(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
In the immortal words of Pogo “We have met the enemy… and he is us” That prophetic little possum utter those words in 1952, back when we were still mostly the good guys. Before the South American Death Squads and regime change and invading a sovereign nation for oil and murdering 1.3 million innocent people in the process.
Now that Bush and Cheney have admitted to torture and our new AG has reaffirmed what we already knew, torture is a war crime, illgal, forbidden and a useless occupation, will they be prosecuted. Before we get all silly about the change Obama brings, the new America, the return of the rule of law, understand we really have no choice but prosecute them for their crimes. Follow me below the fold for why it isn’t an option and there is no moving forward, no future and no hope, no redemption until we do.
I read somewhere and I don’t remember exactly where, that the Hague will do nothing about Bush and Cheney or prosecute ANY of their crimes until WE do. It is up to US to make this right first, clean up the mess and hold him accountable,. Why? Because we have the law and the mechanism to do it. The Hague considers countries who do not hold their leaders accountable for crimes, failed states. Lest you think this is hyperbole consider this, since 2006 we have been on the margins, operating at a moderate risk of failing and this was BEFORE the confession of Bush and Cheney and with what was considered strong leadership and a thriving economy.
A failed state is one that can no longer reproduce the conditions for its own existence.
That is a failed state in a nutshell. There is a formula, 12 indicators that are rated to give a risk score.
1. Mounting Demographic Pressures Pressures deriving from high population density relative to food supply and other life-sustaining resources. Pressures deriving from group settlement patterns that affect the freedom to participate in common forms of human and physical activity, including economic productivity, travel, social interaction, religious worship.Pressures deriving from group settlement patterns and physical settings, including border disputes, ownership or occupancy of land, access to transportation outlets, control of religious or historical sites, and proximity to environmental hazards. Pressures from skewed population distributions, such as a “youth or age bulge,” or from divergent rates of population growth among competing communal groups.
2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies. Forced uprooting of large communities as a result of random or targeted violence and/or repression, causing food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition, and turmoil that can spiral into larger humanitarian and security problems, both within and between countries
3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia History of aggrieved communal groups based on recent or past injustices, which could date back centuries Patterns of atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups Specific groups singled out by state authorities, or by dominant groups, for persecution or repression Institutionalized political exclusion Public scapegoating of groups believed to have acquired wealth, status or power as evidenced in the emergence of “hate” radio, pamphleteering and stereotypical or nationalistic political rhetoric
4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight “Brain drain” of professionals, intellectuals and political dissidents fearing persecution or repression Voluntary emigration of “the middle class,” particularly economically productive segments of the population, such as entrepreneurs, business people, artisans and traders, due to economic deterioration Growth of exile communities
5. Uneven economic development along group lines: determined by group-based inequality, or perceived inequality, in education, jobs, and economic status. Also measured by group-based poverty levels, infant mortality rates, education levels.
6. Sharp and/or severe economic decline: measured by a progressive economic decline of the society as a whole (using: per capita income, GNP, debt, child mortality rates, poverty levels, business failures.) A sudden drop in commodity prices, trade revenue, foreign investment or debt payments. Collapse or devaluation of the national currency and a growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight. Failure of the state to pay salaries of government employees and armed forces or to meet other financial obligations to its citizens, such as pension payments.
7. Criminalization and/or delegitimisation of the state: endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites and resistance to transparency, accountability and political representation. Includes any widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes.
8. Progressive deterioration of public services: a disappearance of basic state functions that serve the people, including failure to protect citizens from terrorism and violence and to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation, public transportation. Also using the state apparatus for agencies that serve the ruling elites, such as the security forces, presidential staff, central bank, diplomatic service, customs and collection agencies.
9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights: an emergence of authoritarian, dictatorial or military rule in which constitutional and democratic institutions and processes are suspended or manipulated. Outbreaks of politically inspired (as opposed to criminal) violence against innocent civilians. A rising number of political prisoners or dissidents who are denied due process consistent with international norms and practices. Any widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights, including those of individuals, groups or cultural institutions (e.g., harassment of the press, politicization of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution.)
10. Security apparatus as ‘state within a state’: an emergence of elite or praetorian guards that operate with impunity. Emergence of state-sponsored or state-supported private militias that terrorize political opponents, suspected “enemies,” or civilians seen to be sympathetic to the opposition. An “army within an army” that serves the interests of the dominant military or political clique. Emergence of rival militias, guerilla forces or private armies in an armed struggle or protracted violent campaigns against state security forces.
11. Rise of factionalised elites: a fragmentation of ruling elites and state institutions along group lines. Any use of nationalistic political rhetoric by ruling elites, often in terms of communal irredentism or of communal solidarity (e.g., “ethnic cleansing” or “defending the faith.”)
12. Intervention of other states or external factors: military or Para-military engagement in the internal affairs of the state at risk by outside armies, states, identity groups or entities that affect the internal balance of power or resolution of the conflict. Intervention by donors, especially if there is a tendency towards over-dependence on foreign aid or peacekeeping missions.
These benchmarks were written with developing nations in mind, not a developed nation like the United States, so somethings aren’t going to apply. We don’t have a mass migration of people, but rather jobs leaving the country. We still have not recovered from Katrina or even strengthened the levees in New Orleans. Our government allowed speculation in the energy markets and $4 a gallon gas brought increases in prices of food and heating oil and dramatic increases in the number of people needing help meeting their most basic needs. We have seen the rise in hate radio and scapegoating, crazed nationalism and racism over the last election cycles. We haven’t seen the flight of the middle class but rather thousands forced out of their homes due to foreclosures. There has been significant uneven economic development in this country for the last 40 years, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Workers have become a commodity, a means to an end, this is what the Nazis did in the camps. Trade unions have been systematically gutted. Slow genocide is still being waged against Native Americans, we still have groups who are severely marginalized, we demonstrate everyday that when it comes to rights our Constitution which is the envy of the world, means very little to us. There are tremendous educational inequities which tends to enforce economic segregation and few if any opportunity. We are currently in a very sharp economic decline, banks failing, loss of pensions, businesses failing, States unable to pay their bills, historic high unemployment. Endemic corruption, loss of confidence in the existing government. Deterioration of infrastructure and public services like access to reasonable health care or reliable rapid transit. An emergence of authoritarian government abuse of human rights, thru new laws sold as keeping us safe. The destruction of Posse Comitatus and the agreement with Canada to lend military support inside our country if called on to do so. I could go on but I think you get the picture and it isn’t hopeful.
Granted, we are only at moderate risk as of 2007 too, but we have deteriorated significantly in the last 12 months. The only reason we aren’t at the “alert” stage could be because we have forgotten how to do a revolution. Our own government helped promote the meme failed states are the source of all evil in the world and indeed we have contributed our own ugliness and evil into the world for all to see. Believe me, the world knows exactly what we have become, diplomacy is cohersion and invasion, death and destruction, human rights and cultural abuses, endless global war. Consider too, in invading Iraq, ignoring our agreements with the UN and throwing the Geneva Convention out the window we are also a rogue nation. Bush and his cohorts have given us a historically improbably twofer. This is an ugly thing to leave as a legacy.
The seeming unwillingness to Bush and his cohorts accountable will undermine everything Obama tries to accomplish globally. There is no high road for us to take, we traded our moral authority to give a free ride to Bush and his crimes become ours. I want the moment Obama takes the oath for the Secret Service or the Military or the US Marshals or whoever does such things to very quietly arrest Bush, Cheney and his cabinet. We CAN fix this! What we can not do, must not do is nothing.