisoned by a U.S. Army of occupation within Iraqi borders, sans trials. Reliable figures are not available from Afghanistan, but undoubtedly there are large-scale prisons operated by U.S. forces in that country as well.

Similarly, prisoners at Gitmo are also held indefinitely, denied Geneva Convention (G.C.) protections or judicial processes. A recent WaPo piece on the Supreme Court case of Omar and Munif,
two American citizens held in a U.S. prison for over three years without access to lawyers or judges, said U.S. courts have struggled in the past to "determine whether indefinite detention is lawful" (A Day in Court Denied.)

Indefinite detention ≠ legality.
Indefinite detention is barbarous and hearkens back to the Bastille. One doesn't need recourse to John Yoo's legalistic contortions to figure that out. Only if one wants to sleep better at night.

President Bush's focus and therefore that of most of the U.S. public has been on the several hundred personnel held in the legal hell hole that is Gitmo. But what about the 23,000 held in Iraq, and the untold thousands in Afghanistan? What about any other secret prisons run by the U.S. that we have yet to hear about?

What is the legal basis for the U.S holding prisoners within sovereign borders of foreign nations? The host nations should have the legal jurisdiction to arrest and adjudicate criminal behavior. Assuredly this is the rule of law to which U.S. leaders pay lip service.

What are U.S. plans for these 23,000 Iraqi prisoners? Turn them over to a government that may torture or execute them? Release them? What do you do with people whom you've detained and imprisoned without a trial?

It is safe to say they will not become poster boys for the American justice system. What about their families and loved ones? How many enemies have our actions created through the ripple effect?

The United Nations has bought into this scenario by designating the U.S. an occupying power in Iraq and as such, the U.S. may imprison Iraqis. The problem with this is the only justification for the arrests and imprisonments are based upon the requirement for the occupying power to maintain law and order, and this requires accepting the legal framework outlined in the G.C. (section: responsibilities of the occupying powers), a document we have already eviscerated.

This is a might hypocritical. Legal treaties are documents accepted wholesale. It is not like entering a salvage yard where one may pick and pull what one needs with a crowbar.

Where do these detentions lead? To democracy, as Mr. Bush contends, or to another totalitarian regime?

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Aux armes, citoyens !
Formez vos bataillons !
Marchons, marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !
Aux armes, citoyens !
Formons nos bataillons !
Marchons, marchons !
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons !

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys said...

There is more in common with the "ancien regime" of France than illegal incarceration (tho' I believe, if memory serves, the Bastille only had about seven prisoners at the time it was stormed). The incredible gulf between indecently rich and pathetically poor is growing to resemble France before it's little nationwide experiment in revolutionary terror, too!

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 6:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

it's true, the bastille was in a state of disuse, the most notable, and notorious prisoner was the marquis de sade (who had chances to escape but was too deranged to get himself out). like most insurgents, the bastille was more important as a symbol, and while it housed no prisoners, it still carried a full compliement of guards.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 11:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, MB.

Every movement needs its rallying cry and grand gesture. Think, "No taxation without representation," the Boston Tea Party, . . .

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 11:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I would've stormed the Bastille only if Martha Stewart were a prisoner. I always liked her cake recipes.

I realize that there were only a few prisoners and it was a symbolic target, as MB points out. the goal of all terrorism is to affect an audience beyond the immediate target. All insurgent groups usually emulate this philosophy.

Yes, there is an excessive gulf not only in the U.S. but in the entire world, between the haves and have-nots. Until the U.S. political system recognizes this fact, there will be no meaningful accommodations made within our national framework.

Our leadership doesn't reflect the needs of the people. Nor is there any compromise within our two-party system to accommodate those needs. The top 2% get their needs met.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at 2:45:00 PM GMT-5  

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