RANGER AGAINST WAR: Magical Mystery Tour <

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Magical Mystery Tour

Although we have a strong nostalgic streak,
we are a hard people who no less than the ancient Romans
entertain ourselves with a steady diet of throat slitting
and torture images that can only work
to pound the tenderness out of us 
--Try a Little Tenderness, Gordon Marino 

They offer me neither food nor drink -- 
intellectual nor spiritual consolation...
[Conservatism] leads nowhere; it satisfies no ideal;
it conforms to no intellectual standard, it is not safe,
or calculated to preserve from the spoilers
that degree of civilization which we have already attained. 
--On the Conservative Party, John Maynard Keynes 
_____________________

The first article ever presented on RangerAgainstWar was titled, "Terrorism -- Is It Warfare?" (first published in Military Police, 1985).  Because the question has never been answered definitively, the United States has been fighting in two countries for over a decade.  23 years later, the question is still in play.

The latest iteration occurs in context of the President ordering drone strikes against U.S. citizens for suspicion of terrorist activities.  Let's go back to the start and talk about the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), the document being used as the justification for the recent drone killings.  The AUMF is NOT a declaration of war but rather a feeble effort to apply the logic and standards of war to the activity of terrorism by creating a nether zone between criminality and warfare.

But terrorism is not warfare; terrorism is a criminal activity and therefore, a law enforcement concern.  Congress may authorize whatever is on their agenda, but they may not alter the reality and definitions of what constitutes war. As terrorism is criminal behavior and not war, the President has no constitutional authority to apply the concepts of warfare to justify his assassination program.  Assassination is not a mete response to criminal behavior.

The President may or may not have the constitutional authority to use deadly force to counter a threat, but there is no law allowing him to act as judge, jury and executioner.  The President may order the military to use force in a legitimate manner, but may not order them (or the CIA or the FBI) to authorize extrajudicial deadly force missions.

There are no provisions in our U.S. code for preemptive executions.  We do not field adjudicate even miscreants like the spree shooters of late.  Though these defectives are just as heinous as terrorists, we still respect their right to Due Process.

How have we come to accept a death sentence sans trial as being appropriate for anyone? Why has the concept of "burden of proof" disappeared?  Why do we trust career intelligence analysts to give a "thumbs down" on someone's life?  Ditto sleazy CIA directors or political appointees?

If terrorism is warfare, then the Geneva Conventions would apply, and the terrorists would no longer be criminals, but would this re-definition be either smart or logical?  Assuming that terrorism = warfare (remember: it ISN'T!):

  • Why do we kill in war?  Wartime killing is not limitless and does have parameters. Killing -- and each individual death -- should lead to victory; the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) cannot even define victory.
  • Why do we have and abide by the Geneva Conventions?
  • Wars without ends are a fool's gambit.

If terrorism is NOT warfare, then the U.S. actions vis-a-vis terrorists are criminal; if terrorism IS warfare, then our actions violate every principle of war that was ever taught to Ranger in any service school. Killing sans clearly defined goals is a greater criminality than is terrorism; minimally, it is indistinguishable from it.

While we cannot control the actions of terrorists, we should hold our leaders to civilized standards of conduct.  Killing to no purpose is not a building block of civilization.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Nikolay Levin said...

“All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 1:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

NL,
When this statement was made we were still grappling with what a democracy should look like.
We now know what it shouldn't look like.
jim

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous CholoAzul said...

I'm going with the notion that terrorism is simply a set of actions.
Used to leverage support in a conflict against a more organized military, it is the bottom rung of the warfare ladder.
Used to extort money or protect say drug turf, it is a criminal enterprise.
Used to stifle dissent, it is politics in the extreme.

In order to have law enforcement provide an effective supression of the first, we'd have to blur the line in the Stasi direction... not too crazy about that idea.

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 11:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Cholo,
In my day the FBI had the CI function for domestic T and the CIA for foreign groups(oconus), and the idea was that this was a liason relationship with friendly gov'ts.
The FBI did a credible job, and generally respected the concept of law.
My point is that all T is a crime. Most T in the world that have been successful had a military arm and a political arm. Think IRA, but all of their non-political actions were in violation of civilian laws.
All T activity is criminal activity.
Pretty simple.
I prefer the Posse Comitatis view of America.
I can't imagine a Egyptian response to T here in the states. I can't imagine a No. Ireland scenario with paras manning road blocks and taking down doors etc...Oh yeah torturing and assasinating suspects.
Whatever the bottom line is thaat our thinking is wrong headed on the topic of T, both foreign and domestic.
jim
jim

Monday, March 4, 2013 at 12:15:00 PM GMT-5  

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