Thursday, March 21, 2002
"Black is white! Up is Down! Moore is Less! Rall is Funny!" Moore knows how the world works...
Monday, March 18, 2002
"[I]t's...maddening that neither the Pentagon nor the New York Times in its story on the revelations bothered to mention that international law addresses just this sort of situation and supports the United States.
And this isn't one of those angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin deals. The Fourth Geneva Convention, which specifies protections guaranteed to civilians during wartime (and which was signed by both the United States and Afghanistan), includes the following straightforward sentence (it's Article 28): "The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." That is, the Geneva Convention clearly says you cannot inoculate what would otherwise be a legitimate military target by grafting noncombatants onto it.
This is not to say that attackers can simply ignore the presence of noncombatants... [-] ...a military use of force must be proportional to the military advantage it would gain. "
A nice clear statement of the relevant point on the whole Afghan civilian casualties thing: the point is to keep civilian casualties to the minimum feasible, not that war can be fought without them.
Has America minimised civilian casualties? Hard to tell. But it's noteworthy that casualties have been much lower than they would have been had anyone else fought a similar war with similar objectives. Indeed, the US is only being judged against a standard based around the potentialities of its own weapons: if the US used its weapons in the most dangerous way possible, collateral damage would be lower. But using them in the safest way has it lower than it would be if other countries used theirs in the riskiest way possible.
Until Europe gets weapons sophisticated enough to enable them/us to cut down casualties to below US levels, who are we/they to judge?
""We just got a message from Saddam Hussein. The good news is that he's willing to have his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons counted. The bad news is that he wants Arthur Andersen to do it".
- George W. Bush (I kid you not!)"
Iain's commentary on the current status of the EU debate (in reaction to Thatcher's article that I still haven't had time to read) is compelling. See left ("Why does the EU exist?" or some such, in my new things I liked on this site section) for my rough views. All I'll chip in is that the last time I did a pro or anti EU integration arguement in the flesh with someone, they were convinced that the potential upside of Euro membership out-weighed the potential downside. Look at a graph of EU pension liabilities some time (see MorethanZeroSum.com's archives for a a pretty good chart), and consider how big a down-side risk those liabilities are for one of the few EU economies with a growing population. Sure, the treaties say we're not liable. But even if we didn't get rail-roaded into paying, the effect on external exchange rates would be catastrophic.
PS: darn my lack of access to the Simpsons (and especially new US episodes): Iain's got quotes from the latest one.
" Lisa, as Joan of Arc, leading the French into battle against the English --
Kill the English! Their concept of individual liberty might undermine our beloved tyrants!
Also, Homer as Lisa/Joan's father questioned how God could have told Lisa to lead the French to victory when "we don't even have a word for it...""
I know the French get a perhaps unfairly rough ride on the blogosphere. But, e.g., the recent electricity liberalisation negotiations gives one example why. Fresh from everyone complaining about steel tariffs, almost certainly with good reason, the French (great champions of community, fairness, the UK biting the pillow and "enjoying" laws that others don't even consider enforcing) decide, once again, not to open up their market but instead to continue with the mercantilist nonsense they've been up to for centuries. In abstract, if the French firms are subsidised at home and using that to buy market share here, that's good for the UK consumer. But it screws the businessman here, and it allows them to then potentially jack up prices. And it's just galling.
Sunday, March 17, 2002
"I was taught that I should not bemoan
Any country in the world—except my own,
And the truest patriotic way
Was to criticize incessantly the U.S.A.
My patriotic feelings grew so spick-and-span
That I ended up a soldier of the Taliban."