Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Befehl ist Befehl

--Why don't you go to the police?
--I'm my own police

Gun for Hire (1942)

His hope was to remind the world

that fairness, justice, and freedom

are more than words,

they are perspectives

--V is for Vendetta

It's just murder. All God's creatures do it.

You look in the forests and you see

species killing other species,

our species killing all species including the forest,
and we just call it industry, not murder
--Natural Born Killers

Commissar Order (Hitler):

"As a matter of principle, they will be shot at once, whether captured during operations or otherwise showing resistance."

Partisan Order (Field Marshal Keitel):

"This fight has nothing to do with the soldierly gallantry or principles of the Geneva Conventions."

"If the fight against the partisans in the East as well as the Balkans, is not waged with the most brutal means ..."

Using the "N" word may not be politically-correct, but the President's kill orders are Nazi in origin, concept and execution. Like the Nazi Commissar and Partisan orders, both create a class of persons deemed unfit to live.

In our post-Nuremberg world, war lords like Slobodan Milosevic and
Charles Taylor face imprisonment for their crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, President Obama plays dice with people's lives by conducting extrajudicial killings. It is Ranger's contention that killing one man unjustly is the same as killing six million -- it is simply a matter of magnitude rather than morality.

Murder can only be justified by State action if it has a legitimate end that gains more than than it loses. Slate
magazine today succinctly gives that justification for drone warfare the lie: "The politics of drone war drains the proverbial sea of America’s ideological supporters and undermines the only basis for waging effective war: popular support of the people who feel threatened" (Hatred: What Drones Sow).

The question is a simple one: By what authority, be it legal or moral, may the U.S. President oversee targeted kills? Obviously, as Commander in Chief, he must provide oversight for military killing (= "warfare")
, but Predator marauding is not warfare.

The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency without a legitimate mandate to kill anyone.
The authority vested in the office of President as C-in-C does not extend to non-military applications of violence.

Further, what is the reason for launching missiles in places like Yemen? Do we believe that the people being vaporized are threats to the national interests of the United States? Have we lost the ability to prioritize threats, and the brain power to realize that near and far threats are not the same thing?

Al Qaeda in Yemen is a a Yemeni and Saudi problem. When did the U.S. become their hired gun? The U.S. is not at war there, and the might and power of the U.S. war-making machine cannot legally be applied to individuals or non-State players. The definition of war precludes the use of State death-dealing.

Hitler's and Keitel's orders were issued during a declared and clearly-defined war. Commissars and partisans were not soldiers, but they were enemy personnel openly carrying arms. These orders were illegal but the intent was based upon military logic, even if a perverted logic. Where does the U.S. logic lie?

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. reported that President Truman was physically sickened by his decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, by making the decision Truman was acting within his authority during a general war scenario. Truman was also a World War I artilleryman and familiar with death in an up-close and personal way; his decisions were presumably not made blithely.

In a democracy we need civilian leaders with humanity at their core, rather than the coolness of a mafia don. We fete Obama's detached coolness when he nods his head sanctioning another official murder, but do not question how Obama's actions are different from those of Hitler. How different from war lords Milosevic, or Taylor?

How did men like Cheney, George W. Bush, Obama and Romney gain their lust for killing? What is my role in this deadly drama, as my tax dollars help pay for the missiles that rein death from the skies?

When Hellfire missiles become the symbol of America, and when our Democratic party leaders embrace assassination, then where are we as a nation? Why are we o.k. with our leaders acting like the Partisan Order is the standard operating procedure for our nation?

When neither political party will demand Enlightenment values, then we are walled up in a town called Nuremberg.

[cross-posted @ RangerAgainstWar]


  1. I'm no friend of inflationary Hitler comparisons, and it is perfectly possible to make the point without one. I think you miss that in Hitler's case, the action was not the killing of a handful of people, not the killing of commisars and partisans alone, but of dozens, sometimes hundreds of civilians, knowingly targeting non-partisans in order to make the population turn against the partisans as "responsible for their misery" so that they would deliver the actual partisans.

    And that is not even addressing the point that with any Nazi comparison, that other atrocity is immediately conjured up in the back of people's minds, intended or not. It has nothing to do with political correctness that Nazi comparisons are frowned upon, but that such comparisons have come cheaper by the dozen, and that as is the case with any inflation, inflationary use devalues the comparison. In the end, what comparing everyone and their mother to Hitler and Nazism does is nothing less than trivializing Nazi atrocities - intended or not. Because in the end, when Obama, Reagan, Thatcher, Arafat, Ahmadinejad you name it were/are like Hitler, Hitler's deeds can't have been so extraordinary after all, can they?

    I said it's perfectly possible to make the case without a Hitler comparison because one of your core questions is easily answered: "By what authority, be it legal or moral, may the U.S. President oversee targeted kills?"

    Answer: Unless such killings happen within the US, none. Because any and all authority he holds is granted to him by the US Constitution. Outside the US, that's little more than a slip of paper of academic interest. He cannot hold any legal authority in Pakistan, because he doesn't hold any legal authority there. And he can hardly have any moral authority there when he is ordering what is essentially an act of vigilantism.

    The problem with that line of argumentation, though, is that he is not alone in that. Heck, even US courts have repeatedly overstepped their authorities by usurping jurisdiction over events in other countries where they hold no authority whatsoever. Very recently, a US court has even tried to void a verdict by a German court by prohibiting the plaintiff, a US company, from actually enforcing what German courts have found to be its legal right within Germany.

    And as long as the attitude that the rest of the planet is just a US colony which best abide by US laws OR ELSE is so prevalent, one shouldn't be surprised if the man at the top does what people with such an attitude expect of him.Especially when he depends on their votes...

    In the end, Obama clearly wants to get reelected. Given his alternatives, namely ground action à la bin Laden, which is little better than drone wars, and large scale level bombing, which is a lot worse, he's minimizing the damage.

    If voters expected him to work through proper channels, I would assume chances that he would do so would be quite a bit higher. As long as even the fact that he had bin Laden killed doesn't save him from being accused of being soft on terror (unlike for example other nations were there were serious concerns if it shouldn't have been possible to get him alive), he's pretty much in a catch-22 if he wants to "survive" politically. His chief political goal at the moment is reelection. If the masses demand terrorists' heads for that, he has to deliver. That's not to condone his actions - just to say things could be a whole lot worse.

  2. Clausewitz,
    Thanks for your thoughtful and concise reply.
    I accept all that you opine, but i couldn't resist the cheap N shot.
    The main cmt re;Obomba is that Congress authorized him to use military force where ever, whenever to fight Terrorism/AQ. I guess this means predator strikes are authorized here in FL.
    The fact is that i agree he has the right/authority as C in C to order military action that is deadly, even if i don't agree that it's war making. The rub is that the CIA is not a military org. and they are doing the incorrect death dealing.
    How did a intel agency become a strike force?
    I reckon the folks in the death camps said- things could be a lot worse.
    Thanks for writing and being so constructive.

  3. I think Claus misses an important point that you bring up indirectly jim . . .

    What was the Führerprinzip? How was it applied? What were the implications?

    I feel a post coming on . . .

  4. I read somewhere that a few eastern front Wehrmacht generals ignored the Kommissarbefehl. That is more than our flag officers have done lately. And what about Ludwig Beck, have we ever had an O-10 that resigned due to disagreements with POTUS?

    And wasn't Commissar Order rescinded??? Maybe Effendi Hitler countermanded it because the Red Army got rid of their political commissars in 42. Not sure on the date, I think they were on and off, on and off. They probably had a high casualty ratio - from their own troops, not from the Germans. Or perhaps the commissars decided that combat was not to their liking and they decide to turn in their uniforms and go proselytize the home front.

    In any case the Russkies got their vengeance. Arguably half a million German POWs died in Soviet custody. 1.5 million Soviet citizens of ethnic German descent were transported to the Siberian Gulag and half a million never survived. Plus during the Red Army entrance into Germany at the end of the war rape and murder were encouraged as weapons of retribution.

  5. mike,
    You are describing the ultimate war of regime change.
    Both sides were determined to erase the other from the pages of history.
    Not a good war time goal even if it's quantifiable and observable.
    War must be based in reality, but pls don't mention our MAD policy.

  6. mike,
    The template of the russo-nazi war was hatred and racial desire of hitler to eliminate lower forms of mankind.
    Hatred was pounded into the german mind by propaganda.
    Now for my sunny interpretation an generalizing to today.
    We have been doing the very same thing to IRAN since 79 and it WILL END UP WITH A HOT WAR SOME DAY involving US forces. I'm sure of this and bet my bars on it. Just listen to Panetta's/obombas/hrc's elevated recent rhetoric.We like Hitler and Stalin NEED external threats who are easy to ass kick. Example- Austria /Serbia which brought us a wonderful little war.Example US and Afgh/Irq.
    Since i'm on a roll i never could understand in ww2 why BR/Fr declared war on Germ for invading Poland , BUT NOT ON RUSSIA. My simple ranger lizard brain can't wrap around this.
    I see US policy as screwed as any i've ever studied.
    I appreciate your comments and participation.
    I was afraid that you were still frosted over my ambushing you a while ago.

  7. "Since i'm on a roll i never could understand in ww2 why BR/Fr declared war on Germ for invading Poland , BUT NOT ON RUSSIA."

    Agreed. I have thought on that for years. And never come up with a good answer. While it is true that the Soviets did not actually invade Poland until two weeks after France and England declared war on Hitler, why did they not follow through and declare war against the Soviets? My opinion (perhaps biased) tends to blame the well known penchant for deviousness in England's foreign policy - 'perfidious Albion' and all that.

    Churchill stated two weeks later: "That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace." Strange words since the Russia was sending huge amounts of war material to Hitler at that time.

    Later, at the end of the war, Churchill (and FDR) gave Stalin that part of eastern Poland that he had invaded in 39 to become part of the Ukraine and Byelorussia. Devious deal making indeed.

  8. what ambush??? I remember no such incident.

  9. jim-

    "i never could understand in ww2 why BR/Fr declared war on Germ for invading Poland , BUT NOT ON RUSSIA."

    Interest. How could it have been in the interest of Britain and France to go to war with half the world? Germany was enough of a target, almost too much as history was to show . . . I would add that had Finland lasted longer in the Winter War of 1940 against the Red Army, the history of the Second World War may have been much different . . .

  10. I would add that had Finland lasted longer in the Winter War of 1940 against the Red Army, the history of the Second World War may have been much different . . .

    I wish I had kept the book, but there was a historian who wrote a collection of "Alternate Histories". One postulated FDR rebuffing Hitler's declaration of war against the US as meaningless and putting the bulk of US resources to a vigorous and almost exclusive response to Japan, diluting Lend Lease materials to the UK and Soviets to support a massive response in the Pacific. Germany sure had its hand full occupying all that territory in the following years................

  11. Al,
    So-are implying that the causus belli was a sham?

  12. No, jim. Forgive me for not being clear. It was fiction, meant to entertain. Gave fabricated policy discussions based on his alternate "what ifs", etc. Was not a critique on what really happened, but what could have happened if certain key persons had acted differently. The book had several "short stories", each with a different point in American history being subjected to a different basic twist of one element.

    In the case of FDR and WWII, it looked at what could have been the result of his taking a Japan First, rather than a Europe First attitude, complete with fictional reasons why. IIRC, the reasons driving the "alternate version" included emotional response, a bit of overt racism, FDR thinking Hitler was really in over his head, and one policy advisor talking about the age old "never get into a protracted land war in Europe" thinking. Because of the ramped up Pacific timetable, there wasn't the nuke available, so significant manpower was needed for the much earlier liberation of the Philippines and invasion of the Japanese homeland, etc.

    The author was proposing nothing, other than an interesting read.

  13. Al,
    I just read Artur Schlesingers-Cycles of American History, 1983 cy. It was really great.
    Also i just read a work called-why nations go to war by Stoessinger. 1971.
    Both were great over views, but my point is that some people understand the big picture , and others love THE BRISTOL PALIN reality show.
    I like to read the cold country detective novels as decompression and escapist lit, b/c they are in accordance with your last sentence.