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But Allen West Seems Very Troubled!

[ 173 ] January 27, 2013 |

The last line is a killer:

The Ironman triathlon is among the most grueling sporting events in the world. Leanda Cave, the 2012 international women’s champion, came in 46th overall. That was good enough to put her ahead of 1,419 male competitors, which is to say, almost all of them. (The fellow Ms Cave finished just ahead of does not look a slouch.) What about fighting mano y mano against a “brutal” enemy? My guess is that Ronda Rousey, the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, is more dangerous in close quarters than most Taliban insurgents. Of course, few women have the endurance of Leanda Cave, or the martial-arts prowess of Ronda Rousey. But then neither do many men. In most sports, the best men outperform the best women, but the best women outperform almost all men. Of course, it doesn’t take testosterone to pull a trigger. Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Soviet sniper during the second world war, is credited with over 300 kills. The Nazis surely would have preferred a Soviet army with no such female combat troops.

The best argument against women in combat specialities runs as follows: Although standards for training and physical capacity may initially remain high, over time these standards may slacken for institutional and political reasons (a USMC embarrassed by a lack of women in the infantry informally and selectively relaxes standards, etc.), leading to the inclusion of less than fully capable infantry-persons, which will consequently lead to less effective combat teams, as so forth. It’s not a terribly compelling argument; the average US infantry-person is considerably more physically and intellectually capable today than in Vietnam/Korea/WWII, and so even if we grant the hypothetical decline in standards the US is still, by historical and relative standards, deploying extraordinarily capable soldiers with an extraordinarily sophisticated support network. As an argument for pre-emptive exclusion of a class of citizens from combat specialties, the “relaxation of standards” case has to establish both that a particular set of standards are sufficiently critical to national security to merit such an exclusion, and that organizational misbehavior cannot be remedied by any means other than this exclusion.  Doesn’t seem to me that the argument can meet either concern.

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  1. rea says:

    Why should we give a shit what Allen West, a man who was thrown out of the military for torturing prisoners, thinks about military issues?

  2. laslo says:

    ….the average US infantry-person is considerably more physically and intellectually capable today than in Vietnam/Korea/WWII….

    Though I agree that women can be trained as well as men, and I’ve personally seen this, the slam that those of my generation who either enlisted or were drafted into these conflicts were somehow less qualified to do battle under extreme conditions, is absurd.

    And I take umbrage at that assumption. Pistols at dawn, MFer.

    • rea says:

      Laslo, the current military is (1) volunteers, not conscripts, and (2) emphasizes physical training much more than was the case

      • laslo says:

        There is no way to actually compare the two groups. I merely resent the implication. But I’d take my guys any day.

        • Vance Maverick says:

          There is no way to actually compare the two groups. [...] But I’d take my guys any day.

          The second sentence, laslo, contradicts the first.

        • mark f says:

          The implication is that the soldiers of the past weren’t professionals with years of constant training and now they are, not that soldiers of earlier eras didn’t perform valiantly. This is germane to the post because there’s a difference between weeding out as a class the unlikely-on-average-to-meet-standards — whether for gender or age reasons or whatever — maybe makes sense in an emergency, it doesn’t at all with modern recruiting and training practices. Jeez.

          • witless chum says:

            There’s also that whole line of research that suggests World War II soldiers were often not really shooting at the enemy. The military has spent a lot of time trying to train that tendency out of soldiers, presumably with some success.

    • sibusisodan says:

      The slam is one you’ve assumed to be there, and isn’t actually present in the sentence you’ve quoted.

      Because (physical and intellectual capabilities) != (combat effectiveness), and nobody’s claiming otherwise.

    • Hanspeter says:

      I believe pointy sticks is the weapon of choice around these parts.

  3. Mudge says:

    I think the Nazis actually would have preferred a Soviet army without the T-34 tank.

  4. That dingleberry hit on one of my linguistic pet peeves. Mano a Mano = hand to hand. Mano y Mano = hand and hand like they’re holding hands.

  5. J. Otto Pohl says:

    About 150,000 women joined the Red Army during WWII. Not a huge number considering the total number of men fighting. But, the US, USSR, UK, and Germany all had different ways of dealing with the man power shortage that they faced. In the Soviet case the number of women recruited is curiously around the same number of people as the number of soldiers executed for desertion during the war. But, there were also many other areas were the Soviets were wasteful of man power during the war. Had they not been desperate for men due to their own policies I am sure that they would not have taken women in for combat. For instance the exclusion of ethnic Koreans who were deported to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from military service (only the small number living outside the RFE at the time of the deportation were eligible to fight in the ranks). Or the removal of some 33,000 ethnic Germans from the Red Army in 1941 even after a number of them had proved themselves in the Defense of Brest. Altogether the number of people expelled or not conscripted into the Red Army due to being members of “unreliable” nationalities was in the hundreds of thousands. Given these constraints admitting some women was considered one way of dealing with the man power shortage. Releasing criminal convicts from the GULag camps and exiled Russian and Ukrainian kulaks from special settlement restrictions to fight against the Germans was another. The Soviet Union was many things, but its position on the role of woman was quite different from modern American feminist models. After the war the Soviet Army did not become an equal opportunity career for women.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I’m glad that J. Otto has addressed the zero other people who took the point of Wilkinson’s comparison to be “Stalin was awesome!” as opposed to “there’s no evidence that women can’t perform capably in combat roles.” With respect to the actual point of the post, of course, it’s just a lengthy non-sequitur.

      • Johnny Sack says:

        J-man, on point as usual!

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        But is the sky blue? That’s the real question! Otto won’t say, so I presume he also thinks that Johnson deserves a pass for Vietnam. After all, Jefferson was a man of his times!

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        What? Where did I say anybody said, “Stalin was awesome” above? I am noting that the USSR did not permanently incorporate a large number of women percentage wise into its military. It took in some reluctantly due to man power shortages. Even though they did well in combat, the Soviet government did not use women in combat later for instance in Afghanistan. The official Soviet policies regarding gender don’t fit western models well. In some ways it was more equal, but in others it was very conservative. It certainly did conform to what American feminists would have considered an ideal society.

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          It certainly did conform to what American feminists would have considered an ideal society.

          I agree! But what this has to do with the point of the post remains mysterious. It doesn’t matter, in this context, why the Soviets used women in combat roles. What matters is that it worked.

          • J. Otto Pohl says:

            I left out the not. It was a typographical error.

            • LosGatosCA says:

              Thought you were channeling El Rushbo for a second.

              • J. Otto Pohl says:

                No, it was just a typographical mistake. If there was an edit button I could have corrected it. Obviously, the USSR did not conform to US feminist ideals. My wife is a Soviet person. Women all took jobs, but men never took on housework. Hence the existence of the “Double Burden” for Soviet women. They worked a job usually lower paid than a man (this was due to female dominated jobs like doctors and teachers paying less) and still did all the domestic work. Again this is hard to compare with the US because there are elements of both modernity (greater gender equality) and tradition (patriarchy) operating here. In most of the post-Stalin era there were no restrictions on abortion. But, finding contraceptives was difficult. Most of these things are still true today in Kyrgyzstan although now you can easily get imported condoms.

          • DrDick says:

            Jotto simply cannot resist the reflexive commie bashing, any more than he can stop excusing rightwing tyrants. He lives in a far right fantasy world and assumes we think just like him.

            • J. Otto Pohl says:

              Bashing? In my second comment I noted that in some ways the USSR had more gender equality than the US. I do after all have a Soviet wife and have some personal experience in this matter.

              What right wing tyrants have I defended? Please be specific. I know that on this forum I have condemned the military dictatorships of Guatemala, Mobutu, the NLC junta, and a host of other right wing regimes. Perhaps I need to list them all. It would be easier if you gave me an e-mail address since the list of right wing tyrants is quite long and denouncing all of them by name will take many pages. I am hoping that one day the Obama administration so beloved here will stop backing dictatorships in Togo, Rwanda, Uganda, and other places in Africa. By the way since you disapprove of my comment I can assume that you support the Soviet policy of putting ethnic German soldiers from the Red Army into labor camps?

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            I should point out that I “agreed” with the actual, and not literal, meaning of Otto’s comment.

        • J. Otto Pohl says:

          Oops that last sentence should read “did not conform to what US feminists would consider an ideal society.”

      • Malacylpse says:

        It says something that J Otto is more likely to drop the “Stalinist” slur than Malkin was.

      • Warren Terra says:

        Most people, when they insist on holding forth an opinion at great length, do so for one of a number of reasons: they want to convince others, or to win praise from people who agree with them, or simply to hear the sound of their own voice, or to have an argument. I’ve come to the conclusion J Ottois of the last class: he is desperate to find someone who will stand up for the unlamented Mr. Djugashvili. He figures that if he trolls this blog with enough irrelevancies about the Gulag State he will eventually find someone with a meaningful interest in doing more than rolling their eyes at him. Hasn’t worked yet, but the century is yet young.

    • MikeJake says:

      It was more like 800,000 women. They didn’t all serve at the front, of course. The majority served in rear areas to free up men for front line duty, but many women did serve at the front, as night bombers, snipers, drivers and medics. Women made up most of the flak batteries defending Stalingrad that were wiped out in the opening days of the battle. Their presence represented a significant underestimation by the Germans of the Soviet (wo)manpower potential. It’s part of the reason why the Red Army, which was supposedly utterly defeated on multiple occasions, kept surprising Germany with fresh reserves.

  6. KadeKo says:

    What was Paul Ryan’s time?

  7. JoyfulA says:

    Interesting comments on the original article. The average reader there seems to prefer that women not be allowed to vote.

  8. KadeKo says:

    PS Any truth to the idea that females typically have higher tolerance than males, after wringing the body to its proverbial 110% physical extremes? I thought I saw it on a PBS sciency show ages ago.

    • KadeKo says:

      Ugh. Me copyedit bad.

      …that, after wringing themselves to physical exhaustion, typically females recover faster than males?

      (PS No sex metaphor here.)

    • DrDick says:

      Women do in fact have both greater pain tolerance and greater endurance than men on average. I wish to emphasize the “on average” here.

    • MikeJake says:

      I could buy the notion that women recover faster from physical exertion, in terms of replenishment of their glycogen stores, and I believe women maintain aerobic metabolism (burning fat and carbs, instead of just carbs) longer than men, which would reduce the rate of depletion of their glycogen.

      But I never bought the notion that women have lower pain tolerance than men. Childbirth is not the be-all, end-all of pain.

      • Karen says:

        I sooo wish you could try childbirth and see just exactly how not-painful it is.

        • Hogan says:

          I have to say I am much less impressed by crucifixion now that I am in childbirth. It is not really possible that anything could hurt more than this. I grieve for the suffering of Our Lord, of course. But if He had tried a bad birth He would know what pain is.

          –Philippa Gregory

  9. Winchester says:

    Women, no matter how well-trained, can never, ever be anywhere close to a match for a man in combat. They do not have the strength, especially in the upper body, and never will no matter how hard they train. They can not carry loads, and they do not have the endurance of men. And I will tolerate no delusional horseshit arguments to the contrary. I don’t care about « this one girl you know » who can do X, Y and Z. Her strength is exceptional RELATIVE TO OTHER FEMALES, but she is absolutely no match for a man, even a man of a significantly lower fitness level.

    • Vance Maverick says:

      Did you read the argument Farley excerpts? I know you won’t “tolerate” it, but did you read and understand it?

    • Captain Haddock says:

      In the Marine Corps, every single officer goes through The Basic School, which is over 6 months of infantry officer training, because every Marine officer, regardless of sex, is a provisional rifle platoon commander. TBS is longer than IBOLC, the Army’s Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course, and notoriously more difficult. Every officer, regardless of sex or occupational specialty, has to do it. Females do indeed have different physical requirements for the Physical Fitness Test and Combat Fitness Test, which are basic annual training requirements to show that you’re in shape, but females have identical physical requirements for completing infantry officer training at TBS. I’ve watched a female Second Lieutenant carry a squad automatic weapon and her body weight worth of body armor and gear for 15 miles after a week of grueling field work and sleep deprivation — and she was one of many.

      Once they complete their infantry officer training at TBS, male and female officers alike go to their military occupational speciality (MOS) school. Females who dream of combat duty but are excluded from the combat arms MOS’s typically select logistics as their MOS because they are in charge of convoys that leave the wire. I think it’s safe to say that in Iraq and Afghanistan, logistics officers saw significantly more combat than artillery officers, but females are allowed to be the former and are excluded from the latter. It’s nonsensical.

      One of the MOS’s in the Marine Corps is infantry officer (0302). The MOS school for infantry officers is the Infantry Officer Course (IOC) and it is over 10 weeks of additional infantry officer training that is probably best understood as paralleling Ranger School in the Army. The Marine Corps sought female volunteers for IOC but they washed out due to injury. Let’s be clear: they were not booted because they were incapable — they got hurt. That’s commonplace at the haze-fest known as IOC.

      Do females on average have less upper-body strength than men? Probably. Thankfully, the Marine Corps does not select females randomly from the general population. The selection process is much more rigorous, resulting in a low number (the lowest of all the branches) of females who exceed the physical fitness of just about all the other females (and many men) in the United States.

      But, please, tell me more about your experience with women in the military.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Her strength is exceptional RELATIVE TO OTHER FEMALES, but she is absolutely no match for a man, even a man of a significantly lower fitness level.

      A man of a significantly lower fitness level than some women will be able to physically outperform her? By the magic inherent in his testicles?

  10. Winchester says:

    The current rules of engagement have already handicapped our military to a large extent. Putting women in combat will utterly destroy what little combat effectiveness remains. Why? Because women who were captured would be raped to death, beheaded, their bodies desecrated and mutilated, all on video which would be posted on the internet, and this would destroy all will to fight. Commanders would simply lay down and surrender before sending women into any situation that could result in capture – which means that we would be totally unable to fight at all. Further, the American people would themselves demand surrender when faced with the videos of women soldiers being raped, killed and mutilated, and the Marxist, satanic media would absolutely foam at the mouth to run such videos on a perpetual loop, lusting the carnage and the sensationalism for ratings, and in loyal service to the Communist, anti-American cause.

  11. Winchester says:

    PLEASE watch this 13:30 testimony of General Robert H. Barrow before congress in 1991 on this very topic. Gen. Barrow was a combat and command veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, and he fought at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. If you have streaming Netflix, there is a documentary called « Chosin » that you simply MUST watch in order to understand what combat is. Gen. Barrow was there, one of the « Frozen Chosin. »

    This was the last generation of non-Marxist, competent, masculine, oath-keeping flag officers of integrity in the United States. That is why we have to go back over 20 years to hear from a General of any integrity or sense on this matter. Please listen to this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy–whDNNKk ), and then send the YouTube around.

  12. Winchester says:

    The issue is the current push by the Marxists to put women into COMBAT. Not merely « women in the military », but women in full-on combat, including putting women into all branches of the Special Forces.

    Make no mistake, this business of putting women in combat has nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with « equal rights » or any other such nonsense. This is a cold, calculated effort by the Marxist contingent to render the United States military totally ineffective and completely unable to effectively prosecute and win any war, or « kinetic military action », as they now call it.

  13. Mudge says:

    It’s Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, returned from the 4077. Hotlips rejected him.

  14. Karate Bearfighter says:

    I’d love to see an empirical comparison between the purely hypothetical relaxing of standards critics are predicting, and the actual relaxing of standards forced on the military by manpower shortages after Iraq and Afghanistan.

  15. Winchester says:

    Let’s remember the basic difference between masculine and feminine, shall we?

    In all aspects of life, from sociology to courtship to sexual intercourse itself, men are vocationally the initiators – or at least they SHOULD BE. Men lead. Men make decisions. Men command armies and wage war. Men initiate courtship. Men are the head of the household. Even the male anatomy is initiatory. The man introduces his body into that of his wife.

    Females are the receptors and responders in human existence. Females listen, and respond. Females follow. Females render assistance and are responsive helpmates. Females respond, in the affirmative or the negative, to the courtship advances of men. Females receive the love of their husbands and respond by submitting themselves to their husbands. The female anatomy is a physical receptacle for the body of her husband, which then returns to him from the same physical space the fruit of their mutual love – a child.

  16. Vance Maverick says:

    The extraordinary physical demands of the modern military are a plot by us Marxists to decimate the services till they can fit comfortably on an Olympic podium.

  17. socraticsilence says:

    Assuming no erosion of physical standards occurs I don’t understand the rational basis of any objections. I would worry a bit about a possible erosion of standards though.

  18. Winchester says:

    @Socratic silence

    An unit is a band of brothers. It’s VIRILE friendship, virile leadership.

    Captured women will be raped to death.

    Any sane commander for both personal AND tactical reasons MUST shield and show tactical « favoritism » to any females in his outfit. All this accomplishes is massively reducing the efficacy of the outfit, replacing able-bodied men with not just a woman of inferior physical ability, but also a huge burden and liability that would have to be effectively « babysat » and « protected », thus draining the outfit of even more combat ability.

  19. Uncle Kvetch says:

    It’s VIRILE friendship, virile leadership.

    Captian Ned had the right idea when he chose his crew for the Raging Queen.

  20. Winchester says:

    All this Marxist feminist agitprop began with the 19th Amendment.

    The war against marriage and family and the primacy of virility began when women were given the right to vote separate and apart from their husbands.

    It all started with the damn suffrage.

    Up until women’s suffrage, a man was the head of his marriage and his household, and his vote represented not just himself but his entire family, including his wife and his children.

    When men voted, they were conscious of the fact that they were voting not just for themselves and their own personal interests, but they were also charged with the responsibility of discerning and making the ultimate decision about what was in the best interests of their entire family.

  21. Sargon says:

    I wonder where he’s typing from (or equivalently, what language keyboard he’s using) that he uses « French quotation marks. » Or maybe he just thinks they’re more VIRILE, since they’re pointier?

    • Murc says:

      Pretty sure he’s on a phone; that’s usually the primary reason for not responding to people in their thread but rather starting a new one.

      Also: this guy is GREAT. I think I like him better than Dagney.

      • Robert Farley says:

        No doubt. Most entertaining I’ve seen in a while. IP says he’s from Montreal, interestingly enough….

      • Matt T. in New Orleans says:

        I think I like him better than Dagney.

        Same dude, I betcha. He’ll be referencing philosophers he completely misunderstands soon.

        • Winchy says:

          I was right, and Protevi was wrong.

          Here’s the proof: Protevi does not understand that liberalism is a form of State Reason.

          http://www.newappsblog.com/2013/01/more-on-foucault-and-liberalism.html

          And he is supposed to be a know ‘foucault’ scholar in the USA.

          He does not understand that liberalism is part of the Raison d’État; those are not opposed. Liberalism is a paradigm of la Raison d’État, as are mercantilism and neoliberalism — they all share the goal of saving the State by strenghtening it, defining an ‘art de gouverner’ able to make the state stronger.

          The question of the self-limitation of state government is an idea of liberalism that came from liberalism’s criticism of mercantislim.

          Liberalism is as much concerned about “the maximum growth of power of the state” as was mercantislim; it’s just that it convinced sovereign power that it would grow stronger by developping a strong civil society — and that civil society is the space where state power should limit its intervention.

        • Malacylpse says:

          Yep, you win. Who would have guessed that a bigot has issues with women as well?

  22. Winchester says:

    Now men are castrated, and often disenfranchised by their wives.

    No longer the head of the household. No longer responsible for his wife. No longer making the final decision about what’s best for his wife and family.

    No longer a real man.

    Now the agitprop of feminist Marxist Communists aims at castrating the Army.

  23. cpinva says:

    wow, that was pretty hilarious. and i like the nic too: winchester, the first repeating rifle. dude, you need to go on Red State, they’ll welcome you like a long lost bro.

  24. Matt McKeon says:

    The new policy just recognizes what is already happening: women in the US armed forces are in combat. They have been for years.

  25. Laen says:

    Speaking from my experience in the army.

    First, this is mostly about the change in style of units. From large divisions to smaller brigades. It was becoming extremely difficult to fill positions in the brigades and still keep up the illusion of keeping women out of front line combat units. The army doesn’t actually care about equality, it does care about keeping readiness levels.

    Second, the only reason I would have problems with letting women into combat MOS’s is due to the different standards for women and men when it comes to physical fitness. This is easily solved. Put together a study, define standards of fitness required for the different MOS’s and apply that standard across the board. There are plenty of women who are physically and mentally capable of being infantry/tankers/cavalry if there is a single set standard that everyone has to meet. Different standards for different jobs is fine, different standards for men and women in the same job will cause problems with morale and unit cohesion.

    To be clear. Women are already in combat and this a good step to recognize this and get rid of stupid rules. The next step should be to set standards for MOS’s and apply those across the board and allow women into every MOS.

    • MikeJake says:

      I would think male soldiers would be thrilled to have women officially serving in combat if it meant that the Army would reconsider the preposterous weight of equipment they expect them to lug around.

      Has there been any attempt to quantify the rate of knee and back problems our soldiers suffer after serving?

      • Laen says:

        Urban legend is that infantry lose 1/4 inch height per year in infantry due to carrying weight and joint/spinal compression.

        Another urban legend, meaning I don’t know for sure if it’s true, is that a SF study on using mules/donkeys in Afghanistan showed how much by percentage of body weight they should carry without being damaged. Soldiers were well over that percentage.

        MRE’s are vacuum packed and made to be carried by soldiers, they are still field stripped to get rid of items to take up less space and weight.

        Soldiers take parts off of their body armor to carry less weight or gain mobility/flex ability.

        It’s a huge issue, but I doubt women in the MOS’s will change any of that.

        • MikeJake says:

          http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/11/one_of_the_most_worrisome_things_ive_seen_about_the_soldiers_load_undermanned_units

          According to the briefing in the link, overburdened soldiers seems to be mainly a function of:

          1) Less personnel in combat units.

          2) A panoply of electronic gizmos plus batteries, used for tasks such as jamming remote IED detonation signals.

          I have to think that allowing women in combat is less of a victory for women than it appears on the surface, because part of the reason why we have manpower shortages is due to our military’s philosophy on how personnel should be deployed. We seem to be reaching the limit of how much firepower can be substituted for manpower.

          • Laen says:

            While amount of troops does make some difference it isn’t the primary driver that I have seen.

            IED jammers. We had these while in Iraq, we were forced to wear them. Three people wearing these 30 pound backpacks in a triangle formation supposedly setup an overlapping field that would block signals for remote IEDs.

            So we tested it. Set them at the correct distance and formation, which you could never keep while actually patrolling anyway, and tried different communications. Our regular comms, inter-platoon comms, squad comms, cheapo walkie talkies…everything. They all worked fine. They weren’t supposed to. Also people made cell phone calls from within the formation which wasn’t supposed to work. They did nothing, you could use comms with the packs on your back.

            Orders required us take them out. I heard a rumor that people would go through short doorways, in and out of vehicles and break the antenna’s off so they wouldn’t have to take them out as there were very few replacement antenna’s. Just another urban legend I’m sure. =)

          • Laen says:

            Oh and as for the victory for women and equality in the military, my first comment covered that. It is a step in equality, but I doubt it was the driving reason for the change.

  26. Winchester says:

    Many women would give up their vote in a HEARTBEAT if it meant that right-ordered marriage, family and sexuality was restored to our culture. Many women would rather that their little female namesakes grow up in a world where they did not have the right to vote, but were treated with dignity and respect, were addressed as “ma’am”, had doors held for them, and wherein men stood up when they entered the room.

    Why wouldn’t they?

  27. Winchy says:

    —Abortion is murder.

  28. Winchester says:

    Over 50 million innocent babies (pre born human beings) were MURDERED in the last forty years.

  29. Winchester says:

    ” 1) Obama officially renounces torture. At the same time: he appeals to the principle of the state secret to block any judicial oversight of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” opening the way for their exceptional use without fear of legal consequences for the perpetrators.

    2) Obama reasserts the principle of habeas corpus, the principle that protects against unlimited arbitratry detention without appeal. At the same time he asserts an exception for suspects considered terrorist threats. Given what we’ve seen about the malleability and indeterminacy of threat, and its way of short-circuiting objective evaluation and affectively legitimating foregone conclusions, this is hole that that can easily rip into a full-spectrum gash.

    3) Obama announces a desire to return to accepted norms of judicial procedure. At the same time, he institutionalizes trial by military commission for individuals deemed “unlawful combattants.” The concept of the military commissions is to lower the bar of what constitutes admissible evidence and to restrict a suspect’s rights to legal defense – in short, to stack the decks. Obama is different from Bush on this. His idea has been to close Guantanamo and institute the military commissions on domestic soil: basically, to repatriate this form of exception.

    4) Obama reaffirms US adherence to the Geneva Convention and the international laws of war. At the same time he expands the Bush-era system of secret “black sites” into which unlawful combattants disappear without a trace. In tandem with this, he unleashes the CIA, extending its mandate beyond information gathering to military special-operation interventions, so that the CIA becomes a full-spectrum paramilitary force unto itself, carrying out its shadowy preemptive war games under the cover of secrecy provided by its black sites. In an inverse action, he issues secret Executive Orders giving the Pentagon’s US Special Operations Command CIA-like surveillance capabilities, buckling the full-spectrum loop of exceptional force . This preemptive organ reports directly to the president personally without any form of judicial oversight or Congressional oversight, keeping it perpetually poised for instant delivery of extralegal action on demand.

    5) Obama talks the talk of human rights, to relieved UN and European Union ears. At the same time, he walks the walk of targetted assassination. The practice of targetted assassination has expanded significantly under Obama. It is contrary to the laws of war and international norms concerning the right to a fair trial. But exception is regularly made. The fact that the US is still not a member of the International Criminal Court helps. Obama has even extended targetted assassination to US citizens.

    6) Obama has waxed long on his respect for civil rights on the home front. At the same time he used the national security rationale to institute exceptions to constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. And he has expanded the high-tech surveillance system to unprecedented levels. Legal limits are placed on surveillance of private individuals’ communications, but state secrets can be invoked to prevent”

    — Brian Massumi

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