As you may have known, recently the US assassinated two of its own citizens in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Say what you will about these two but the actions taken by the government of assassination without trial certainly is an extreme if not wholly unconstitutional measure as witnessed by some constitutional lawyers and experts. It may also violate international law.
The government only has the legal right to assassinate its own citizens under extremely rare circumstances and one wonders if the actions of these two reached that high point. As even the New York Times said: “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”
Neither has been proven to have been involved with actual acts of terrorism. They have spoken with terrorists and have been a powerful English language recruiting force for al Qaeda but is that enough for the government to justify killing them without trial or even indictment? Remember that even advocating the violent overthrow of the US government or even advocating terrorist acts are wholly protected speech (see here) under the US constitution.
Compare the assassination of these two with the case of Liu Xiaobo. Liu was found guilty in a trial for inciting subversion and slander and sentenced to prison for saying things like China should be colonized by the US. He was not assassinated and was at least given a trial in which he plead guilty.
Liu got the Nobel prize and serious ass-kissing by both western liberals and conservatives alike while most Americans are complacent with the story they have been fed by their government that al-Awlaki was a direct and immediate threat to their lives.
There isn’t even any critical questioning of that story. Apologists for the assassination usually robotically offer this kind of response “b…b…but al-Awlaki was an al Qaeda agent! And surely you can’t take the trial of Liu seriously! That’s a Chinese trial!”
Pretentious displays of consternation and foot-stomping aside, this kind of response seems to me like blanket refusal to critically examine the story and a case of hypocrisy.
It conveniently avoids the fact that the US has strict laws protecting the freedom to express whatever one wishes so long as it is not lead to an immediate credible harm (1st Amendment) and that every citizen that is accused of a crime is entitled due process (5th Amendment).
The government has yet to provide any evidence that al-Awlaki was operationally involved in any act of terrorism. He has merely made videos advocating them and the US government also claims he has had contact and “trained” with others who have engaged in acts of terrorism.
US conservatives do not care about charges of hypocrisy. It means nothing to them but progressives who admired and supported Liu’s cause need to do a better job of explaining why they haven’t gone out of their way to denounce the extralegal assassination of two of their fellow citizens.
No doubt, they would go apeshit if the PRC extralegally (or legally for that matter) killed those it judged supportive of terrorism against Chinese citizens such as those in the Tibetan Youth Congress (which they deem a terrorist organization having publicly supported attacks on Chinese civilians) or had it assassinated those it deemed supportive of enemy combatants such as the Dalai Lama in the 60s when he provided spiritual support and recruitment propaganda to Khampa rebels.
US conservatives don’t care about charges of hypocrisy because they believe in American exceptionalism-and that is the crux of why ppl have a disconnect between what is applied to China shouldnt be applied to the United States.
great post btw
I won’t dispute that many people are troubled by the U.S. military’s targeting (and killing) al-Awlaki, but if you’re going to bring up what is legal, you need to make more of an effort to identify which laws actually apply. The U.S. media has done a really bad job of reporting on this story and has largely neglected to discuss international humanitarian law (IHL, a.k.a the law of war or the law of armed conflict), and their poor coverage might have caused you to jump the gun and make an erroneous comparison to China’s treatment of Liu Xiaobo and other dissidents.
The first glaring difference you should notice is that the United States is involved in international armed conflicts, but China is not involved in any international armed conflict. Read up on the Geneva Conventions, especially Common Articles 2 and 3. Also, you might want to check out a few publications on direct participation in the hostilities; you’ll probably want to read stuff from the ICRC and anything from Nils Melzer. These readings should help you better understand how IHL treats both legal combatants and civilians who forfeit their protections from being targeted.
I made the “effort” to identify which laws are applicable. See the 8th paragraph. Hint: They are the highest laws in the land. I’ve also been nice enough to provide links to legal experts that disputed the legality of the assassination (both as a matter of constitutional law and as a matter of international law).
International humanitarian law may be applicable to the killing of bin Laden but the experts I have cited doubt its applicability to the killing of said people for the reasons they gave in their articles. (The two people were killed hundreds of miles from any battle field or any armed conflict and were not directly involved in any acts associated with armed conflict).
Let me correct an omission I made in my previous comment. Although I directed you to both Common Articles 2 and 3, I meant to more directly state that the United States is involved in either or both of international and non-international armed conflicts; there is a lot of political and academic wrangling about how to classify conflicts in different regions. IHL applies to both international and non-international armed conflicts, and in either case — but especially with respect to non-international armed conflicts — there is a lot of debate about how much emphasis should be placed on geography when determining the modern battlefield. That is, there is a move away toward thinking that certain targets are only valid targets if they’re close in physical proximity to some actual firefight.
In al-Awlaki’s case, he was actively recruiting people to join enemy forces; this is why IHL is an indispensable part of the discussion. You linked to an article that gives a 30,000-foot view of IHL, but you and many others don’t directly discuss IHL and tend to gloss over it. (Even Mary Ellen O’Connell glosses over the distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts. Or maybe the Wired.com editors didn’t fully present her arguments.)
It’s been a while since I’ve studied IHL, and I’ll admit my knowledge is rusty. But I remember enough to know that it’s important to talk up front about IHL in the al-Awlaki case, and glossing over IHL leads to an unfair presentation of how the decision was made — or how it was probably made — to target al-Awlaki. This isn’t a case about the U.S. military killing an American citizen just because we didn’t like the content of the American citizen’s speech. Rather, this is a case in which the U.S. military targeted an American citizen who joined enemy forces and actively recruited people to fight against us — the Constitution doesn’t protect this type of activity, and IHL mostly likely allows for targeting the individual in this case.
It’s too bad the Wired.com article didn’t delve more into the topics of self-defense (as an international law concept) and non-international armed conflicts. Also, it would be nice to see somebody more carefully analyze the implications of al-Awlaki’s Yemeni citizenship. In international law, there is a concept known as dominant and effective nationality, and I assume al-Awlaki’s dominant and effective nationality was his Yemeni nationality. (I’m thinking about this only because I’m wondering what arguments would be made if it were the case that Yemen invited the United States to make targeted drone strikes as part of of a non-international armed conflict or if Yemen otherwise asked for U.S. assistance in some sort of domestic law enforcement effort.)
All of this stuff is way outside of my area of practice (transactional), but my reason for pointing to these other arguments is really just to show that the al-Alaki case is nothing like China’s imprisoning Liu Xiaobo and detaining his family. There is no question whether China is (directly) involved in an international or non-international armed conflict, and there is no question of whether Liu Xiaobo was recruiting others to join an enemy of China’s to fight against China in an international or non-international armed conflict. Rather, Liu Xiaobo sat at a table somewhere in China and wrote a document advocating for a new form of government in China.
[Edit: You also mentioned that U.S. progressives should do more to explain why they haven’t jumped all over this case like they jumped all over Liu’s case. First, I think a lot of progressives did jump on this case; that’s why there have been all of these hysterical headlines about assassinating a U.S. citizen. Second, I’m probably as progressive as they come, and my comments should represent for you at least one progressive’s view on why the al-Awlaki case is different from Liu’s case. I’m not completely certain that I’ve got all the facts straight in the al-Awlaki case, but based on what I know so far — and my current views on what I recall about IHL — I’m not too alarmed that we killed al-Awlaki, at least not in terms of any possible negative implications for U.S. Constitutional protections.]
“There is no question whether China is (directly) involved in an international or non-international armed conflict, and there is no question of whether Liu Xiaobo was recruiting others to join an enemy of China’s to fight against China in an international or non-international armed conflict. ”
And I thought China is involved in the War on Terrorism, and has a long list of Terrorists wanted.
And I thought the “TRIAL” was a question of Liu’s conducts.
But hey, I guess some people just don’t like the answers they get from courts, (and like to just go for the smart bombs instead).
The US has always have double standard. The Chinese terrorist suspects caught training in Afghanistan were deemed to be non-hostile to the US and was released to a third country.
Basically, the US administration get to decide who is to be on a hit list and who is to be release into a tropical islands.
What we have here is that Liu has broken Chinese law, gone to trial and was sentenced. Al-Awlaki did not have such luxury or benefit of a doubt. Jim is trying to defend the indefensible and is simply aping the current US policy.
There is “no question” from some people, because they don’t bother to ask the “questions”, which is basically the 1st indications that they are brainwashed (to the extent that they don’t bother to ask the questions).
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay, Self-Reliance.
“Foolish consistency” – doing something the same way over and over without a good reason
Sort of explains the present Western mentality (and “Democracy” in general).
Jim: “The first glaring difference you should notice is that the United States is involved in international armed conflicts, but China is not involved in any international armed conflict.”
I’ll say. Take a look at this link:
The US has been taking military action somewhere almost every year of its 235 year existence; it is hard to find a two-year stretch in its history when the US was not fighting somebody somewhere in the world. Given the trend, I don’t see it changing much in the future.
Jim wrote: “These readings should help you better understand how IHL treats both legal combatants and civilians who forfeit their protections from being targeted.”
Hmmm. Let’s think about that one. “Civilians who forfeit their protections from being targeted”. That usually pertains to citizens who take a direct action in the hostilities. Someone who picks up a gun and starts shooting takes direct action in hostilities.
The trouble the US had with Awlaki is not that he took direct action in hostilities, it is that he spoke English and encouraged English-speaking muslims to undertake jihad, and he did that very well. He used words to motivate others and inspired others towards action. He gave sermons that inspired people to find meaning in jihad, to give up their lives for a “higher cause”.
Of course, one person’s higher cause is another person’s nightmare. The US war on terror is a “war of terror” (as Borat put it) for those who are targeted. And those who are targeted fight back. Violence begets more violence in a never-ending cycle. The war economy hums along. http://www.wareconomy.org/true-cost-of-war/
But one can always draw legalistic distinctions, if one is fond of sophistry, and unashamed of thin rationalizations as long as they can salve the conscience. So we come up with any “legal” arguments we can for why Awlaki had only himself to blame, because he gave up his rights.
So that was that for Awlaki. But what about this guy:
“Killed in the strike alongside Mr. Awlaki was another American citizen, Samir Khan, who had produced a magazine for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula promoting terrorism. He was apparently not on the targeting list, making his death collateral damage. His family has issued a statement citing the Fifth Amendment and asking whether it was necessary for the government to have “assassinated two of its citizens.””
So. Samir Khan doesn’t even get any consideration because he just happened to be there, the wrong place at the wrong time. Ooops.
We treat life so cavalierly. Even American life if one has become enemy of the state.
We now experience the banality of evil, and it is us.
I enjoyed finally reading a comment from somebody who writes grammatical English.
If you’re trying to make the point that the United States is war-hungry, then I acknowledge your point has merit. If you’re instead trying to distract from my original reason for commenting on this threat — that the killing of al-Awlaki and the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo are not similar — then I still think you guys are crazy.
There are two forks in the law here that we shouldn’t ignore. The first fork applies to legal combatants, basically enemy warriors who can be targeted anytime no matter what they’re currently doing. The second fork applies to unlawful combatants or ‘irregulars’; the law in this area has become muddled in recent years because of new types of warfare. Whether a civilian can be targeted depends on if, how, and when the civilian has participated in hostilities. In al-Awlaki’s case, he may have served a continuous combat function by regularly recruiting others to join the fight against us. So it’s not true that only civilians holding guns and firing bullets are acceptable targets under international law; those who play a recruiting role, for example, are also valid targets. A tougher question may be how to interpret the ‘for such time’ requirement of the direct participation doctrine — I don’t think the United States ascribes to the revolving door interpretation.
This isn’t just an exercise in legal sophistry. Apparently there was a 50-page memo on whether our military could legally target al-Awlaki. The memo would have gone through each legal issue and objectively analyzed whether targeting al-Awlaki would likely be legal or illegal under the laws that are relevant to each issue. The categories of international and domestic law existed before our government analyzed whether it could legally target al-Awlaki.
Although I’ve indicated that I think the U.S. military probably could legally target al-Awlaki, my original reason for posting here was not to give a decisive answer under any one area of the law. Rather, I’m trying to show that there are lot of complex issues that apply to the al-Awlaki case because the United States is involved in a real war and al-Awlaki was somehow participating as our enemy in that war. And this isn’t a case about our government’s depriving a citizen of his free speech rights like China regularly deprives its citizens of the right to free speech. The comparison to Liu Xiaobo is absurd.
I don’t know anything about Samir Khan, but if he was just collateral damage as you claim, then yes, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ll recall that meletaus asserted that the U.S. military illegally killed these American citizens, and I countered that his assertion may not be true and that he didn’t examine all the relevant laws. Well, IHL allows for collateral casualties, as long as the collateral casualties are not clearly excessive relative to the potential military gain. This law may seem harsh, but it is still the law.
I actually like your citation to David Seaton’s blog post. I think you’re right to be uncomfortable with many aspects of the U.S. military’s modern warfare tactics. It’s a bit twisted to launch drone attacks by day and then go home to one’s house in the suburbs. (But I wonder how many of these drone operators actually launch attacks and how many are almost always just conducting surveillance.) Still, I don’t think we’ve reached the point of being evil, and I don’t think I’ll ever see a day when I’m less comfortable with the U.S. government than I am with the CCP.
And none of this changes the fact that China brought trumped-up charges against Liu Xiaobo because Liu spoke out against the CCP. None of this changes that China has detained Liu’s family just because they’re his family. If you’re wondering why I feel a connection to Liu’s case, it’s because of my experiences in China. I have very vivid memories of when my friend was accused of being a CIA operative because he talked with Chinese students about Tiananment Square; the school’s administration denounced him at a school-wide assembly, ordered students not to speak with him, and kicked him out of his on-campus apartment. I also have vivid memories of Chinese secret police detaining another friend as he tried to make his way to a conference in China about the environmental impact of Chinese industry. I still remember the thoughts that raced through my mind after I found a microphone and recording device hidden in my desk in my office in China! There are just too many of these stories that I could recount.
I would start charging that person who needs so much help with his English grammar, especially for really DUMB mistakes.
for example, apparently there is a place called “Tiananment”.
Oh, his “friend” (wink to Chuckie) got kicked out of his “apartment”?! Was that Wen Ho Lee?! Oh, my mistake, Wen Ho Lee got kicked INTO solitary for 18 months just for what?
(a) downloading non-secret data.
(b) talking Chinese scientists at FBI’s request.
(c) being Taiwanese.
(d) being convenient scapegoat.
(e) all of the above.
I detect that someone is getting UNCOMFORTABLE with his brainwash audiotapes.
Ooh, you really made me look foolish — how dare I mistakenly add an extra ‘t’ to the name of your beloved heavenly tourist trap! Look over your comment and try to figure out why I think you’re stupid, 狗日的SB.
No explanation required. We all know who’s full of BS here.
And you are sounding desperate. “Dog jumping over the wall”, eh?!
Jim’s main point of contention regarding the two international legal experts I cited seems to be that they did not “reference” IHL, therefore, their arguments are not sound. That’s seems incredibly weak a response. Notice also, the glaring unwarranted assumption in his argument: That the US has the authority to kill anyone in times of “armed conflict” which is essentially all the time. That is not acceptable as matter of international law, humanitarian or otherwise.
Yeah, weak, desperate, whatever fills up space. Apparently, word count is important.
He says there are “distinctions” between international and non-international armed conflicts, which others have “glossed over”, but he didn’t even bother to explain the distinctions (according to him).
I guess he lost himself in that LONG essay about nothing at all.
Seriously, how does someone accuse others of “glossing over” something, but doesn’t bother to explain that something?!
And apparently, a SECRET memo was sufficient of a judicial process to smart bomb a US citizen. (No trial, not even a SECRET military tribunal).
Not even a pretend public trial?
Not even a PUBLIC memo??
If it was so kosher, why so little backbone?? 🙂
Between you and me, there is a SECRET memo to lock up all Wall Street protesters!! Shh, don’t tell anyone.
It’s all Great!!
I didn’t say the people from the wired.com article you cited did not mention IHL. Rather, I said they gave a 30,000-foot view of IHL; that the lady (or the wired.com editors) glossed over the distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts; and that in your original post you didn’t pay adequate attention to IHL, which I contend is an indispensable part of the discussion. I also didn’t say that the United States may kill anyone in times of an armed conflict. When the United States is engaged in an armed conflict, the U.S. military can kill valid targets in accordance with IHL. When the United States in an armed conflict with another regularly constituted military force, then yeah, at basically any moment we can target people who are formally part of their forces.
Why would I try to claim that the general from the wired.com article didn’t cite IHL? His points speak directly to IHL, and he lays out several reasons why the killing of al-Awlaki was either legal under IHL or beyond questioning by U.S. courts. I did, however, criticize the other expert’s statements in the wired.com article as being a little too shallow or underdeveloped.
And again, you guys are too dense to see what I’m really hitting at here: all these points just go to show that you’re being ridiculous by trying to draw similarities between al-Awlaki and Liu Xiaobo. Does the CCP pay out your fifty cents in RMB or USD?
Also notice that Jim is relying on the word of the secret memo the government released
“The memo would have gone through each legal issue and objectively analyzed whether targeting al-Awlaki would likely be legal or illegal under the laws that are relevant to each issue.”
That’s a pretty big assumption! Assuming that a secret government memo’s reasoning is sound when it is wholly secret and when many international legal experts and constitutional experts think it is wholly illegal. Yes, the government may be breeding a population of legal supermen whose reasoning capacity in legal matters far exceeds all our’s combined. That is a possibility but it would take the most gullible of us to actually believe it. It would take a completely unethical dupe, in fact.
The fact that Liu was sentenced to prison under Chinese law and that Awlaki was killed extralegally and under extremely legally and morally questionable circumstances justifies my comparison more than adequately.
This knuckle-dragging stooge has tried every pathetic tactic in the scumbag argument rule book including whining about people’s grammar but can’t put together a coherent thought to same his life. The cretin keeps referring to IHL as if that would settle anything. Not only hasn’t he brushed up on his IHL law but apparently he needs a remedial reading brush-up as well. He didn’t even pay attention to what I wrote in the first blog. Again, the million dollar question is, why hasn’t the Americans questioned the Awlaki assassination when it is far more legally and morally contentious than Liu’s case?
These are the only two things “jim” managed to say that were true:
“It’s been a while since I’ve studied IHL, and I’ll admit my knowledge is rusty….
All of this stuff is way outside of my area of practice …”
Unfortunately for him, Mary Ellen O’Connell and Kevin Jon Heller has studied IHL and their knowledge is certainly not rusty and that is their “area of practice.” So yes, what I briefly said in my post that the assassination “may also violate international law” is wholly justified by all the experts I cited. Just because O’Connell didn’t “mention” IHL or did so from 30,00 feet away doesn’t mean that she didn’t take into account the reasoning behind it.
The memo isn’t “wholly secret.” The government just hasn’t officially released the memo, and it makes sense that the memo started off as a closely-guarded internal document. ProspectiveH already provided us with a link to a NY Times article that examines the leaked “secret memo,” so we actually have a pretty good idea of what the memo address and concludes. Note the heavy emphasis on IHL and other international law!
The U.S. government made a thorough review of the best way to effectively and legally solve the problem of al-Awlaki’s continually recruiting others to fight against the United States in an armed conflict. The conduct in which al-Awlaki engaged is not comparable to the conduct in which Liu Xiaobo engaged, and neither is the process the U.S. government went through in addressing al-Awlaki’s case similar to the process the Chinese government went through in deciding to imprison Liu Xiaobo.
Indeed, if al-Awlaki had merely sat in his home somewhere in the United States churning out essays that only advocated for a political revolution in the United States, then his speech would have been protected by the Constitution; he’d still be sitting around posting anti-U.S. crap like you guys do on this website. Isn’t this what Liu did in China? He sat somewhere in China and collaborated with others on Charter 08, a document which merely advocates a change to China’s government and didn’t actually incite anybody to raise a finger against the CCP, especially not in the context of any armed conflict? Isn’t China’s constitution supposed to protect the right of the Chinese people to speak freely? You don’t think the CCP essentially dreamed up shady charges and denied Liu a fair trial? And how do you explain the detention of Liu’s family members? Don’t you think the CCP’s treatment of Liu and his family smacks of the type of “extralegal” bullshit sophistry you claim to despise?
Liu openly said he wanted more political freedom in China, so China locked him up and keeps his family isolated in their homes. Anwar al-Awlaki joined the enemy in an armed conflict and continually recruited people to try to kill other Americans, so the U.S. military killed him after failing at other attempts to apprehend him — and after making a serious inquiry about the legality of targeting him.
Hear that? That’s the sound of “unconvinced”.
🙂 Shhh…. nobody tell him, he can’t take a hint from all the “anti-U.S. crap” on this website.
So much for “compelling” skills, eh?
probably writes his own “secret memo” and call it “sound arguments”.
Oh, do some reading on Awlaki:
He was traveling around in US and UK from 2001 to 2004, then to Yemen, where he was briefly detained.
Apparently, US couldn’t even make any thing stick on him for those years.
Hm… Sounds like they were after him for many years.
(Maybe all that FBI interrogations brainwashed him into a terrorist)??
Still incredibly unconvincing. From what I have read regarding the legal status of this case, nearly all legal experts say that it is highly controversial. Thus you’d be a dupe to rely on the leaked portion or the reported leaked portion of the memo and think its reasoning is sound on that alone. Some legal experts lean towards it legality and some lean towards its illegality and many are not sure at all. The simple fact is is that the legality of the assassination would have to depend very much on the evidential facts of the matter and those facts haven’t come to light. It probably depends on whether Awlaki had an operational role in terror acts. Simply recruiting for al Qaeda by making youtube videos is not enough.
But relying on the governments claim is just naive anyone’s government, the US or China’s. The people of this blog have learned how to be critical. That’s something many others should learn how to do.
Now you may say that Liu’s sentence of 11 years for inciting the “subversion of state power” and the overturning “of the socialist system through methods such as spreading rumors and slander” is too harsh but that is a matter of moral debate. I happen to think it was too harsh despite the fact that it is also a very serious charge.
But your blind acceptance of the government’s propaganda that it has acted lawfully cannot be justified at all. You need to do far more assuming to get any of your claims off the ground.
So you still have yet to show that anything I said was inaccurate or misleading. The international law passage in my original blog to which you focused on with laser precision was merely echoing the sentiments of most legal experts that it may have been illegal under international law. All your footstomping have not changed anyone’s viewpoint on that matter. The government seems to be walking a very dangerous fine line. It’s that simple.
More interestingly, my claim that Americans haven’t critically questioned the Awlaki case is further supported by your reaction (and from a self-described progressive no less). It is wholly uncritical and simply assumes that memo’s main argument is sound legal reasoning just because it happens to delve into IHL and IL. How gullible is that? Doesn’t that support everything people have been saying on this blog, that Americans don’t question their government’s propaganda but are wholly game brashly denouncing the claims of other governments like China even without good reason?
His bit “rusty” understanding is apparently better than many legal experts who study IL, who apparently “glossed over” stuff he can’t explain.
Oh, no delusions of grandeur at all!! “No question” at all!!
Exactly, it’s not just his blind refusal to see how ridiculous his reasoning is, it’s his arrogance in doing it. He admits he is rusty and that this is not his area of expertise but he is mostly confident of the legality of this assassination, actual experts be damned. That’s ferocious hubris.
Unconvincing, huh? Well, I’ve already moved you away from flatly denouncing the killing of al-Awlaki as an “extralegal assassination”; you’ve moved toward describing the situation as “depend[ing] very much on the evidential facts . . . [and] whether al-Alwlaki had an operational role.” I think you’re moving in the direction of being more reasonable in your assessment of the situation.
Also, I don’t think I’ve flatly stated a view that targeting al-Awlaki was definitely legal. Instead, I’ve given my reasons for not being alarmed and appalled that our military killed him. I’ve shown that there are a lot of legal issues to sort through, and although I haven’t expended the effort to exhaustively research every one of those issues, I still generally trust my government and trust that the Obama administration carefully considered all the legal issues before making the decision to target al-Awlaki. And maybe my knowledge of IHL is rusty, but I managed on my own to identify almost all of the legal questions outlined in the NY Times article (before reading the article, of course). My subsequently reading the NY Times article thus made me feel reassured in two ways. First, I feel confident that I’m thinking on my own and not being led to any conclusion by one side. Second, I feel confident that the administration’s lawyers prepared a high-quality, objective legal memo on whether we could legally target al-Awlaki, and our government seems to have made its decision only after this objective legal analysis.
So, I’ve demonstrated why I didn’t feel compelled to get worked up about my government’s targeting al-Awlaki. I’m sure my reasoning isn’t compelling to you because you want to spin the al-Awlaki story to cast aspersions on the United States and deflect criticism of how China reacted to last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
I find it humorous that you’re so quick to say I’m brainwashed because I put forth a lot of effort to gather news from many sources. But to be fair, I admit I’m quick to call you a 50-center. Nobody in the United States ever told me not to trust Chinese people — I learned that lesson on my own when I lived in China.
And don’t you feel dirty when perpetuating the CCP’s reasoning for locking up Liu Xiaobo? I mean, if the United States acted like China with respect to political dissidents, then we would have locked up all of HH’s moderators by now.
You haven’t moved me away from anything. I’ll quote from my first paragraph:
“Say what you will about these two but the actions taken by the government of assassination without trial certainly is an extreme if not wholly unconstitutional measure as witnessed by some constitutional lawyers and experts. It may also violate international law…The government only has the legal right to assassinate its own citizens under extremely rare circumstances and one wonders if the actions of these two reached that high point. ”
The term “extralegal” is a term used by international legal experts on this case. There is no doubt that it is extralegal in the sense that it took place outside of due process normally accorded to US citizens. Whether it is legal or illegal is another matter. You certainly haven’t shown by any one’s satisfaction that it was legal as you persistently claim that it was under some blind “confidence” that the memo was thorough, “high quality” and “objective”. Your “confidence” that the gov’s report was objective and soundly reasoned is an article of faith in your government (despite the historical reasons counting against such blind faith), something Americans keep arrogantly decrying the Chinese for supposedly having too much.
“Instead, I’ve given my reasons for not being alarmed and appalled that our military killed him. ”
But that’s just the point. You’re NOT alarmed and appalled at it even though it is the assassination of a fellow citizen without a shred of proof that he was operationally a part of al Qaeda and you seem to swallow uncritically whatever your government supposedly said in some memo which you have never seen and which even the experts have yet scrutinized. You’re an example of what I was saying.
“And don’t you feel dirty when perpetuating the CCP’s reasoning for locking up Liu Xiaobo? ”
No, like I said above, I think his sentence was way too harsh.
Now in fact, I am leaning towards its illegality of the assassination after reading all the legal experts and the other facts. For why would the Obama admin. keep the memo a secret? Why wouldn’t they reveal their reasoning if they had so much evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in terrorist acts? Why wouldn’t they go more of the traditional path of capturing or indicting him? They can always kill him later after trial. Because that would have involved actual public evidence and reasoning. So no, you haven’t convinced anyone. I actually am now less agnostic and more committed than I was in my first blog after reading the expert opinions and the other facts of the matter. I will now say that there is prima facie reason to believe that the gov does *not* have adequate legal grounds to assassinate him.
And your distrust of the Chinese is more than reciprocated by the experiences of Chinese living in your country. I’ve lived all over the world and I’d trust a Chinese over an American 90% of the time. The difference is is that we tend to base it more on observation than blind faith such as the blind faith you have in your government.
“Nobody in the United States ever told me not to trust Chinese people — I learned that lesson on my own when I lived in China.”
Self-delusion rarely recognizes mass hysteria.
I think this above quote sums up “JIM” and others such as Chuck.
I frankly don’t know what this genius is doing here in this forum, among people he learned “NOT to trust”.
Nothing better to do, just to waste his time then.
Oh look, another IVY LEAGUER wasting his time on purpose! Explains a lot about US relationship with the world.
Anyway, what is your take on the case of Bobby Fischer? If he has been a Chinese citizen, he would have not commited any wrong doing under Chinese law but he is considered an undesirable by the US authority.
Yeah, playing politics on a Chess player who had no political agendas, is really quite pathetic for a “super power”, don’t you think?
Making a big deal over politics, I can understand for Governments, that’s what they do.
Making a big deal over some guys’ chess game. That’s just plain idiotic propaganda.
Speaking of SECRET memos, I guess SECRET memos on MLK, Malcolm X, would be considered admission (and legal justification) of US government assassinations?? 🙂
Actually, Bobby Fischer broke US law on embargo. I would say his prosecution is definitely politically motivated. My point is different countries have different law and legal standard. The US always try to impose double standard. They are now talking with the Myanmar junta now.
Frankly, if the TGIE and the various E.Turkestan movement were directed against the US, they would have been “taken out” already.
That’s why I seriously doubt those who cried crocodile tears for Liu and cared so much for “the opressed Chinese citizens”.
Re “embargos”, there is still an embargo on Cuba, and yet tons of Americans go visit Cuba all the time.
I guess cigar and rum buyers are more favorable than Chess players.
Crocodile tears and Cuban Cigars.
More evidence that the government doesn’t have a shred of evidence showing Awlaki’s guilt but simply assassinated him in cold blood contrary to both international and constitutional law.
So I followed the link you provided to an article at reuters.com, but I’m not sure we read the same article. The article I read could not be used to support your assertions “that the government doesn’t have a shred of evidence” and that our government “simply assassinated [al-Awlaki] in cold blood contrary to international and constitutional law.” Because you didn’t explain why you think that article supports your conclusion, I have to assume you’ve overreacted to the reporter’s use of the term ‘secret’ and that you’ve misconstrued the article’s headline to mean that some shadowy group of men are permitted to put out a hit on any American.
The article really just clarifies who made the decision to target al-Awlaki, i.e. not the President, and how they’re believed to have gone about making that decision. The article further explicitly states that lawyers gave their input before al-Awlaki was added to the target list, and the article touches on two legal theories that those lawyers examined in light of the information available to our government about al-Awlaki’s activities. Although the article does question the veracity of some of the evidence against al-Awlaki, the article both acknowledges that there is some evidence of his wrongdoing and that the government has more information on his activities than we have.
There’s no way a sensible reading of that article could lead to your conclusion. You HH mods get all worked up about bias in the Western media, but it turns out that you just don’t know how to read.
I don’t see a “question”, So I guess there is no question that you are right. 🙂 LOL!
I guess you missed the part about the “former and current” government officials speaking on terms of anonymity who said:
“A former official said one of the reasons for making senior officials principally responsible for nominating Americans for the target list was to “protect” the president.”
“The Obama administration has not made public an accounting of the classified evidence that Awlaki was operationally involved in planning terrorist attacks.
But officials acknowledged that some of the intelligence purporting to show Awlaki’s hands-on role in plotting attacks was patchy.”
“Officials said at the time the United States had voice intercepts involving a phone known to have been used by Awlaki and someone who they believed, but were not positive, was Abdulmutallab.”
Keep in mind that these are government officials saying that their evidence is (at best) in their words “patchy.” And any process where they need to “protect” the president is suggestive of activity they know to be not wholly legal.
So killing someone based on such patchy evidence more than suffices for outrage and skepticism. That is the reason this is further evidence the government violated the law.
I’m gonna make this comparison one more time and make it so simple and clear that even a clown-lawyer will understand the reasoning. That’s not to say that “jim” meets the bare minimum ability requirements; that’s just to say that the bar has been lowered that far.
Liu has been sent to prison after a trial and in which he admitted guilt. There is no question he did the things he did which he knew to be illegal under Chinese law. People might question the law and the harshness of the sentence but as a matter of law, there is no question. As for Awlaki, there are credible concerns of not only massive constitutional but international legal violations and the stakes are far higher as a matter of morality. In the case of Liu, there was universal condemnation from the left and right. There is almost no condemnation from the US right and little from the left but there is majority support for the government’s actions from both sides.
So the only response to the charge that “you can’t compare the two” is Duh! and more duh! Yes, the two are not comparable and that is the very point.
Yeah, a bunch of lawyers walk into a bar, passed around a napkin, burnt it. 1 of them takes out a gun, shoots the bar tender.
The other bar tender says, “What did you do that for?”
The lawyer with the gun says, “Don’t argue with my secret memo, it’s been passed around.”
He was quick to add “and we made sure IHL was discussed!”
We have a situation in the West where they are making a hero out of Liu. Imagine if China was to give money to al-Awlaki.
For the Westerners with their heads stuck in sand, this is as clear as the OP can make about these two.
Americans in general support the killing of al-Awlaki, so there is no public uproar in regards to no transparency or due process. The fear for Al Qaeda overrides fear for future government abuses.
The Chinese people also recognize Liu for trying to subvert the government with foreign money and they won’t tolerate it. And as the OP said, there was at least a trial!
Now that Liu is done with, the West has been trying to ride Ai Weiwei. Rinse and repeat. And they wonder why calls from the U.S. for a Jasmine revolution in China resulted in more Western journalists showing up at the protest!
One of the problems I have with you HH moderators is that you always immediately run to one far side of the spectrum on any issue. That is, you seem to be unwilling to at once make a compelling case for your viewpoint and acknowledge the weaknesses in your case or the other side’s strengths. For example, I have expressed that I didn’t get worked up about the killing of al-Awlaki because of my prior knowledge of IHL and some of the facts about al-Awlaki’s conduct of recruiting people to fight against us in an armed conflict, but I never stated in absolute terms that all of our government’s arguments will pan out. I also expressly acknowledged that some officials have questioned the veracity of some of the evidence against al-Awlaki, but those statements from the Reuter’s article aren’t enough for you to jump to the conclusion that our government “doesn’t have a shred of evidence” and “assassinated [al-Awlaki] in cold blood contrary to international and constitutional law”; the article simply doesn’t provide you with unequivocal evidence to support your proposition.
And it would make sense in almost any situation for lawyers and other advisors to protect their client or boss from the outset; there is nothing devious in that behavior. There is risk in making almost any type of decision, and for that matter, there are different kinds of risks to President Obama besides legal risk, e.g. political risks. Even if our government’s lawyers thought their reasoning was most likely correct, they would still plan for the worst-case scenario. The point here is that there is no reason to be paranoid about putting this decision to a group of well-informed advisors.
You invited us to talk about Liu Xiaobo’s case and compare it to al-Awlaki’s case. I think you’re being hypocritical by claiming that we somehow deprived al-Awlaki of his constitutional rights by killing him (mostly likely) in accordance with international law. It’s worth noting that these principles of international law are generally known to the international community; they’re out there for everybody to know. I mean, it’s out there for everybody to know that if you recruit others to fight against a country in an armed conflict, that country can target you, even if you’re a citizen of that country. We didn’t deprive al-Awlaki of his due process rights, and you should note that “due process” doesn’t always mean the right to a trial.
In Liu Xiaobo’s case, however, the Chinese government deprived Liu of his rights to free speech under the Chinese constitution by relying on trumped-up political charges and an “law” that gives the CCP carte blanche to persecute political dissidents. If there hadn’t been so much attention on Liu’s case, who knows if China would have even put him through a trial. Indeed, it has been reported that some in the CCP want the right to secretly and indefinitely detain political dissidents. Anyway, nobody is disputing the process the CCP used to detain Liu and send him to a closed-door trial. Rather, we’re saying the CCP is wrong to have acted the way it did, that the CCP should abandon its heavy-handed tactics, and that the CCP should respect the right of Chinese dissidents to freely express their ideas. And I’ll raise this questions again: what about Liu’s family? It’s all a bit revolting.
You’re also being disingenuous again in stating that there was universal support in China for imprisoning Liu Xiaobo. The CCP has tightly controlled all reporting on Liu; every newspaper story in China is carefully scripted to instruct the Chinese people on how they should express their disgust toward Liu and the West.
You can call me a clown-lawyer all you want. I guess you should tell Martindale-Hubbell to take back my AV rating. Also, you might want to spend less time on singleasianmales.com complaining about how both white people and Asian girls make fun of you.
“I guess you should tell Martindale-Hubbell to take back my AV rating.”
OK, let’s see your “rating”, big shot.
I suspect with your manners, you get F’s from all your “clients”. Must be really depressing for your pimp, eh?
You know, it doesn’t take that long to know when someone is a SPAMMING Troll.
Sooner or later, the charade filters through.
“far side of the spectrum” is when some troll shows up with all the big personal talk of no relevance, as if that alone proves his point.
I think the “clown-lawyer” is no lawyer at all.
Even the most extreme lawyer avoid presenting opinions as “facts” or absolutes like “no question…”, or blatantly make personal insults during arguments (from day 1 in this forum).
So, just a “clown” then.
I avoid calling a clown a “lawyer”. That would be an insult to my profession.
Maybe, patterns emerge, someone we all know, coming back as “JIM”. It wouldn’t surprise me.
Someone perhaps who has a history of pretending to know things that he doesn’t?? I supposed must be.
Of course, I avoid insulting that person by implicating this “JIM” as him.
““due process” doesn’t always mean the right to a trial.”
Yeah, yeah, US “due process” is whatever “secret memo” says it is.
Finally, melektaus managed to get through to the “genius”.
“what about Liu’s family? It’s all a bit revolting.”
Liu’s family is NOT “a bit revolting”. I’m quite sure they are regular human beings in the eyes of the law.
No “smart bomb” heading their way any time soon. Well, not unless US put up a “secret memo” on them in the last few days!!
“Anyway, nobody is disputing the process the CCP used to detain Liu and send him to a closed-door trial. Rather, we’re saying the CCP is wrong to have acted the way it did, that the CCP should abandon its heavy-handed tactics, and that the CCP should respect the right of Chinese dissidents to freely express their ideas.”
Hey, “DUE PROCESS” doesn’t always mean “soft-handed”.
At least not as “heavy-handed” as a Smart-bomb on the head!! I think we know who gave a bit more “respect” to “DUE process”.
Pretty sure most SANE people rather take jail over SMART-bomb.
Liu at least gets “appeals”. He might not win the appeals, but he has the “RIGHT” to file them.
Oh, imagine that, China gives more “RIGHTS” than US.
Just a suggestion:
If this clown use 1 more insult, ban his SPAM. It’s pretty clear he has no useful “compelling” points, other than insisting that he knows better.
I think we have been more than tolerant of his insults (and enough silly jokes on the clown).
SPAM’s should not be tolerated. His bandwidth is up.
And jot down his IP address for the SPAM filter.
“And don’t you feel dirty when perpetuating the CCP’s reasoning for locking up Liu Xiaobo? ”
Let us be honest. The real reason you think killing al-Awlaki is justified is that you think he is a threat to America and American people. (and I agree he is a big threat to American people.)
In your mind, what Liu did is kind of holy cause, but that is not what Chinese believe. Actually, most of chinese believe that his idea can cause great damage to China and chiense people as his believe definitely would lead to chaos in China and even civil war. (otherwise, you should see some serious action during Feb and March, not just pathetic SEVERAL on street.)
So why should a chinese feel dirty for supporting Locking up a person who doesnt mind China being a colony of another country for 300 years ?
You see what is going on now in Eygpt ? Dont you feel dirty aft misleading Eygpt people by convincing them that voting = people’s government ?
In case you dont know, at exact same time, hundreds of thousands in Nanjing went onto street to protest a government plan.
this should tell you how much Chinese care about the “universal” crab.
Universal crab － 普世螃蟹？
Still trying to find me on the net, Desperate troll?? LOL!
Hmm…. How many Chinese lawyers can take on the nickname/handle of “raventhorn2000”?
Keep wasting your time on my identity, Troll. (as you waste your time bragging about your LSAT score, your “rating”, etc. Gee, big inferiority complex you have. Oh, Chinese people you “don’t trust” are really impressed!! NOT!!)
I’m pretty sure that your personal obsessions have no relevance here. 🙂
Universal crab. LOL!
I think it’s some kind of parasite as a side effect the US Expats get from the brainwash doses (ie. innoculations) they do in the US Embassies when they get to a foreign country.
What do you think when you watch a crab moves around ?
I believe everyone knows the quote below :
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Well, what do people want ? the first half of the quote.
What does a government want ? the second half of the quote.
What has western media done ? make sure that people (including criminals, parasites and lazy bones) have the right to demand the first half fo the quote, which make it impossible for government to do the 2nd half of the quote, let alone any meaningful long-term plans.
Result ? you see now (Tech breakthrough like PC and Internet have saved such idiocy for extra 15 years.)
Now what are media and journalists doing ? they blame everything on government, how convenient!!! ( and they will do that again : guide the anger of Occrupy Wall st towards government.)
Who are the goons and thugs in West society ?
A country simply cannot afford letting bunch of ignorant, I-am-the-judge @$$ holes misleading people, either from government or from the rich-controled media and journalists.
Now you see one of the great accomplishments of TV becoming popular.
Charles Liu says
What does any of this OT stuff have to do with the fact Liu Xiaobo was on Uncle Sam’s payroll to influence China’s domestic politics? Such activity isn’t legal even in US (ref. FARA, DoJ vs John Huang).
An act that is legal may not be moral. The informant who reported the Anne Frank to the Nazi authorities may have acted legally, but not morally.
An act that is moral may not be legal. If I give sanctuary to an undocumented alien, I may be acting morally, but not legally. In the US, harboring an undocumented alien could result in criminal penalties.
This is a quandary — how should one act if morality and legality diverge? And in such cases how should one judge the actions of other individuals, institutions or the state?
In general, it is immoral to imprison or kill a person unjustly. Imprisoning or killing a person who poses a danger to society is seen as both moral and legal, if justified under the circumstances.
However, there is a higher morality that would say that no killing in justified under any circumstances, while imprisonment may be the most humane and moral solution to those who stand accused or found of posing danger to society. This is the position of anti-death penalty advocates. Imprisonment leaves the door open for rehabilitation and reconciliation; killing is a “final solution” (a euphemism for destroying all possibility of a solution). In my value system, I believe that killing is worse than imprisonment; and even a killing that is “just” and “legal” may be worse than a unjust imprisonment.
An example is Nelson Mandela and the ANC.
Nelson Mandela, despite his reputation today, was a leader of a terrorist organization that advocated and carried out violent actions which killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure.
He was arrested when an American CIA officer in Durban tipped off security forces of his whereabouts (was it legal and moral for the CIA officer to have done so?). Mandela was convicted of capital crimes and could have been justifiably executed, but was imprisoned for life instead.
If the S.A. government had carried out the death penalty against Nelson Mandela, which would have been legal, there would never have been the chance for reconciliation and rehabilitation on either side.
As it was, during his more than 25 years in prison, Mandela studied law and developed stature and reputation.
Eventually the South African state changed, and so did Mandela. Negotiations ensued for his release and for legitimization of the ANC, and a satisfactory solution was found, leading to his release in 1990. Mandela became president of South Africa and led his country through a reconciliation process to heal the scars that the apartheid system had left behind.
Had the death penalty – though legal and justified – been applied to Mandela, all that was later achieved would not have happened. This is a concrete example of how imprisonment offers a chance for redemption which killing does not. (Of course, we normally think of the prisoner being changed, but in this case, it is the broader society which need change).
Now for Liu and Awlaki. It is clear that Liu has done, said and written things which the PRC government finds threatening to societal stability. Whether or not those things justify the prison sentence given is debatable. However, as in the Mandela example, the prison term allows for the possibility of reconciliation and redemption: somewhere in the future, a day may come when Liu and the PRC authorities reconcile their differences.
In Awlaki’s case, that won’t happen. Awlaki’s life has been snuffed out, and whatever hope that he may evolve and reconcile with US government is gone forever. Awlaki’s words and deeds survive as a record for potential future followers, some of whom will wish to seek revenge for the martyrdom of their spiritual leader. We have sown the seeds for our future destruction, and no one knows what or when will be the harvest?
In terms of morality then, I think the actions of China in imprisoning Liu (like that of the SA government in imprisoning Mandela) instead of taking more drastic action like killing them, is a more moral (or less immoral) action than the US drone attack and murder of Awlaki and his companion Samir Khan.
Here are some other thoughts on the morality of state-sanctioned murder.
“The recent extrajudicial killing of two American citizens, most notably radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, has spurred a curious debate over whether the action, personally ordered by President Barack Obama, was right or wrong — curious for its conspicuous focus not on whether assassinations are right or wrong, but on whether they are “legal” or not.
But law and morality are not the same thing.
Whether lawyers serving the powerful can twist laws drafted by the powerful to serve the interests of power has absolutely no bearing on the morality of death-by-president. Indeed, when a single individual has the power to unilaterally decide who lives or dies, whether that’s permissible under some tortured reading of the Constitution and international law may not be irrelevant, but it isn’t exactly the most pertinent question.
What we ought to be talking about is whether murdering people with unmanned Predator drones based on evidence that will never see the light of day is, regardless of the target’s nationality, morally right or morally reprehensible. For those in the anti-murder camp, the answer is easy — and more relevant than whether a murder was in accordance with clause five of subsection B of the International Code on State-Sanctioned Killing.”
I take it you think you know who I am? What make you so sure?
Yeah, now you are getting really desperate, clutching on straws. Who exactly are you talking about? Perhaps “JIM” is talking about him?
Disparaging his own government’s “paper-pushers”?? I guess now we know what he really thinks of lawyers in US government.
“You’re not a lawyer. You’re a patent examiner with the USPTO. One doesn’t even have to go to law school to become a patent examiner.”
Wait, I thought you just previously claimed that I worked for a law firm, and end up working as a “paper-pusher” for the US government.
Now you are claiming that I was never a lawyer?
Can’t get your story straight?? 🙂
Hey, not my fault if you don’t write in the specific distinctions. I still don’t know who you are talking about here. I don’t go trolling for information on Google and then assume other people know what I think I know.
Oh but wait, “couldn’t hack it as a lawyer”, please define that, because I don’t know what you mean.
“fired”? “terminated”? “downsized”? “quit”?
Frankly, I thought if someone leaves a law firm, that doesn’t UNMAKE him from a “lawyer”.
But hey, I guess “JIM” must be talking about himself again. 🙂
One warning to you. Argue points and do not attack people or threaten to reveal people’s identity. Raventhorn2000 is a valued contributor here. If you must get into a mud wrestle with him here, you picked the wrong guy and wrong forum. I reserve the right to delete all your comments with one click of the button the next time I feel you are out of bound. Sorry.
Perspective: In Awlaki’s case, that won’t happen. Awlaki’s life has been snuffed out, and whatever hope that he may evolve and reconcile with US government is gone forever.
While I, too, have issues with this sort of assassination, your point here is scary and absurd. The US, rightfully, does not want to reconcile, kiss and make up with terrorists who actively recruit other terrorists to murder Americans. Al Awlaki did do that. Osama Bin Laden may have eventually “evolved” as well and turned into a very nice man and a lover of opera and fine European wines and cheese. I guess anything’s possible. But after the naughty things he did there was no way America could even think of reconciling with him. We’re talking murder and terror — we are talking about acts of war. While Awlaki may not be in Osama’s category, he still committed acts of war. You can argue about the legality of his assassination. You cannot lament the fact that he was deprived of the opportunity to “evolve and reconcile…” Well, you can, but it sounds horrifically naive and ignorant. No one who is sane believes Awlaki was the kind to kiss and make up.
“The US, rightfully, does not want to reconcile, kiss and make up with terrorists who actively recruit other terrorists to murder Americans. Al Awlaki did do that.”
Nobody is suggesting US to hug terrorists. There are JUDICIAL processes for dealing with Terrorists. FBI have “wanted dead or alive” warrants on terrorists. Warrants require judicial reviews.
Apparently, FBI can’t even make a warrant stick on Awlaki.
Here is a weird one, Awlaki was NEVER on FBI’s most wanted list!! (Bin Laden was, but not Awlaki)! That should tell you something about the weakness of US’s case against Awlaki.
In fact, US government tried to get warrants to arrest Awlaki on numerous occasions, for everything from “crossing state border with prostitute”, to “fraud involving social security #”, etc. when Awlaki was in US (couple of years after 9/11).
And they couldn’t get any of the warrants to stick.
“evolve and reconcile”:
In Awlaki’s case, it was known that he was arrested in Yemen, and he actually repented and denounced terrorism to the authorities.
Now, after that, we don’t know what his activities are really, since US government didn’t bother to make any case against him, NOT even for a warrant.
All there was, was the SECRET MEMO.
This should be revealing.
“Despite his reported inclusion on a hit list for targeted assassination, as of Monday Awlaki was not one of the 28 men on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists. He is also not among 41 suspects listed in the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program, which offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest or conviction of terrorist suspects.”
Quote from above linked article.
It simply defies logic that FBI AND the State Department can’t put him on the “wanted list”, but it’s OK to put him on the Drone-bomb list.
As I was careful to say. I too question the legality of the assassination, so I’m not sure why you’re arguing about it. All I said was that I object to perspective’s rather droll assertion that we deprived Awlaki of the opportunity to evolve and reconcile with the US. That IS a way of saying we would all kiss and make up — that is what reconciliation means. So yes, he is suggesting that the US should hug terrorists if they evolve and grow lovable.
Here is some article about rather secret (and suspicious) FBI contacts with Awlaki.
Now, far for me to make speculations, but apparently, the Republican Congressmen are suggesting that FBI was protecting Awlaki.
(For what? Awlaki was an FBI informant?!)
Actually, Perspective said “he may evolve and reconcile with US government”.
NOT “US government may evolve and reconcile with Him”.
You got the order wrong on that one.
So Perspective was suggesting that Awlaki may repent.
Dude, reconciliation has to be done by at least two parties. If you reconcile with someone, they reconcile with you. That is what reconciliation is, an agreement between at least two parties to bury the hatchet. I look forward to your answer to this: do you believe there can be a reconciliation if one of the parties refuses to reconcile? Can there be reconciliation without both parties agreeing to it? And do you believe, knowing Awlaki’s history of urging the murder of US citizens, that he would have sought reconciliation with the US government?
It’s “evolve and reconcile”, which seem to emphasize on Awlaki’s “evolving”, and not much onus put on the US government.
But it’s a matter of interpretation on these words, but I doubt perspective was suggesting that US government had to anything in that relationship.
“do you believe there can be a reconciliation if one of the parties refuses to reconcile”?
Yes, it may be “forgiveness” or “repentance”. Neither of which requires BOTH sides to agree. 1 party can forgive the other without the other side repenting. And conversely, the other side may “repent” without asking for forgiveness.
I wouldn’t call it a complete “reconciliation”, but 1 must reconcile with 1 self first.
“do you believe, knowing Awlaki’s history of urging the murder of US citizens, that he would have sought reconciliation with the US government?”
Hard to say, He is a US citizen himself, (his father lives in US?). His Father doesn’t believe Awlaki was a member of Al-Qaeda.
Given the fact that FBI couldn’t stick warrants on Awlaki, how should we believe about “Awlaki’s history”??
And a simple fact is, most people have never even read Awlaki’s messages, sermons, speeches.
The guy was in US and UK for years making speeches, and no authority touched him.
I went through a few of his speeches that were translated, and sure they had some anger in them, but I didn’t see any words openly calling for terrorism.
Some words like “Jihad” may be suggestive, but “Jihad” is mistranslated too often into “Holy War”.
I have to admit, I’m no expert on the full details of Awlaki’s conducts, I have seen much other than few generalized assertions from the US government.
If you know of something more incriminating, I’m sure we would all like to read it.
So my answer is again, I don’t know what Awlaki might or might not do. (because I don’t really know his “history” that well. I don’t think anyone does).
Here’s Ron Paul on this matter:
“I don’t think that’s a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul told reporters. “Al-Awlaki was born here; he is an American citizen.
He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody.
We know he might have been associated with the underwear bomber.
But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad.
So my answer is again, I don’t know what Awlaki might or might not do. (because I don’t really know his “history” that well. I don’t think anyone does).
His story is not that secret, if you really want to know. He has been remarkably public about his goals.
So you say you”don’t know” whether Awlaki would or wouldn’t seek reconciliation with the US government. I see. Well, we don’t know whether the sun will rise tomorrow, but I’d bet it will. We don’t know whether Taiwan and the Dalai Lama will team up to invade China next week, but I’m betting they won’t. We don’t know whether Awlaki was on the path to “evolve and reconcile” with the US government, but I — and, I suspect, every sane person on the planet — would bet that he wouldn’t have done that, and that the US government would never have agreed to kissing and making up.
Let’s face it, Dr. Raven, you just want to disagree with anyone who takes issue with commenters or posters “on your side.” Surely you can do better than this. Yesterday YinYang conceded that I was right about something and he was wrong. Would you ever do that? Would you even admit you misunderstood the meaning of “reconcile”? I’m trying to picture it, but somehow can’t see it. Your rigidity is equaled only by your predictability (with all due respect).
I don’t understand your argument.
Your seems to agree with the legality issue surrounding al-Awlaki where there is lack of due process. Okay, all of us here are on the same page with respect to that.
With respect to this ‘reconcile’ and ‘repent’ I think people here are talking about the would-be trial and severity of sentencing – death penalty vs number of years vs not guilty.
‘lament’ is your word. I am not sure where you are going with it. Are you on a witch hunt? Let’s not get ridiculous.
So, the sun comes up. What kind of argument is that?
You sound like an attack dog. Chill out. You see how the discussion goes downhill from here?
“His story is not that secret, if you really want to know. He has been remarkably public about his goals.”
You are welcome to present your conclusions and evidence here openly.
“Let’s face it, Dr. Raven, you just want to disagree with anyone who takes issue with commenters or posters “on your side.” Surely you can do better than this.”
you asked me a question, I said I don’t know. how is that “disagree”? “Disagree” with who? What am I “disagreeing” to?
“Would you even admit you misunderstood the meaning of “reconcile”? I’m trying to picture it, but somehow can’t see it.”
I told you, it may be a difference in interpreting Perspective’s words. I’ll let him tell me if I “misunderstood” his meaning.
If Awlaki was that public about his goals, then FBI should have been able to get an warrant “dead or alive”. No need for questionable SECRET memo style drone-bomb kill order.
And he was in Yemen, an Ally country of US. They arrested him once in Yemen, not that hard to do it again with US Intel.
YET, FBI couldn’t get a warrant on him all these years.
Rather proves that (1) he wasn’t dangerous enough to be FBI’s priority to get a warrant, and/or (2) not enough evidence to get a warrant.
I can’t picture another alternative explanation for the FACT (of no warrant on Awlaki).
“So you say you”don’t know” whether Awlaki would or wouldn’t seek reconciliation with the US government. I see. Well, we don’t know whether the sun will rise tomorrow, but I’d bet it will. We don’t know whether Taiwan and the Dalai Lama will team up to invade China next week, but I’m betting they won’t. We don’t know whether Awlaki was on the path to “evolve and reconcile” with the US government, but I — and, I suspect, every sane person on the planet — would bet that he wouldn’t have done that, and that the US government would never have agreed to kissing and making up.”
I don’t know if “betting” on people and governments’ future actions are such a good idea. There are plenty of gamblers who lose good money doing just that.
Betting on the Sun rise, that’s just basic science. Not much of an equivalence to betting on People’s actions.
So unless you are claiming some supernatural abilities, and can back it up, I don’t think your willingness to “bet” is any kind of meaningful guarantees.
And BTW, Taiwan and DL did team up back in the 1960’s to try to invade into China. (Just for the record). They tried and didn’t make much progress, but they still tried.
First of all, I’m not a mod. Second, no where is it shown that I am anywhere on the ends of the “spectrum,” whatever that is.
I said that in the OP I was agnostic as may words clearly indicated and now I am leaning towards the illegality of the act after reading the opinions of several IL experts and the facts that have been presented (or not presented). That is a very moderate claim. You have a much more radical position that is far less justified in claiming that the gov’s secret memo which you’ve never seen was thorough, “high quality” and “objective” and that you are “confident” that its reasoning is sound.
I would be GLAD to acknowledge any weakness in what I said in any post but the problem is is that neither you nor others have shown it to be weak. In fact, it is I that have shown your arguments to be defective. And I didn’t get “worked up” about the killing of Awlaki. Like I said in the first paragraph, “say what you will about him and Khan” suggesting that I didn’t fully agree with their positions but was looking at this from a legal and moral perspective comparing reactions from the media and the people. Just to be clear, I never said that the evidence was that the government doesn’t have a shred of evidence against the operational role of Awlaki but that the article added to that growing *suspicion* I have. I still wouldn’t say I know it, but that I am now very suspicious that the government has any real evidence of his operational role.
Reading comprehension is a difficult thing to teach. I know, I taught the LSAT at Kaplan to law school hopefuls and they had some of the most trouble with it.
Like I already said a million times, I never claimed that Awlaki was deprived of his constitutional rights but that that was the opinion of some lawyers and experts like Glenn Greenwald. Here, I’m still in-the-middle agnostic. It is also the opinion of some major hard hitters in the international legal community such as Mary Ellen O’Connell, Philip Alston, Jon Heller that it violated international law. My claims are far more measured than your “confident” claims that the US’s case is objective and well reasoned.
I don’t know the full facts, legal or otherwise but I am leaning towards its illegality. I support that leaning with my sources, the history of the US in similar situations, and the other facts of the case such as the fact that the US has yet to release their reasoning in the matter and the evidence they supposedly have of Awlaki’s operational role. Most IL experts I think would agree that the evidential threshold is very very higher or should be kept very very high for international assassinations and it is doubtful from what I have seen that the gov has met that threshold.
As for Liu, well, there is simply no reason to think that violations of law has occurred either domestic Chinese or international.
Exactly, and I’d also like to add that the legality issue may be bound with the moral issue. Those who violate law and expect others to follow them violate principles against hypocrisy which all cultures I’m aware has.
YinYang, if you go back, all I said was that this remark by Perspective was bizarre: Awlaki’s life has been snuffed out, and whatever hope that he may evolve and reconcile with US government is gone forever
As if someone was actually hoping Awlaki would reconcile with the US government after advocating the murder of innocent US civilians? What kind of nonsense is that? I’m not arguing about whether the killing was or wasn’t illegal. I’m pointing out a truly bizarre “argument” by someone who has the temerity to go by the name “perspective.” It’s very simple. Do you find his remark sensible? Do you think he’s right, that Awlaki may have “evolved” and “reconciled” with the US government? Do you actually believe the US government, following his “evolution,” would greet him with open arms and reconcile?
As I said, anything is possible Maybe tonight the moon will plop down into the Pacific Ocean. But is this a rational argument? Is it grounded in reality?
The WW2 Japanese advocated killing Americans too. Nevertheless, Japan and U.S. became allies. What I personally fear are those who believe in sworn enemies, like the Crusaders who believe non-Christian Muslims must be evil and their death is the only way.
Emotionally, I understand the feelings of the American public against al-Awlaki, justifiably so. That’s the same type of feeling the Chinese have for the Japanese war criminals who raped Nanjing. Despite that, the countries are working towards normalization. Fight until the last person stands? I don’t think so.
So, I personally too hope there is some day reconciliation between Al Qaeda and the United States. I hope too between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I hope for all conflicts around the world to reconcile.
I think you are responding emotionally. I re-read what you quoted a number of times, and my take on the sentiment is that of compassion.
Charles Liu says
I just love it when self-righteousness is watered down to merely having problem with it when it’s our own doing. Under the same rationale HHDL would be a legitmate target for assassination by the Chinese government too, since his connection to armed rebellion and state-sponsored terror organization (the CIA) is positively proven.
Wrong is wrong no matter what. I don’t get why people would compromise themselves with “oh, well, THIS is different, cough, cough”…
“Nevertheless, Japan and U.S. became allies.”
Good point, YinYang.
China and US “reconcile” after the Korean War (to a point) and teamed up against USSR. Who would have seen that one coming?
Vietnam and US are “reconciling” (to a point).
While at the same time, Turkey and Israel are breaking up.
Israel and Egypt had a “reconciliation” but looks like breaking up again.
*Bottomline, who can keep up with all these International society drama? Seriously, it’s like a global Soap Opera out there! This one is breaking up with that one, that one is kissing and making up with some other one, etc.
Realistically, I don’t bother to “bet” on any scenarios, because frankly, political leaders prefer to act crazy in geopolitics to keep each other guessing. (But it sort of works eventually).
Good point, Charles.
Come to think of it, Dalai Lama teamed up with Taiwan to try to invade mainland China in the 1960’s, and conducted guerilla raid into China. He signed off on the agreements with Taiwan, and thus engaged himself as a participant/combatant in the Chinese Civil War.
And technically, that Chinese Civil War never ended, and DL has never renounced his agreement with Taiwan (even if he renounced use of “force”).
Thus, according to US’s definitions, DL is another insurgent recruiter, like Awlaki, technically not participating in “use of force”, but recruiting others to do so.
And he’s taking money from NED, also tied to funding former insurgents like DL’s group.
So, I guess, DL is going on someone’s SECRET MEMO.
(Let’s go the next round of 6th degree of separation to a Terrorist is another Terrorist).
The WW2 Japanese advocated killing Americans too. Nevertheless, Japan and U.S. became allies.
I give up. I was just trying to make a simply point, a d I asked you some very specific questions that you ignored. Here, let me try again:
Yes, the US and Japanese and Nazi Germany reconciled — but those considered war criminals who committed crimes against humanity were tried and most were executed. We could reconcile with Nazi Germany, but there could never, ever, ever be a reconciliation with Hitler or the commandant of Auschwitz Rudolph Hoess or Goebbels. There could never, ever be a reconciliation with Awlaki; the US government would never buddy up to Alwaki and sit around a campfire with him to sing Kumbaya. Do you think I’m wrong — do you believe, as I’ve asked several times, that the two parties may have kissed and made up?
I know, it’s kind of silly to argue about this, and I may as well hit my head against a wall. I think that’s enough. If you don’t get my very, very simple point by now I give up.
Richard @#67 wrote:
“The US, rightfully, does not want to reconcile, kiss and make up with terrorists who actively recruit other terrorists to murder Americans. Al Awlaki did do that.”
So did Bill Ayers. He was the founder of a terrorist organization that recruited other terrorists, used violence to advance their motives, bombed buildings and killed people. And yet he gave up violent revolution and was reintegrated back into society in a very positive way:
“William Charles “Bill” Ayers … co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings during the 1960s and 1970s, in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. During the 2008 US presidential campaign, a controversy arose over his contacts with candidate Barack Obama. He is married to Bernardine Dohrn, who was also a leader in the Weather organization.
Ayers became involved in the New Left and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). He rose to national prominence as an SDS leader in 1968 and 1969. As head of an SDS regional group, the “Jesse James Gang,” Ayers made decisive contributions to the Weatherman orientation toward militancy.
The group Ayers headed in Detroit, Michigan became one of the earliest gatherings of what became the Weatherman. Before the June 1969 SDS convention, Ayers became a prominent leader of the group, which arose as a result of a schism in SDS. “During that time his infatuation with street fighting grew and he developed a language of confrontational militancy that became more and more pronounced over the year ”, disaffected former Weatherman member Cathy Wilkerson wrote in 2001. Ayers had previously been a roommate of Terry Robbins, a fellow militant who was killed in 1970 along with Ayers’ girlfriend Oughton and one other member in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, while constructing anti-personnel bombs intended for a non-commissioned officer dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey….
In June 1969, the Weatherman took control of the SDS at its national convention, where Ayers was elected Education Secretary. Later in 1969, Ayers participated in planting a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket affair confrontation between labor supporters and the Chicago police. The blast broke almost 100 windows and blew pieces of the statue onto the nearby Kennedy Expressway. (The statue was rebuilt and unveiled on May 4, 1970, and blown up again by other Weathermen on October 6, 1970. Rebuilding it yet again, the city posted a 24-hour police guard to prevent another blast, and in January 1972 it was moved to Chicago police headquarters).
Ayers participated in the Days of Rage riot in Chicago in October 1969, and in December was at the “War Council” meeting in Flint, Michigan. Two major decisions came out of the “War Council.” The first was to immediately begin a violent, armed struggle (e.g., bombings and armed robberies) against the state without attempting to organize or mobilize a broad swath of the public. The second was to create underground collectives in major cities throughout the country. Larry Grathwohl, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant in the Weatherman group from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1970, stated that “Ayers, along with Bernardine Dohrn, probably had the most authority within the Weatherman”.
After the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion in 1970, in which Weatherman member Ted Gold, Ayers’ close friend Terry Robbins, and Ayers’ girlfriend, Diana Oughton were killed when a nail bomb being assembled in the house exploded, Ayers and several associates evaded pursuit by US law enforcement officials. Kathy Boudin and Cathy Wilkerson survived the blast. Ayers was not facing criminal charges at the time, but the federal government later filed charges against him. Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972, as he noted in his 2001 book, Fugitive Days…..
Some media reports and political critics have suggested that Ayers, Dohrn or the Weathermen were connected to the fatal 1970 San Francisco Police Department Park Station bombing but neither Ayers nor anyone else has been charged or convicted of this crime.
While underground, Ayers and fellow member Bernardine Dohrn married, and the two remained fugitives together, changing identities, jobs and locations.
In 1973, new information came to light about FBI operations targeted against Weather Underground and the New Left, all part of a series of covert and often illegal FBI projects called COINTEL. Due to the illegal tactics[clarification needed] of FBI agents involved with the program, government attorneys requested all weapons- and bomb-related charges be dropped against the Weather Underground, including charges against Ayers.”
Bill Ayers did things that were extreme and destructive, perhaps as extreme or destructive as Awlaki. But he changed – he gave up participation in violent revolution and destructive acts. The US changed as well – the attitude of the country was ambivalent towards punishing those who protested the Vietnam War and people were able to move on. If Bill Ayers could change, why not Awlaki? If the US could change then, why not now or in the future?
There are some Americans who object to Bill Ayers being given the opportunity to redeem himself. I disagree with them. A country that can forgive and reconcile with its most disaffected members and welcome them back into the community is a stronger country for it.
Charles Liu says
Exactely, by the same logic Chinese government can also rightly target HHDL legitmately, no? Let’s see if Richard will acknowledge this.
Love it when self-righteousness transforms into hypocrisy and exceptionalism when the table is turned.
I understand your sentiment. If someone has murdered your family, well, you really don’t care about due process or reconciliation. You want revenge and kill that murderer. So, I understand the emotion.
Look at the picture below – it is of a Palestinian little girl who was shot by an Israeli soldier and died shortly afterwards.
That girl’s father is likely thinking about strapping himself with dynamite to blow up some bus full of Israelis. Israeli soldiers seeing their countrymen blown up will kill more Palestinians. How are the two peoples going to break out of that cycle? Aren’t we talking about reconciliation?
This is the more important point I hope you grasp.
@YinYang and @Richard
Words fail to express what one would do, should do.
But we might consider a story, a true story of a remarkable woman, Corrie Ten Boom, and her experiences when confronted in her own life with a situation demanding a response.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch woman who had been sent to a Nazi concentration camp for her role in illegally aiding and harboring Jews. From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom:
“In 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. Among their restrictions was banning a club which Corrie ten Boom had run for young girls. In 1942, she and her family had become very active in the Dutch underground, hiding refugees. They rescued many Jews from the Nazi SS. They had long been involved in charitable work, and ten Boom had worked with disabled children. They believed the Jews were God’s chosen people. They provided kosher food for the Jewish refugees who stayed with them and honored the Jewish Sabbath.
In May 1942, a well-dressed woman came to the Ten Boom door with a suitcase in hand. She told the Ten Booms that she was a Jew and that her husband had been arrested several months before, and her son had gone into hiding. As Occupation authorities had recently visited her, she was afraid to return home. Having heard that the Ten Booms had helped their Jewish neighbors, the Weils, she asked if she might stay with the family. Corrie ten Boom’s father readily agreed. A devoted reader of the Old Testament, Casper ten Boom believed Jews were “the chosen.” He told the woman, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome.”
…The Nazis arrested the entire Ten Boom family on February 28, 1944…with the help of a Dutch informant. They were sent first to Scheveningen prison (where her father died ten days after his capture). Corrie’s sister Nollie, brother Willem, and nephew Peter were all released. Later, Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to the Vught political concentration camp, and finally to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. Corrie’s sister Betsie died there on December 16, 1944.”
Corrie Ten Boom Story on Forgiving
“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.
“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’
“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.
“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!
[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]
“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’
“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.
“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’
“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’
“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.
“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’
“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”
(excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom. Reprinted by permission from Guideposts Magazine. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts Associates, Inc., Carmel, New York 10512)”
“After the war, ten Boom advocated reconciliation as a means for overcoming the psychological scars left by the Nazi occupation. She later traveled the world as an evangelist, motivational speaker, and social critic, referring to her experiences in Ravensbrueck as she offered solace to prisoners and protested the Vietnam War.”
Corrie Ten Boom’s story has had a profound effect on many people.
A German woman read Corrie ten Boom’s story, and wrote this about the healing effect it had on her:
Corrie ten Boom and Forgiveness
© Inge Danaher, 2007
I was born in Germany in 1950, after the war and all its atrocities were well and truly over. But I was not spared the feelings of shame and humiliation that were experienced by many of my country men. When I was 11 years old my family migrated to Australia. As I grew up and learnt about the war and what happened I was filled with hatred and anger against the Nazis. For the humiliation and suffering of their victims but also for the stigma and pain they inflicted on the entire German race. These feelings were always there ready to burst out at the slightest provocation.
One day someone told me about Corrie Ten Boom and I got hold of a copy of “the Hiding Place” and read it. I was so touched by the way she had handled herself both during and after her ordeal and that of her family that I was suddenly cleansed of this terrible feeling. It was as if her experience of love and forgiveness reached out to me too and I realised that if Corrie, who had SO MUCH to forgive, could find it in her heart to forgive even her captors, then I too must forgive. And this is the experience that cleansed me of all that hatred and anger.
Often I thought about this and shared my story with people. Then a few week’s ago I wrote a series of poems on “forgiveness”. The first was forgiving those people who hurt you. The 2nd was forgiving those who hurt others, a poem I could only write because of my experience in reading Corrie’s book. My 3rd poem is about forgiving yourself. These poems can also be found on the humiliationstudies website:
Aside from religious- or faith-based rationales for forgiveness and reconciliation, social and political scientists have been studying the relationship between concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation to conflict resolution.
For example, this recent book by two political scientists attempt analyze systematically the role of forgiveness and reconciliation events in ending civil and international wars:
War and Reconciliation
Reason and Emotion in Conflict Resolution
William J. Long and Peter Brecke
“This book is the first systematic examination of the impact of reconciliation on restoring and maintaining peace following civil and international conflicts. Through eleven comparative case studies of civil war and eight of international conflict, it constructs a surprising explanation for when and why reconciliation restores social order.
The civil war cases reveal that successful reconciliation is associated with a process of national forgiveness, not merely negotiated settlement. All successful cases followed a four-step pattern of public truth telling, justice short of revenge, redefinition of the identities of former belligerents, and a call for a new relationship. The book argues that success is not solely the result of rational choice decision making. It proposes a hypothesis, grounded in evolutionary psychology, that to restore social order we use emotional/cognitive techniques that have evolved to ensure human survival.
On the international level, however, successful reconciliation was not a part of a forgiveness process. Reconciliation was successful in bringing about sustained peace when it was associated with a signaling process—an exchange of costly, novel, voluntary, and irrevocable concessions in a negotiated bargain. This result is consistent with realist notions of the limits of international society and illustrates the context in which a rational choice model is appropriate. The book’s approach, integrating emotion with reasoning and linking political science to scientific research in other disciplines, particularly biology and neuroscience, has broad implications for social science theory.”
About the Authors
William J. Long is Professor and Chair at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Peter Brecke is Associate Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology.
“War and peace are older than humanity. The principle is the same whether two apes kiss after a fight, one colleague apologizes to another, or two nations sign a peace treaty. In order to move on, we have to put hard feelings behind us. This book clarifies in delightful detail the role of forgiveness in the international arena.”
—Frans B. M. de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor, Emory University, and author of The Ape and the Sushi Master
“This is an exciting and important book, which contributes profoundly to integrating two increasingly significant matters: the attainment of durable peaceful relations after violent conflict and the synthesis of evolutionary psychology with major streams of social science theory.”
—Louis Kriesberg, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies, Syracuse University
Table of Contents
War and Reconciliation
Reason and Emotion in Conflict Resolution
William J. Long and Peter Brecke
Sample Chapter – Download PDF (156 KB) 1
2 Civil War and Reconciliation 35
3 International War and Reconciliation 75
4 Rethinking Rationality in Social Theory 121
5 Implications for Policy and Practice and Avenues for Further Research 147
Appendix A Civil War and Reconciliation 159
Appendix B Interstate War and Reconciliation 163
Sample Chapter – Download PDF (68 KB) 219
“An Alternative Model: Reconciliation as Forgiveness
An alternative approach asserts what we call the forgiveness hypothesis: reconciliation is part of a process of forgiveness, transforming certain emotions (moving from anger to affinity) and transcending certain beliefs about oneself and the other, that opens the possibility of new, beneficial relations. It begins by observing that reconciliation is a ubiquitous mechanism for solving the enduring problem of sociality. It then builds a model or explanation for this patterned behavior based on an evolutionary theory of the mind that assumes the mind has evolved to solve specific, recurring problems such as how to maintain social relations through integration of emotion and reason.
Specifically, the general forgiveness hypothesis suggests the following: an adaptive problem that humans and our ancestors encountered for several million years (since they first lived in groups) is the problem of sociality, how to restore social order and the benefits of affiliation despite inevitable conflicts and injuries. In response, the often-witnessed and variously documented ability to forgive and the process of reconciliation are, hypothetically, modern manifestations of a functionally specialized, emotionally assisted, human problem-solving capability that we possess to explicate ourselves from this recurrent dilemma. Without such a mechanism, Hannah Arendt supposed, “Our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed [conflict] from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer’s apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell.”
The universality of a problem such as sociality, or evidence of a ubiquitous problem-solving mechanism such as reconciliation, is not proof of an evolved human capability, but it does allow for generating hypotheses about behavior and designing observations and tests that are plausibly consistent with psychology and biology and otherwise would not have been thought of. Procedurally, the method of deriving and examining social science hypotheses from an evolutionary perspective begins by noting the existence of a complexly articulated and recurrent behavioral trait, in this case, reconciliation events.
Second, one can ask, deductively, whether the trait could reasonably be the expression of an adaptation; that is, a response to a species-typical problem encountered over several million years of human evolution. If so, we might be witnessing a contemporary manifestation of an evolution-engineered, emotionally influenced problem-solving capability rather than simply the exercise of general reasoning. Human decision making has an emotive dimension that must be accounted for, not just our rational calculations. Third, armed with a plausible hypothesis, the posited behavioral characteristic must be linked with and understood in its cultural, social, or political system.
These assumptions about the human mind and rationality generate a different set of predictions about human behavior and decision making than those of rational choice. Concerning reconciliation, they suggest a forgiveness model in distinction to the signaling model. As stated earlier, the forgiveness hypothesis proposes that reconciliation is a direct outgrowth or manifestation of patterned, emotively driven, problem-solving behavior, not merely rational calculations. Behind this hypothesis is the belief that a general rationality assumption may fail to account fully for conciliatory behavior. Below we describe a forgiveness model that explains how the reconciliation process can take place in a manner consistent with the forgiveness hypothesis.
Before going further, it must be acknowledged that discussing reconciliation this way might seem out of place in discourse about rough-and-tumble collective power conflicts. We ask the reader to suspend judgment on this score. Without engaging theological or normative approaches to forgiveness and reconciliation, we believe that this topic deserves serious examination by social scientists as a possible mechanism for resolving intergroup conflicts and for maintaining social order.
Furthermore, forgiveness takes time to consummate, and where collectivities are involved, it becomes much more complicated than in the one- on-one model of an injured person and a wrongdoer. Louis Kriesberg, for example, noted that “After intense struggle between large-scale adversaries, it is not likely that reconciliation will be universal among all members of the opposing sides.” Nonetheless, forgiveness and reconciliation have a clear social function—restoring a neutral or more positive relationship after a transgression and reestablishing membership or affiliation in a larger society—that could occur between individuals, between an individual and a group, or between groups.”
“We could reconcile with Nazi Germany, but there could never, ever, ever be a reconciliation with Hitler or the commandant of Auschwitz Rudolph Hoess or Goebbels. There could never, ever be a reconciliation with Awlaki;”
I think you are putting the cart before the horse.
Awlaki hasn’t been tried, he doesn’t even have a US arrest warrant on him (not on FBI’s most wanted list).
Rudelph Hoess and Goebbels (and other war criminals) had at least some trials.
To compare Awlaki to them is a bit logically premature. (Maybe he is as bad as you say, but no one has bothered to try him)
And until he is tried, we don’t know whether and how much “reconciliation” there could be. (But we will never know now).
A legal TRIAL, with all the evidence of guilt and extent of guilt presented, is partly to determine whether an accused “reconciliation” with civilized society is possible, and what form the “reconciliation” must take.
Otherwise, you can say it’s not possible, but that’s just personal opinions. (Some personal opinions of some people compare Bush Jr. to Hitler, but that doesn’t mean much).