Saturday, October 25, 2014

Resignation in protest: a Foreign Policy essay by Peter D. Feaver

Prof. Peter D. Feaver
Duke University Professor Peter D. Feaver has written this thought-provoking essay for ForeignPolicy.com on resignation as a form of protest by military officers. When you read it, be sure to look at the comments that follow.

Do you agree with the dim view Prof. Feaver takes of military resignations in protest? Certainly we lack a tradition of such resignations, but can you think of situations in which resignation was called for? For example, should the Judge Advocates General have resigned, rather that merely pushing back, when they learned that U.S. officials were torturing people? Tom Ricks has written that
they became the first line of defense against the use of torture and other [George W.] Bush Administration transgressions because they were "double professionals," heedful of their dual duties both as officers and as lawyers. This made them more likely to refuse to break the law or tell others to do so.
True enough. But why not resign and drive the point home? As the editor's favorite author wrote in "Where is the Courage to Walk Away?" in Navy Times in 2005, "memos that do not see the light of day until years later, and then only when pried out of the government by determined senators, are no substitute."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dutch court rejects challenge to military member

Col. Thom Karremanns
A court in Arnhem yesterday rejected a request that a military judge be disqualified in a case seeking a criminal prosecution of Col. Thom Karremanns, the commander of the Dutch Battalion at Srebrenica, and two others. From the judgment:
Grounds of the objection 
In support of the recusal request -- in short -- the following arguments were presented. 
The details of this case require the application of Article 68, paragraph 3 of the Judicial Organisation Law to this specific case, in violation of Art. 6, ECHR. Applicants claim that the refusal of the prosecution to prosecute the accused is a direct result of too close involvement of the Ministry of Defence in the prosecution in this case. The Ministry of Defence should therefore not be re-involved with it to decide whether or not prosecution is required (in this case, by a military court).
The applicants' argument that the Ministry of Defence has interfered too much with this case is -- according to the applicants -- based on the following facts and circumstances: 
Firstly, the Ministry of Defence manipulated the facts in its favor, and has repeatedly knowingly chosen to ignore them and tell untruths; 
Secondly, there are indications that the Ministry of Defence caused evidence to disappear; 
Thirdly, the Ministry of Defence has interfered with the criminal investigation. For the applicants, it is too opaque or in the final stages influence was used to prevent a prosecution of the accused by the Ministry of Defence 
Counsel argued that the fact that military judges are appointed "in consultation with Our Minister of Defence" by Royal Decree makes them highly dependent on the Ministry of Defence and, in view of these facts and circumstances, they cannot judge the complaint impartially. In that regard, counsel referred to case law of the European Court of Human Rights. It is for this reason that they challenged the military member of the Chamber, Commodore R.R.H. Laurens. The aforementioned drawbacks, however, apply not only against him, but against any other military member. 
The applicants claim that the law and the nature of the complaint case, in the light of the requirements of Article 6 ECHR, contemplate this complaint, in derogation from the general rule in Article 68, paragraph 3 of the Judicial Organisation Law . . .

Colombian recruiting roundups criticized

This El Nuevo Dia op-ed compellingly describes the Colombia Army's roundups of youths who cannot produce their military registration card. The practice was forbidden in 2011 by the Constitutional Court but continues to be employed. From the op-ed:
Nor can the military authorities take citizens to the barracks or military districts, hold them for long periods in order to force them to sign up, subject them to medical tests, cut their hair and if they are suitable enlist and transfer them to combat zones. We understand that military service is a duty of every male citizen who meets the requirements. However, it is the duty of the State and its institutions to defend and guarantee human rights, human dignity and the individual freedom. Therefore, in no event can a citizen be detained by the army in a raid, whether or not he has his military registration card. [Rough Google translation]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Increased attention to rule of law proposed for PLA

Rule of law will now become a major focus for the People's Liberation Army. According to this Xinhua report:
The PLA has had a tradition of enforcing strict discipline during its 87 years of history, but it is far from achieving comprehensive rule of law, said Professor Wang Fa'an of the PLA Academy of Military Sciences.
PROBLEMS
The PLA has not shaken off the shadows of the "rule of man," which was deeply rooted in China's past feudal rule for thousands of years, professor Wang said.
The Chinese army arose and evolved from isolated revolutionary bases scattered in the country's vast rural areas, and its management relied heavily on commanders' experience and will.
Late Chairman Mao Zedong was determined to standardize the army and instill rule of law after the founding of New China in 1949, but efforts were hindered by political movements, including the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
The PLA's modernization drive calls for the transition from the "rule of man" toward the "rule of law," but it is no easy task, Wang said.
Wang pointed out some problems, such as soldiers and officers who would rather obey commanders' orders than military laws and rules, and others who don't know how to perform duties without instructions from superiors. Servicemen's weak legal awareness also hinders rule of law in military operations, said Wang.
Tuesday's PLA Daily article by Major General Pan Liangshi, commander of the PLA Beijing Garrison Command, said existing military laws are incomplete and inconsistent, mainly covering the army's daily routine but lacking provisions for operational combat, which often causes confusion in joint exercises.
Pan suggested every aspect of the military, including training, battle and command, be done in accordance with rule of law, and commanders should have a legal mind.

Vienna memorial to victims of Nazi military justice


Tomorrow Austria will dedicate a memorial in Vienna to those deserters and others who were executed by the military justice system under the Nazi regime for deserting or refusing to serve. According to this report, "Nazi military justice handed out more than 30,000 death sentences to soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians." Taking part in the Ballhausplatz ceremony will be Austrian President Heinz Fischer and 92-year-old Richard Wadani (above), one of the few surviving Wehrmacht deserters. Similar memorials are being planned for Linz and Bregenz.