Line of Death

Boston.com

A US Coast Guard crew based in Boston seized more than 1,360 pounds of cocaine – with an estimated street value of more than $20 million – from a sailboat 460 miles east of Cape Cod, authorities said.

I'm old enough to remember when President Reagan sent military ships to the Libya's Gulf of Sidra to remind people that territorial waters only extend 12 miles off shore and that a claim that one's domestic laws applied 62 miles off shore was evil madness.

I'm hardly an international law expert, but I guess if the boat was American owned, or was headed to the United States, or it was crewed by Americans, this is legal?

the 49-foot vessel's listed port of call was Montreal

Two people were arrested. Hicham Ramzi Nahra, 27, of Canada, and Benjamin Celma-Sedo, 49, of Spain

Huh.

Further research shows that

(a) other countries can and do sell their citizens into the US legal system via treaty.

(b) Just like Qaddafi, President Clinton unilaterally asserted control over coastal waters via a Presidential Proclamation.

Last 5 posts by Clark

Comments

  1. Mike says

    Not to excuse the international waters seizure, which demands a different analysis, but the assertion by the Clinton admin of authority over the contiguous zone is entirely consistent with the UN convention on law of the sea, which has been ratified by most of the world, and therefore not at all like Libya's assertion of exclusive control over waters one hundred miles from its coast and its threats to other nations' sovereign assets there.

  2. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Mike,

    My understanding is that WE haven't ratified the U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea, which would make relying on it's framework a tad questionable.

    To make my position clear;

    1) I think the War on Drugs is an unmitigated disaster, and we should do what any rational nation would do in a war that was ongoing without resolution for decades; surrender.

    2) Even without considering "1" above, I'm not sure I care about adults ruining their lives and nasal passages with peruvian nose candy.

    3) I have always though that Clinton was a charismatic scofflaw swine, rather like Q'daffy Duck, so the comparison does not shock me.

    4) I wonder what the Coast Guard could be usefully doing if they weren't playing 'Prohibitionists and Rumrunners'

  3. Canadian observer says

    It's interesting to note that this happens just as congress calls an Officer in about his statement that he thinks your "War on drugs" is a waste of time and money. Put this together with the fact that your police forces get HUGE funding under the same auspices. So (The way I see it) now the US is going outside their jurisdiction to justify funding inside… I may be naive but I'm not stupid and that's what I think your government thinks of its populace. Coincidence? Really?

  4. James Pollock says

    "4) I wonder what the Coast Guard could be usefully doing if they weren't playing 'Prohibitionists and Rumrunners'"

    There's smuggling of other stuff besides drugs, including people. Taking drugs off the checklist of stuff to search for doesn't save them any time.

  5. Xenocles says

    CSP-

    Your understanding is correct. There are periodic pushes for ratification of UNCLoS, most visibly evident in the op-ed pages of the major papers. The most recent one was earlier this year IIRC.

    International law does recognize some crimes as having universal jurisdiction; piracy is the first thing that comes to mind as an example. I don't know if there's some other convention that gives narco-smuggling a similar status. I do know there are drug treaties out there.

  6. xtmar says

    I'm not an international law expert either, but the nationality of the crew isn't normally as important as the flag state of the vessel. So, if the Canadian and the Spaniard are in an American flagged vessel, they are subject to US jurisdiction basically wherever.

    Also, if they fail to identify the state that the vessel is flagged in, they are presumed to be stateless or unflagged, which automatically puts them outside the protection of the law. I would assume that the Coast Guard got them for operating an unflagged vessel, which means that it's basically a pirate ship for legal purposes, and entitled to no legal protections at all.

    As I say, I'm no expert on maritime law, but it's been around for centuries, and seems to have major differences from normal law, so perhaps this is less surprising than it might seem at first.

    I do wonder, though, about other countries outsourcing enforcement of their laws to the US. It seems like a bit of an abrogation on their part, to understate the case.

    Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any other easily accessible information about the incident that could be discovered via Google in a few minutes.

  7. En Passant says

    I'm hardly an international law expert, but I guess if the boat was American owned, or was headed to the United States, or it was crewed by Americans, this is legal?

    Ask the US Gubmint, yes. Ask any other gubmint, not so much.

    The Barbary Pirates of the 18th C. are why the USA first formed a navy. By the turn of the century we still paid tribute, some 20% of the federal budget. We made a sneak attack and shot up Tripoli harbor around 1804; and later shot up and captured some Algerian vessels on the high seas before sailing into Algiers in full force around 1815 to put an end to the bullshit.

    The ultimate answer then as now is the same: "so what are you going to do about it, punk?"

  8. En Passant says

    Once again, with feeling. And correct quoting, I hope.

    I'm hardly an international law expert, but I guess if the boat was American owned, or was headed to the United States, or it was crewed by Americans, this is legal?

    Ask the US Gubmint, yes. Ask any other gubmint, not so much.

    The Barbary Pirates of the 18th C. are why the USA first formed a navy. By the turn of the century we still paid tribute, some 20% of the federal budget. We made a sneak attack and shot up Tripoli harbor around 1804; and later shot up and captured some Algerian vessels on the high seas before sailing into Algiers in full force around 1815 to put an end to the bullshit.

    The ultimate answer then as now is the same: "so what are you going to do about it, punk?"

  9. says

    Yes.

    That said, Morocco was the first nation to recognize our independence (Holland closely following), but of course, for its own purposes. They left us alone until Britain surrendered and then we were fair game.

  10. says

    I was trying to quote this:

    The Barbary Pirates of the 18th C. are why the USA first formed a navy. By the turn of the century we still paid tribute, some 20% of the federal budget. We made a sneak attack and shot up Tripoli harbor around 1804; and later shot up and captured some Algerian vessels on the high seas before sailing into Algiers in full force around 1815 to put an end to the bullshit.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield says

    @Moriah Jovan

    Now, if Jug Ears at 1600 Penn. could show me that attacking Syria would save us 20% of the federal budget, I'd be all for it…..

  12. says

    @CSP Schofield

    I have become gradually more anti-war-on-anything over the last few years for, oh, many reasons.

    The idea that bombing a country is a humanitarian thing is beyond mindboggling. Here, let me give you some more arsenic to counter your acute arsenic poisoning.

    But then, that makes about as much sense as

    pumping trillions of dollars into the economy for the express purpose of propping up the Dow and NASDAQ,

    and Obamacare being ruled constitutional

    and leading economic indicator numbers being jiggered and rejiggered until they say whatever TPTB need them to say…

    So you know, my common-sense-o-meter may need recalibration.

  13. Cat says

    But Clark – are you taking into account the horrific web of treaties the United States holds with other countries which allows them to stop, board, and inspect ships anywhere? Or the (wild) state of international maritime law? As for the relation to drug laws, it may depend on where the ship was registered.

    Then again, the US can request boarding for a ship that has identified it's registry with the country which granted that registry. Or, if there is no country of registry, the ship may still be boarded. This does not only apply to the US, but to all Navies and similar enforcement vessels.

    Libya was only an issue because we didn't like Gaddafi, and because America. Ships are stopped all over the ocean, by the US Coast Guard AND OTHERS, on a routine basis for various treaty reasons and general maritime law. Most often, because of suspected smuggling or because they may be fishing for treaty restricted species in a restricted area or as an unlicensed fisher.

  14. Ryan says

    Article 108, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea:

    Article108

    Illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances

    1. All States shall cooperate in the suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances engaged in by ships on the high seas contrary to international conventions.

    2. Any State which has reasonable grounds for believing that a ship flying its flag is engaged in illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances may request the cooperation of other States to suppress such traffic.

    460 nm beyond the coast is either still on the continental shelf, in which case American law can apply, or it is beyond the continental shelf and on the high seas, in which the vessels' flagging determines which country is responsible, and treaties provide other nations with the ability to seize and arrest the occupants of those vessels. The 'high seas' isn't the lawless place some people would like to think it is.

    As for this article – more information is required before passing judgement. The US technically doesn't have to ratify UNCLotS to enforce its provisions. A lot of the reasons the US doesn't ratify it have to do with some disputes with its northern neighbour and the coastal regions around Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, and the Yukon territory.

  15. Ryan says

    *sigh* Italics fail. This comment section really needs a better quotation system than the various HTML tags.

  16. Peter H says

    I think there is less to this than it seems. The ship was flying the flag of Canada. The US Coast Guard has an agreement that stations RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers on USCG ships when operating in or near Canada. 450 miles east of Cape Cod is basically just off Nova Scotia, so I would bet that this Coast Guard ship had a Canadian officer on board.

    http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ibet-eipf/shiprider-eng.htm

  17. Mike says

    C.S.P.: Indeed we have not, due to some reasons that Ryan mentions, as well as political ones. However, the consensus is that we should. The fact that we haven't ratified the treaty though doesn't mean we cannot accept or enforce some of its provisions. It also doesn't mean we are not bound by many of the provisions which have become customary international law.

    Further, no one mentioned the constitutional power of Congress to do this:

    "Clause 10. The Congress shall have Power To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations."

    That's not to say drug laws such as those we have are wise, just that the government is empowered to take the action that it did under the Constitution, and to the extent that international law permits it, there too.

  18. En Passant says

    Peter H wrote Sep 7, 2013 @1:40 pm:

    The US Coast Guard has an agreement that stations RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers on USCG ships when operating in or near Canada.

    Thus the aquatic roots of Sgt. Preston's classical mantra, "On, King, on! Hush! Hush! Hush you muskies!"

  19. Mark says

    The Coast Guard has a long (like 200+ year) history of very limited restrictions on boardings. They have the absolute right under federal law (and traditional maritime law) to board, in international waters, any US flagged vessel, any vessel under the flag of a country that explicitly permits them after a government request, or any unflagged vessel. Similarly, a Libyan vessel would have been within it's rights to stop any unflagged vessel in the gulf of Sidra, or request permission to stop a US flagged vessel from the US embassy.

  20. Sami says

    It's odd to read this. I have of late been reading through Churchill's history of the Second World War, including his delighted and grateful recording of the way FDR, with significant popular support, semi-gradually extended America's effective territorial waters across the Atlantic to, oh, Iceland.

    Obviously a very different situation in many, many ways, but… yeah. Something.

  21. says

    @Mike:

    "Clause 10. The Congress shall have Power To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations."

    That's not to say drug laws such as those we have are wise, just that the government is empowered to take the action that it did under the Constitution, and to the extent that international law permits it, there too.

    In Article I Section 8 the people do not give the Congress the power to ban intoxicating substances; this is why the 18th amendment needed to be passed before the Volstead Act could be passed.

    After the 21st Amendment, the US government again was with out the power to legislate re intoxicating substances.

    Clause 10 that you cite does allow the government to punish felonies, but Congress does not have the power to declare drug trafficking a felony.

  22. says

    @Sami

    It's odd to read this. I have of late been reading through Churchill's history of the Second World War, including his delighted and grateful recording of the way FDR, with significant popular support, semi-gradually extended America's effective territorial waters across the Atlantic to, oh, Iceland.

    FDR was a totalitarian dictator.

    The best that can be said of him is that he was less evil in his use of his dictatorial powers than Stalin, Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini.

  23. Roger Strong says

    That "Shiprider" US/Canadian Coast Guard agreement goes both ways. An American or Canadian who breaks the law in Canada and then flees into US territory can be arrested by a Canadian officer – in US territory – and taken back to Canada.

    The Shiprider program is the model for a similar agreement we've already negotiated for cross-border policing on land. US officers would be subject to Canadian laws when operating in Canada, and Canadian officers operating in the US would be subject to US laws when operating in the US.

    But now the US wants its police officers to be exempt from Canadian law when operating in Canada. "Any new model must be fully reciprocal, providing Canadian police with the same protections in the United States as granted to U.S. law enforcement officials working in Canada." Thus Canadian officers would not be accountable to American law when operating and making arrests in the US.

  24. Pedant says

    @Moriah Jovan. I was anti-draft in 1960; anti-Vietnam; etc. I am now convinced that Al Qaeda et al. are far less a threat than many inside Canada, the UK and the US … including that sometime professor of Constitutional Law, Mr. Obama.

  25. James Pollock says

    "The idea that bombing a country is a humanitarian thing is beyond mindboggling."
    Depends on whether or not you have A) really good intelligence, B) really accurate bombing practices, and C) an opponent who will conveniently group all of the military assets together for you and leave them that way for a while.

    Assuming you have a situation where the government maintains control of the population by force and threat of force, destroying the implements of force is humanitarian. Yes, it's bad for the soldiers who happen to be standing in the ammo dump, and yes, it's bad for those civilians who happen to live nearby. But the net effect CAN be good.

    Feel free to dispute whether any of the three factors are actually present, at the moment, in Syria.

    (There's also the geopolitical question of whether a simmering proxy war in Syria is likely to spread to other regional power players, or even to the first team world powers. Isolationism would suit us well, if it weren't for the fact that so many of the governments in place in the region have control of the flow of oil out of their countries and into ours.)

  26. says

    @Cat

    But Clark – are you taking into account the horrific web of treaties the United States holds with other countries which allows them to stop, board, and inspect ships anywhere?

    Yes. Please note the portion of my post where I called that out.

  27. says

    @205guy

    I love it when Clark gets schooled by the commenters, whee!

    Perhaps you could tell me where it was that I was "schooled" in this thread? All I see is an interesting conversation.

    By the way, that's a very nice graphic that you made. Or did you?

    Attribution is required on this work.

    No, it's not.

    Works can be published under zero, 1, or many different licenses. Each depends for their legal weight on 17 USC 106 and 17 USC 106 – the law that gives creators the right to restrict reproduction at all. Without 17 USC 106 and 106 A the authors have no ability to prohibit reproduction.

    You have documented that there are at least three licenses in effect, any one of which allows use of the work. You have not, however, proven that creator of the work, has not also licensed it under the GPL or some other license that does not require attribution, nor have you proven that the creator of the work has not given me specific permission to use it with out attribution, nor any of a dozen other possibilities.

    One of those dozen other possibilities is that legally I am free to use the work with out using any of those licenses.

    Note that 17 USC 107 gives exceptions to 17 USC 106 and 106 A. If there's a relevant exception then the creator may have no rights at all.

    I suggest that you dig into both the law of Fair Use (17 USC 107) and the case law (I've had to).

    Let's look over the four point test:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Point one: clearly in my favor. Posting at Popehat is not commercial.

    Point two: arguably in my favor: the work was created to serve as part of a free encyclopedia.

    Point three: a point against me: I'm using the entirety of the image.

    Point four: clearly in my favor. The work has zero market value and thus my use has not degraded its market value.

    My personal opinion – and, granted, I haven't passed the bar in the state of Internet Comment Land or anywhere else – is that using the image as I did is perfectly legitimate and, thus, I don't need permission from any of the three (or more) licenses, and thus attribution is not required.

    More generally, may I make a point? I quite enjoyed the article about the Coast Guard that you linked to and read all three pages of it…but the rest of your comment was snotty, insulting, and childish.

    "I love it when Clark gets schooled by the commenters, whee!" What the hell?

    "That's a very nice graphic that you made. Or did you?" Imputing the assertion that I made it to me, and then attacking me for something I never said? Way to set up a strawman and then knock it down.

    I try to assume good faith and debate fairly with people, and maybe you're just having an off day, but you're really coming across as a dick who's trying to score points instead of having a conversation.

    Ken and I don't see eye to eye on how to deal with blog commenters. He's willing to ban people, and I'm not. Here's my method: 205guy, you often have good points to make and I like reading them – so could you do so in a way that doesn't look like it's attacking people? Thank you.

  28. says

    @Pedant +1

    I wasn't around for the messing-in-other-people's-business you cite (teen years in the 80s) and I'm coming to active anti-war from ambivalently non-interventionist rather (very) late. I'm still adjusting my definitions of "patriot," or rather, I'm working through the newspeak definitions. That said, I actually had come to the conclusion that Al Qaeda's the least of our problems.

    @Clark

    FDR was a totalitarian dictator.

    +1

    One late evening when I was around 10 or so, all my ancient relatives were gathered around getting into Pearl Harbor, and I was shocked–shocked!–at the (bitter) consensus that FDR knew about the planned attack and, because he wanted any excuse to get into the war the country didn't want to get into, allowed it to happen. Certainly, that was NOT what I had been taught in history class, which was WWII was a noble effort! My relatives' clear explanations to me and their bitterness about it left seeds of doubt and skepticism in my mind. If WWII WASN'T all that noble and entered into for economic hocus pocus, then nothing that came after it was noble, either.

  29. pjcamp says

    This surprises you? We're currently debating whether to punish a violation of international law by violating international law (staging an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state). Whatever you may think about the merits of attacking Syria, the fact is that they did nothing to us so we don't have the right under the UN charter, which we signed and ratified, to attack them.

    But hey, rules are for the little people, right?

  30. James Pollock says

    "But hey, rules are for the little people, right?"
    Well, that actually IS the policy of the UN, where the permanent members of the security council can veto sanctions against anyone… including themselves.

  31. Mike says

    Clark: I have repeatedly said that my analysis doesn't extend to the drug issue. I don't know why people think I'm talking about that despite specifically disclaiming it.

  32. says

    No need to drag the Gulf of Sidra into what can be an interesting conversation on search and seizure on the high seas.

    For Daffy to proclaim the Gulf as territorial waters would be the same as the US proclaiming virtually all of the Gulf of Mexico as territorial waters, say, along a line from Key West to the southern tip of Texas. It's so far outside the norms of international recognition that it is laughable.

    The difference is, if we wanted to, we could probably enforce our proclamation.

    And really, in international law, that's what counts.

  33. David Schwartz says

    "staging an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state"

    If the use of chemical weapons on defenseless civilians doesn't constitute provocation, then International law is broken and not worthy of respect. Syrian civilians have the right of self-defense against their government and further have the right to employ force against their governments or through agents. If International law doesn't respect that, then International law is not worthy of respect.

  34. grouch says


    Point one: clearly in my favor. Posting at Popehat is not commercial.
    — Clark

    I think the link to "Amazon.com widgets" on every Popehat page might cause that point to go against you. Depending, of course, on the mood of any given federal judge at the time and how sympathetic he or she might be to the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the hypothetical plaintiff. (Even one with too much starch in the judicial robes should recognize the image is used in discussion of a topic very much in the public interest).

  35. Anony Mouse says

    Syrian civilians have the right of self-defense against their government and further have the right to employ force against their governments or through agents.

    Where was this angst when 100,000+ were killed with bullets?

  36. HandOfGod137 says

    @Moriah Jovan

    If WWII WASN'T all that noble and entered into for economic hocus pocus, then nothing that came after it was noble, either.

    Quite a few of us Europeans (esp. the Jewish ones) would disagree with you on this point. It's not all about 'Muricca, you know.

    @Clark

    FDR was a totalitarian dictator.

    I see you describe a lot of your stuff using "analysis" and "thesis", which I find a little hard to reconcile with bald statements of what appear to be ridiculous hyperbole. You're almost pre-ad homineming (sic) yourself here: I see unsupported declarations like that and I'm almost predisposed to disregard other stuff I'd be otherwise inclined to agree with. I know I'm not your target demographic (lefty atheist Brit), but even so.

  37. Castaigne says

    @Clark: Your rebuttal of my point was fascinating.

    Trolls do not require a rebuttal, merely mockery and filtering out.
    Perhaps argue honestly, and this will not occur.

  38. says

    @HandOfGod137

    FDR was a totalitarian dictator.

    bald statement of… ridiculous hyperbole.

    totalitarian – adj – of or relating to a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state.

    dictator – n –
    1 a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome
    1 b : one holding complete autocratic control
    1 c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively

    FDR imprisoned 110,000 American citizens because of their race…and required them to sign loyalty oaths

    FDR ran for an unprecedented four terms, breaching a standard set by George Washington (who explicitly defended the practice as being in the mold of Cincinatus, the man who refused to be dictator).

    FDR lied repeatedly about his economic program.

    FDR, upset that the division of powers resulted in the Supreme Court striking down his edicts and laws, attempted to pack the Supreme Court

    After the Supreme Court shot down farm subsidies as unconstitutional, FDR's court packing attempt scared the court enough that they rubber stamped his FDR pushed through agricultural law of 1938 which (a) acted to reduce supply of food during an era when people were going hungry, and (b) FDR unilaterally stuck the federal government's nose into everyone's private life, giving the government in Washington the power to destroy crops and seize cash from someone who planted crops with out a bureaucrat's permission.

    FDR seized all privately held gold in the US by executive order despite the Constitutional prohibition on taking without fair compensation.

    FDR seized all privately held silver in the US.

    FDR set up a cult of personality using his fireside chats

    FDR directed recovery funds to districts that had voted for him and punished regions politically hostile to him by taxing them but not returing the funds.

    FDR conspired with Stalin to break up Anglo-American influence and hand Eastern Europeans into Soviet slavery, and agreed at the Yalta conference to enact Operation Keeplhaul which used American military might to return Russian citizens to Soviet imprisonment or execution.

    FDR violated the laws of warfare by personally directing the execution of six German POWs and sentencing the two German soldiers who voluntarilly turned themselves in (and worked hard, despite repeated rebuffs) to 30 years of prison and hard labor for life, respectively.

    FDR approved the mass murder of civilians in Germany and Japan

    FDR implemented censorship in violation of the first amendment.

  39. says

    @Castaigne

    @Clark: Your rebuttal of my point was fascinating.

    Trolls do not require a rebuttal, merely mockery and filtering out.

    Nor do commenters who prefer name-calling to civility. Yet even though it is not required, I try to rise to a higher standard and try to engage them in actual debate over topics even when they seem more inclined to rudeness.

    Perhaps argue honestly, and this will not occur.

    Please point to a dishonest statement that I've made.

  40. HandOfGod137 says

    @Clark

    So, by this standard is there any national leader you wouldn't categorise as a "totalitarian dictator"?

  41. Carlos says

    From a guy who spent a couple of YEARS doing counter drug ops with the US Navy and the Coast guard….you must have authority from the country that the vessel is flagged in. For example…boat crewd by colombian but flagged in bolivia and we have intel that says they are full of cocaine….the us state department contacts bolivia with evidence…Bolivia agree that the boat is dirty….gives permission and the the US vessel is given green light to board, capture personnel, and capture tons of cocaine. VERY strict rules are in place as who has authority and then chain of custody. If any boat is captured hundreds of miles off US coast i would bet a paycheck that flagged country has given authority for it to baorded. Flagged country then gets credit for capturing drug dealers in coordination with the US. I have watched vessels that we did not get authority to board simply sail away….probably full of drugs.

  42. CJK Fossman says

    @Clark
    While I agree that your use of the graphic might be defensible as fair use, the GPL does not help you.

    A work licensed under the GPL would be so marked. The graphic bears no such mark. The GPL is a better fit for software. It mentions things like source code, executables and libraries. One of the various flavors of Creative Commons licenses might be a better fit. But then a work covered by Creative Commons would probably be so marked, so I suspect you get no solace there, either.

  43. says

    @CJK Fossman

    the GPL does not help you.

    The point I was making had nothing to do with the GPL specifically; I was arguing that the mere existence of one license with condition X does not say anything about whether another license without condition X might apply…and moved from there into arguing that 17 USC 107 was a step further: a meta-license, or a trump that gets one out of any license, if certain conditions are met.

    I thought I made that very clear when I said


    You have not, however, proven that creator of the work, has not also licensed it under the GPL
    or some other license

    Feel free to substitute "GPL" with "BSD", or "Artistic License", or anything else – the point I was making stands.

    The GPL is a better fit for software

    Having released software under the GPL a decade or more ago (a very minor tool; I'm sure you haven't heard of it), I'm familiar with the details of the GPL (or, at least, with the GPL c. 1998; I haven't kept up to see if it's been revised).

  44. says

    @HandOfGod137

    So, by this standard is there any national leader you wouldn't categorise as a "totalitarian dictator"?

    If you're saying that every national leader herded ethnic minorities into prison camps, stolen money from the populace, attempted to pack the courts, authorized the mass-murder of civilians in three cities, and violated the Geneva conventions, then yes, you're right – they're all totalitarian dictators by my metric.

    …but if there is any national leader who has not these things, then no, FDR rose above the common level of venality.

  45. HandOfGod137 says

    @Clark

    I clearly expressed myself badly. No, I meant any leader, who in the context of their time, and during a period of unprecedented international economic and diplomatic crisis acted in a way the benefit of hindsight suggests may have been excessive. Because I think people who have lived under the rule of actual dictators might consider your point belittling and insulting.

  46. Cat G says

    @Clark –

    Yes, I see that. But you don't address the reciprocal events – US flagged vessels are also subject to search and enforcement of foreign laws under the same conditions, and it happens daily. (Although, Coast Guard regulations being what they are, there aren't a lot of vessels flagged under the US.)

  47. says

    @HandofGod

    Quite a few of us Europeans (esp. the Jewish ones) would disagree with you on this point. It's not all about 'Muricca, you know.

    Hmm. So much to unpack here.

    1. If it's not all about 'Muricca, why'd we need to take part in this noble effort? Could Europe not have managed to nip their little Hitler problem i the bud before it reached crisis proportions? Did Europe REALLY need us? to storm the beaches? If so, why? And if so, then, yes, it IS all about 'Muricca, so your statement contradicts itself.

    2. I was under the impression the rest of the world despises the US, which, again, makes it all about us. Meantime, we 'Muriccans are mostly just trying to live our little lives same as everybody else in the world and WANT to MYOB, but our gummint won't let us, and from where I sit, it appears some of the world is finally grokking that point.

    Now that all that rhetoric is out of the way, my point was that my WWI-exhausted relatives thought it was a cheap trick FDR pulled to get us into a war we wanted nothing to do with and wasn't our business. In short, we have become 18th-Century Imperialist England and a lot of us don't like it. Pressgangs are next. Oh, wait. That was Vietnam. Never mind.

  48. xtmar says

    @Moriah

    Germany would have eventually been defeated by the Russians without our involvement. While the invasion of Normandy, and Italy before that, certainly helped hasten Germany's downfall, the real action was always in the East. However, since we weren't directly involved, it gets far less play than the western front.

    Also, it's worth remembering that Germany declared war on us, rather than the other way around. After Pearl Harbor, we only declared war on Japan.

  49. HandOfGod137 says

    @Moriah Jovan

    Did Europe need the USA to help with "their little Hitler problem"? Given most of the continent was under fascist control and England was barely hanging on, well what do you think?

    And "rest of the world despises the US"? Please get over your persecution complex. Some of the world might fear you, some might be jealous, but most of us find much to admire once you get past the bizarre parochialism some of you demonstrate.

    In the final analysis, if you're happy letting genocide go unstopped, watch your erstwhile friends get bombed back to the stone-age and revert to an isolationist stance, fine. I'm sure the world would be a better place if we all did that…no, wait: it would be shit. And apologies for the irony: it clearly doesn't translate.

  50. says

    @HandofGod

    if you're happy letting genocide go unstopped, watch your erstwhile friends get bombed back to the stone-age and revert to an isolationist stance, fine.

    I'm unsure if you're speaking of current genocides around the globe or the Holocause specifically because you changed tenses. (That was not snarky.)

    If you are referring to the Holocaust specifically, my understanding is that it began in the early 30s, whereas we didn't hit Europe until late 42. Why didn't Europe step in when it became clear what Hitler was doing?

    If you are referring to any one of a handful of genocides that have been ongoing since, which ones should we pick to get involved with? Who is worthy of our help? Which raises the question, who is not? And why? Who makes those decisions? More importantly, WHY?

    Were I dictator of the world (which I don't want to be because I hate micromanagement), I'd rather go feed the millions of starving North Koreans than bomb a couple of thousand Syrians because our feckless leader got butthurt. Being butthurt is not a good justification for an action, even if it's called something noble like…"humanitarian." To me, feeding people is far more a) humane and b) politically pragmatic.

  51. Roger Strong says

    @xtmar
    Also, it's worth remembering that Germany declared war on us, rather than the other way around. After Pearl Harbor, we only declared war on Japan.

    Just a nitpick here: Declared war or not, the US had already been hip-deep in the war against Germany since the spring of 1941.

    In March 1941 Congress authorized the President to loan up to $7G worth of war materiel to "any nation whose defense the President deemed vital to the defense of the United States" – that is, to Britain – which rescued Britain from impending bankruptcy.

    In April, British ships started refitting in US ports. On 27 May, Roosevelt proclaimed a national emergency. Three weeks later, he suspended diplomatic relations with Germany and Italy and froze their US assets. In July US troops moved into Iceland, replacing a British garrison, to protect the island and build naval facilities for convoy protection. In September the USN, which had been providing convoy escorts for US vessels for some time, began providing them for foreign ships too.

  52. says

    I see my fishing buddy was sadly mistaken in thinking international waters were 12 miles off shore, where he would promptly "Spark up"
    I think it was the gambling boats he got his info from.

  53. Michael K. says

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    1) I think the War on Drugs is an unmitigated disaster, and we should do what any rational nation would do in a war that was ongoing without resolution for decades; surrender.
    Extra benefit: When fighting a real war against a real enemy, surrendering usually comes with some negative consequences. When, on the other hand, you're fighting a bogeyman, surrender frees you from the notion that there was anything there to fight in the first place.

  54. Michael K. says

    ARGH, bad quoting strikes again.

    First (numbered) paragraph was Schofield's, second paragraph mine. Damn you, lack of preview/edit!

  55. HandOfGod137 says

    @Moriah Jovan

    Well feeding the starving is getting involved, rather than reducing your world to your horizon and ignoring what takes place outside, so that is something.

    If you are referring to any one of a handful of genocides that have been ongoing since, which ones should we pick to get involved with? Who is worthy of our help? Which raises the question, who is not? And why? Who makes those decisions? More importantly, WHY?

    Most of those questions are hard, apart from the last one. As a sentient being I believe we should try to stop genocide because once you're dead, you're dead: there's no afterlife, no second chances, so to allow all those unique instances of intelligence and awareness to be snuffed out is something my personal sense of morality classifies as abhorrent. I don't know if being an atheist makes me view life as more precious than those who think you get another go, but I certainly believe we as a species should do what we can to prevent mass slaughter. That's why.

  56. 205guy says

    All blockquotes from Clark unless otherwise noted:

    Perhaps you could tell me where it was that I was "schooled" in this thread? All I see is an interesting conversation.

    You posted about a situation that you had little insight about. You tossed in a few references that may have been relevant. That you posted about it at all shows you found it be of interest, which in your case, usually means you take exception with what the government is doing. Commenters provided far more information and opinions that may explain the actions of the government. Would it have been so difficult for you to write "could someone please explain this to me?"?

    Attribution is required on this work.

    When you quote someone, please quote properly. You should've quoted "[A]ttribution is required on this work" to show that you removed part of my sentence. One could also argue that the sentence fragment you removed changes the meaning of the quote. Essentially, I did not say, ex novo, that attribution was required. Instead, I found a source that stongly suggests that attribution was required, and I explained as much.

    You have documented that there are at least three licenses in effect, any one of which allows use of the work. You have not, however, proven that creator of the work, has not also licensed it under the GPL or some other license that does not require attribution, nor have you proven that the creator of the work has not given me specific permission to use it with out attribution, nor any of a dozen other possibilities.

    That is the most specious reasoning on the matter that I could imagine. Let us dissect it a little more:

    any one of which allows use of the work

    No. Every one of those licenses allows you to use the work under explicit conditions. One condition of every one of those licenses is attribution.

    You have not, however, proven that creator of the work, has not also licensed it under the GPL or some other license that does not require attribution

    Given that a cursory search of the internet has not turned up any alternate licenses, please tell me how I would prove such a thing. Similarly, I cannot prove you're a blowhard, because there may have been a time when you didn't harange someone in comments.

    nor have you proven that the creator of the work has not given me specific permission to use it with out attribution

    Aha! You have provided useful information that advances this discussion. Indeed, I did not consider that possibility. Now that I consider it, I find it to be unlikely. A person who publishes a work under three licenses that require attribution would probably not want people to think that use of his work does not require attribution. But if he privately granted you use without attribution, that's exactly what would happen when you publish the work without attribution.

    One of those dozen other possibilities is that legally I am free to use the work with out using any of those licenses./blockquote>

    I still note that you do not state that you are, indeed, legally free to use the work. Just that it's a theoretical possibility.

    I suggest that you dig into both the law of Fair Use (17 USC 107) and the case law (I've had to).

    No, thank you.

    Point one: clearly in my favor. Posting at Popehat is not commercial.

    Thank goodness for that. I now look forward to watching copies of new release movies streaming from popehat.com. By the way, I wouldn't go so far as to say your Amazon affiliate links make you a commercial entity. But as an advocacy blog trying to influence the political process, I wouldn't call you a charity either.

    Point two: arguably in my favor: the work was created to serve as part of a free encyclopedia.

    Your weakest point. The reason for creation is independent of its copyright protection and eventual licenses granted.

    Point four: clearly in my favor. The work has zero market value and thus my use has not degraded its market value.

    Since the work has never been marketed, how can you prove it has zero market value? What about its value, when properly attributed, as a vehicle for publicizing the author's creations and abilities?

    More importantly, given that you are discussing these 4 tests of fair use, are you claiming fair use of this work, or are you claiming some other permission (one of those dozen) or right to use the work through some loophole in case law that you still won't tell us about?

    My personal opinion – and, granted, I haven't passed the bar in the state of Internet Comment Land or anywhere else – is that using the image as I did is perfectly legitimate and, thus, I don't need permission from any of the three (or more) licenses, and thus attribution is not required.

    My personal opinion is that the author of the work does not enforce his copyright and thus has probably lost the ability to do so. So you can likely use this work as you do with impunity. But that still does not negate the fact that the decent thing to do on the internet is to provide minimal attribution or link to source.

    the rest of your comment was snotty, insulting, and childish

    I know you are, but what am I?

    To be less childish, yes, all of the above. I find your manner of commenting on this blog to be unfriendly, insincere, and not genuinely open. Thus, to provide entertainment to certain persons, I wish to provide you with some comuppance.

    Way to set up a strawman and then knock it down.

    The beauty is that you set the strawman up in your own mind, then have to knock it down yourself. It's a complex rhetorical device, and I'm not even sure it has a name. I shall dub it the reverse-projected strawman. I am not serious. In case that needed to be said.

    I try to assume good faith and debate fairly with people

    Exhibit A (already used by someone): http://9gag.com/gag/aEw151M

    Exhibit B: http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/06/nsa-codebreaking-i-am-the-other/#comment-1107286

    maybe you're just having an off day

    Actually, I thought I was really on target that day.

    but you're really coming across as a dick who's trying to score points instead of having a conversation.

    Minor quibble: who did score some points. Also, what was that about name-calling and civility?

    http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/07/line-of-death/#comment-1108329

    could you do so in a way that doesn't look like it's attacking people?

    And it looks like I'm not the only reader who is asking that of you as well.

    tl;dr: Clark cited title and section, and he used lots of words, so he must be right. I bow down in front of him.

  57. says

    Well feeding the starving is getting involved, rather than reducing your world to your horizon and ignoring what takes place outside, so that is something.

    You and I have a fundamental difference in philosophy, so I suspect this conversation may come to a standstill. But just in case:

    You have proposed, even if obliquely, that USians (who are, to your mind, reasonably admiral people) should spend its resources to right the wrongs other governments visit upon their own peoples. Why do you feel it is up to USians to do it? Why do you think we should spend our resources for your philosophical interests?

    Resources are scarce. You admit you can't answer the questions I've asked about how to allocate those resources, particularly when we have actually attempted to feed people around the world and the supplies get hijacked by local warlords. So those resources were wasted. These questions are not a thought experiment.

    Further, we have our own problems, all of which only get exacerbated when we tend to the rest of the world. Now, I will say this: If we had 

    fewer taxes
    fewer regulations
    no "quantitative easing" (aka adding a bunch of zeroes to our digital currency supply)
    no looming healthcare crisis that's threatening to bankrupt us all
    no ginormous businesses running on welfare
    a less tyrannical president
    no steady and rapid militarization of our police forces, and
    no rapid erosion of OUR civil and human rights by our own government,

    our people would be more effectively taken care of. And then perhaps we could export some TLC. But our problems are not insignificant. Philanthropy is what you do AFTER you've taken care of your own needs. We–your ordinary American schlubs–are drowning, which apparently you either don't know or don't believe or don't care.

    Fourthly, I am not a fan of other people coming here to either bomb us or feed us because Chicago's trigger-happy and Detroit is a toxic waste dump. Why would any other country welcome our firepower any more than we would welcome theirs?

    I don't know what country you're from/living in, but is your government out and about either bombing people for their own good or feeding them? We are not inherently smarter than other peoples and usually, what works for us doesn't work for other cultures. Yet because we have attempted to force our worldview on other cultures, it has only resulted in unrest.

    Again I ask, why should we not retreat into our borders and leave the world alone? Why do you look to us to right the world's wrongs?

  58. HandOfGod137 says

    @Moriah Jovan

    I don't think it is the sole responsibility of the USA: it is a responsibility for the whole world community. And I am British, so my country is both feeding and bombing (though thankfully a bit less of the latter of late).

    But yes, you are right, we clearly have wildly different philosophies. I view the form of Libertarianism you seem to espouse as essentially a way of making a formal argument for selfishness. Or, as Iain Banks put it: "A simple-minded right-wing ideology ideally suited to those unable or unwilling to see past their own sociopathic self-regard." And whether you like it or not, the USA is part of a global ecosystem: issues like overpopulation, resource starvation and climate change are not going to respect any arbitrary line on a map.

  59. James Pollock says

    "You have proposed, even if obliquely, that USians (who are, to your mind, reasonably admiral people) should spend its resources to right the wrongs other governments visit upon their own peoples. Why do you feel it is up to USians to do it? Why do you think we should spend our resources for your philosophical interests?"

    Not JUST us, but everyone. We CAN do more, so perhaps it is that we SHOULD do more. Americans help people who are not American because we can. (Most Americans think that we spend WAY more on overseas aid than we actually do, and fail to note that sometimes our "aid" consists of helping other governments to buy munitions sold by U.S. businesses… in other words, that sort of aid is really a subsidy for the defense monolith.)

    "Further, we have our own problems, all of which only get exacerbated when we tend to the rest of the world."
    This is the "short horizon" fallacy. The problem is that, like Zeno's Paradox, it's recursive.
    Why should (nation-state) assist people who are in (other nation-state) when (nation-state) still has problems that are unfixed. OK, we'll keep our assistance efforts within (nation-state).
    But wait! Why should (political subdivision of nation-state) assist (other subdivisions) when (political subdivision) still has problems that are unfixed?
    Why should (local community) assist (other communities) when (local community) still has unfixed problems?
    Why should (family-grouping) assist (other family groupings) when (family grouping) has unfixed problems.
    You can push this all the way down to: Why should I help others when I have unfixed problems? All along the faulty reasoning has been "when have all problems EVER been fixed? This works out to be an excuse not to do anything.

    "Philanthropy is what you do AFTER you've taken care of your own needs."
    Not according to Jesus. The good Samaritan gave what was needed because it was needed, not because he wasn't using those resources anyway. This is not to say that you, or anyone else, must follow that particular choice, just pointing out that your definition is not a universal model, and in fact differs substantially from the model professed (though perhaps not practiced) by a majority of Americans.

    "Again I ask, why should we not retreat into our borders and leave the world alone?"
    Well, first off, if we could retreat from the Middle East, this might be a reasonable option to consider. But darn it, their countries are located on top of our oil. Ditto for other parts of the world and various strategic minerals.
    Second, there's the fact that ignoring wars (and the things that cause wars, like prolonged injustice) doesn't make them go away. Sure, you can argue that not every war will impinge on our interests, but sorting out the ones that will from the ones that won't is a matter of hindsight. We tried to stay out of WWI AND WWII. WWI probably wouldn't have ended sooner if the U.S. had gotten in earlier, but WWII probably would have; on the other side, pretty close to nobody in the U.S. would have blinked had Ho Chi Minh taken control over all of Vietnam in 1964 (and they would have been a solid U.S. ally had we backed them in 1945.)

    Yes, we are ABSOLUTELY capable of making blunders; this is an argument to act smarter, and not acting should always be part of the option list. But to limit the loption list to ONLY "do nothing" is an error of the first magnitude.

  60. James Pollock says

    "My personal opinion is that the author of the work does not enforce his copyright and thus has probably lost the ability to do so."

    That's not how copyright works, that's how trademark works. Copyright owners are free to selectively prosecute their rights.

  61. HandOfGod137 says

    On the picture thing: there may be no legal requirement to give attribution (I dunno, IANAL), but it would seem good manners to do so.

  62. azazel1024 says

    Clark, maybe I missed something, but Article I Section 8 may not give direct power to the state to do that, however it does allow for the regulation of interstate commerce, states can ban it and various and sundry other powers arguably allow Congress to regulate/ban intoxicating substances.

    Article 18 certainly allows it.

    Article 21 doe NOT remove the ability for the gov't to regulate it and certainly gives nearly unlimited power to States to regulate it.

    Now of course you can also get in to nitty gritty, because 18 and 21 deal with Intoxicating LIQUORS. It says nothing on solids.

    Based on the content of the constitutions and the ammendments, at a bare minimum, congress can enact laws banning interstate commerce regarding it and all states have SOME kind of laws on the books banning intoxicating substances of one kind of another. This is at a minimum. So under state and federal powers as well as Maritime laws, the US was well within its rights to board the ship and seize the Cocaine.

    As for specific federal laws making it a crime to posess or use drugs, that is slightly less clear cut. There is nothing banning Congress from making such laws within the constitution, there are also no clear powers to do such…however the constitution also doesn't present clear powers for Congress to pass many laws. I don't see one that specifically says Congress can pass a law making murder a federal crime.

    At best it gets in the nebulous powers under Article I section 8 "To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;" There is that clause, and offenses against the law of nations. Was that a set of codified laws? Not that I am aware of. To the best of my knowledge, that was effectively "What we think is really bad".

    Murder, arson, etc. Or in the case here, narcotics.

    I think the war on drugs is stupid, but I also don't believe that Congress doesn't have the constiutional power to enact such laws. They are just stupid laws, not unconstitutional.

  63. R R Clark says

    @Al

    Not in the slightest. Nobody is interested in expert testimony that doesn't support their position.

    Interestingly enough we can do the same thing with aircraft, although that typically requires making them land first.

  64. 205guy says

    James Pollack wrote: "That's not how copyright works, that's how trademark works. Copyright owners are free to selectively prosecute their rights."

    My mistake, I was indeed confusing the two. I guess then that the copyright owner just isn't bothering to enforce the licenses he chose, for any number of reasons (not aware, not caring, not wanting to spend the time). Given that the only downside that an unauthorized use faces is a email kindly asking for attribution, there is little downside to unauthorized use.

  65. James Pollock says

    "Given that the only downside that an unauthorized use faces is a email kindly asking for attribution, there is little downside to unauthorized use."

    Not so. The fact that a license exists where use would have been permitted had attribution been made does not preclude seeking the full range of remedies, perhaps including statutory damages. (Statutory damages have a minimum that applies even if the person has, for example, a good-faith belief that fair use applied, but does not.)

    If you don't comply with the terms of the license, your use is unlicensed. One way of looking at copyright licensing is that a license is a contract that says "I won't sue you for violating my copyright rights if…" with the terms following.

    So yeah, failing to attribute might actually cost you some $$$.
    Assuming the copyright owner cares enough to sue.

  66. Kilroy says

    Nothing to do with you, just a prior association. Local joke-of-a-lawyer uses the Clark Kent avatar for his law firm bio. Same kid that wore the Superman shirt every single day during law school. I'll try to work past it.

  67. says

    One concern is that while humanitarian-motivated bombing (as oxymoronic as that sounds) would be seen by some as justified, even desirable, by many others it would be seen as yet another act of agenda-laden American Imperialism. And personally speaking, qua American, I'm growing tired of the Great Satan monicker.

    Another concern is we (American taxpayers) get stuck with the bill again. I mean if it's really true the USofA has the only military in the world that can bring the necessary supply chain to bear on Assad's assets (battleships->strike fighters->missiles), and I'm not convinced we are, then at the very least I want all those people in the countries egging us on — Go Get 'em America! — to pony up the bread. And I want to see a proportional tax rebate. That's not callousness, it's an undeniable economic reality of being World Police, one the rest of world choosing to sit this one out needs to be reminded of.

  68. xtmar says

    @azazel1024

    Run of the mill murder isn't a federal crime. You either need to take your victim across state lines, or else otherwise involve the federal government (victim is a federal employee, or crime was committed on federal property). They can also get you on civil rights violations, but that's more under the 14th amendment, as I understand it, and also isn't for the murder itself.

  69. azazel1024 says

    Oh, I understand that, but there isn't anything specifically in the Constution that allows Congress to pass laws, for example, making it a federal crime to kill a federal employee as one of your examples.

    I certainly don't dispute that Congress should be able to though. I also understand where a lot of the laws Congress has passed goes in to Interstate Commerce/Interstate boundries. It is the most used power of Congress, other than the power of endless debate and ridicule (oh, wait, that last one is a power of the citizenry).

  70. HandOfGod137 says

    @RKN

    Another concern is we (American taxpayers) get stuck with the bill again.

    Well, in an ideal world it would be the cost in life and injuries versus the lives saved, but I'm sure the tax is important too. I'd be up for saving, say, 10,000 lives for a 1% hike in my basic rate of tax for 5 years, but any more than that and screw 'em.

  71. James Pollock says

    "One concern is that while humanitarian-motivated bombing (as oxymoronic as that sounds) would be seen by some as justified, even desirable, by many others it would be seen as yet another act of agenda-laden American Imperialism."

    Why can't it be both? It IS both.

    "at the very least I want all those people in the countries egging us on — Go Get 'em America! — to pony up the bread."
    Saudi Arabia picked up the tab (well, part of it) for Gulf War I. They seem poised to do so again. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the tax rebate, though. But it'll stimulate the economy… specifically the cruise-missile building part of the economy… and that's good for us. Get a few more Americans off unemployment and back to working in the munitions factories.

  72. Roger Strong says

    @RKN
    Another concern is we (American taxpayers) get stuck with the bill again.

    America is paying to operate those ships and strike fighters regardless.

    One reason that America bombs another country every three or four years like clockwork is that new troops get actual combat experience. The latest equipment gets real-world combat testing. That counts for a lot, should America face a war against a major enemy. And if your target country has money, you get to study Russian training and equipment in action.

    As for the cost of the munitions, bombing Syria replaces a live-fire exercise. Except that clean-up and unexploded ordinance becomes Someone Else's Problem. Use Tomahawks and smart-bombs that are reaching the end of their shelf life, and you don't have to pay to dismantle and dispose of them. But the latest software gets real-world testing. In the long term it's a good deal.

    Well, except for those killed by collateral product testing.

    After Afghanistan and Iraq, America has a recruiting problem. Libya and now Syria signal a return to no-boots-on-the-ground push button wars. All the fun and excitement of a war without the danger or multiple tours of duty to a remote desert. Just what the recruiters need.

    Again, a good deal. And again, except for those killed by collateral shock & awe.

  73. says

    @JamesPollock

    Yes, it is both, but from where I sit I'm concerned the former is dwindling while the latter is steeply on the rise.

    Let the Israelis do it. They are much much closer to Damascus than we are, they got the appropriate weaponry for punitive strikes on Assad's assets, they've demonstrated they know how to deploy said weaponry (e.g., missile strikes on convoy destined for Hezbollah), and above all that, when it comes to the moral argument, I can't think of a people who should be more outraged by innocents dying from poison gas than those living in a modern Jewish state. I would think their nerves should be on fire by now.

    If that's enough there's always their immediate national interest. The civil war in Syria is further aggregating groups who hate Israel (e.g. Hezbollah), and right on their border. That seems to me like a much bigger concern for national interest than anything I've heard Susan Rice give for the USofA.

  74. says

    @RogerStrong

    I doubt the estimated $2-4 trillion that will be spent in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would have been spent "regardless." Indeed, the claim by certain hawks in the pentagon before the Iraq war began, that maintaining a no-fly zone over 2/3rds of Iraq was not a feasible option for containing Saddam long term because it would be "too expensive", is now utterly laughable.

    Not to mention the highest cost of war — medical costs for caring for the wounded. None of which would be incurred "regardless."

    I am quite certain there are better options for maintaining war readiness than traipsing around the world carrying out "exercises" in sovereign countries and pissing them off royally.

  75. James Pollock says

    "America is paying to operate those ships and strike fighters regardless."
    Tomahawk missiles are one-use-only, and cost about $1.1M each (plus inflation).
    Of course, if we have to periodically fire some off ANYWAY, to be sure our crews are properly trained on how to use them, we might as well shoot them at something we don't like, right?

  76. James Pollock says

    "I understand that, but there isn't anything specifically in the Constution that allows Congress to pass laws, for example, making it a federal crime to kill a federal employee as one of your examples."

    That's covered by "necessary and proper".

  77. James Pollock says

    " The civil war in Syria is further aggregating groups who hate Israel (e.g. Hezbollah), and right on their border. That seems to me like a much bigger concern for national interest than anything I've heard Susan Rice give for the USofA."

    Right now it's a proxy war, as various regional players vie for supremacy. If it spreads beyond Syria (as seems entirely possible with Egypt and Iraq still smoldering on barely contained conflicts with governments probably unable to project much in the way of stabilization, and certainly not without help) you could get a major regional war on top of a quarter of the world's oil production. How well do you think we could cope with THAT?

  78. says

    …you could get a major regional war on top of a quarter of the world's oil production. How well do you think we could cope with THAT?

    It may be a 1/4 of the world's oil production, but as of 2012 "we" (USofA) are not a significant net importer of petroleum from any middle eastern country except Saudi Arabia [1], and even that represents only 18% of the total, so in the case of a regional war we use our power to keep the Saudis safe and happy, just like we did for the Kuwaitis in the 1st gulf war.

    Do you think a punitive strike by the U.S. on Assad's assets will likely prevent the widening of the war into a regional conflict?

    1. http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=727&t=6

  79. James Pollock says

    "It may be a 1/4 of the world's oil production, but as of 2012 "we" (USofA) are not a significant net importer of petroleum from any middle eastern country except Saudi Arabia [1],"

    Oil is fungible. Cut off a 1/4 of the supply, and the people who used to buy that oil start looking for other places to buy it. Those other places suddenly realize that they have multiple bidders on a sharply limited supply. Prices go up, and SOMEBODY is going home without any, and EVERYBODY'S going home with less than they wanted.

    "Do you think a punitive strike by the U.S. on Assad's assets will likely prevent the widening of the war into a regional conflict?"
    No, I don't but that's not the question I was answering. I was answering "why do we care if the war persists in Syria" and more specifically, "why don't we just wait for Israel to deal with it, since it's more their problem than ours."

    The answer, as it usually does with any question involving the Middle East, boils down to "everybody hates everybody else" plus "oil".

  80. says

    James: If a significant oil producing country in the middle east were to get involved in an expanded regional conflict, then since war is expensive both in terms of lives and money, we would expect the country to increase oil production and sales to buyers, not decrease it or limit it. When production increases world supply goes up, not down, and assuming world demand stays more or less constant, the price to the consumer goes down, not up.

    I'll leave it at that since I feel like I've already made too many off tangent comments in this thread.

  81. James Pollock says

    "If a significant oil producing country in the middle east were to get involved in an expanded regional conflict, then since war is expensive both in terms of lives and money, we would expect the country to increase oil production and sales to buyers, not decrease it or limit it."

    A) that assumes that oil production is not already near peak, and, more importantly,
    B) that the war wouldn't interfere with production or transportation, and both are highly doubtful propositions.
    If Israel's in a war with Iran, Iran's oil exports will NOT go up. It seems most likely that the Saudis would blockade the Persian Gulf, thereby cutting off all the oil shipped out in tankers. I'd bet pretty strongly on an airstrike against the pipelines, too. I'm not sure how effective Iran's return strike capacity is, since they had American fighters until 1979, and they were stuck for parts while Reagan was still President. All you need is a small boat and big bomb to take out tanker traffic (or an oil terminal).

    No, the notion that a war would cause oil production to go up seems far-fetched.
    And, if the war went regional, and the oil kept flowing, nobody'd know how long it'd STAY flowing, so prices would jump anyway from the uncertainty.
    The U.S. economy is not strong as it is. Spiking oil prices would put us in a tailspin.

  82. Roger Strong says

    @RKN
    I doubt the estimated $2-4 trillion that will be spent in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would have been spent "regardless."
    Of course. Which is why I made it clear that I was talking about Libya and Syria, as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

  83. H Smith says

    Presidential proclamations, the NSA and Congress abrogating it's duties (except the individual duty of getting re-elected) evidence the gathering momentum of our country towards a more complete and invasive oligarchy.
    Uncle Sam may sometime soon look in the mirror and see Putin staring back at him, with the ghost of Stalin over his shoulder.