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rngadam
01-14-2004, 12:39 AM
Ignoring the debate to see if the war on Iraq was justified for a moment...

Is there any prosecution for any crimes of war during the Iraq war against US military personnel? I mean, in any large scale operation like this, you'll always have with statistical certainty some hothead that break the rules. Is there any kind of justice for these cases or is the 'good' side always right?

Example of possible war crime:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5365.htm

furt
01-14-2004, 12:50 AM
Why are you only interested in the possibility of war crimes being committed by US troops?

Brutus
01-14-2004, 09:07 AM
The US Armed Forces are policing their own, as they have done for the past couple of centuries. Several troops have been punished to varying degrees for varying crimes.

rngadam
01-14-2004, 12:50 PM
Why are you only interested in the possibility of war crimes being committed by US troops?

Because they are considered the good guys this time around and I'm pretty sure the 'bad' guys are already getting what's coming to them? Are you saying that there is no war crimes committed in Iraq by US troops?

rngadam
01-14-2004, 01:09 PM
The US Armed Forces are policing their own, as they have done for the past couple of centuries. Several troops have been punished to varying degrees for varying crimes.

Ok Brutus... cite? Is there any reference on-line to military investigations going on for alleged war crimes? Who is investigating, prosecuting? How and to whom does the average Iraqi report a war crime done by US troops? At what frequency is it happenning? Why I've I not heard any of it? Were the soldiers in the clip I've linked to even investigated at least? What is to prevent to kind of cover-up that occurred in Vietnam for example (see the almost successful My Lai cover-up)?

I've googled a bit and all I've found was an article from aljazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/865875C8-2ECF-4FA5-9EA9-22E7BB7DBC18.htm) back in July... If they are reporting facts (I know anything out of aljazeera will be doubted by most), it doesn't seem to be looking good for any prosecution of US troops possible war crime.

Most other articles talk about war crime tribunal to prosecute Saddam Hussein and his cronies.

duality72
01-14-2004, 05:40 PM
Well, there's these four soldiers discharged for abusing Iraqi POWs.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8338194%255E2703,00.html

El_Kabong
01-14-2004, 05:58 PM
Is there any prosecution for any crimes of war during the Iraq war against US military personnel? I mean, in any large scale operation like this, you'll always have with statistical certainty some hothead that break the rules. Is there any kind of justice for these cases or is the 'good' side always right?

Well, I for one don't think the 'good' side is always right, but really, how can one answer the above questions without the OP actually posting some examples of assumed war crimes by US personnel that have NOT been prosecuted? The one example cited seems ambiguous at best.

Basically the OP is asking us to listen in the night and guess how many dogs didn't bark.

El_Kabong
01-14-2004, 06:01 PM
Sorry, scratch the part about "ambiguous at best", but the rest stands. IMO, it is up to the OP to provide some concrete examples of US war crimes against Iraqis if we are to discuss this sensibly.

rngadam
01-15-2004, 12:37 AM
Thanks duality for your link...

Sorry, scratch the part about "ambiguous at best", but the rest stands. IMO, it is up to the OP to provide some concrete examples of US war crimes against Iraqis if we are to discuss this sensibly.

So El_Kabong, you conclude that the link I provided is unambiguously not a war crime?

My reasoning is that:

1) there is always some small percentage of any population (including military) that is unstable or dangerous in certain high pressure situation

2) war and occupation is the kind of situation where the worst come out

3) thus, there will always be war crimes during a war. Even more so when a sizable number of troops in Iraq are doing a job they are not trained to do : policing an often hostile population

4) However, the good side war crimes tend to be ignored or pushed under the rug.

5) what's more (reading the comments from officers in my OP link) many US officers do not seem to take the law of wars seriously

6) possible war crimes from 'good' side need to be investigated throughly, and when found the people should be systematically court martialed (notice it did not happen in the article that duality linked to) to send a message that the behavior is unacceptable when on the 'good' side

7) not hearing about any court martial for war crimes is a sign that punishment for (again statistically certain) war crimes is lax in Iraq when done by US troops

So yes, I think not hearing about more of this indicates there is a problem but I'll be happy if more examples (perhaps a centralized list?) of war crimes that were investigated and dealt with fully was linked to.... Or at least have some military explain to me how the punishment for the three soldiers in duality's link is anything else then a slap on the wrist.

Another one:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1121818,00.html

Maybe an International Criminal Court would have been a good idea after all??

Brutus
01-15-2004, 01:14 AM
The US armed forces prosecute their troops for violations of the UCMJ (http://www.military-network.com/main_ucmj/main_ucmj.htm). Our laws, our legal system. If other nations want to form some sort of 'court club' to try each others criminals, great! The UCMJ and US military justice system serve us well, and prevents a foreigner with a bone to pick from abusing the system to get at our troops.

UDS
01-15-2004, 01:58 AM
For the reasons mentioned by rngadam, war crimes do tend to get committed in most conflicts.

The crimes are committed during the conflict; we don’t know who the winner is until after the conflict. For that reason, if for no other, it would be irrational to assume that all crimes, or the bulk of crimes, are committed by the losing side.

As against that, there’s no reason to assume that crimes will be proportionately distributed among all the combatant armies, so to speak. If nothing else, members of the more powerful, better-equipped, better-led army (which will, of course, tend to be the winner) are less likely to find themselves in the kind of desparate situations which can lead to the commission of war crimes. Other factors can, of course, lead to war crimes – e.g. a criminal policy by a combatant state or by the leadership of a combatant army – but confusion, danger, desparation and panic must, intuitively, form a singificant part of it.

Where crimes are committed, my guess would be that offenders on the winning side are, broadly speaking, less likely to be prosecuted and, if prosecuted, are likely to be punished less severely, than offenders on the losing side. Just a hunch, nuthin’ more. Sorry, folks, no cite. For an isolated comparison which may not be representative, consider the treatment afforded to Lt Calley, convicted in connection with the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese villagers (sentenced to life, sentence progressively reduced to twenty and then ten years, released on bond, then paroled after serving, all told, three-and-a-half years) as against that afforded to Adolf Eierman, a German civilian convicted of instigating the beating to death of a wounded American airman (hanged).

Brutus is right to say that the US Code of Military Justice proscribes war crimes, and that US service personnel can be and are prosecuted under that Code. However under that system suspicion will always remain (to put it no higher) that, where the victors are dispensing justice to their own friends, supporters and agents, impartial justice of the kind we consider essential to the rule of law is not always to be expected.

rngadam
02-01-2004, 09:25 PM
Just something I thought to add to a thread that died quickly...

http://slate.msn.com/id/2093154/entry/0/
(from "Dispatches From Iraq", "What Happened to Zeidun?")

Incident in Samarra:


He says they were driven to the edge of the bridge.

"We pleaded. We said we didn't know how to swim. My cousin tried to hold onto one of the soldiers. He was just laughing as he pushed him in. Two of them were pointing rifles at his forehead and chest. Four of them pushed me off toward the dam, toward the current. I only had my nose and mouth sticking out of the water. I could see the Americans standing there, pointing their guns. They wanted us to die, but I survived to testify against them. My mind was in chaos, but I remember I was very concerned about my cousin. We shouted back and forth to each other. I did as much as I could, but it was God's will. I tried to swim to him. I got hold of his hand, but he slipped away in the current. Everything moved so fast, I don't know how long I was in the river. From the shock I didn't even feel the cold."


The follow-up from the Army....


Marwan has been deposed for four hours by the CID team. The two sides of the story will both be investigated by the CID of the U.S. Army, and the subsequent report and its conclusions will be acted on, or not, by the unit's commander. Like many incidents between Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers, this one continues to be "under investigation."


The unit commander, is it the Col. Frederick Rudesheim referred to earlier in the interview that says...

When he had finished eating supper, we talked about the bridge incident. His gaze was clear and direct. "I have done my own investigation and reached my own conclusions," he told me. He had talked to Marwan, the ICDC witnesses, and the platoon involved. "I am absolutely satisfied that our soldiers did not do anything improper."

?

Another question... Since the war is officially over, does any crime committed by armed forces in Iraq fall under war crimes or not?

Airman Doors, USAF
02-02-2004, 12:21 AM
Incidentally, just from my own observations, if you are charged under the UCMJ, there is an exceedingly high chance of you getting convicted. If you make it through an Article 32 investigation and they charge you, you're toast, and military justice is NOT something you want anything to do with. Think I'm kidding? I got an LOC for a little fight I had over in the desert, just a small-time Letter of Counseling, and I got confined to quarters, given additional duties for a few days as punishment, and I got torn up, down, and sideways by my Detachment Commander, First Sergeant, Senior NCO, and virtually all of the officers. Standing at attention while the Man is yelling at you is, well, bad. I'm sure some of you know what I mean, and those that don't just thank God for that, because your parents never yelled at you like that, I assure you.

All for a fistfight. Imagine if I had actually HURT someone.

As was stated before, the reason why we don't do the ICC is because we're not particularly popular and nobody in authority in America wants to see a soldier busted up because someone is playing politics. What we have works just fine. Visit Fort Leavenworth if you don't believe me.

XT
02-02-2004, 01:40 AM
Well, read through your cite, rngadam. Seems there are two sides of the story and appearently CID is indeed looking into it. I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for here. Is this another anti-US rant? The story is alleged and being investigated. Unless its your contention that its merely a whitewash, what more did you expect or want? You've already been told that the US military has its own, internal military justice system. So, unless its your contention that the system doesn't work, isn't used, or is simply a white wash for US military personnel's actions, especially in times of war, I don't see what the debate is, to be honest.

Do you have any actual cases from an unbiased source (Slate not being at the top of my list for unbiased sources) of US soldiers committing crimes but being let off the hook that we could look at? Its hard to prove a negative, and anyone can make up alleged atrocities. I'm not denying the story btw...it IS being investigated. Appearently other are as well (so you really knew the answer to your OP before you wrote it, no?).

Another question... Since the war is officially over, does any crime committed by armed forces in Iraq fall under war crimes or not?

Crimes committed by US personnel whether in peace or war fall under the same heading, as has been pointed out to you...they fall under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) which Brutus kindly provided a link for you to (I assume...I didn't actually look in the link being familiar with UCMJ from my own time in service). i.e. there ARE no 'war crimes' for US military personnel, only crimes or violations of the UCMJ...understand? The more serious ones will get you doing VERY hard time, or be shot btw.

-XT

UDS
02-02-2004, 03:00 AM
. . . Crimes committed by US personnel whether in peace or war fall under the same heading, as has been pointed out to you...they fall under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) which Brutus kindly provided a link for you to (I assume...I didn't actually look in the link being familiar with UCMJ from my own time in service). i.e. there ARE no 'war crimes' for US military personnel, only crimes or violations of the UCMJ...understand? The more serious ones will get you doing VERY hard time, or be shot btw.
It's worth pointing out that the UCMJ sets out large chunks of the Geneva Conventions word for word and criminalises the acts described. So acts which are "war crimes" under the Geneva Conventions are also offences under the UCMJ.

rngadam
02-02-2004, 07:47 AM
Well, read through your cite, rngadam. Seems there are two sides of the story and appearently CID is indeed looking into it. I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for here. Is this another anti-US rant? The story is alleged and being investigated. Unless its your contention that its merely a whitewash, what more did you expect or want? You've already been told that the US military has its own, internal military justice system. So, unless its your contention that the system doesn't work, isn't used, or is simply a white wash for US military personnel's actions, especially in times of war, I don't see what the debate is, to be honest.

Not necessarily a US rant, althought I admit I'm a bit miffed that the Americans got off the hook for what happenned to our Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan ;-).

Seriously, I don't know if the unit commander that is referred in the article is the Colonel or not. And if it is, could he really ignore what the CID said and decide to do nothing?

Do you have any actual cases from an unbiased source (Slate not being at the top of my list for unbiased sources) of US soldiers committing crimes

Come on! I thought the article was balanced, giving both sides. I'm not convinced that the platoon is guilty, but I think they are obviously enough of a suspicion for a court of some kind. Why should it be biased just because of the name of the site? Anyway, that is not my fault if only liberal sites are reporting on such possible incidents in Iraq... They are certainly not coming from the "rah rah pro-war site", are they now?

Also, I find the systematical scepticism from some of you that this could happen, in a country where Americans soldiers are constantly targetted and poorly suited to their currently assigned task (policing and nation building) extraordinary. They can be understandably miffed. In some not so exceptional cases some could be acting on the fact that they are pissed, especially if they lost some comrades to the Iraqi insurgency. Not cracking down on those few cases is what I'm talking about because it has happenned before in other wars that America was involved in.

I'm just not so convinced that if the army is investigating itself or deciding itself on the result of those investigations that leads always to appropriate prosecution. So yes, maybe I'm not so sure the system works when American are killing Iraqis (be it possible involuntary manslaughter such as in this story or suspected murder.

Rashak Mani
02-02-2004, 10:55 AM
I find the idea that the UCMJ is enough for americans rather iffy... what if every other country thinks the same way ? How can the US charge people with war crimes then if its an american legal device... not an international one ?

Soon enough you will have 3rd world brutes writing out their own "UCMJ" that justify rape and murder and they will have the same "rationalization" as US service members.

Someone mentioned that the UCMJ includes stuff from the Geneva convention... so why exclude the US from the International Court if the "legal" aspects are already included in the UCMJ ? Leaving the International Court sure made for some bad press and bad precendents.

Airman Doors, USAF
02-02-2004, 11:06 AM
I find the idea that the UCMJ is enough for americans rather iffy... what if every other country thinks the same way ? How can the US charge people with war crimes then if its an american legal device... not an international one ?

Soon enough you will have 3rd world brutes writing out their own "UCMJ" that justify rape and murder and they will have the same "rationalization" as US service members.

Someone mentioned that the UCMJ includes stuff from the Geneva convention... so why exclude the US from the International Court if the "legal" aspects are already included in the UCMJ ? Leaving the International Court sure made for some bad press and bad precendents.

I thought we already answered that.

We don't do the International Court because it keeps some country who doesn't particularly like our beliefs, actions, or motivations from playing politics with the servicemen and women. Take Iraq, for example. Worldwide it was a very unpopular war. If we were in the International Court what would be able to stop, say, France from indicting servicemen for war crimes simply because they didn't like what we did?

Incidentally, the UCMJ doesn't justify rape or murder under any circumstances, as I'm sure you already knew, so I wonder why you tried to make it sound like it did.

Also, we aren't the sole party to a War Crimes tribunal, it's always multiple countries involved in it.

You have some serious misconceptions here, fella. Hopefully someone more articulate than me can come in here and either elaborate or shoot me down.

XT
02-02-2004, 11:25 AM
Come on! I thought the article was balanced, giving both sides. I'm not convinced that the platoon is guilty, but I think they are obviously enough of a suspicion for a court of some kind. Why should it be biased just because of the name of the site? Anyway, that is not my fault if only liberal sites are reporting on such possible incidents in Iraq... They are certainly not coming from the "rah rah pro-war site", are they now?

The article wasn't balanced...it went into great detail on the alleged infraction, and spent about 3 lines on rebuttal. At the end they implied that, though the case is under investigation (wink wink, nudge nudge) nothing really will come of it. Poisoning the well, wouldn't you say? Unless there is a guilty verdict, its an obvious white wash. As to the rest, what about the main stream news cites? CNN, CNBC, etc? They aren't 'rah rah pro-war site' news sites, are they? I'm sure that there are other sites out there that are reasonably unbiased that are also carrying such things...and if not, maybe its because it really isn't news worthy?

Also, I find the systematical scepticism from some of you that this could happen, in a country where Americans soldiers are constantly targetted and poorly suited to their currently assigned task (policing and nation building) extraordinary. They can be understandably miffed. In some not so exceptional cases some could be acting on the fact that they are pissed, especially if they lost some comrades to the Iraqi insurgency. Not cracking down on those few cases is what I'm talking about because it has happenned before in other wars that America was involved in.

If this was directed at me, where did I exhibit 'systematic skepticism' (sic) that this couldn't happen to US soldiers?? I know for a fact that there have been US soldiers that have violated the UCMJ both during peace and during war...and been shot for it. Where did I deny this? I said the case is under review...from your own article btw...so I'll reserve judgement on it, as I have no personal knowledge and don't know the particulars. There are two sides to the story, though we only heard details from one of those sides. And I'm sorry, but the story itself tickled my skeptical button. Not that it couldn't have happened just the way the Iraqi's said it did...but that it seems unlikely to me. More likely to me is, the soldiers ran over the truck for whatever reason, and the Iraqi's jumped into the water (probably because they thought they were going to be shot...a reasonable assumption considering who their former boss was) on their own. The soldiers then simply drove off. But its all speculation and bullshit...as I said, the whole thing is under review and I, for one, trust the UCMJ.

You seem to be assuming guilt, while trying to deny that you are. You know that this case and the other one you listed are under investigation (wink wink, nudge nudge) but seem to be implying that, because they are US soldiers and the people they violated are only Iraqis, the official establishment will simply white wash the whole thing and let them off the hook scott free. However, you offer nothing to back that up. Do you have a reasonably clear case, from a reasonably unbiased source, showing such white washing going on that we can look at and debate? Otherwise this just turns into a "The government is white washing the crimes of its soldiers!!" "UCMJ is in effect, cases are being reviewed!" back and forth.

I'm just not so convinced that if the army is investigating itself or deciding itself on the result of those investigations that leads always to appropriate prosecution. So yes, maybe I'm not so sure the system works when American are killing Iraqis (be it possible involuntary manslaughter such as in this story or suspected murder.

Thats fine. I AM convinced (having been in the military) that the 'army' as well as the other armed forces IS investigating itself...constantly. Where does that leave us? You are convinced they are white washing things, and I'm equally convinced they aren't.

Do they ALWAYS lead to 'appropriate prosecution'? Don't make me laugh. Does ANY system ever do that? If so, name this magical system that always leads to 'appropriate prosecution'. Certainly our civil system doesn't. Can you say OJ? UCMJ is not a perfect system...but it IS an effective system for the most part.

XT
02-02-2004, 12:20 PM
I find the idea that the UCMJ is enough for americans rather iffy... what if every other country thinks the same way ? How can the US charge people with war crimes then if its an american legal device... not an international one ?

Do you have a cite that any other nation relies on international courts to police their own militaries, as this is what you are implying? Afaik, most other nations pretty much rely on their OWN version of UCMJ to police their soldiers in peace time and war.

How can the US (or, say, NATO during Bosnia) police war crimes from other nations using their own systems? Easy...they won. The winners ALWAYS police the losers. If the 'winners' happen to be a multinational alliance, then you get an 'international one'. However, they police the LOSERS...they don't send their own soldiers to be policed by the same international court. Think WWII...did ANY of the allies soldiers accused of war crimes go before the international court? Not as far as I'm aware. Each individual allied country policed its own.

Soon enough you will have 3rd world brutes writing out their own "UCMJ" that justify rape and murder and they will have the same "rationalization" as US service members.

Since when did those kinds of countries need laws to justify rape and murder. SH never bothered with such things, nor do the rest. As long as they remain soveriegn powers, they can pretty much do what they want. If they LOSE in a war though...thats another matter. They are then at the mercy of the winners, no?

Someone mentioned that the UCMJ includes stuff from the Geneva convention... so why exclude the US from the International Court if the "legal" aspects are already included in the UCMJ ? Leaving the International Court sure made for some bad press and bad precendents.

Again, because, afaik, most nations police their own military in times of peace or war. No nation I'm aware of relies on outside international courts to police their militaries. If I'm wrong, lets see a cite by another country in peace time or war that, though they won relied on an international court to police its own military. There had to be war crimes committed during Bosnia (and there was no UN sanction) by NATO, so...did NATO rely on an international court to police its military? Did they even use NATO to do so, or did the individual countries police their own (I know the US policed ITS own...and I'd be willing to bet so did the other countries involved).

To me, you are setting up a false premise...that the US does something different than anyone else. Is Britian not policing THEIR own from the Iraqi war as well? Or is it your contention that only US soldiers commit war crimes or violate their own codes of military conduct? When the US is finally defeated (and the world cheers on) THEN the US will be at the mercy of the victors as far as war crimes go. We will have to bow our heads and do whatever the victors say. Thats reality.

-XT

UDS
02-02-2004, 09:52 PM
I find the idea that the UCMJ is enough for americans rather iffy... what if every other country thinks the same way ? How can the US charge people with war crimes then if its an american legal device... not an international one? . . . Someone mentioned that the UCMJ includes stuff from the Geneva convention
Of course there’s a problem with the US being the sole judge of whether its forces have violated international law on human rights, or on the conduct of war.

My point is that the US takes international legal standards seriously enough to build them into its own domestic military justice system, and to enforce them at least selectively. That, I suspect, is rather more than many other states do.

But it’s clearly not as much as could be done. To take an uncontroversial example, whether and to what extent the use of anti-personnel weapons such as cluster bombs is in breach of international law is a matter of dispute. The US takes a particular view; some of its allies take a different view. The result is that the US uses cluster bombs in circumstances in which other states, including allies of the US, consider their use to be illegal.

Clearly, nobody is ever going to be prosecuted under the UCMJ for a use of cluster bombs in circumstances which the US considers lawful. Equally clearly, there’s no particular reason why the opinion of one state on what is or is not lawful under international law should be the last, definitive word.

It’s not, I think, unduly cynical to suggest that the view taken by the US may have been coloured by a desire on the part of the US to maintain its tactical freedom of action.

In other words, the system the US has established for enforcing international legal norms through its domestic justice system, while good, useful and admirable, is not perfect and is demonstrably open to political manipulation. At best, the US is enforcing its own view of what international law requires (and of course it may not always do even this consistently). We wouldn’t consider that the optimal system of justice in any other area of law.

XT
02-02-2004, 10:04 PM
Good points, USD. I hadn't considered it from that perspective to be honest. I'm not sure though what could be done. Your cluster bomb is a good example. Who WOULD make a ruling on such a thing and when its use is legal or illegal? Would it be the UN? In which case, couldn't the US block an unfavorable ruling...or any of the other on the SC block a ruling that was unfavorable to THEM? Or would such a ruling even go before the SC?

In theory I agree with you...but I have no idea, in practice, how such restraints would work or be arbitrated.

-XT

rngadam
02-02-2004, 10:20 PM
Ok xtisme, Airman Doors, USAF and all the other military personnel or ex-military personnel that participated to this thread. First, I respect that you've given part of your life to your country, whatever they are.

I've never been in the military (except for the Air Cadets when I was younger), I don't have any family in the army and I have a single friend in the Canadian Navy (reserve). So really, I don't know military life. And I'm sure you are all good guys, as you are also dopers here ;-).

Now, when I started this thread, I was sincerely interested in knowing if cases of military personnel in Iraq were being court martialed for crimes again Iraqis at this time and how many. And if, in the last case I mentionned, the unit commander was really the colonel or not.

I don't have any kind of proof, articles, etc and I certainly did not do much research. Frankly, I don't think the journalists can/will do that kind of job in Iraq. These links I provided, I *stumbled* on them while surfing - I just find them quite disturbing and signs that something is going wrong and needs to be corrected.

Now, please, answer these questions so I can see where I'm going wrong in my reasoning:

1) Was there in the history of conflicts that the US military was involved in, cases of actual cover-up of crimes against civilians or other soldiers?

I answer yes, example My Lai.

2) Is it possible that some of those cover-up were successful and we never heard about them?

I answer yes again because of how far some of the cases that were found covered-up went pretty high up or were in a situation where there was insufficient monitoring.

3) Is it possible, that in the 100,000 to 200,000 troops in Iraq, that a small but significant percentage are racists and/or hotheads and/or sadists and/or psychos as in the general population?

I answer yes again, this is inevitable.

4) Is it possible that in policing and country building, a job they are NOT trained to do, that a minority has grown to hate the Iraqis?

Yes again.

5) Is it possible that some of those dangerous individuals that hate Iraqis have committed crimes in Iraq by taking advantage of a poorly controlled situation?

Inevitably and statistically speaking, the answer must be yes for me.

6) So where are the court martials? Where are the investigations? Where are cases being made?

That I don't know. Does anyone of you, military or ex-military know where I could find a reference online?

7) Where are the complaints being forwarded to? To the unit commanders that command the same troops that are accused?

Again, I'd like clarification on this.

8) Does an Iraqi thas has been wronged (and they will be wronged some times as per #5) can and will see justice?

9) Is the US Military repeating the same mistakes as in the past (Vietnam)?

Frankly, I agree that military justice is harsh when it happens. But does it happen often enough when the victim is a non-American?

Another biased link (sorry, that's the only kind that Google will spit out to me):

http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/10/iraq102103.htm


U.S. military officials told Human Rights Watch they were providing extra training for U.S. forces. Human Rights Watch researchers met many U.S. military personnel who dealt respectfully with Iraqis and were working hard to train Iraqi police, guard facilities and pursue criminals. Some of these soldiers expressed frustration at the behavior of their colleagues.

“It takes a while to get the Rambo stuff out,” one officer told Human Rights Watch.

In the meantime, the lack of timely and high-level investigations into many questionable incidents has created an atmosphere of impunity.

“Soldiers must know they will be held accountable for the improper use of force,” Stork said. “Right now, soldiers feel they can pull the trigger without coming under review.”


Another link, this time about the UK allies:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/3378499.stm

UDS
02-02-2004, 10:36 PM
Good points, USD. I hadn't considered it from that perspective to be honest. I'm not sure though what could be done. Your cluster bomb is a good example. Who WOULD make a ruling on such a thing and when its use is legal or illegal? Would it be the UN? In which case, couldn't the US block an unfavorable ruling...or any of the other on the SC block a ruling that was unfavorable to THEM? Or would such a ruling even go before the SC?

In theory I agree with you...but I have no idea, in practice, how such restraints would work or be arbitrated.
Well, the cluster bomb isn’t really the best example, since it is more about state policy than the acts of an individual soldier, but it does serve illustrate the problems here.

The question of whether a particular act is or is not a breach of an international legal rule might come before the Security Council in the political form of (say) a debate on a resolution to impose sanctions on the US for using cluster bombs against civilian targets, or a resolution to impose sanctions on Iraq for using poison gas, or whatever. In both cases the elements of the debate would be (a) did the alleged act actually happen (a question of fact) (b) was it illegal (a question of law) and (c) what should be done about it (a political question). The question of law would probably take up the smallest part of the debate; for various reasons the resolution wouldn’t really be brought forward unless the act complained of was pretty clearly illegal.

If we look at the legal question in isolation, it is more of a judicial question than a political one. The International Court of Justice, based in the Hague, exists to arbitrtate legal disputes between States and the US does participate in it. Given the right fact situation, the question could come before that court. For example, if – following the restoration of independence – the Iraqi government wished to seek compensation from the US for the alleged illegal use of cluster bombs against civilians, that is the kind of dispute that could end up before the ICJ. In this hypothetical case the US would probably challenge the jurisdiction of the ICJ to try the issue and for various reasons that challenge might succeed. But the point is that the court exists, and it can deal with issues of this kind.

If the US wanted to clarify the general question of the legality of cluster bombs it could probably (with other states) seek a declaratory ruling from the ICJ on the general question. This has been done on other issues. But, for reasons I’ll come to in a moment, I don’t think the US wants the issue clarified.

But the question of whether to punish an individual solider for (say) shooting a prisoner isn’t the kind of thing that comes before the Security Council or the International Court of Justice (which deals with cases involving states, not individuals).

Up to recently the only international tribunals which could deal with cases involving individuals have been established after the event, and have been limited to crimes alleged in the context of a specific conflict – Nuremburg, Tokyo, the Hague trials dealing with events in the Balkans, the Rwanda tribunal, and so on.

The International Criminal Court has recently been established. It is intended to be a standing tribunal which can deal with all such crimes. The idea is that states, and individuals, will know that the tribunal exists at the time the conflict is ongoing, and that prosecution and punishment does not depend on ending up on the losing side, and on the scale of abuses being so notorious that a specific tribunal is established.

Even with the ICC, in the first instance war crimes will normally come before a domestic court. Only if the domestic system doesn’t exist, or doesn’t deal with the charge, or is perceived to have failed to deal with it adequately, could the ICC try the matter.

The US opposes the ICC because, briefly, it is concerned that there’s an awful lot of anti-American sentiment out there, and the processes of the ICC (and conceivably its decisions) might be abused to attack the US or its officers. That’s obviously a possibility, although the corresponding risk of other forms of prejudice has deterred the US from establishing and participating in tribunals which prosecute the soldiers of other states.

There’s also a suspicion that the US likes the facts that the requirements of international law are uncertain, and its enforcement is patchy. This maximises the freedom of military action of the US (e.g. it can deploy cluster bombs against civilian targets without any serious risk that it, or its soliders, will be subject to sanctions for doing so). As the US is extremely powerful militarily, economically and diplomatically, it is less dependent on international law to protect its interests than other states. It is not, for instance, at any serious risk of having cluster bombs deployed against its civilians, or an any rate not such a risk as could be reduced by a definitive statement of the illegality of such a use. Consequently its happy to see international law remain in a relatively weak state and its own military freedom of action maintained.

XT
02-02-2004, 10:53 PM
Great post again USD. I hadn't realized there WAS a standing tribunal to be honest. How long has it been in effect and has anyone as yet used it for war crimes?

The rest jive with my own impression that generally (at least in the past) nation states policed their own militarys, resorting to special trials in certain circumstances...and then for the LOSING side.

On an unrelated subject (well, not sure if it is unrelated or not) couldn't International Court of Justice at the Hague look at the broader question of whether or not the Iraqi war itself was illegal? If so, is this being done? If not, why not, as there seems to be some debate (to say the least) of whether or not the entire conflict itself was illegal for the US from an international perspective (I know it was legal from our own perspective as the president had congressional approval)? If the ICJ CAN look at such a deep and broad issue, and if they in fact ruled against the US that the Iraq war was in fact illegal, what could they do? Could they rule for sanctions or other reprisals? Even if they could...would they? SOrry to pile all this on you, but you seem to be fairly well versed about this and I'm curious. If its too much of a hijack, I'll withdraw the question(s). :)

There’s also a suspicion that the US likes the facts that the requirements of international law are uncertain, and its enforcement is patchy. This maximises the freedom of military action of the US (e.g. it can deploy cluster bombs against civilian targets without any serious risk that it, or its soliders, will be subject to sanctions for doing so). As the US is extremely powerful militarily, economically and diplomatically, it is less dependent on international law to protect its interests than other states. It is not, for instance, at any serious risk of having cluster bombs deployed against its civilians, or an any rate not such a risk as could be reduced by a definitive statement of the illegality of such a use. Consequently its happy to see international law remain in a relatively weak state and its own military freedom of action maintained.

Why are the requirements enforced 'patchy'? Is it because the organization is so new? Why uncertain? Same? I can understand why a powerful state like the US would want to keep its options open, of course...I'm sure its not alone in this, though as its probably THE most powerful (atm) I'm sure other states are (or would be I suppose) willing to forgo some of their capabilities in a bid to make sure the US was ALSO limited.

Thanks for the great post btw. :)

-XT

UDS
02-02-2004, 11:25 PM
Great post again USD.
[Blush] Thanks.

I hadn't realized there WAS a standing tribunal to be honest. How long has it been in effect and has anyone as yet used it for war crimes?
It’s pretty recent. The treaty establishing it only entered into force in July 2002, and of course many states (including the US) have not ratified the treaty, and are not bound by it. I don’t think there have been any trials yet.

The rest jive with my own impression that generally (at least in the past) nation states policed their own militarys, resorting to special trials in certain circumstances...and then for the LOSING side.
Well, generally, yes. Which, being realistic, isn’t very surprising.

On an unrelated subject (well, not sure if it is unrelated or not) couldn't International Court of Justice at the Hague look at the broader question of whether or not the Iraqi war itself was illegal? If so, is this being done? If not, why not, as there seems to be some debate (to say the least) of whether or not the entire conflict itself was illegal for the US from an international perspective (I know it was legal from our own perspective as the president had congressional approval)?
Like other courts, the ICJ can’t decide itself what to investigate and rule on. States have to bring disputes before it, and they have to show that the court is competent to hear the dispute.

The jurisdiction of the ICJ rests on the agreement of states. A state cannot be brought before the court unless it accepts the jurisdiction of the court. States can do this in (at least) three ways.

1. They can lodge a declaration accepting ICJ jurisdiction in general terms.

2. They can accept ICJ jurisdiction for a limited range of disputes. Often, for instance, a treaty will specify that disputes arising under the treaty will be adjudicated by the ICJ, and that all states who ratify the treaty accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ for that purpose.

3. They can bring a single case before the ICJ, with the agreement of all the states involved.

The US hasn’t accepted the general jurisdiction of the ICJ, so anyone wanting to bring this issue before the ICJ would have to frame their complaint so that it fell into some catgory of disputes for which the US has accepted jurisdiction, or would have to get the agreement of the US.

If the ICJ CAN look at such a deep and broad issue, and if they in fact ruled against the US that the Iraq war was in fact illegal, what could they do? Could they rule for sanctions or other reprisals? Even if they could...would they? SOrry to pile all this on you, but you seem to be fairly well versed about this and I'm curious. If its too much of a hijack, I'll withdraw the question(s). :)
The ICJ can and in suitable cases does order states to alter their behaviour, to give undertakings as to future behaviour, to pay compensation, to make reparations. It has no mechanism for compelling states to obey (i.e. it has no bailiffs) but states may consider that it is in their best interests to obey, or international diplomatic pressure may compel them to obey, or other states may take or threaten to take reprisals against them for not obeying.

Why are the requirements enforced 'patchy'? Is it because the organization is so new? Why uncertain? Same? I can understand why a powerful state like the US would want to keep its options open, of course...I'm sure its not alone in this, though as its probably THE most powerful (atm) I'm sure other states are (or would be I suppose) willing to forgo some of their capabilities in a bid to make sure the US was ALSO limited.
Uncertain rules and patchy enforcement are because international law is at a relatively early stage of development (especially in the area of humanitarian law) and the processes by which it is developed are fairly slow. And because the subjects of international law – states – are fairly powerful in their own right and it is often in their interests to impede development or enforcement.

Brutus
02-02-2004, 11:27 PM
3) Is it possible, that in the 100,000 to 200,000 troops in Iraq, that a small but significant percentage are racists and/or hotheads and/or sadists and/or psychos as in the general population?

Given that those entering the military are subject to varying degrees of screening, you will have less undesirables than in the general population. But sure, you'll get at least a few, I guess. The UCMJ can deal with those that can't keep their peccadillos to themselves.


4) Is it possible that in policing and country building, a job they are NOT trained to do, that a minority has grown to hate the Iraqis?


'NOT'? Wow, we must untrain what little our troops know about policing and 'country building' to rate a 'NOT'. :rolleyes:

That US forces are somehow untrained to deal with policing and 'nation building' is a misconception, at best. There seems to be an attitude of, "Well, if they are good at warfighting, they can't be good at anything else!" Simply untrue, from (West) Germany and Japan on.


6) So where are the court martials? Where are the investigations? Where are cases being made?


And this beast rises again, I see. You are presuming guilt. Among the very foundations of Western law: Innocent until proven guilty, and you (poorly) rationalize that away. You simply won't be happy until American soldiers are put on trial, regardless of the fact that you don't actually have any crimes to put them on trial for. They are guilty, and we should put 'em on trial to find out what they are guilty of! :rolleyes:

Mentalities such as yours, by the way, are a great reason that we have not, and will not, subject our troops to whatever the 'court of the month' at the UN is.

UDS
02-03-2004, 01:20 AM
. . . I see. You are presuming guilt. Among the very foundations of Western law: Innocent until proven guilty, and you (poorly) rationalize that away. You simply won't be happy until American soldiers are put on trial, regardless of the fact that you don't actually have any crimes to put them on trial for. They are guilty, and we should put 'em on trial to find out what they are guilty of! :rolleyes:
No, he’s calling for investigations and trials, so at most he’s assuming that accusations will be made, that some of them will be sufficiently credible to warrant investigation, and that some of the investigations will show a prima facie case requiring trial. He’s not assuming any conviction, or any guilt.

. . . Mentalities such as yours, by the way, are a great reason that we have not, and will not, subject our troops to whatever the 'court of the month' at the UN is.
At the risk of being smart, if mentalities such as yours, which believe investigation is warranted only where guilt has already been established, dominated in the US military justice system, that would be a compelling reason why the enforcement of human rights norms should not be left to that system.

Incidentally, it is the US which favours a “court of the month” approach to the international enforcement of human rights, with the establishment of a piecemeal series of ad hoc tribunals to investigate acts alleged to have been committed during a limited time in a limited place. It opposes the establishment of a permanent court with a standing jurisdiction.

Brutus
02-03-2004, 01:59 AM
No, he’s calling for investigations and trials, so at most he’s assuming that accusations will be made, that some of them will be sufficiently credible to warrant investigation, and that some of the investigations will show a prima facie case requiring trial. He’s not assuming any conviction, or any guilt.

With all due respect, he is presuming guilt. At least, he is presuming that since there are X soldiers there, and Y are social deviants, then Z warcrimes must be commited, and that the lack of prosecutions for said supposed crimes is evidence that the Army is covering up something.


At the risk of being smart, if mentalities such as yours, which believe investigation is warranted only where guilt has already been established, dominated in the US military justice system, that would be a compelling reason why the enforcement of human rights norms should not be left to that system.

No, I believe that investigations are warranted when reasonable cause for an investigation exists. I have not said otherwise. Also, the lack of reported crimes is not reasonable cause, in my book. (And in the UCMJ as well, I bet.)


Incidentally, it is the US which favours a “court of the month” approach to the international enforcement of human rights, with the establishment of a piecemeal series of ad hoc tribunals to investigate acts alleged to have been committed during a limited time in a limited place. It opposes the establishment of a permanent court with a standing jurisdiction.

Poor choice of words on my part. I simply see no valid reason that America should subject her soldiers to the whim of 'international justice', when there is no evidence that the UCMJ/American legal system cannot do the job. If other countries do not trust themselves enough, and feel the need to join the ICC, so be it.

Desmostylus
02-03-2004, 02:12 AM
If other countries do not trust themselves enough, and feel the need to join the ICC, so be it.There's the entire problem in a nutshell. Countries really can't be trusted to enforce potentially embarrassing laws against themselves.

It's like saying that only untrustworthy companies allow themselves to be externally audited, when in fact the exact opposite is the case.

Brutus
02-03-2004, 06:59 AM
There's the entire problem in a nutshell. Countries really can't be trusted to enforce potentially embarrassing laws against themselves.

It's like saying that only untrustworthy companies allow themselves to be externally audited, when in fact the exact opposite is the case.

Sort of like how Enron was externally audited?

Regardless, American sovereignty is hardly served by allowing those with an axe to grind with America to prosecute our troops. The US Army CID, US Navy CIS, etc, are more than suitable for the task, should the need arise.

Rashak Mani
02-03-2004, 10:35 AM
I simply see no valid reason that America should subject her soldiers to the whim of 'international justice', when there is no evidence that the UCMJ/American legal system cannot do the job. If other countries do not trust themselves enough, and feel the need to join the ICC, so be it.

So why weren't the Nazi leaders judged by the German Justice ? This common notion of US purity and better than thou attitude stinks of double standard. Other countries might be the "losers"... but the "winner" surely seems above the same "laws".

Other trials like Milosovich (Yugoslavia) and his goons sound now empty due to the US not entering the ICJ. Serbian war crimes were just as bad as Saddam's.

Also I agree that the number of soldiers being judged by the US itself is very low... when there are many reports of abuse. (Don't have the link showing the video of a wanton shooting of a bystander) The soldiers are having too much liberty and too little oversight, especially considering the number of soldiers active in Iraq...

UDS
02-03-2004, 07:00 PM
Regardless, American sovereignty is hardly served by allowing those with an axe to grind with America to prosecute our troops. The US Army CID, US Navy CIS, etc, are more than suitable for the task, should the need arise.
Exactly. If your first priority, to which you subordinate all other objectives, is the preservation of US sovereignty, then a domestic US system is certainly what you want.

On the other hand, if your first priority is to uphold humanitarian standards, relying exclusively on a domestic system is, for reasons already pointed out, probably not the optimal approach.

rngadam
02-03-2004, 09:36 PM
[QUOTE=Brutus]With all due respect, he is presuming guilt. At least, he is presuming that since there are X soldiers there, and Y are social deviants, then Z warcrimes must be commited, and that the lack of prosecutions for said supposed crimes is evidence that the Army is covering up something.[/QUOTE=Brutus]

Yes, that is my statistical/mathematical explanation for it. For a particular individual, you cannot presume guilt. But for a large population, statistics have been a good predictor of what will happen and currently, I haven't seen any facts that would lead me to believe that what's happening in Iraq can fit even low-end statistical estimates.

A good example where statistics are used, this time in the other direction:

http://www.areastudies.org/documents/asia015.html

I'll be happy to correct my view on this if I see a list of investigations and cases in court that would fit what can be expected crime-wise in a place where the military are in constant contact with the general population. Please understand that when I say that SOME must have committed crimes, not all of them are.

[QUOTE=Brutus]No, I believe that investigations are warranted when reasonable cause for an investigation exists. I have not said otherwise. Also, the lack of reported crimes is not reasonable cause, in my book. (And in the UCMJ as well, I bet.)[/QUOTE=Brutus]

Yes, but it is certainly reasonable cause to review the current policies and HOW and WHEN the possible UCMJ infractions are investigated, no? Sure, the UCMJ is quite strict, but is it really being applied? How do we know if there are no organization separate from the military that monitors this?

rngadam
02-03-2004, 09:53 PM
That US forces are somehow untrained to deal with policing and 'nation building' is a misconception, at best. There seems to be an attitude of, "Well, if they are good at warfighting, they can't be good at anything else!" Simply untrue, from (West) Germany and Japan on.

US forces are being trained in policing, nation building, diplomacy, law and other things like that? Sure, they are not inexperienced, but I really think that we are far from having a ideal solution when military forces do those kind of job... Or am I missing something? Is this part of basic training?

And as for West Germany and Japan.... Well, I think they are quite different from Iraq... They didn't have that many racial, tribals and religious conflicts in the same country after all!

rngadam
02-26-2004, 02:19 PM
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/world/8039693.htm


Fourteen-year-old Intisar was the first to fall. The bullet split open her head and scattered her brains across the earth.

Samira, 15, was next. She dropped to the ground in pain after a bullet ripped through her thigh.


Anyone knows what happens next when soldiers shoot 14/15 years old girls in the back blindly? What is the follow-up on this story?


"The soldiers perceived the women were a threat based on their evasive action," said Master Sgt. Robert Cargie, a spokesman for the military in northern Iraq. Cargie said the Army was investigating the incident, but "it doesn't look like the women were involved" in the bombing.


Are there public records of those investigations? Can you get those from an FOIA (well, I can't I'm not a US citizen...)?

Did they react that way because the 25th ID training includes these kind of tips:

http://starbulletin.com/2004/02/26/news/story7.html

"Watch the kids," said Wright. "They can be your biggest indicator. A buddy told me that when he was on a foot patrol in Iraq, all of a sudden all the kids scurried away. The kids then put their fingers in their ears. Just by anticipating the blast, they gave themselves away."