Bellum Americanum
June 24, 2003

A Few for Drew

Talking to a conservative friend at the pub last night, I happened to mention this blog, and he said he might drop by to peruse my meanderings so we could have even more to argue about over beer and pool. So, just in case he does drop by, today's offerings are all related to conservatives or right-wing libertarians and the Terror War. If I can convince him on the foolishness and awfulness of Bush's wars, I'm one step closer to turning him into a raving anarchist.

First we have conservative columnist Robert Novak discussing evidence for "deep-seated morale problems with profound repercussions" among U.S. troops in Iraq, as well as "the divide between the old army brass and Rumsfeld."

Next we have columnist Miami Heral columnist Robert Steinback wondering why "true conservatives are silent" over Bush's very unconservative policies.

Right wing libertarian Lew Rockwell gives his verdict on the Iraq war and it ain't "mission accomplished."

Finally, Elaine Cassel notes a Supreme Court case in which Justices Scalia and Thomas join a "vigourous dissent" authored by Ruth Bader Ginsberg regarding the province of the judiciary being usurped on the grounds that it might interfere with Bush's "foreign policy."

June 23, 2003

The Viceroy of Privatization

The New York times reported yesterday on L. Paul Bremer's plans to initiate a massive program of privatization in the next few weeks. More than 40 state-owned companies (i.e. owned by the people of Iraq) are being targeted. "Many of those companies, [Bremer] acknowledged, would not be able to survive in the face of real competition."

This is in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions governing the rights and responsibilities of occupying powers, a status that the U.S. government has formally acknowledged in pressing the U.N. to legitimize its war of conquest recently. Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva convention reads:

Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.

The privatization of publicly owned companies, likely leading to mass layoffs, asset looting, and other harms to "protected persons" (the Iraqi populace) certainly falls under the rubric of Article 47. As a Red Cross legal commentary notes:

During the Second World War Occupying Powers intervened in the occupied countries on numerous occasions and in a great variety of ways, depending on the political aim pursued; examples are changes in constitutional forms or in the form of government, the establishment of new military or political organizations, the dissolution of the State, or the formation of new political entities. International law prohibits such actions, which are based solely on the military strength of the Occupying Power and not on a sovereign decision by the occupied State. Of course the Occupying Power usually tried to give some colour of legality and independence to the new organizations, which were formed in the majority of cases with the co-operation of certain elements among the population of the occupied country, but it was obvious that they were in fact always subservient to the will of the Occupying Power.

Meanwhile, you won't hear U.S. officials crowing about the Iranian student protests mention much about the fact that they started over plans by the Iranian government to privatize the universities.

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