Secret meeting at Harvard to scrap Geneva convention

loupaulsen at loupaulsen at
Wed Jan 29 15:20:39 MST 2003

Once again we are at the interface between real news and news.
[For those outside the U.S.: The Onion is a satiric newspaper/website which
was originally founded at the University of Wisconsin.]  The subject line of
this post would have been appropriate for an Onion article, I would have
thought.  But, if this column, which is the first I have heard about all this,
can be believed, it is no more than sober fact: there is in fact a meeting
going on at Harvard, a secret meeting, for the purpose of defanging the Geneva
Convention and international law in general as it relates to the slaughter of

Unless of course Dinah PoKempner, identified as general counsel of Human
Rights Watch, is just making it all up.

Things move quickly.  A couple hours ago I was writing a leaflet for tonight's
demonstration which reads, in part:

'While Bush invents fantasies about Iraq killing millions of Americans, the
U.S. is planning to kill millions of Iraqi civilians, without even trying to
hide it.  CBS News quoted a Pentagon official saying that "There will be no
safe place in Baghdad" when they "take down the city" in a simultaneous
barrage of more cruise missiles than were used in the whole 1991 war.  War
planners boast that they will create a Hiroshima-style holocaust, knocking out
water and power and plunging the city into darkness, fire, thirst, starvation,
and plague.'

This game plan, which was described in a CBS Evening News article a couple
days ago which was posted here (here it is again)

goes under the name of "Shock and Awe".  This is the name of a book by the
real-life and utterly unfunny Dr. Evil of our generation, one Harlan Ullman.
Here is a negative review from the Naval War College, which says that 'the
reader is the one who is shocked.'  A book too bloodthirsty for the Navy!!
Or: naval brass too wimpy and soft for the hard blood-and-iron realities of
the day!! No wonder Rumsfeld felt the need to shake up the Pentagon
bureaucracy when he got in!!  An interesting tidbit from the review is that
Ullman cites the NAZI HOLOCAUST as an example of "shock and awe", that
strategy which he is urging the military readership to adopt.

A précis of "Shock and Awe" is on line here:

Here is a bio of Ullman:

in which you learn that Ullman is running his own consulting firm now and has
a degree in Diplomacy and Peace Studies, which in and of itself adds about 10
points to the Onion Score of the whole thing.

Anyway, my leaflet draft went on:

'Instead of interrupting his speech with 73 rounds of applause, Congress
should immediately impeach George Bush and call for the indictment of his war
planners for conspiracy to commit war crimes in violation of the Geneva
Convention and the U.N. Charter.'

However, I didn't think that Bush was actually WORRYING about this.  I didn't
think that the shadow of the gallows at Nuremburg was really bothering
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.  I thought that the strategy of aggressively ignoring
international law was working well enough for them.  I mean, they have been
doing it anyway, international law or not -  viz., bombing Iraq's water supply
in 1991, which they kept secret for a while, and then bombing Yugoslavia's
civilian targets in 1999, which they didn't bother to keep secret.

But in fact it seems as if they are working on obsolescing my leaflet.  From
the column:

".. the planners of US-style war find the standard interpretations of
international law a hindrance and an irrelevancy and wish to make exceptions
for US purposes."

"This explains the US view that it is acceptable to attack civilian morale in
the form of nonmilitary targets whose destruction can undermine public support
for war: turning the lights off in Belgrade or Baghdad, targeting the enemy's
industrialist supporters, destroying civilian propaganda outlets or symbols of
the regime such as monuments or civilian administration. [This is an obvious
reference to the whole Shock and Awe business.  I -assume- PoKempner is being
drily ironic when she lumps 'civilian administrators' in with 'monuments' -
LPa] All are off-limits under international law, which limits attacks to
targets that make a direct contribution to military action."
"The way Americans approach the issue of civilian casualties is different as
well. The law forbids attacks where the cost to civilian lives and property
will be excessive in relation to the direct and concrete military advantage of
achieving a particular target. Americans, and to some degree the British, wish
to equate the idea of an ''attack'' with an entire campaign, an overall
military objective, or even a political objective such as ''regime change.''"

But, warns PoKempner, "such logic would justify an enemy carpet-bombing
Washington to produce shock and swift capitulation."  OR, for that matter,
flying a couple of planes into the World Trade Center.  It makes you wonder if
Osama found a copy of "Shock and Awe" on back in 1998.

And so you have this meeting at Harvard, of which I for one was previously
unware, apparently designed to redesign the Geneva Convention to suit the
sensibilities of Harlan Ullman.  "The fact that Switzerland, upon the
objection of some states, refused to admit the media or civil society groups
to the meeting at Harvard should raise alarm bells."

PoKempner goes on to warn of the problems that could result: "Civilians the
world over would suffer the consequences of military forces that were less
adept, less scrupulous, and less responsive to democratic outrage."  Less than
THE UNITED STATES, she means.  You might wonder who could POSSIBLY be "less
responsive to democratic outrage [!!!!]" than the United States has been.  Is
there anything colder than absolute zero?

I personally would be curious to hear anything else that the assiduous members
of this list may find out about this Harvard meeting.

Lou Paulsen

PLEASE clip all extraneous text before replying to a message.

More information about the Marxism mailing list