November 13, 2005

Sunday Morning Blog Roundup

I havne't touched the Sunday papers yet (the WaPo has a front page story about the decline in voting-rights and civil-rights prosecutions by the Bush Department of Justice that looks interesting, though not particularly surprising), but I thought I'd post a few longish blog posts I've found in the past couple of days worth reading.

Most Depressing: Senator Graham's amendment to restrict the ability of detainees to have access to the federal court system was adopted this week (49 - 42, if I'm not mistaken). The result of this (if passed by the house; signature by the President is a forgone conclusion given the Bush stance on torture) is that it significantly limits by law the ability of detainees to go to court and challenge either their detention or the harm that Americans have inflicted upon them (remember the torture thing?). I'm not going to argue that detainees should have full and unfettered access to the courts, but preventing them from challenging their detention and removing habeus corpus restrictions (not to mention medical malpractice) is just wrong. Remember: not a single, solitary military tribunal has occurred since Sept. 11th (over 4 years, 2 months ago). Thus, not a single detainee has had the opportunity to challenge their detention even in a military-run court. Yes, some detainees have been released (after the US realized the people they were holding were not, in fact, terrorists or Taliban fighters), but that's not the same thing as a legitimate attempt to show/prove that each and every one of the people we hold are likely guilty of something. To hold people in this fashion violates norms and laws that go back to the Magna Carta, some 800 years ago.

In any event, for a much longer and more detailed (and much more depressing) take on all this, go read the ongoing series at Obsidian Wings (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, with perhaps more parts to follow. Additionally, Marty Lederman over at Balkinization has something to say about the legal aspects of this, and how this seems to result in removing the courts from any jurisdiction over any detainees are treated.

This thing is still up for grabs in the Senate (there is a compromise amendment in the works), so if this is important to you, please contact your Senator to express your feelings.

Most Academic: Via Kevin Drum and Digby, comes this Abu Aardvark debate about the relevance/irrelevance of the academic study of international relations to the world. Abu Aardvark notes that of 700+ articles in seven major IR journals since 2001, only something like 19 address terrorism in even an indirect manner. This, he notes, isn't good if we're hoping to have academics actually help the policy process (or, generally, help). Anyway, interesting.

Military Thoughts of the Day: Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Robert Farley argues that, basicly, we're training our troops wrong. More specifically, we're not building an army that puts maximum tactical flexibility into the hands of the lowest possible commanders (down to sergents would be ideal: squads). This lack of flexibility means that we can't respond to changes or events at the level of neighborhoods in Iraq. The system (even Rumsfield's vaunted "Revolution" that's changing the Army) pushes the most information up to the highest commander. This is great for smashing big armies (if the generals can see what's really happening over the entire battlefield, they can manuver to bring maximum firepower onto the enemy's movements and plans, disrupting the enemies command, control and planning; see the writing of John Boyd if you are interested, especially the Coram biography), but not really so good at guerrilla warfare/fourth generation warfare. In other words, the US is once again building an army to fight the last war (Gulf War I, a hypothetical World War III against Soviet tank armies), not the war we're in (or the wars we're likely to be in for the forseeable future). I'm not sure I completely buy the logic, but it does make for interesting reading and thinking.

Veterans Day: President Bush's speech (as has been reported, an almost exact copy of a speech he gave over a month ago) for Veterans Day was remarkably political. I understand that he is going though some difficult political troubles (in my opinion: of his own making), but using a national holiday devoted to honoring all our nation's veterans to push back against critics of his own military policies is somehow unsavory.

Veterans Day was originally created to honor the Veterans of World War I, though it has been extended to all veterans. It is worth remembering the horrors of that war. Making Light has a very nice roundup of links to commemorate the sheer brutality of that war. All wars are bad, and none worse than any other. However, the "human wave" attacks over barren battlefields in Ypres, Paschendale, Verdun and other battlefields (now, sadly, mostly forgotten by the present public) are particularly harrowing.

War is awful. It should only be attempted when there are no other options. We would do well to remember that, today.

Posted by baltar at November 13, 2005 11:09 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Blogorama

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