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Does Common Article 2 of the GC apply to al Qaida?

  1. Dec 20, 2008 #1
    A debate is on whether the Bush Administration can be charged for war crimes. Regarding the Geneva conventions:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/58210.html

    Is al Qaida an entity separate from a state? While they are an organization, is it demonstrated that they are not citizens of the countries they reside in? Was Afghanistan a party to the treaties and would that matter?
     
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  3. Dec 20, 2008 #2

    tiny-tim

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    erm … al Qaida is obviously not a state! :redface:

    (citizenship of its members is irrelevant)

    and the geneva conventions only apply to states which are parties to the conventions anyway
     
  4. Dec 20, 2008 #3
    The Committee of The International Red Cross claims Bush is guilty of war crimes. They have notified the CIA that the Administration is guilty of war crimes.

    Bush hired lawyers who advised him as to what was legal and what was not. Having had lawyers pre approve his actions, Bush apparently thinks he is innocent.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  5. Dec 20, 2008 #4

    Pythagorean

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    This is the important point. It's part of an agreement between countries and states, not a bunch of people making global laws for all countries and states.
     
  6. Dec 20, 2008 #5
    Did Japan sign the Geneva Convention Treaty before or during WW2? I honestly don't know and a quick Wikipedia check doesn't come up with anything. We executed their guys for water-boarding our soldiers, so I would assume so. But GC makes me think it was only US/Canada and Europe, since Japan wasn't that much of a strength then, was it?
     
  7. Dec 21, 2008 #6

    mgb_phys

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    Japan signed the Geneva convention in 1929 and ratified it in 1942
     
  8. Dec 21, 2008 #7
    Thanks. What's the difference between "signed" and "ratified", by the way?

    So I guess this is pretty air-tight. Not on the list, no privileges, huh?
     
  9. Dec 21, 2008 #8

    Pythagorean

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    signing is like putting one toe in, or a trial run, or a verbal agreement. It's a softer implication, whereas ratification is completely accepting it as law of the land. I'll bet it's often a delay tactic, or a balancing act for conflicting treaties, but probably also an earnest way to "test the waters".

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/1790/125/
     
  10. Dec 21, 2008 #9
    I don't get how you could "test the waters" with something like that if you're not currently at war.

    By the way, did China also get in on the action? Because the Japanese slaughtered them by the millions and you rarely hear anything about that. I was wondering if the Japanese officers were also punished for their atrocities.

    EDIT: I do know that a lot of the Japanese doctors who performed human experiments were given pardons in exchange for medical information. As disgusting as the idea is, most of what we know today about the human body in hypothermia is due to that and Nazi experiments. :(
     
  11. Dec 21, 2008 #10

    tiny-tim

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    What does this have to do with the Geneva conventions??

    and that's a video :yuck: … don't you have a text link? :smile:
    Extraordinary!

    What would lawyers know about it? :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  12. Dec 21, 2008 #11
    The way Bush has been appointing his "employees", I assume he cycled through lawyers until he found one that said exactly what he wanted to hear.

    But otherwise, yeah, it's fairly obvious you'd consult lawyers about the law. :wink:
     
  13. Dec 21, 2008 #12

    russ_watters

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    No, there is nothing so sinister: it is simply the inverse of how normal laws are enacted. In the case of a treaty, you can't have the entire Congress of every country involved going to meet to discuss and then sign the treaty. That'd be thousands of people and it would be chaos. So you appoint one or two diplomats from each country to hammer out the details, under the direction of the president. Then the President signs the treaty and brings it back to Congress to debate. Sometimes Congress approves it, sometimes they don't.

    See the example of the Kyoto treaty: In that case, the US Senate stepped outside of their authority - in a nonbinding way - to voice unanamous opposition to the treaty before it was even finished being written. So Clinton knew when he signed it that it would not be ratified, but he signed it anyway.
     
  14. Dec 21, 2008 #13

    russ_watters

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  15. Dec 21, 2008 #14


    No mercy.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  16. Dec 21, 2008 #15

    BobG

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    From a legal perspective, there are some technicalities that give the Bush administration a good defense.

    1) Al-qaeda isn't a state and isn't covered by the Geneva Convention
    2) Foreign fighters in Afghansitan aren't considered part of the Aghani fighting force and aren't covered by the Geneva Convention
    3) The Taliban government was nevered recognized by the UN and therefore their forces aren't technically covered as an opposing state's fighting force (this part is thin since locals fighting an invading force are usually covered since they are defending their own country).

    The 'official' government of Afghanistan, recognized internationally and by the UN, was the government led by president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was ousted by the Taliban in a civil war. Even in the late 90's and 2000 and 2001, the Taliban's association with al-Qaeda and bin Laden created a situation where only 3 nations would recognize them as the legitimate government (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the UAE). The Taliban's human rights record, particularly women's rights and religious tolerance, caused problems with the international community, as well. Taliban oppression of Shi'ites in the area near the Iranian border and the murder of Iranian diplomats nearly resulted in a war between Afghanistan and Iran in 1998.

    Violating international law in 1996 by snatching the previous president from the UN compound and torturing, mutilating, and hanging him from a lamp post made the UN pretty hostile to the Taliban, as well.

    While the administration might have some points that would hold up in court, that opinion generally isn't shared outside the administration. Military legal advisors consistently recommended against the administration's policies on detainee abuse. They specifically didn't want the military involved in those actions since they felt they ran a significant risk of having US troops being considered war criminals if they participated in those types of interrogations.

    Based solely on technicalities, private security firms (Blackwell, for example) are violating international law and could be tried as war criminals. Likewise, Claire Chennault's All-Volunteer Group, the Flying Tigers, in China were violating international law and could have been prosecuted as war criminals. Based on technicalities, both groups could be tortured with impunity since they're not protected by international law. While some areas are gray, the usual, and safer interpretation is to treat all enemy combatants the same under international law.
     
  17. Dec 21, 2008 #16

    mgb_phys

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    That defense was tried in Nuremberg. Jews aren't a state but you can still commit war crimes against them.

    Again Germans were prosecuted for executions of partisans/resistance who were fighting after their country surrended. A British politician committed a spectacular gaff recently by claiming all foreigners fighting in wars were terrorists and murderers - he had to do quite a lot of apologising to Polish and French troops that fought with British forces in WWII.

    The UN also recognised the USSR backed goverment before last - it didn't stop a large nunber of foreign fighters opposing them. I doubt any CIA personel involved are likely to be sent to Moscow for trial.

    I suspect the military are more used to being held carrying the can when politicians screw up.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  18. Dec 21, 2008 #17
  19. Dec 21, 2008 #18

    russ_watters

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    I've never heard it alleged that the CIA personnel did any fighting, much less comitted any war crimes in Afghanistan back then. However, their actions did fall into the realm of espionage, and had any been captured, they'd have been in a world of hurt.
     
  20. Dec 21, 2008 #19

    mgb_phys

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    Then they were presumably "enemy non-combatants" and should now be handed over to the Russians for a military tribunal.
     
  21. Dec 21, 2008 #20

    russ_watters

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    ?? No. The Russians haven't even asked! I can just imagine that phone call, though:

    Vlad: Uh, George, I'm going to need you to send me all the spies you had working against the USSR in the '80s.
    George: Sure, Vlad, but could you send me all the spies you had working against us?
    Vlad: Oh, ok, yeah, that sounds fair.

    :rofl::rofl::rofl:

    C'mon. You're being silly.
     
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