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Stopping Genocide & war crimes questions


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I'd like to keep this as non-political and theoretical as possible.   Let's say the actions of a theoretical President directly led to another country committing genocide.  Whether his motives are genuine isolationism or simply political distraction is unknown, but this person won't budge.   Let's say the rest of Congress and the Senate are united against these actions, but they don't have powers over the military.  What can be done to stop the genocide without the cooperation of the President? 

Can the American government do anything without his consent?

Can & would the international government do anything without his consent?

And as an aside, is bombing hospitals a war crime?

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tbh: this is not the first time that particular country has committed genocide and the entire world stood by and watched.  their previous committing of genocide is where hitler got the idea he could get away with it.

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Purposefully bombing civilian targets is considered a war crime, as I understand it.

The international community, through the UN, can indeed issue a condemnation, send aid or troops... but probably cannot in this case because of political reasons.

Congress could potentially do something about it. They can issue resolutions, fund or defund various actions, or even declare war. As I understand the separation of powers, they can't order troops to do this or that specifically. I don't think any of that is likely.

The Kurds should be our natural allies, IMHO. This is genocide. I don't know how we leave out the political context entirely, which is that - whether you agree or disagree with anything about it, this administration has lost respect and leverage abroad and also has publicly not seemed to understand some key things at various points. Maybe, in the most forgiving terms, that was a strategy or something, but it's now how it's being thought of abroad, which is the context for this action.

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2 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Purposefully bombing civilian targets is considered a war crime, as I understand it.

The international community, through the UN, can indeed issue a condemnation, send aid or troops... but probably cannot in this case because of political reasons.

Congress could potentially do something about it. They can issue resolutions, fund or defund various actions, or even declare war. As I understand the separation of powers, they can't order troops to do this or that specifically. I don't think any of that is likely.

The Kurds should be our natural allies, IMHO. This is genocide. I don't know how we leave out the political context entirely, which is that - whether you agree or disagree with anything about it, this administration has lost respect and leverage abroad and also has publicly not seemed to understand some key things at various points. Maybe, in the most forgiving terms, that was a strategy or something, but it's now how it's being thought of abroad, which is the context for this action.

 

I think the only way to hope it stays non-political is to discuss genocide specifically and stay far away from other polarizing political topics in the news as of late.

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Just now, Katy said:

 

I think the only way to hope it stays non-political is to discuss genocide specifically and stay far away from other polarizing political topics in the news as of late.

I get that, but genocide doesn't happen in a vacuum. There's always a political context. Acting like that's not part of the recipe for preventing genocide feels naive to me. Not that I'm saying you're being naive - I know you're trying to discuss and be inside board rules.

The Kurdish situation isn't the only genocide happening right now, I'll add. China has yet again stepped up actions in Xinjiang. They've started moving Uighers to regular prisons, which I think signals a new stage in the genocide there. Another action happening while we all sit around and... watch, mostly powerless. And part of being mostly powerless - which, I think we're almost always mostly powerless, but it feels especially true right now - is that when a nation has less prestige and leverage they also have less power to influence things like this or stop them. The savvier and smarter the more powerful nations are, the more leverage they have, and the more committed they are to stopping genocide, the more likely they are to actually stop it. Right now, none of those things are true for the US.

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1 minute ago, Thatboyofmine said:

I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of days.  Was a hospital bombed?

 

I haven't seen it on news yet, I saw it posted on social media by an immigration attorney I know who was quoting someone else, not famous.  Apparently it's all over twitter, so it will probably be on the news in 12-24 hours, depending on how long it takes for it to be confirmed by someone there.

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@Farrar You're probably right about it not happening in a vacuum. But rules.

I wasn't aware of the situation in China. 

I haven't followed the news very closely since the last presidential election.  More recently because even though most of the time I'm fine and it's been more than a year since my last baby I've found I'm just more emotionally sensitive to these topics and I'm happier when I stick to things I have some sort of control over.  Does being more sensitive come from hormones around the age of 40, or is it just sleep deprivation?  At any rate when I've been especially worried about the current status and have asked for specifics here before I've usually been calmed if not comforted.

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Katy, I've had to step away from the news also, and I'm in my 40s.  I watch CNN10 and PBS Newshour only, they are balanced enough that I can handle it. Many other channels have become remarkably uncivil, intolerant, and divisive.

 I've become much more involved in my local community trying to do good where I can.  In fact, my dh is out taking my daughters to meet our local congresswoman right now so that they have a good example of a caring, compassionate leader who listens to others respectfully that she disagrees with. We volunteer in our community and I've put my boys through logic and rhetoric classes so that they can be more discerning in what they hear.

Congress has a check against any president by controlling the purse strings and by creating legislation. Federal courts can likewise intervene against a president's executive orders.  Here's a bit more background: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commander_in_chief_powers

I would like to see some of the post 9/11 legislation (specifically AUMF) reined back in. We've lost a lot of protections and safeguards in the post 9/11 world.

Bombing hospitals is generally a war crime, but there are some limited exceptions. The ICC charges individuals, not governments.  The US has not joined the ICC (Clinton signed the Rome Statute but W backed us out of it), so its citizens are not subject to its jurisdiction. The US (non)relationship with the ICC is long and convoluted, so let me give you a wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_and_the_International_Criminal_Court

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Have you ever read "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power? I don't feel that America's response to genocide today differs all that much from our typical response in the past.

I mull over the problem of genocide a lot, and as it continues to occur fairly often, generally unimpeded, I've grown quite cynical about attempts to stop one in progress.  Condemnations, resolutions, peace talks, cease fires, embargoes all have limited value, especially when the offending country has no intention to honor its promises.  Force (war) has better potential to stop a genocide, but how does one avoid perpetual war to stop genocides from occurring all over this planet? I hate to entertain the thought that genocide may be some cyclical tendency of human nature, but it sure is hard to avoid coming to that conclusion sometimes.  This list is sobering (and it is not even current) https://www.genocidewatch.com/genocide-and-politicide

Possibly too political... but in the situation I believe you are alluding to with the theoretical U.S. president, the government of the other country has already been committing genocide with impunity since at least 2014, despite many overtures by other countries to restrain it.

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12 hours ago, Cecropia said:

Have you ever read "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power? I don't feel that America's response to genocide today differs all that much from our typical response in the past.

I mull over the problem of genocide a lot, and as it continues to occur fairly often, generally unimpeded, I've grown quite cynical about attempts to stop one in progress.  Condemnations, resolutions, peace talks, cease fires, embargoes all have limited value, especially when the offending country has no intention to honor its promises.  Force (war) has better potential to stop a genocide, but how does one avoid perpetual war to stop genocides from occurring all over this planet? I hate to entertain the thought that genocide may be some cyclical tendency of human nature, but it sure is hard to avoid coming to that conclusion sometimes.  This list is sobering (and it is not even current) https://www.genocidewatch.com/genocide-and-politicide

Possibly too political... but in the situation I believe you are alluding to with the theoretical U.S. president, the government of the other country has already been committing genocide with impunity since at least 2014, despite many overtures by other countries to restrain it.

 

I haven't read the book, but I see it's on Audible.  It's going in the cart.  Thank you.

9 hours ago, Chris in VA said:

I will just say that, what with Iran and Syria/Turkey situations, I am a little bit scared to live here in Israel, for the first time. 

 

I have a friend working with an NGO with Syrian refugees.  Praying for both of you.

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11 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

There are many dictators far worse than him.  I don’t disagree with you in theory, but how do you ‘deal with a leader’ without leaving a power vacuum OR spending years and millions creating what is essentially a sphere of influence, if not essentially a colonial government?  And recent conflicts show that as soon as there is an attempt to step back or pull out (Iraq springs to mind) it all goes belly up.

We STILL have troops in Japan and Germany.  For example.  And while I’m not actually opposed to occupations of varying types, the tradeoff is imposing a standard of governance and diplomacy that suits the UN/US/EU/Western vision, but can’t necessarily be sustained without active participation by those governments for many, many years.  And that’s invasive, expensive, and causes its own set of problems with autonomy and human rights, sometimes.  This isn’t new, I can think of instances in the last seven administrations off the top of my head.

It’s easier to say “SOLVE IT!” than to actually commit the enormous amount of resources, lives, and fiscal burden of doing so.  And it’s not some unmitigated good with no downsides for the country with a deposed leader and supported/propped new government or out and out colonial control, either.

There are so many heartbreaking problems in the world, many of which don’t seem to get much airtime (I’ve been following the Uighur issue for, gosh, at least five or six years?).  But sanctions only go so far against these governments when other counties, like China or Russia, are more than willing to do business that the EU and US won’t touch.  And now I’m thoroughly depressed for the night 😭

I think we still have troops in Japan and Germany because it is strategically beneficial to us to have troops and equipment there. We just put 1000 more troops and some reaper drones into Poland this week because of Russia’s rumblings near the border. And, arguably, Syria has been a proxy war for us as well. Russia and Iran will have a stronger position in Syria as a result of US withdrawal. If you look at satellite photography, Russia already has a naval base at Tartarus and an air base at Khmeimem.

Frankly, we tend to act when it’s to our strategic benefit to do so, and rarely out of altruism. 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I think we still have troops in Japan and Germany because it is strategically beneficial to us to have troops and equipment there. We just put 1000 more troops and some reaper drones into Poland this week because of Russia’s rumblings near the border. And, arguably, Syria has been a proxy war for us as well. Russia and Iran will have a stronger position in Syria as a result of US withdrawal. If you look at satellite photography, Russia already has a naval base at Tartarus and an air base at Khmeimem.

Frankly, we tend to act when it’s to our strategic benefit to do so, and rarely out of altruism. 

 

That is, quite frankly, what is so troubling about this most recent incident. It was/is beneficial to our national/strategic interests to remain. It was not beneficial to the individual who made the decision, however.

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There was a stalemate that seemed to be working. It was far from ideal, but it was working. There was a buffer zone that Turkey didn’t like, but the Kurds were protected. Clearly Turkey decided it was worth it to break that stalemate. I put it squarely on the US that Turkey thought that, The US could have made it very clear that it would not be acceptable, and that it would cost Turkey too much to do it. Instead, the US shrugged and cleared the way for it to happen. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 

That is, quite frankly, what is so troubling about this most recent incident. It was/is beneficial to our national/strategic interests to remain. It was not beneficial to the individual who made the decision, however.

Yep. The theoretical leader has business ties to the theoretical country committing genocide. It's definitely a conflict of interest .

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5 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

But how does this factor in the current moves Turkey has been making in the UN with regard to the establishment of territory and the Kurds?  This wasn’t entirely on the US, they’ve been pushing on the other end for months and votes have already been had.  Additionally, given Turkey’s UN ally status, which doesn’t extend to the Kurds, there was a bit more at stake in terms of triaging relationships.  Hence why I quoted above about the friend vs. ally status.

I don’t particularly agree with the action or timing, but painting it as simple political expedience isn’t particularly accurate, either.  It does fit a stated agenda of pulling back from foreign intervention, especially where other allied governments can be held accountable.  And this isn’t unique to the current administration, lest we forget Iraq and Syria, among others.  
 

It is way too easy to cast this as strictly partisan, and that was done with the previous.... six? administrations? But again, talking heads will always try to make these complex geopolitical issues as up and down as possible for the comprehension of the public and the strengthening of particular narratives, especially of late. Reality is, though, that all of these decisions are difficult adult choices with heavy costs to each course of action.  That doesn’t change with who is in power, and I envy no executive the weighing of those lives and resources.

 

Turkey has no interest in or desire to make a separate territory for the Kurds. I agree that this shouldn't be a partisan issue.

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9 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Yep. The theoretical leader has business ties to the theoretical country committing genocide. It's definitely a conflict of interest .

so have previous leaders (of *every* western country!)  - while that country was committing genocide many many many many seasons ago  . . . . .  we've had our own dealings with that country, both as dh's grandfather survived/but his great-grandparents were murdered during a previous genocide committed by them  - and 1ds had direct dealings with the corruption of that particular country's gov't.

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This is a problem that has far more history and culture to it than can simply be talked about here. 

This also is a problem that cannot just be laid at the feet of the US. Turkey has a long relationship with the Kurdish people. This plan didn't happen overnight. 

Genocide is a worldwide responsibility. Not just the responsibility of the US. 

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12 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

The UN decisions weren’t about establishing territory, it was about getting them out of Turkish territory and with regard to Syria, as well as some financial obligations.  Sorry if that wasn’t clear in the way I phrased it.

 

The UN is currently powerless because any non-binding, essentially useless resolutions would be blocked by the US (under current leadership) and Russia. The current fighting is not in Turkish territory. It's in Syria. This was an invasion (or, to be polite, an incursion).

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1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

 

That is, quite frankly, what is so troubling about this most recent incident. It was/is beneficial to our national/strategic interests to remain. It was not beneficial to the individual who made the decision, however.

That’s what upsets me most by far. There aren’t easy answers, it’s super complicated, reasonable people can and do disagree about what the US role should be. But this did not have to happen like this. And it happened because without even appearing to understand why he was doing it other than to garner personal favors, and against the advice of his own military advisors and voices from both sides of the aisle, one man moved troops as a personal favor to Turkey. Not okay, not at all. Not how it should work.

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Of course this is far more complicated than was has happened in the last few days, or the last few years.  And of course Turkey is actually the country forcing even more people from their homes in Syria.  But it’s precisely because of Turkey’s appalling track record regarding the Kurds that the US shouldn’t have behaved this way.  The world has abandoned the Kurds multiple times, and capitulating to Turkey yet again was the wrong thing to do.  And it’s not just that it was immoral, it was a stupid foreign policy decision.

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With regard to colonialism, I think the reason we stayed in Germany and Japan wasn't just for strategic purposes.  It was to make sure the culture changed.  And it worked.

Regardless of stated isolationist goals, the sudden announcement with no military notice or planning cannot be a coincidence.

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15 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

 

I do wish the president had left the Kurds with a boatload of munitions and well wishes, instead of the much restrained armaments they were given, so they’d have a more fighting chance, but that would not make the conflict less bloody even if it leveled the playing field a bit.

Or you know, work out a planned withdrawal rather than less than a day's notice. 

These people shed their own blood to help us further our interests in the area, and we ditched them on a whim. A whim. Someone with ZERO military experience made the decision without even giving the courtesy of a pretense of discussion first. 

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16 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Or you know, work out a planned withdrawal rather than less than a day's notice. 

These people shed their own blood to help us further our interests in the area, and we ditched them on a whim. A whim. Someone with ZERO military experience made the decision without even giving the courtesy of a pretense of discussion first. 

Exactly. I can understand believing that the US needs to pull out entirely. I can understand believing that the Kurds aren't worth our efforts (though, geez, it makes me angry). I can totally agree that it's difficult to fix anything. But this was done in a thoughtlessly callous way by a leader who doesn't even appear to understand what he did. Like, our Constitution gives the president the power to be Commander in  Chief... and I've been angry at many of the actions by the last two people to hold that office. Infuriated, even sometimes. But I always felt like they had either made decisions that were hard but served a purpose or that they were genuine mistakes. This is just... impossible to defend. 

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1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

 

It’s not how I’d have done it, either, but when would have been a better time to withdraw?  

After consulting with your generals, military experts, someone? And after discussing it with the Kurds to give them a chance to adapt to the new situation. The top Generals shouldn't have been blindsided by an impulsive decision by the commander in chief. 

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It seems beyond obvious from reactions to the media and the events that he had no clue that this was even a possibility. Now, of course, maybe that's an elaborate act and a skillful mask to fool people so he can somehow get the better negotiating position or something. But if so, it utterly failed this time. And part of why it failed is that Turkey assumed the administration didn't know what they were doing. So if it was an act, it was too good.

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1 hour ago, Arctic Mama said:

Well hang on a second, you don’t know at all that current officials were blindsided by this.  Turkey’s side has been obvious for at least a month, maybe two.  This was a discussion point with Bolton as well.  Just because you are *hearing* that congress and various lower level officials are blindsided doesn’t actually mean those in the situation room were, even if they strenuously disagreed.  And we don’t necessarily know that all of them did.

There is a whole lot of chatter and reporting and hand wringing, especially by republicans. And much disagreement about the course of action. Jumping from that to “the higher ups had no idea and this was entirely spurious” isn’t supported by what we currently know, which is primarily commentary from people outside the administration.  It’s right up there with the Iran cash exchange on the tarmac - being shocked that it happened and the whole thing looking out of the blue doesn’t mean it actually *was*.

But this is where I think I differ from most on here and elsewhere - I go out of my way to assume the best intentions of those involved, especially in the executive branch, until concretely proven otherwise.  If there is one thing declassified documents have proven over the years, it is that there is often a whole lot more subtext and management of events happening in foreign policy (especially with the UN) than is apparent from the coverage, chatter, and leaks. 
 

What differs here is the hostility of a chunk of the public and the press, not that other presidents haven’t made comparable decisions with little public notice and much divisive opinion.  That’s an area I constantly have to check my confirmation bias and personal feelings about this or prior administration.  But assuming the best while keeping my eyes open for more reliable information, outside the immediate knee jerk and panic responses, has served me well thus far.  

The difference is with that money handoff it took 5 minutes of googling to figure out that actual facts of what that money was for. The facts were out there, easily found if one wanted to. 

With this the reporting from within the white house is that the Defense Secretary found out AFTER the phone call with Turkey, and the Kurds found out at 3am the night/morning before. 

It's not about lack of notice to the public, it's lack of notice to our allies and the the Pentagon. 

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8 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

I don’t particularly agree with the action or timing, but painting it as simple political expedience isn’t particularly accurate, either.  It does fit a stated agenda of pulling back from foreign intervention, especially where other allied governments can be held accountable.

So how does today's announcement that we're sending 1,800 troops to Saudi Arabia "fit the stated agenda of pulling back"?

He's also bragged that he's making the Saudis pay for the use of our troops, as if turning our military into a force of mercenaries for hire by a murderous despot, while abandoning our allies to genocide, is something to be proud of. 

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6 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Well hang on a second, you don’t know at all that current officials were blindsided by this.  Turkey’s side has been obvious for at least a month, maybe two.  This was a discussion point with Bolton as well.  Just because you are *hearing* that congress and various lower level officials are blindsided doesn’t actually mean those in the situation room were, even if they strenuously disagreed.  And we don’t necessarily know that all of them did.

There is a whole lot of chatter and reporting and hand wringing, especially by republicans. And much disagreement about the course of action. Jumping from that to “the higher ups had no idea and this was entirely spurious” isn’t supported by what we currently know, which is primarily commentary from people outside the administration.  It’s right up there with the Iran cash exchange on the tarmac - being shocked that it happened and the whole thing looking out of the blue doesn’t mean it actually *was*.

But this is where I think I differ from most on here and elsewhere - I go out of my way to assume the best intentions of those involved, especially in the executive branch, until concretely proven otherwise.  If there is one thing declassified documents have proven over the years, it is that there is often a whole lot more subtext and management of events happening in foreign policy (especially with the UN) than is apparent from the coverage, chatter, and leaks. 
 

What differs here is the hostility of a chunk of the public and the press, not that other presidents haven’t made comparable decisions with little public notice and much divisive opinion.  That’s an area I constantly have to check my confirmation bias and personal feelings about this or prior administration.  But assuming the best while keeping my eyes open for more reliable information, outside the immediate knee jerk and panic responses, has served me well thus far.  

Personally, I just think this administration is so radically different than any other in recent history, on either side, that it’s almost impossible for me to assume the best of people who daily show us the worst. The general tenor of tweets alone is completely unprecedented.

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Nearly 800 Isis supporters have already escaped, and the Kurds have been warning for months that they could barely contain the 70,000 people being held in the Al-Hol camp and feared a breakout. Kurds are being slaughtered, tens of thousands of Isis supporters will soon be free, and we're sending our troops to help a Saudi despot who routinely tortures and murders journalists, opposition leaders, and women's rights activists. 

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