The Phantom City

Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: International (page 2 of 3)

Just as long as they aren’t ninjas…

Should we treat terrorists as pirates?

What is needed now is a framework for an international crime of terrorism. The framework should be incorporated into the U.N. Convention on Terrorism and should call for including the crime in domestic criminal law and perhaps the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This framework must recognize the unique threat that terrorists pose to nation-states, yet not grant them the legitimacy accorded to belligerent states. It must provide the foundation for a law that criminalizes not only terrorist acts but membership in a terrorist organization. It must define methods of punishment.

Coming up with such a framework would perhaps seem impossible, except that one already exists. Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.

Doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but I wonder what would actually change? Piracy was used as a strategic tool by states, which then united against pirates when their activities came to be viewed as threatening common order and commerce in an intolerably uncontrollable fashion. That seems to me to be similar to the journey the world is taking right now in regards to terrorism. One dissimilarity is that pirates committed many of their crimes in a commonly held geographic area. However, the idea of “lawless places” where pirates dwell and can be hunted down legally seems to be a common thread in our current actions.

Link courtesy of Bruce Schneier

This Week in the DPRK

North Korea has a way with press releases, and the NK News site makes sure we all get to share. Some recent samples:

I have a personal favorite from this collection, though:

U.S., Provoker of “Panmunjom Incident”

At the end of such provocations, they mobilized 14 hooligans at around 10:45 on August 18 to cut a tree standing in the Panmunjom Joint Security Area without any agreement with the other side. When the security personnel of the DPRK demanded stoppage of the rude act, the hooligans pounced upon and made a collective assault on them, wielding lethal tools.

War in Iran?

Well, congratulations, Bush Administration. You’ve officially made it to the point where the first question in a press conference, from veteran reporter Helen Thomas, was “Is the U.S. going to attack Iran?” Continue reading

North Korean Press Releases

It was a good day for politics and furniture in the Democratic People’s Republic:

Courtesy of NK News

CIA Director respects sovereign states

Let’s say you’re CIA Director Porter Goss, and you give an interview claiming that you have an “excellent idea” where Osama bin Laden is hiding. However, you then claim that America’s sense of “fair play” concerning state sovereignty is an issue when it comes to actually capturing him.

So, how does that work, exactly? Saddam Hussein was such a great threat to the U.S. from 2001 on that we invaded Iraq and are still occupying the country with a sizable portion of our military, but the person who actually ordered the last major attack on our country is safe because of our respect for the nation-state system?

(And, if we have such respect for that system, why does the CIA exist? Are we laying off the spies?)

Well, at least the interview gave me a pretty good idea of the location of Osama bin Laden’s sanctuary. It would have to be in a country where, no matter what, we wouldn’t actively pursue a international terrorist due to our sense of realpolitik and fear of disruption. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, bin Laden is apparently hiding in the Cold War-era Soviet Union.

John Bolton: Failing his way up?

Yep, this may be our next Ambassador to the United Nations. If the lack of preparation or basic interest in diplomacy indicated in this article is true, then why is John Bolton even still employed, much less getting promoted?

Link courtesy of Obsidian Wings

Update: That darned Democrat Voinovich on Bolton. 😉

“…they know that he was something great.”

Capt. Mbaye Diagne, Senegal, United Nations: He gave his life that others might live.

Link courtesy of Obsidian Wings

Nuke testing in “Sudan”

Hmm, I drove my sudan to work this morning. 🙂

Looks like a transcript of a Congressional hearing came close to ruining the day for American and Sudanese government officials. Sometimes when you conduct secret nuclear tests in Sedan, it sounds like Sudan.

What I’d like to know is what enterprising diplomat from Sudan came up with the idea of immediately blaming the U.S. for cancer cases from a nuclear test that didn’t happen there? I’m surprised that story didn’t get more play.

Link courtesy of Metafilter

DPRK Propaganda Art

More North Korean stuff. This time, it’s a fascinating gallery of governmental propaganda art lionizing the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, and the Great Mother, Kim Jeong-Sook.

Link courtesy of Boing Boing, which points out the Norman Rockwell-ness of at least one of the pictures. (Freedom of Speech is turned into Criticizing and Exposing Collaborators.)

North Korea’s Nukes

I thought they had already announced that they had them? Maybe not.

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