January 05, 2004

DON'T PRE-JUDGE HIM, HOWIE

That Howard Dean is one tough talker:

"I understand Osama bin Laden has essentially claimed responsibility for these terrorist acts."

That’s telling him. Hey, at least Dean knows Outkast lyrics:

In response to a question testing his youth-culture awareness, Dean did a brief takeoff of a song by Outkast, the hot hip-hop group. "He knows the lyrics to Outkast songs and, man, can that dude dance," enthused a 16-year-old.

Who is too young to vote.

UPDATE. Marty in comments writes:

Hold on, I'm desperately trying to scrounge up any remaining respect I had for Dean so I can throw it away.

...

Nope, nothing.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 5, 2004 12:10 PM
Comments

September 11 under a Dean presidency: "We are essentially requesting that, at some point, the Taliban give consideration to discussing a possible hand-over of Osama Bin Laden".

Posted by: Alan Anderson at January 5, 2004 at 12:18 PM

September 11 under a Dean presidency: "Accidents happen."

Posted by: ForNow at January 5, 2004 at 01:12 PM

Hold on, I'm desperately trying to scrounge up any remaining respect I had for Dean so I can throw it away.


...


Nope, nothing.

Posted by: Marty at January 5, 2004 at 01:48 PM

I was I could have been present in the room when he was being coached on the Hip-Hop ploy.

Posted by: Dave Culp at January 5, 2004 at 01:59 PM

I mean "I Wish ..."
(doing ten push-ups)

Posted by: Dave Culp at January 5, 2004 at 02:00 PM

As a European, I know better than to trust random terrorist organisations when they say they were responsible for a bombing. Often, they're grandstanding.

As it happens, I think bin Laden, assuming it's him and his voice isn't being imitated by someone else because he died of kidney failure months ago, is guilty of organising the September 11th attacks. And he deserves a proper trial that reveals as much as possible, and then the sentence that an appropriate jury will hand out.

I personally prefer a life imprisonment, because a) we don't want to make him a martyr, and b) there's nothing quite as demoralising to see your revolutionary leader rot in prison and get old. Besides, if new evidence turns up, you can try him again.

But as Dean said later in the debate, if you're the President of the US, you've got to respect and uphold the rule of law. I mean, you swore to do so during your inauguration, that's not something you can back away from, or should. Otherwise you're just a thug with a good economy and cruise missiles. That's why the US and its allies (Western Europe and the new Central European democracies, Southern America, India, et al) are better than our enemies, who use Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist tactics against us.

Posted by: Sam Kington at January 5, 2004 at 02:21 PM

Hmmm, Sam.

So, shame on Bill Clinton for firing cruise missiles at ol' Osama, rather than hauling him in for a proper trial?

Posted by: Dean at January 5, 2004 at 02:59 PM

That's a separate issue entirely. One issue is how we capture bin Laden, and the other is how we try him if we manage to get him alive.

Cruise missiles are overkill if you want to arrest just one man (and, presumably, his close circle of advisers). They can possibly be justified if you're tyring to take out factories manufacturing chemical weapons (which the medicinal factories in Sudan were not), or any other large targets.

But if your mobile infantry manage to capture bin Laden, at that point he needs to go to a proper tribunal.

Posted by: Sam Kington at January 5, 2004 at 03:08 PM

One cannot use the mindset of domestic law enforcement when dealing with international war. The conventions of trial, due process, and such are not suited for it.

Posted by: addison at January 5, 2004 at 03:21 PM

If you want to talk about over-kill there is a large hole in New York that justifys roasting Osama and pals' balls over a large fire. Far as I am concerned, they can kill him without a trial and I will sleep just as well, thank you very much.

Posted by: Jake D at January 5, 2004 at 03:45 PM

I forgot to add:

Cruise missiles are overkill if you want to arrest just one man...

What about cruise missiles leads you to assume his arrest was the objective? How exactly does a cruise missile arrest someone?

The intention was to kill him, not arrest him. One would think this obvious.

Posted by: addison at January 5, 2004 at 04:27 PM

The legal justification for killing this man is simple. He is an enemy combatant.

International law is a fluid concept; the principal source of international law is "customary international law"; ie what states have done in the past. The Bush Administration, in responding to S11, has introduced a number of new concepts, from the treatment of enemy combatants who do not qualify as enemy soldiers under the Geneva Convention (due to their terrorist tactics) to the pre-emptive strike as an extension of the doctrine of self-defence.

International law is thus inherently stupid; that which is arguably illegal becomes legal if done for long and often enough by enough significant and relevant states. But it remains the case that all decisions of international courts and tribunals are predicated on this concept. As the current War on Terror is the most significant precedent for the conduct of war against a terrorist organisation, I would argue that the concept of "unlawful combatants" is now reasonably established and lacks any significant counterveiling precedents. Thus Osama is not entitled to hide behind the Geneva Convention or other international law relating to the treatment of enemy forces.

Posted by: Alan Anderson at January 5, 2004 at 04:29 PM

Rubbish, the boys at my local precinct use cruise missiles to do everything from issuing parking fines to opening their boxes of doughnuts!

Posted by: Quentin George at January 5, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Out of curiosity, this being an Aussie's blog and all, have you folks ever seen "Breaker Morant"? Does the theme of that movie, that any effort at applying peacetime morality to wartime conditions is farcical at best, tragic at worst, strike folks here as, possibly, just possibly, applicable in this debate?

Posted by: Dean at January 5, 2004 at 04:56 PM

Rule 303, Dean!

Posted by: tim at January 5, 2004 at 06:25 PM

Osama bin Laden is not an enemy combatant. He is a political and religious leader - a vile and reprehensible one, I must add - but he is not the leader of a traditional nation-based army in the way we normally understand that term, nor is the US (or any other country's) army the best tool to fight him and his followers.

The phrase "war on Terror" is a horrendous misnomer: we cannot fight terrorism with just tanks, missiles and bombs. The war on terror requires police and intelligence work, as well as diplomacy, to thwart terrorist attacks before they happen, blunt bin Laden's message and reduce the number of potential terrorists who will otherwise inevitably replace the terrorists we manage to capture or kill.

I really do not want to see bin Laden killed - that could potentially make him a martyr, which will only help al Qaeda's recruitment efforts. I want to see him captured and openly, fairly, tried, as part of an attempt to win the hearts and minds of those who oppose the Western world, to send the message that, even when attacked by terrorists with their message of hate, that we in the West are better than that.

Posted by: Sam Kington at January 6, 2004 at 01:36 AM

Sam,

When you warn against "making him a martyr," I think of the words of an Israeli colonel in 1991, on the possibility of killing Saddam Hussein:

"We prefer dead martyrs to live ones."

Posted by: JPS at January 6, 2004 at 01:58 AM

The danger of Osama becoming a martyr isnīt that significant. After he is dead, the CIA just has to produce more Bin Laden tapes and send them to Al Jazeera year after year until nobody cares anymore. Hmm...could it be happening already?

Posted by: wf at January 6, 2004 at 02:22 AM

Sam,

I'm sure you don't intend it that way, but that is one of the more egotistical-sounding arguments.

Are you so sure that keeping bin Laden alive and trying him will be interpreted by the Arabs as a sign of our superiority? That we are not going to be seen as, in fact, weak and AFRAID to kill bin Laden?

Keep in mind, bin Laden and al-Qaeda seemed to conclude that, having defeated the USSR in Afghanistan, militant Islam was now confronting the WEAKER state. What you view as a strength, from other cultures' perspectives may in fact come across as weakness.

That leaves aside the distinct prospect of ongoing attacks to FREE bin Laden from whichever country holds him.

Posted by: Dean at January 6, 2004 at 03:18 AM

In response to a question testing his youth-culture awareness, Dean did a brief takeoff of a song by Outkast, the hot hip-hop group. "He knows the lyrics to Outkast songs and, man, can that dude dance," enthused a 16-year-old.

Wow, first Wyclef Jean and now Outkast. At this rate, Howard won't have to go on an MTV show like Bill Clinton did to show he's connected with the kiddos, he can host his own series, or at least be the MC for something like "Howard Dean's MTV Spring Break 2004 Primary Party" which can be held someplace in Palm Beach County before the March 9 Florida election ("Dangling chads, jiggling boobies -- Count all the votes, rate all the dancers").


Posted by: John at January 6, 2004 at 03:22 AM