Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pretending I know something about International Law

Once upon a time I thought that I might be interested in International Law. In fact I was stupid enough to take it as my first upper division class as an undergrad. To this day the prof who taught that class is one of my favorites at Texas State. He later introduced me to political philosophy and I can give him partial blame for me being more of a conservative. But that class, it was a pain in my ass.

I was reminded of this class because of an article I saw earlier thanks to Pizza Poems' post. It reminded me of a major case study I was required to do for a major grade. It had to do with the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Now I was actually excited about this one. It was something major in the news at the time and I was also not a big fan of Bush. I was wanting to show that what the administration was doing was a violation of the Geneva Convention or have some other kind of horrid conclusion. That kind of makes me laugh now as I think of it. So I did my research. The biggest problem I had, if I remember correctly, was categorizing a terrorist. He was not a member of any military force. He did not wear a uniform and did not have the protection provided for a prisoner at war. In fact I could find absolutely no protection for these people. The closest categorization I could find for a terrorist was a pirate. I have to tell you, a country can do whatever the hell it feels like with a pirate.

I don't remember right now what I answered for the paper. I just remember being confused. Shouldn't there be some sort of protection for these people? Shouldn't there be a way for the countries that these people are citizens of to have some sort of say in what is happening to them? Well, no. There was nothing about civilians that take action against the military. At least I don't think there was. All I do remember for certain right now is that I made a really bad grade on that case study, somewhere between a C and an F. It could be because even when I couldn't really find evidence of there being any violation of international law, I bullshitted my way into a crappy grade for my own beliefs.

After that class I was certain I did not want to go into international law. The main reason being, the uncertainty of the law. I went into the class, and the case study, being quite ignorant of the way the international community interacts. I wanted to believe that there was some authority. I wanted something to say that what this country is doing is wrong. I know there are others that want this same thing. That is the reason for the development for such things as the International Criminal Court. But then again is it good to have something there that has authority over the nations of this world? That would mean that other countries could have control over what type of laws we make in our own country. Now that scares me right there.

Another thing I wonder now: What reason do we have to be so concerned with the rights of these terrorists? I remember what my concern was back at that time. It was the possible innocence of the people imprisoned. I was also concerned with their being American citizens held prisoner without the rights that are there for all citizens. But what about those who are guilty? Should there be standards on how we treat those prisoners? The more I think about it, I think they should be treated as pirates. I don't think I'm wrong in saying that you could make a treaty with terrorists as easily as you can with pirates. In other words, no treaty. They are outlaws from different countries. There is no reason to treat them in the civilized manner that we expect. They would not and do not give us the same treatment in return.

Again, after I was done with that class I never again touched International Law. I did gain interest in Islam and the Middle East for a time. Of course, I also was interested in Japan. I think I wanted to know of every culture. I knew little of anything that wasn't Western. Well, it is interesting to learn. Now, I honestly don't know what else to write and I have no idea why the hell I am still awake. I hope this post made sense. I guess I'll check and see in the morning.


Art said...

You're right in saying that unlawful combatants have no rights under international law. By unlawful it means they are not fighting under the flag of a nation state and/or are not wearing a uniform clearly identifying them as members of a military force. They can be shot upon discovery and so they should be grateful that they still have their lives. I disagree on torture however. I'm all for locking them up, but we don't need to torture them, and I honestly don't think that we do. The rules against torture are too numerous to mention. That doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, but it's not officially sanctioned. I don't think that torture of enemy unlawful combatants runs contrary to the constitution though. As I said unlawful comabatants have no rights.

el said...

I don't disagree with you. Does it sound like I am for the torture of prisoners? That honestly makes me sick to my stomach. I just don't see why it is so important to the American people how well these terrorists are treated. I glanced at this Pizza Poem's post. She put something about the CIA torturing prisoners in Eastern Europe or something like that. She put up that this was horrible that our country is doing this and to not forget that the terrorists are people too. Something to that effect. Then she put up the Declaration of Independence. Why should I feel pitty for these people? Why should I be reminded that they have feelings too? Are people afraid that America is going to start concentration camps of terrorists? That is the only reason I could think that people would be so concerned with this. It just seemed ridiculous to me.

whitechoclatespacegg said...

I think a lot of people seem to forget that the views of these terrorist aren't the same as ours. People think we shouldn't torture them because they are people with feelings. Well they would torture any of us if they had a chance to. They wouldn't even care about our feelings. Life doesn't mean the same to them. They are trained to give their life for their cause. To take life is nothing to them. I'm not saying we should torture them. I'm just saying that we shouldn't say it's because they have feelings. They won't be greatful to us for not torturing us they'll think that we are cowards for not doing exactly what they would do. It is our consciences that should prevent their torture not because we don't want to hurt their feelings.
I'm not sure how coherent that was...

whitechoclatespacegg said...

"They won't be greatful to us for not torturing us"

Whoopsy! I meant "not torturing them" not "us"