Laws of war

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:33

Originally written: 11 June 2007

The United States felt that it needed to prove to its citizens that it was treating the prisoners at U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo, fairly. It came up with the idea of a military commission, outside of the normal U.S. legal system, to show that the prisoners were guilty.

The military commissions do not seem to be working as the state had intended. The first resulted in a plea bargain in which David Hicks was sentenced to nine months in jail, in his home country, Australia. The second case, of Canadian Omar Khadr, was dismissed by army Colonel Peter Brownback because the U.S. government had not determined that Khadr was an “unlawful enemy combatant.” The third case, against Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni, was dismissed by navy Captain Keith Allred. Allred ruled that the designation of Hamdan as an “enemy combatant,” applied only to Hamdan’s detention at Guantanamo. That designation did not make Hamdan eligible for trial by a military commission according to Allred.

According to the chief military defence laywer for the Guantanamo prisoners, Colonel Dwight Sullivan, “The significance of this ruling was enormous.” Colonel Sullivan also said that "What we have seen today is the latest demonstration that the military commission system does not work. … The commission is an experiment that failed and we don’t need any more evidence that it is a failure.”

In March, Hicks was found guilty — apparently the finding desired by the United States — and was sent on his way to serve time in Adelaide.

But the Monday, 5 June, dismissals by Colonel Brownback and Captain Allred, have thrown the military commissions into question — twice in one day. The Pentagon will ask Brownback to reconsider his ruling. Presumably it will ask the same of Captain Allred. But if that does not yield the desired results, the Pentagon can appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review.

But, probably assuming that its kangaroo courts would result in the desired verdicts — guilty every time — the state had not bothered to set up the Court of Military Commission Review.

It corrected that problem in three days. That suggests the care given to the selection of the Court, was less than one might hope for such an important appellate court. But it may also suggest that this court has a very strong mandate to rule as desired by the government.

Capitalism generates wars, and the victors — champions of justice — need face-saving “justice.” The “justice” system provided for its own citizens, supposedly to give an accused a fair trial, is not the standard which the United States wishes to use against non-U.S.-nationals accused of killing U.S. soldiers in a war.

The United States government is telling us — by its actions — that as long as it can imprison foreign nationals outside of the United States, it need not apply the same rules of “justice.” That brings the concept of “justice” into disrepute.

The “legal” issue in Khadr’s case was whether Khadr was legally permitted, by the “laws of war,” to kill a United States soldier. We must assume that these laws are intended to ensure that the workers tricked into slaughtering each other have no competition from workers tricked into slaughtering each other.

The very concept of “laws of war” is absurd. Workers are ordered to kill each other, to burn children to death, to destroy the very wellsprings of life of the supposed enemy, and to do it according to the “laws of war.” We are supposed to believe that being tricked into slaughtering other workers is a moral, Christian or Islamic, socially responsible, means to promote not slaughtering each other.

As long as people buy into this fantasy world of moral slaughter, other people will also buy into it. So Islamists will morally slaughter almost 3,000 people in New York, and Christians will morally slaughter tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, while those targetted for slaughter kill another 3,000-plus U.S. citizens: U.S. soldiers.

The problem is a morality built upon capitalism for capitalists, and worker’s support for that morality. Laws of war cannot change that morality. Laws of war cannot un-kill the dead. Laws of war cannot end war, and are designed to promote war by convincing workers that it is all very just and right, with rules, with heroes, and with morality.

War is none of those. War is hell.

As long as workers allow themselves to be tricked into supporting capitalism and its wars, we will continue to slaughter each other, forever.

Ending war requires that we end the current cause of war: capitalism. The experts — whose job it is to convince us of the rightness of capitalism — will tell us that socialists oversimplify.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers responds that the “experts” intentionally, or through their own ignorance and confusion, complicate reality to justify themselves, capitalism, and war. The “experts” laugh at socialists and the Materialist Conception of History, because they have no other weapons (such as reasonable analysis) to use against us. The “experts” can provide no reasonable alternative to capitalism and war. The “experts” can provide only superficial analysis, even as they complicate reality, and serve, intentionally or not, as the propagandists for capitalism.

You can choose to believe capitalism’s propagandists — who have no solution to war. Or, you can start to listen to socialist propagandists, and learn why capitalism requires war, and why socialism will not end war by declaration, but by removing the necessity for war.

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