Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Plan A Example: Warlord Rotation in Afghanistan

In lecture yesterday I claimed that international criminal justice could replace most cases of international Plan A -- invasion, war, occupation. My example was Afghanistan.  My evidence? It combined historical precedent--successful prosecutions in major public trials in international courts of mass murderers in military contexts--with a counterfactual that I called the criminal justice "thought experiment" (global investigation rather than invasion).  Another piece of evidence was, in effect, justice couldn't be worse than what we're doing right now, which is maintaining the warlord rotation that has plagued the country since the first modern coup in 1973.  Those slide are below.

I framed all this with an outline of the typical noir view in contrast to two standard arguments. Here's that slide:

Permanent war is a feature not a bug for the warlord I discussed, Dostum, since war is what he does and it's the game he wins. Permanent war, especially if it's low-grade and not too destructive, is also a feature not a bug for most military establishments. 

Another feature of permanent war is greater impunity for its actors: as long as the threat continues, actions that would be questioned or even indicted and tried in peacetime and at home have a greater chance of begin tolerated.  An example is torture, and the Exeuctive Summary of the US Senate's  Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program was released the morning of yesterday's lecture on countering Noir Cause 1: Generalized War.  The New York Times posted the (rather redacted) summary of the 6000 page report here.  The NYT has a piece on the summary's 7 Key Points.  They also have a nice timeline of the interrogation program, and a piece on whether torture "works."   There are many defenses of torture: here's one. Here's a clip of Sen. John McCain, himself a torture victim in Vietnam, defending it.  The NYT again has an article by one of their major national security journalists outlining the pro vs. con positions.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan: 

I had an Osama slide as well, in which the US actually does do criminal investigation and, nine years later, it works (though killing and disposal blocked the truth-telling functions of the trial).

This comes to us courtesy of lit and history since they allow us to grasp background or buried causalities.

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