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Strictly Speaking

Applying National Policy

POLICY

Whether national or corporate or episcopal or municipal, a policy is a set of fixed guidelines often determined by political preference or ideology or legal precedent by which major emerging decisions are made, often based on the specific doctrines that are in turn formulated by those currently in power. Consider former President George W. Bush’s – well, okay, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s – policy of pre-emptive invasion of nations representing threats: (1) with ties to al Qaeda; (2) weapons of mass destruction; (2) to free the Iraqi people for democracy and freedom.

If these were, as they should be, the fixed analytical points for interventionist military action – leaving entirely aside the issues of international law and moral justification – the Bush administration should have sat down at the table and scratched their heads while considering the number of candidates for military action, as directed purely by those three policy objectives: Iran, with its terrorist training ground, radical Islamic government, bankrolling of Hamas; Bush’s good buddies in Saudi Arabia, who donated most of the suicide pilots and terrorist passengers for 9/11's triple whammy; Egypt, with its seething prophets of anticapitalism and death-to-Americans; North Korea, with its psychotic megalomaniac, missile-launching, nuclear-weapons-detonating, nuclear-bombs-for-sale leader with a name like an animated Japanese cartoon; Pakistan, riddled with dissident, crackling with internal explosions like a firecracker, with charismatic regional terrorists pouring at will into Afghanistan, sheltering Osama bin Laden, brimming with nuclear missiles, and Sudan, staunchly antiAmerican, allegedly a brewer of chemical weapons of death, actively genocidal against its own people (this being one of the reasons why Saddam Hussein was a bad man) but compared to Iraq (pronounced ear-RAK, not EYE-rak). depleted of useful oil unless your name is China

Then if one discounts the ties to al Qaeda because in Iraq, with a secular monomanical dictator with no love for religious zealots, there never were such ties, the real questions for applying the policy were for the decider: (1) who has the oil? (2) who might not give us the oil? (3) who have we invaded before and the other towelheads supported it? (4) who tried to kill my daddy? and (5) where in the love of Jesus can I go to war?

Because God knows that only war presidents have gone down in history as great presidents. But please. Invading Iraq, however you pronounce it, was not the decision driven by policy. Ergo, national policy becomes a propaganda smokescreen behind which all kinds of hidden agendas are lost in the resulting fog of war. Read More 
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Crimes Against Humanity

CRIMES (against humanity)

Now here’s a lexicographic hot potato if ever there was one. Like the green revolution and sustainability, it has managed to gather caché in nearly nation in the world, depending on whether it was victimizing or victimized. While victimizing, crimes against humanity are glossed over as patriotic, heroic actions, or inevitable mistakes in the fog of war. But when victimized, a nation pays eternal homage to the words of George Santayana at the entrance to Auschwitz, “The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.”

Crimes against humanity break down along both cultural and national lines, the outcome, as often, depending on the country. At Nuremberg the Allied Forces, sans the Soviet Union, tried certain high ranking Nazis as war criminals and left some of them swinging lifeless at the end of a rope. Had there been videophones among the executioners, their podcasts would have gone viral on You Tube.

The Soviets, who made no distinctions between German combatants and Nazi Party members, wreaked a terrible revenge on all German POWs, exiling them to Siberia. Incongruously, the triumphant United States conducted no war trials against the Japanese, despite the mass murder of the Batan Death March, the torture and execution of America POWs in camps, and the genocidal extermination of Nationalist Chinese in Nanking.

Either someone did not think of the Japanese as human, or the U.S. acted to deflect the accusation of its own crimes against humanity after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in which more civilians than military were killed.

Inside nations, some still cling to playing God, despite God’s Biblical warning in the Book of Romans: “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord; I shall repay.” In all industrialized countries other than the United States in the so-called free world, capital punishment is regarded as the state lowering itself to the offense that the convict has committed.

Ironically, in America the Beautiful, state sanctioned killing or a murderer is regarded as a form of deterrent (studies show it is not). In God-loving U.S.A., modern humans still howl for vengeance as loudly as their primate ancestors.

The United States Supreme Court once ruled that execution was “cruel and unusual punishment.” Not only that, but prosecutions seeking the death penalty are, according to journalist Stanley Cohen, more expensive to the state than a plea bargain leading to life imprisonment without parole.

Beyond that, as Project Innocence has shown repeatedly by using DNA evidence, persons originally convicted beyond a reasonable doubt were in fact not guilty. Ergo, the system pretending healthy skepticism has reached its verdict by some other process, probably fear, repulsion, outrage and suspicion. Bringing us to another line from the Bible, this one from the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill.” Not “Thou shalt not kill unless the son of a bitch is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” or even if he (or sometimes she) confesses.

Unless society sets the example by avoiding lethal violence, it, too becomes a mass murderer, committing crimes against humanity as coolly, regularly, and unapologetically as the Nazis did against the Jews. But then, as Condoleeza Rice said of the secret prisons and torture at Abu Ghraib, “I was all legal.” This was the same defense offered by attorneys for the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg. Maybe tort is a cognate of torture.  Read More 
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