Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Loving the Enemy and Other Outrages

Much as I would want to follow Jesus and love my enemies, God gave me me brains that tell me that it is an unrealistic demand. One cannot love one's enemies for if one loves them one would not call them enemies, and if one calls them enemies it is not because one loves them. This does not seem obvious even though it should be.

It follows then that one cannot prosecute a killing on a battlefield as murder. One cannot cannot invent a valid legal process for an idea which is not of this world. Whether one agrees with the US position that Geneva protocols do not cover the type of fighting in Aghanistan, one thing is clear.  People make mistakes in firefights and they cost lives.  That one side stops shooting does not obligate the other side to stop. To take a pause in a combat as a sign the enemy is surrendering is foolishness. To lie in wait and to lob a grenade at an opportune moment cannot become murder as a way of exonerating the commanding officer of the opposite side who let his guard down and exposed his men. It is one thing being chivalrous and another thing being stupid. In war, one gives no quarter except if the enemy asks to surrernder. One needs to appreciate the difference between a civilized conduct of war in which passion is restrained by decency, and the newly politicized quasi-Christology which imposes idiotic formulas and rules that encourage the very terrorist insurgency that the politicians promise to extirpate and to which professed aim they put young men and women in harm's way.

An army that is serious about its mission would not spare an enemy soldier who just exacted a savage, purposeless blood tax on its troops. Not even even if its personnel were to find that the gravely injured enemy soldier was very young and apparently spoke English. True soldiers would have to kill him for this reason: on a battlefield such acts are unpardonable. Briskly dispatching an enemy fighting in unlawful manner reassures to one's own soldiers that they are respected and valued and their leadership will not tolerate their being treated as disposable refuse. There is no other way to communicate to the troops the idea that they are there to win a war, and not, as I hinted, engaging the enemy in silly-bugger playing-at-war designed to waste not just horrendous sums of taxpayers' money but their lives as well. As the veteran Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters (Looking for Trouble) said about Omar Khadr "[they] should have killed that punk on the battlefield" after he demonstrated that despite his yound age he was a "hardened killer". They didn't kill him and they restored him to health. Perhaps they hoped he would become an informer. But he didn't turn a traitor like his brother. Evidently he is one tough cookie.

Loving Omar....

The obsessive defending of Khadr, and its handling of facts, is a thing to behold. Despite his own repeated admission to lobbing the grenade which killed Christopher Speer, and his written apology to the widow of the US Army medic, the Khadr truthers have all sorts of ways to deny that is what happened. Typically, they will begin by denying he engaged in any kind of hostility in the skirmish. If that fails, then they deny he threw the grenade that mortally wounded Sgt. Speer. This theory was bolstered for a while by the discovery there was a second survivor in the compound at the time of the explosion. However, the prosecutor admitted the testminoy of the mysterious unnamed witness OC-1, and the Stipulation of Fact signed by Omar Khadr in the deal with the US government in October 2010, duly registered a second combatant in the compound at the time of the grenade throwing incident. It changed nothing on the finding that the grenade was thrown by Omar. But no matter that Khadr admitted to throwing the grenade in a signed statement while represented by a lawyer, i.e. without being coerced to it - in fact he boasted about the act in the early days of his detention. This, in the eyes of the enemy-loving legal experts, means nothing. The Melbourne law professor, Kevin Jon Heller, a specialist in international law (i.a., a defender of Lynne Stewart, the condemned counsel of the Blind Sheikh, and a consulting member of Radovan Karadzic' defense team), opined that Khadr's admission was a move calculated to get him out of Gitmo faster. Well, great ! The problem is: how does one prove a theory, if everyone in it, starting with the one it exculpates, is presumed to lie through their teeth to get what they want ? I am sympathetic, as I have made clear at the start, to the view that the indictment of Khadr is at odds with elemental principles of justice, and the case of "war crimes" against him is phoney baloney. If the facts are as presented, he should have been killed on the spot. The case cooked up against him stinks.  But professor Heller's opinion is clearly over the top as it would make a legal sport out of mind reading. For as Chief Justice Brian observed already in the15th century, "the thought of man shall not be tried, for the devil himself knoweth not the thought of man".
The next favourite defense of Omar Khadr is to portray him as a child soldier. Of course there is no running away from the fact that at the time of his capture he was fifteen and his age would be a consideration in any legal proceedings against him by a civilized court. On the other hand, attempts to portray him as an Disney-loving child abducted into service by his fanatical father strike me as naive in the extreme. It misses two important factual points. Despite Senator Romeo D'Allaire's representations, he was not a child soldier by the standards of UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Despite the document general definition of a child being a person under eighteen years of age, Article 38 (3) permits the recruitment of adolescents at the age fifteen.

States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.

Even though Al-Qaeda is not a signatory to the convention, there have not been complaints about child soldiers in their ranks as was the case in the civil wars of Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and Uganda or for a while in the PLO of Yasser Arafat. It seems to be  a different military culture.

Two, adolescent hard dicks like Khadr have long been celebrated in martial cultures around the world as a promise of better fighters to come. The idea that a boy of fifteen is a child incapable of executing acts of vicious, calculated violence on his own seems at best ill informed (the great Musashi killed man in a duel at the age of thirteen !) and owing to a distorted sense of reality produced by a life of security and comfort. Often, and the former Canadian general seems himself to be a textbook example of this, the nervous system shaped by our privileged circumstance will not find a competent way to cope with the stresses of the world which rejects the Western idea of civilization. The fact is, and the cited convention recognizes it better than the senator, that some adolescents can become war criminals before they would be allowed to drive a car and drink beer in countries like the US or Canada.  Article 37(a) of the Convention cited above clearly recognizes that some acts of adolescent youths need to be sanctioned severely,  prohibiting only the penalties of death and life imprisonment without parole to be imposed on persons younger than eighteen.

...and Loving to Hate Him

For their part, the commentators on the Right seem to be just as snake-bitten in assessing Omar's crime and punishment. Their spite expresses itself in the initiative to bar Khadr from re-entering Canada. It is a bad tactic because it has "loser" written all over it. There is no legal complaint that Canada has with Omar Khadr. He was born here and he has the right to reside here unless he did something that takes that right away from him. The view that Khadr has forfeited his citizenship has to be demonstrated.  From what I have read and seen, the idea of denying him entry is a gut reaction, not a principled stance.

      The fact of the matter is, the government allowed itself to be played for a fool by the Obama administration in pledging to repatriate Khadr with his US murder sentence not fully served. Given the circumstance, i.e. the Military Commissions Act of 2009 being an instrument allowing the US authorities to conceal evidence on grounds of national security, it was nothing if not foolish for the minister to agree to take Khadr without full disclosure and a negotiated quid pro quo effected in advance of giving assent to the agreement. Interestingly, Coren, Levant, Steyn, etc. have not touched on this "ommission" of Harper's foreign ministry under Maxime Bernier which may be as grave as Major Watt allowing his men to approach the compound at Ayub Kheil without adequate reconnaisance. (And this even after witnessing two of their interpreters shot in cold blood by men in the compound !)

Vic Toews' insisting he wants to see additional tapes and the full record of the Khadr interrogation by Michael Welner, the prosecution psychiatrist, would under normal circumstances be due diligence and perfectly in order. The problem is the Bernier agreement with the US did not stipulate conditions under which it would refuse entry to Khadr prior to serving his full sentence in the U.S. To look for issues now looks bad. What can the records reveal that the government did not know in 2009 ? Why did not the Minister ask for access to Khadr to get a balanced report from a Canadian expert prior to binding itself to early repatriation ? Don't we have any experts on terrorism of our own ? All big questions to me.

Another issue which no-one wishes to touch is Khadr suing the Canadian government for compensation. The Supreme Court of Canada took the position that the Canadian government  breached Omar Khadr's Charter rights by adopting aggressive interrogation style when CSIS agents interviewed him in Guantanamo. At the same time, the justices agreed that the government is under no obligation to repatriate Khadr from US prison. The rulings in effect separates the issue of Khadr's "frequent flier" mistreatment in prison from his right to be in custody of the Government of Canada. I have seen very little in the way public outrage (from the Right) at the nature of this ruling, which in effect asserts that Khadr's rights are being violated continuously by Canadian officials, even though he is not in a Canadian prison. The decision makes the Government of Canada complicit in advance in whatever allegations of mistreatment are claimed on Omar Khadr's behalf. It is saying de facto, "bring him home now or pay him bigger bucks later !" The inability of the high court to gauge the circumstance of Khadr's capture, and appreciate his age development in light of the culture in which he was brought up, is greatly disturbing. Omar Khadr was not deprived of sleep in a case of juvenile swarming of a shopper in a suburban mall.

Be it as it may, to my mind the energy spent in trying to prevent the return of Khadr is misdirected. For one, as noted, it only postpones the inevitable. The delay in acting on the commitment to repatriate Khadr makes look the Conservatives bad, which would not be as much of a problem if they had some good card to play, which of course I don't think they have at the moment.

What Needs to Be Done

We are a secular society governed by laws. By and large, the profound changes in our circumstance due to rapid advances in science and technology, have been reflected in legislative innovations which tackle previously unknown stratagems in the new playing ground. This regrettably has not happened in the parallel dramatical shifts in the social sphere. In the last decade and a half, a new global movement has arisen that seeks to dominate the world under the edicts of a religious faith, a movement whose core values are largely at variance with the traditional values of democracy and the rule of law (as practiced in the West). There are many adherents of this new political creed of islamism in Canada. There are those who do not break Canadian laws in advocating the rule of Islam in the world and of course they should be allowed to advocate any political goals within the established political framework of the country. However, it has become clear over the past decade or so that the islamist political proponents rely on a small groups of militants bent on wreaking havoc and instilling terror into the populace at large. Whether the mosque preachers publicly disown them or not, their goals are identical: to impose the rule of Islam and shariah on everyone, and these goals themselves are a reliable indicator of an ideology which is at sword's point with our traditional governance.  The terrorism in the belief of a caliphate dispensing sharia rulings to everone is implied !

Vic Toews' resources would be much better spent in legislating rather than filibustering. First, the flow of foreign money for building centres of anti-Western agitation, whether mosques or universities needs to be stemmed. And the Saudis and Iranians make that very easy for us to implement. The government should demand full disclosure of financing for Islamic projects and tie the acceptance of them to the reciprocal willingness of the donor's countries to allow the promotion of Western values including unrestricted Christian proselytizing. Is there any other reasonable solution ? I don't see any !

With respect to Khadr, the best way to love the enemy is to forget Khadr, except as an example of our collective incompetence to deal with a clear and present danger to our way of life.
We can't scheme to prevent Khadr from re-entering the country because we would open ourselves to the charge making up rules as we go along, that is abuse of power. That is not smart if you are in power !

What is needed is something like an Act for the Protection of Canada's Interests Abroad, which would spell it out clearly that it is illegal for a holder of a Canadian passport to use the document as a cover, or get-out-of-jail-free card for militant subversion of foreign governments, and/or the planning and execution of terrorist acts on behalf of other states or organizations claiming sovereign rights. Persons convicted of participating in, or planning, insurgency or attacks at large in the acts of terror abroad, would be required by law to serve full term of their incarceration in foreign jurisdictions and be subject to a review of their Canadian citizenship/residency status at the end of their detention. If such person indicates belief in a caliphate and duty as a Muslim which trumps the requirement to behave in a civilized, unprejudiced manner when under protection of Canadian state outside of its territory, then the position of the state should be:  we are ever so sorry but this is not what Canada will tolerate; we are dedicated to an idea of a civilization which allows the freedom of believing and worshipping whatever one wants, as long as one remains a decent human being !

This would be the way to love Khadr, the enemy. Remove our contribution to his schizophrenic sense of identity ! Tell him: you cannot believe as a Canadian that you, as a Muslim, have a duty to fight the infidel, except in demonstrating to the infidel your superiority not just in your courage but also your sense of fairness and generosity. The understanding of, and commitment to the idea that others have rights too even if they disagree with what you believe, is a first step to acquiring that sense.

Anything else we have to consider hopelessly at odds with being a Canadian !

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