Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Police Action

--Royal Marines in Helmand Province,
Andrew Miller 

Whenever I'm weary
From the battles that rage in my head
You make sense of madness
When my sanity hangs by a thread
--Now and Forever,
Richard Marx

Change your heart
Look around you
Change your heart
It will astound you
--Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime,
The Korgis

The Department of Defense (DoD) Dictionary of Military and associated terms does not have a definition for "Police Action". Per our previous post, this is a significant omission.

This military non-thing nonetheless has various iterations. If you check online, you will find "kinetic police actions", "preemptive police actions", "unilateral police actions", etc.

The online Legal Dictionary of the Free Dictionary provides a very nice and lengthy disquisition on war and its "sort of war" variations. Wikipedia says "police action" is a euphemism for military action, sans a formal declaration of war.

Neither answers the question -- "What is a military police action?" -- though they are two of a scant number of entries that even attempt to do so.

The United Nations authorizes police actions under Article 42 (Global Actions) and Article 53 (Regional Actions.)

Early in the Korean War, President Harry Truman referred to that war as a "police action", perhaps one of the first institutional uses of the term. Korea, Vietnam and Grenada were all considered police actions.

Furthermore, is "peacekeeping" a police action? Since "police action" has been so cruelly intertwined with violent actions, perhaps we need a kinder and gentler term for the peacekeeping variety of such actions.

Ranger contends that words used incorrectly -- either intentionally obfuscated or vague simply due to lack of clarity in thought or action -- cause confusion in our political, military and personal lives. "Police action" is just such a word.

Let us take Korea as example. In that war, the United States used every weapon its defensive arsenal, except nuclear weapons. Does that sound like police work? The same occurred in Vietnam.

Admittedly, "Police Action Against Terrorism" doesn't quite have the ring, so we call that one a "war". Phony War, but war nonetheless. And of course, if it IS a war, why do we not declare it as such?

Ironically, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) should rightly BE a police action, but it is hard to get people excited about such things these days. 

Perhaps what we need are some new acronyms -- the military can never have enough, can it? (WETSU, so to speak.)

If it is military action with no war, let's call it MOOTW: "Military Operations Other Than War". Phonetically it could be pronounced, "Mootwu"... kind of cute, like a Pikachu, and yet belying its moot-ness at the same time (kind of like a Pikachu).

Our words have become weaselly things, woody or tinny, alternately overwrought with emotion and obfuscation, so much so that it has become impossible to understand a Department of State, DoD or White House briefing.

If those first degree informational sessions are so confused, how poorer must be the information trickled down to the rest of us via our increasingly enfeebled and excitable media.

Why not define words clearly, and use them as defined?

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Anonymous David said...

The Korean War was a military intervention authorized by the United Nations Security Council. Whether this process for starting a war is good or bad I suppose is up for debate, but under international law the intervention in Korea was legal. The UNSC's resolution made it legal.

In almost all other instances, this "police action" language is obviously an attempt to either get around international law's prohibitions on declaring war, or on national law's prohibitions on the President unilaterally declaring war, or perhaps both.

A point of curiosity I honestly don't know the answer to: is there a longstanding Congressional resolution authorizing nuclear retaliation against Russia, or would even a nuclear exchange technically qualify as a "police action"?

In any event this is obviously self-serving twaddle from the civilian side of government, aka my only side of the house. "War" sounds so nasty and brutal.

If I ever steal something and get charged for it, I'll simply explain that it wasn't theft because there was no explicit declaration of intent. It was simply a pre-emptive permanent loan.

Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 12:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i doubt the legality of the UN action in Korea.
i believe PKO to be a legal action, but Peacekeeping is a nuetral option.
What law alows the UN to declare war?

Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 2:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Theoretically it has been illegal under international law to declare war since the Kellogg-Briand treaty of 1928. The UN Charter repeats the ban on offensive warfare but says the UN Security Council can authorize a war. In that sense the Korean War is legal.

Mind you, since the Communist Chinese were being denied their seat on the council in 1950 and the Soviets had walked out in protest, you could argue that the Security Council's resolution was illegitimate even if it was technically illegal.

Since the original peacekeeping model developed by the U.S. and Canada in the 1950s had the consent of all potential belligerents, obviously it's legal since it's not an act of war to begin with.

That said I am suspicious that "peacekeeping," "peacebuilding," etc., etc. ad nauseam, are often used in the same way as "police action." It's almost as if we believe that if we change our language we can change reality.

Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 7:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

u hv a typo in your last cmt that effects the meaning.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 9:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger NaRong said...

In any event this is obviously self-serving twaddle from the civilian side of government, aka my only side of the house. "War" sounds so nasty and brutal.
gclub online

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 7:54:00 AM GMT-5  

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