Thursday, September 14, 2006

Avoiding Cornered Rat Syndrome.

AlterNet: Bush Fears War Crimes Prosecution and Impeachment: "Congress enacted the War Crimes Act in 1996. That act defines violations of Geneva's Common Article 3 as war crimes. Those convicted face life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

The President is undoubtedly familiar with the doctrine of command responsibility, where commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief, can be held liable for war crimes their inferiors commit if the commander knew or should have known they might be committed and did nothing to stop or prevent them.

Bush defensively denied that the United States engages in torture and foreswore authorizing it. But it has been well-documented that policies set at the highest levels of our government have resulted in the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of U.S. prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo."

Those who are condemning Nancy Pelosi for not screaming for a well-justified and legally supportable impeachment are perhaps forgetting the prime dictum of Sun Tsu: Always allow your enemy the chance to retreat. Of course, in trying to have it both ways, Pelosi may have created the worst of both worlds. But this isn't about Pelosi, really. It's about overall progressive strategy, which should not focus exclusively on the image of the Administration in orange jump-suits being perp walked out of the White House by Interpol agents.

In other words, the President must be left with something to lose. Pelosi is betting that the very distinct possibility of Democrats regaining power will give the President pause. Investigations will of course happen, and very, very likely will be presaged by a general, discreet exit from Washington to parts unknown on the part of functionaries who would prefer not to testify before a Senate subcommittee with subpoena powers.

Of course, enough such people could be found if the President decides to force what could amount to a domestic civil war.

By this point, I'm sure the Administration has quietly investigated the possibility of imposing martial law as a way out of their untenable political situation = and I'm equally sure military and Justice Department sources have informed them that it would, indeed, amount to a civil war - a civil war the Bushites could not decisively win, even given 100 percent loyalty from armed forces, national guard and state and local police.

Given the strong likelihood of a distinct lack of loyalty on the part of much of those forces and given our demonstrated capability to hold a nation the size of Iraq, it becomes an exercise in figuring out the available numbers and comparing those numbers to the potential active and passive resistance, and the potential capability of that resistance.

I don't have enough information to predict scenarios, but I'd presume a few things, such as the practical inability to hold California, and indeed, the entire non-urban southwest, and probably the Pacific Northwest. Nor would I be terribly surprised if the Pacific Fleet decided to either remain above the fray, or decide that geography is destiny. If it did not, possibly the US could maintain control of that area, but it would be at a very high price indeed. Again, insurgent rural areas would be death traps for federal forces. In a practical sense, direct federal control might simply contract to the Mississippi River. But I'd expect a lot of grief from the North-East too.

But that would be a rational assessment, based on the assumption that the President would value the survival of the Union over his own personal and political survival and his ties of personal loyalty to various sponsors and "dead-enders."

I'm not convinced that would be a safe bet, and I sincerely hope that various state and local governments have considered the possibility and done some contingency planning. But obviously, the best possible outcome is no such war, and while I'd love to see the Bush Crew serving time for their various crimes - I'm personally adverse to risking civil war for that sort of satisfaction.

Meanwhile, were I a Bush follower of middling significance - I'd consider very seriously a period of voluntary exile, at least from politics. My caution is often misplaced - but it is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered.

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