Sunday, 11 April 2010

Lame Classes, War Crimes

Today is yet another day I nearly forgot to blog. I got up, went to work (Level 1 info, "I'm looking to replace some recipe books I bought back in the 80s... what do you mean 'out of print?'"), went to church, had dinner with friends, came home, applied for a few more jobs and now I sit here, blogging.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my 'job services provider' who so far have been very good at scheduling appointments, but pretty awful at finding me jobs. I know that during this appointment my 'job services advisor' (or whatever her title is) will decree that I am awful at finding jobs, and therefore need tuition in how to write a résumé and cover letter. One-hundred and eighty hours of tuition, to be exact.

At this point in the meeting I will wave a list of all the hours of work I will lose if I take such a class. I'm interested to see what she will do. Perhaps I should take another copy of my résumé and an example of one of my cover letters to prove that I will be learning absolutely nothing should I take this class. I'll do it, but it will probably be futile. I'll wave the papers and she'll glance at them and say "That's nice, but it's required by law!"

This is another example of a time when I have to dress up and demand things. I never end up actually having to demand things, but it stops me from just nodding when they say things like "Next time you'll have to take a class". I think it would be funny if I rocked up in a suit. I won't, though.

My video I posted yesterday processed etc. Check it out:

It elicited two main responses. Either people saying "I'm American and I'm SO ASHAMED!" or "How could you possibly ever think that is NOT MURDER/WARCRIMES!"

I think the first one is... well it's not strictly necessary. The war wasn't just an American action. The United Kingdom, the Poles, Australians, Dutch... lots of people are/were involved. Also I don't think shame is the most appropriate response. You are not personally responsible for the deaths of those journalists in the clips, or the war in general (although I think you can argue we are collectively responsible).

The second made me go back and double-check everything. I still haven't found anything that actually, comprehensively makes the men in the helicopter murderers or war criminals. Murder is a premeditated action or a crime of passion - this was neither. You could argue it was manslaughter, but these guys aren't murderers; they genuinely thought they were under threat by the men on the ground and so acted out of self-defence. For that reason they also don't fit most definitions of "warcrimes" (which is a nebulous term anyway). Of course, I'm not a lawyer specialising in international law, but this just doesn't fit what the Hague and Geneva Conventions define as warcrimes. It could be argued that this is "devastation not justified by military necessity" or a "crime against humanity" as defined by Nuremberg Principle VI, but it just doesn't fit comfortably because it wasn't a persecution on political, religious or racial grounds. It could be argued that because of the perceived threat, the action did indeed spring from military necessity.

Anyway, I'm not trying to say what happened was okay. It was deplorable. Absolutely. I just don't think the guys in the chopper were to blame. Neither were the journalists or the upper command for giving the all-clear. It's just what happens in war. If we treat this like it's something out of the ordinary we are actually removing reality from how we perceive war; we turn it in to a game. That's why I found the cover-up so repugnant.

Anyway, I should go to bed.



  1. I think people generally think something like this should be a warcrime because they think war is better than it is. They think people are still acting as civilized people in the middle of a war zone or they think there's a clear distinction between "good people" and "bad people". No one can really understand the chaos of war unless they're in it. In the end, it's just people killing people. Soldiers are (usually) doing the best that they can, but everyone makes mistakes. The stakes are just way higher for them.

  2. That's the thing about war, even when it goes well it's still bad.