Friday November 22 2007


modern warfare: Counterinsurgency is different

  • there is a built in incentive to make the preferences of civilians irrelevant
  • this can be accomplished through terror, detention or execution
  • death, detention and execution is hierarchical
  • persuasion is the least sure method of support
  • because the consequences of terror are so extreme there is a better chance of obedience
  • there is no time for due process or adherence to the rule of law

why illegality is so prevelant in coin

  • in COIN it is necessary to violate human rights
  • battling for minds requires terror, detention, or execution

on the grounds of human rights

  • human rights is a sacred cow
  • human rights is the only grounds on which you can organize demonstrations about the internal affairs of other countries
  • You cannot do this if you take issue with other issues such as issue areas such as taxation
  • human rights are a sacred we hold most dear in society
  • our devotion to it assumes that individual rights are the greatest good that must be respected in society
  • this is cultural specific and discursive rather than an empirical sacred.

ANGLO MODEL - reform = legitimacy= support

  • this model is culturally specific and not applicable
  • it is not the norm yet that international law trumps domestic law
  • state sovereignty dominates most of the legal system

why follow the Law?

  • allows the COIN units to maintain the facade of legitimacy (a legitimacy the insurgents may not have)
  • this is also cultural specific - this assumes that the courts and laws are recognized as legitimate

why do cops in belgium carry automatic weapons?

  • countries originated in different ways
  • many countries in continental europe started out as police states
  • the attempt to make a police state in England failed
  • there is a royal navy and air force but there is no royal army because cromwell lost and the monarch never won back the right to have an army again
  • the bobby's authority is derived from parliment
  • on the continent police derive their authority from the monarch
  • is the purpose of the Canadian police to investigate crime? - this is a cultural specifice assumption
  • no one in the USSR would dream of calling the police if a crime was committed
  • the primary purpose of the police in the USSR is the detection and suppression of political dissent
  • these police forces may be modern investigators now but they originated as something else and can go back to that origion in a heart beat

why the law is ineffective

  • time
  • capacity (The justice system would collapse under its own weight in peace time if not for plea bargains)
  • control (you can't risk an insurgent getting off on a technicality)
  • if a conventional killer goes free even a serial killer, the killer may kill again (20-30 people max)
  • however, the numbers of casualties are minimal compared to the capacity to kill that terrorists have
  • in addition, any acts done by terrorists have a political dimension that necessarily weakens the state
  • whereas with criminal activity state capacity is not always necessary implicated

Quote of the Week

  • Why isn't public health powers used to combat terrorism more often?
  • It is awe inspiring what the public health official in New York City have the power to do
  • They can shut the city down, they rarely exercise these powers, however, they remain the most powerful people in modern government
  • When a public hazard is in play we error on the side of caution
  • innocence and guilt are theoretical constructs
  • in war time the balance slides toward erroring on the side of caution
  • this is not a peace time mentality or a criminal law mentality
  • this is national security logic - the standards of proof are lower

Quote of the Week (part II)

  • we are not sure we are at war but we are sure we are not at peace


  • shining path
  • a parallel justice system was set up that was as sophisticated as the regular justice system
  • basic rights were suspended
  • the net effect was arrest, trial, and conviction all in one go (this is pretty good considering the alternative is execution aurresseares style)
  • 26, 000 were channeled through these courts
  • when the head of the shinning path was caught people were released
  • in one option prisoners survive in the other they die - both are egregious violations of human rights
  • does this force us to reconsider the blood curtailing torture in the kenyan piipeline, is this humanitarian warfare?

it is possible that kangaroo courts and sham justices is a lesser of two evils when execution is the alternative

there is no such thing as an innocent civiian

  • both sides must kill insurgents
  • you can never be sure who is guilty or innocent
  • regardless you will kill the innocent
  • you can try to mitigate harm but it doesn't make you cleaner
  • in a away this will make you more of a monster because the deed can't speak but survivors can

the most horrifying thing about Kenya is that the British efforts there is what a clean version of a counterinsurgency looks like… we can't even imagine what the dirty version looks like


Quote of the Week (part III)

  • The greatest luxury we have as westerns is that we will always have the ability to run away
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