Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The War Process and Peace Process

Sorry about the gap in posts. I penned a post on the skiff between President Obama and Cheney. I then got depressed. The post was about the form of arguments and how the very nature of progressive arguments undermines our society. The post made good points, but I realized that few people would get it. Our modern schools train people to see all issues through partisan filters.

The truth of the matter is that I was really hoping that Obama would have made some headway on the prisoner of war issue.

Instead of making progress Obama gave well spoken partisan verbiage in an echoing hall about how the torture regime of Bush and the denial of due process of law by the hated Bush in Guantanamo Bay were symbols used to incite and escalate violence in the Middle East.

Obama is correct of his assessment that groups used these issues as symbols to radicalize people. This method of using symbols to raise discontent is core to the Marxian tradition.

Actions don't become symbols of radicalization on their own. It takes an avant-garde to make symbols praxis. So, the troubling question is: who raised these issues to the level of praxis?

Was it the Jihadists?

The adherents of Radical Islam stone people in public. They chop off heads and subject prisoners to worse things than water boarding. The rhetoric of Jihad is usually about a decadent and weak West.

The prisons in the Mideast make Guantanamo look like a bay on a tropical island. Neither the water boarding nor Guantanamo would be a natural symbol for the Jihad.

Was it the Iraqis?

The poor Iraqis spent decades under a substantially more oppressive yoke than Bush. At the height of the insurgency, they suffered numerous terrorist attacks. Folks that are suffering a barrage of terrorist attacks are likely to favor aggressive interrogation aimed at uprooting terrorist cells.

For that matter, much of the problem in Iraq happened because the Iraqis felt the new Iraqi government would not take a strong enough stand against terrorists; Much of the sectarian violence was from people engaging in vigilante justice.

So, if it was not the Jihadists, and it was not the Iraqis; Then Obama's speech begs the question: Who raised water boarding and Guantanamo Bay to anti-American symbols?

In my education, progressive professors emphasized the process of creating symbols to catalyze the peoples in social revolution. Could it possibly be that the social activists, community organizers, and press (all trained in the same progressive techniques) did as they were trained in school?

The possibility that it was the American Left and not enemies of the United States that raised the issues as anti-American symbols, then Obama speech takes on a totally different and very negative character.

I was angry when Bush started a war when I felt that diplomatic efforts might work. I am even angrier that the left appears to have taken action during the war that made the violence worse. I am distraught that Obama appears to be heading down a path that will simply prolong world tensions.

Simply removing symbols raised by the American Left during the Change Campaign is not a true substantive change.

Making domestic partisan criticism the central focus of American foreign policy does not provide the world with a stable platform from which to launch a peace initiative. Judging from the nuclear blast just heard in North Korea, the actions might actually embolden our nation's enemies.

Obama has the opportunity to be a peacemaker. Following the partisan path, the opportunity will be lost.

As the bomb blasts of North Korea indicate, the next confrontation will be nuclear.

The problem is not with Obama. The problem is with the American University and the left's on going fascination with Marxian style discourse.

The revolutionary methods developed by Marx, Lenin, Moa and others are extremely effective at bringing groups into power. The problem is that the methods do not serve as a solid foundation for decision making.

We can see the detrimental effects in the issue of Guantanamo.

During the election the left raised Guantanamo to a revolutionary symbol. The issue was great at generating partisan hatred. Many of the Democrats I know tremble at the word Guantanamo. Many equate the prison with Siberian Gulags.

The prisons are not part of an effort to quell political dissent, as was the Gulag Archipelago. Guantanamo Bay is the result of the prisoner of war conundrum.

During war, an army is faced with letting captured combatants free (in which case they resume fighting). Killing combatants on the battlefield, or taking them prisoners. Taking prisoners is the humane solution.

The left had drummed the beat that Bush denied the prisoners of war due process of law. This theme works well in a culture weaned on Perry Mason and CSI.

An activist can create a great deal of agitation simply by taking themes from law enforcement and placing them in the context of fighting war. The partisan press can demand of soldiers: Did you read the detainees their Miranda rights? Who collected handled evidence collecting on the battlefield? Where are the lawyers for the defense? What charges will you place against the detainees?

The army's inability to answer irrelevant questions makes them look bad.

Solving the dilemma of prisoners of war starts with the realization that the prisoners, for the most part, are not criminals. In some cases, the prisoners captured during a war are among the best and brightest of a nation.

A prisoner of war is not guilty of anything. They are people detained for strategic and public safety issues. Their being a prisoner is not about them.

As the prisoners are not guilty of anything, then there really isn't a need to bring them before court.

Attempting to try the prisoners is a net negative. Most wars happen because one group rejects the laws of their enemies. In the current Jihad, the fighters reject the legitimacy of Western Law and Western Courts. To a people who reject our laws, our courts are nothing but kangaroo courts.

The act of trying prisoners of war on trumped up charges is more likely to enrage flames of Anti-Americanism than accepting that the detainees are held because of the war, and not because of the prisoner's moral defaults.

To resolve the prisoner of war dilemma, one must look at the nature of war.

There is no such thing as a just war. There really isn't such a thing as a legal war either.

War is a break down of civility.

Accepting that war involves a breakdown in civility is not a moral capitulation. It is recognition of the nature of war.

Recognizing the nature of war, we realize that peacemaking is the process of restoring civility.

As the detainees are not guilty, we find the heart of the prisoner of war process. Prisoners of War are taken during the fighting. They get released during the diplomatic efforts of the peace process.

The humanity and character of a society is not found in the legal process of taking prisoners it is found in how well the society treats the PoWs and their commitment to the peace process.

The idiotic demand that we wring the detainees through courts, then undertake the indignity of placing prisoners of war in criminal prisons undermines the peace process.

*Wars are a horrible time. Wars often produce people who are true criminals. The peace making process must work to separate out these people. Try and imprison them. This process of trying the true war criminal generally has to wait until the peace process is fully in place. This allows the parties involved the chance to decide which courts should try the criminals and decide where the criminals are held.

In the case of the current conflicts, we find that the treatment in Middle East prisons is below Western norms. For humane reasons, we cannot return the criminal prisoners for trial until the process is far enough along that we can feel assured that the prisoners would receive humane treatment.

The optimal solution would be to move the prisoners from the hell hole of Guantanamo Bay to a prison on a tropical island in the Caribbean. We should then concentrate on the peace process.

Unfortunately, the change campaign of 2008 has negatively impeded our nation's ability to move on the path toward peace.

1 comment:

Scott Hinrichs said...

I never did understand the Bush administration's muddling of the lines between soldier and criminal. This kind of thing didn't serve us well under Clinton either. The Left seems to be predisposed to push every issue to the judiciary in an almost worshipful attitude of the omniscient wisdom of those in the black robes.

Nowadays many conservo-libertarians join the anti-Guantanamo chorus and pine for criminal trials of POWs. I have to consider what our reaction would be if any of our military were captured by the enemy and then tried in the enemy's criminal court system. Not good. And yet people think that doing something similar to enemy combatants that we have captured is going to be less of a radicalization recruitment tool than Guantanamo. What a strange dream state these people live in.