Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

50 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Grods Corp Blog, with a little help from Andrew Bartlett, recently assembled a list of blogging pollies.


    They are still pretty small in number, but it will be interesting to see whether it catches on. You would expect that independents would embrace it . So far there seems to be no starters. Any thoughts on polly bloggers (poggers)? The only true ones must surely have a comments facilty on line…….

  2. I suspect the reason that Andrew Bartlett is the most prominent politician blogger is that he is a Democrat, and not held to the same party control as other politicians.

    On another matter, the problems arising from the comments of the Pope this week at least raises the possibility of a “dialogue of civilizations” which seems to fit, except for some philosphic systems such as Taoism, but I wonder what is the appropriate expression for a meeting and understanding of cultures?

  3. The rejoinders from Nicholas Gruen, John Quiggin and James Farrell at the end of last weeks Reflections have raised a number of issues about the contributions and achievements of Keynes (of the General Theory), Samuelson and others. To put my challenge in a nutshell, I am not convinced that the approach by way of mathematica formalism and aggregation results in theories that relate to the activities of flesh and blood people going about their business in the real world. So if economics and political economy are concerned with the real world then it is a moot point whether the mathematical formalists and GET theorists should be regarded as economists at all, let along great and helpful ones.

    This raises the kind of issues about the nature and purpose of economics that Menger and Schmoller addressed in the methodenstreit over a hundred years ago. Working economists, people unlike myself who are actually DOING economics rather than just talking about it, may not see much point in this kind of debate but I think it might be worthwhile to have a go at it. Anyway, since you guys are ganging up on me, like bullies in the schoolyard, and because I am not trained in economics, working in economics or in touch with economists on a daily basis for discussion I am going to run off and get my big brother Pete Boettke to help.

    This long piece appeared in the journal Critical Review (1997).

    Click to access boettke-cr.pdf

    Several people replied, Daniel Hausman, Robert Heilbroner and Thomas Mayer, then Boettke replied to them

    Click to access formalism_in_contemporary.pdf

    Boettke concluded that the problem with modern economics is that it restricts the questions we can ask about the real world. He stands by the historical narrative, with Knight, Mises, Coase, Hayek, Buchanan, Olsen. He questions the contribution of such brilliant formalists as Tinbergen, Arrow, Lucas, Samuelson and more recently Stiglitz. His judgement is not shared by most economists and he asks why not?

    These issues will take some time to explore and I will post a summary of Boettke’s arguments in due course to invite further discussion. This exchange may need to go on for some time and it will make some demands on the patience and goodwill of all parties. I will have to learn some more economics and other people will need to come to grips with some ideas that they will not at first find congenial. So be it!

  4. “demands on the patience and goodwill”

    Rafe, you’re close to exhausting this with your repeated insults directed at other participants, claims to superior knowledge in fields where your ignorance is evident and so on. Your latest post hasn’t helped.

    If you want to continue, I suggest a retraction of various remarks you’ve directed against others is in order. I certainly don’t intend to respond any further until this is forthcoming.

  5. This link to an article in Slate ezine brings together what may be a good mixture for the weekend


    Wine. economics and climate change

    OK it doesn’t really have the same alliteration as wine, women and song, but we are now in the new century with calamities all around us etc etc.

  6. using “legal mumbo jumbo to obscure the fact that the CIA will continue to be allowed to use torture and will actually be insulated from legal liability for previous acts of torture.”

  7. Rafe,

    I don’t know if you know, but I’ve tried to initiate some discussion on Troppo arising from the discussion on this thread last week.

    And the link you provided in response to John’s previous challenge – which seems very germaine to the question of the relative worth of the various schools – barely addressed John’s point (James Farrell put his finger on the problem).

  8. You’re incorrigible, Rafe, as I’ve said at least once before. Maybe John is out of his depth in the philosophy of science (although he seems to have a remarkably good grasp, for a non-specialist, of the basic positions, and seems capable of stating them in own words). But at least he doesn’t make a career out of lambasting various philosophers of science and their followers in every avaialble forum, cutting-and-pasting from aticles he barely understands in support of his claims.

    You, by contrast, admit you have no training in economics, and have proven repeatedly that you’re way out of your depth in most of the economic topics you comment on, and yet you spend half your life making emphatic pronouncements on precisely those topics, and strident critiques of ideas you can’t even articulate.

    When your arguments are refuted in detail, you concede nothing, and come back sooner or later with more of the same generalisations.

    What you call ganging up is just an easily achieved consenus on these points. Anyway, I predict that this time, far from ganging up, no-one will take you up on your statements. But maybe Ernestine, who is possibly new to your game, will play a few rounds with you until she realises how futile it is.

  9. Econwit;
    Whilst agreeing on the free David Hicks sentiment (although plenty of POW’s served as long inside as he):

    would you allow torture under certain circumstances?
    what do you define as torture?
    what ,if any, are the circumstances you would allow torture?
    what evidence have you got for the use of term madmen?
    Surely if they were mad it would be possible to plead diminished responsibility if charged over the use of torture?

  10. “although plenty of POW’s served as long inside as he�
    What war? He is a political prisoner.

    would you allow torture under certain circumstances? no

    what do you define as torture?
    “The act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty�.

    what evidence have you got for the use of term madmen?
    Anybody who uses torture or allows the use of torture is mad. The evidence would be the scars on Hicks body.

  11. Rafe, if you don’t believe in mathematical formalisms of complex behavior, then I am especially glad that you are not a scientist.

  12. Econwit
    Would you regarded it as at least arguable that Hicks was captured on a battlefield taking part in acts of violence on that battlefield?

    Would you agree that it is at least arguable that he should be treated as a POW?

    I do not think equating torture to madness is helpful to any discussion of torture. I am unaware of any published evidence that torturers as a class are mad. The material I can remeber reading seemed to show they were well within the range of normal human beings.

  13. “Would you regarded it as at least arguable that Hicks was captured on a battlefield taking part in acts of violence on that battlefield?”
    No, the facts are he was picked up in bus station in Pakistan doing something scary, waiting for a bus.

    “Would you agree that it is at least arguable that he should be treated as a POW?”
    No. If he has done any criminal activity he should be given a fair trial in a timely manner, otherwise he should be RELEASED.

    Torturers “are well within the range of normal human beings.�
    It would be prudent to perceive physical evidence, let alone any published evidence would disprove that.

  14. In Wiki

    It states :

    “In the voided indictment of Hicks, the United States government had alleged:
    • .
    • that in September 2001 Hicks travelled to Pakistan and was there at the time of the September 11 attacks on the United States, which he saw on television.
    • that he returned to Afghanistan in anticipation of the attack by the United States and its allies on the Taliban regime, which was sheltering Osama bin Laden.
    • that on returning to Kabul, Hicks was assigned by Mohammed Atef to the defence of Kandahar, and that he joined a group of mixed al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters at Kandahar airport, and that at the end of October, however, Hicks and his party travelled north to join in the fighting against the forces of the U.S. and its allies.
    • that after arriving in Konduz on 9 November 2001, he joined a group which included John Walker Lindh (the “American Taliban”). This group was engaged in combat against Coalition forces, and during this fighting he was captured by Coalition forces. ”

    Except for a bit of legal mumbo jumbo that is the behviour of a serving soldier and thus arguably entitled to POW status.

  15. Those allegations have no legal force or validity because they are “voided�. In any case they are only ‘allegations’. It is easy to assert something without proof and those allegations are unlikely or a long way to being pronounced proven facts. Especially when view in context of who is making them, a country with a long history of feeding the world disinformation and misinformation. Does WMD (weapons of mass destruction) ring any bells?

    It would be a hollow perception to place oneself above judge and jury and assert to know the facts of Hicks behavior and then classify him. Even the US government can not do this, that is why he is classified a “unprivileged belligerent” and not a POW.

  16. Raffe,

    James hypotheised I might be a temporary discussion partner for you.

    While I respect James’ points of view in general and I value his sense of humour in particular, I am writing to tell you that I totally agree with JQ’s request for you to retract statements.

    I may not be a suitable discussion partner even if you were to retract, as requested by JQ, because, whether you like it or not, I have no patience at all with the ‘ism-word’ literature. IMHO, philosophy raises questions of interest regarding the material welfare of humans (ie economics) and mathematics provides the discipline to separate theoretical knowledge regarding these philosophical questions from wishful thinking or raw ideology. This discipline might be unpleasant for those who value ’emotional intelligence’ over the discipline in question. I have no interest in persuading them to change their state of mind and I have no interest in imposing that which I value onto others. In short, I have no common ground with someone like you who sets as a condition for his program of ?…? : “…other people will need to come to grips with some ideas that they will not at first find congenial.”

  17. The alleged facts accord with statements coming from Hicks supporters that he was abused by the Northern Coalition. Implying that he was not captured at a bus stop in Pakistan as you posted.

    POW’s have rights although their release it more or less at the pleasure of their capturers.

    Capture on the battlefield and being treated as a common criminal could have very dire consequences.

    Applying criminal law when there is terrorism of witnesses is difficult. Why do the bikie gangs roam free? Why have most otherwise civilised countries had special criminal regimes when facing terrorist acts.

    The USA is arguing these issues through and is not doing too bad a job provided you are not the one inside.

    Being able to compare Hicks rights with those accorded to animals shows how high the USA standards are on animal rights although I guess that is not the point you are making.

    Would you place the following countries in order of your opinion of their trustworthiness?
    USA; Australia; France; Libya; China; India; Pakistan. Iraq (old regime), Solomon Islands and one non-country, AWB

  18. Taust, the wine-growing case is an example of what is called the “comparative static” approach to valuing the costs of climate change. A focus on adjustment costs was presented by Quiggin & Horowitz here in 2003. I have left a query on Prof. Quiggin’s RSMG site about whether any further work on adjustment costs is going on there. It is a very interesting issue, going to the choice between mitigation and adjustment as strategies to address global warming.

  19. Hicks advocates allege that he was pick up in a bus station in Pakistan then moved to Afghanistan to have “the objects inserted in his anus� by the CIA and others.

    Whatever the true facts, people can allege anything. You might like to have a society that uses conjecture for the basis to inflict torture and incarceration on an individual, but I can not share your convictions on that issue.

    You and those Torturous Madmen are advocating a society where “we can go ahead and take away those fundamental rights and protections that we give to our murderers and our child molesters and our rapists, and to our corrupt politicians. They get it. Why doesn’t David Hicks rate the basic fundamental human values that we give everyone? If he’s violated the law and you try him in a fair system, fine. They don’t want to give him that fair shake, unfortunately because I think his case has become political and the politics of it don’t want to – the first Military Commissions can’t be acquittals. They couldn’t afford that.â€? (MAJOR MICHAEL MORI)


  20. Gordon;

    A very interesting paper.

    I am not qualified to pass professional judgement on the paper being a Peter the Peasant (although I prefer a description of ‘an ancient middling sort of fellow’).

    However it was authored by experts of good professional standing, presumably it was published in a journal practising peer review etc etc etc. so the mitigators will not beat me up for taking it in face value.

    It does include the word ‘depreciation’ which is a word (as are equity or fairness) in economics papers that I take as a warning that the author is possibly up to no good.

    However the paper to me gives a good overview of the main features of the landscape of the investigation space it is addressing.

    It is difficult to for me (not the authors) to avoid drawing the conclusion that to minimise the costs of climate change we must minimise the costs of actually carrying out the adaptation.

    I think in addressing the depreciation of existing capital stocks it gets very close to treating ‘sunk cast’ erroneously, but even if that is true it would only serve to make the conclusions of the paper more conservative.

    I would be interested in knowing if this work is continuing.

    Once again thanks for the link.

  21. Taust, you’re welcome. I have often thought that the US in particular has been misled by “comparative static” analyses into thinking that the net costs of climate change won’t be high, therefore it would be silly to spend a lot of money on either mitigation or adaptation. To make a simple example, if reindeer herders in the far North find they can farm wheat, and wheat farmers find they can only farm cactus, then the gains to the reindeer herders match the losses to the wheat farmers, so there is little net cost. But this leaves all adjustment costs out of account.

    It is also far from certain on ecological grounds. For instance, there has been speculation that global warming could enable the Russians to farm areas which are now permafrost, but I suspect that (and an ecological view would be needed here) all they would get from melted permafrost would be an acidic bog, which would cost a fortune to drain and make suitable for farming.

  22. gordon;

    whilst we may be an example of the glass half full or half empty syndrome I think we agree on the need to do some serious study of the adaptation route. The need is already on us. Yet the changes being made are being guided by little more than commonsense and experience.

  23. Econwit;

    In your society how do you counter witnesses terrorised into silence and police terrorised into not carrying out their duties?

  24. In our “society” there are alegations that this guy killed a witness into silence:

    “At the time of his death from a heroin overdose, Mr Gibson was in the second day of an arson trial for the fire-bombing of a house Mr Byrnes was in the process of buying. The court has previously heard that Mr Gibson told his father that he burned down the property for Mr Byrnes and his associate, Tony Vincent. Mr Byrnes has denied the claim.”


    That is the irony of your argument.

    You want Hicks whose only crime is an opposing political view, to be locked up waiting indefinitely while Byrnes is free and gets his day in court.

  25. ‘I have no common ground with someone like you who sets as a condition for his program of ?…? : “…other people will need to come to grips with some ideas that they will not at first find congenial.â€? ‘

    Ernestime, what if you file that comment for future reference and see what you think about it in 10 or 20 years time?

    Thanks for your effort at matchmaking James, I would be a willing suitor to a comely student of ideas but it seems that Ernestine is determined to remain chaste despite the promise of philosophical joys that might lie in store.

  26. ‘Econwit;
    In your society how do you counter witnesses terrorised into silence and police terrorised into not carrying out their duties?’

    Well taust I’ll tell you what self proclaimed liberal democracies up to now have generally avoided-judicial torture, indefinite detention, refusal to to specifiy the crimes for which people are detained, refusal to permit legal counsel in the event of detention, and, where counsel is permited, interference in the comunications between legal counsel and the accused. And this brings me to my final point. The US government ‘spokespeople’ (whoever they are-we are not permited to konw their names or test their veracity) may well be right in all they say about Hicks. But here’s the rub for a good old fashioned democrat.

    We have no way of knowing whether what they say is true or not, because the processes ‘determined by the US Executive’ , prevents us from knowing. The last time these kinds of processes were seriously entertained in the Anglo phone countries, was some time in the 17th century, and the judical porcesses used to ‘try’ and convict were operated by a body called the Star Chamber.

    Those that are content with the treatment of Hicks may like to contemplate exactly what separates ‘them’ and ‘us’ in this by now completely idiotic program of fighting the gwot abroad, by eliminating the very freedoms and rights ‘at home’ that supposedly distinguish ‘us’ from ‘them’.

  27. Econwit;
    picking one Anglophone country at random you might want to review the UK through the Malaya emergency, the Mau Mau emergency, Cyprus, Ireland etc all of which happened in the last half of the 20th century.

    Having accepted as an allegation that Hick was captured on a battlefield or very close thereto would you accept that it is arguable that he could be treated as a POW?

    If he was a POW in what regard would his treatment not be in accord with the applicable Geneva Convention except for the criminal charges being laid.

    The USA has faced up to the problems of developing a due process that also meets the requirements of responding to violent direct action.

    My own preference would be to treat those captured as POW’s, but not allow them to remain under the control of their own officers.

    All the allegations of ill-treatment, whilst a proportion would be highly likely to be true, remain allegations made by people with very good reason to make such claims.

    You have the luxury of capturing the high moral ground on torture whilst being protected by the actions of those who torture. Yet you refuse to discuss the grounds on which torture could be used. Whilst abhorring the use of torture I am aware that responsible people see conditions under which it should be authorised. I am prepared to argue the issue.

    Now the situation is we all know it happens; from time to time some poor fall guy gets charged and we are all expected to believe that is the end of the matter.

    Take the guards at the US prison charged with abusing prisoners. There is ample evidence that if normal human beings are put in that situation a proportion will abuse. The people who should have been charged were the persons who allowed the conditions for abuse to develop without adequate safeguards.

  28. Sorry to both econwit and stopthe rubbish. My previous post was in reply to stoptherubbish not econwit

  29. Taust,
    you do get around.
    If I understand you correctly, you suggest that Hicks should be treated as a POW, and that as a POW he should be subject to the Geneva Convention. Do you not understand that Guantanamo is a mechanism invented by the US precisely to avoid having to classify prisoners as POWs? That was the whole thrust of Bush’s claim: that they are not POW’s, they are “enemy combatants” and, as such, not subject to Geneva. Or do I misunderstand you?
    As David Rose writes in “Guantanamo”, “The standards and rules of confinement at Guantanamo brach the Convention not only in minor, technical ways, but in its absolute fundamentals.”

    You appear to advocate torture, yet advance no coherent reason to justify it. You offer the smug, self-justifying logic of Jack Nicholson lecturing Tom Cruise in a Hollywood movie, yet fail to offer any concrete example of torture that has in fact saved lives. The so-called “ticking bomb” scenario so beloved of Alan Dershowitz and others is just that: a scenario and nothing more. There has never been one ticking bomb incident in recorded history where lives were saved by torture. I challenge you to provide one.

  30. My own “Reflection”: someone mentioned Christopher Hitchens on the ABC’s Lateline (I think it was last week). Well, Hitchens is one thing, but what about Lateline’s choice of “talking heads” in general? They used to serve up buckets of Richard Armitage. Will they bring him back, now that he’s been outed as one of the leaks on Valerie Plame-Wilson? And what about Martin Indyk, who has been named by Mearsheimer and Walt in their much-discussed article as one of the more influential “Israel lobbyists”? Should Middle East comment be monopolised by the likes of Indyk? One hears talk about the “left-wing bias” of the ABC. Frankly, when I watch Lateline now (it used to be better), I have the impression I’m listening to the representatives of the opposite end of the spectrum. Is this good use of my “eight cents a day”?

  31. “If he was a POW in what regard would his treatment not be in accord with the applicable Geneva Convention except for the criminal charges being laid�.

    “His official status is unlawful combatant (also unlawful enemy combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent)�. “It is opined that by this definition legal protection under the Geneva Conventions is not warranted�.
    This is a classification that the Bush administration is utilising out of context. Its use by Bush is designed to circumvent the detainees around due process and a just trial.

    It would be preferable if he were classified a POW. That would afford him the minimal protections of article 3 of GC111 which give the benefit of a regularly constituted court amongst other protections:
    “Noncombatants, combatants who have laid down their arms, and combatants who are hors de combat (out of the fight) due to wounds, detention, or any other cause shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, including prohibition of outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment. The passing of sentences must also be pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.�

    What is the covert motive behind your questions Taust? Are you a closet Hicks supporter?

  32. Econwit;

    Not in any closet (see my posting of 22nd September in this thread). I am of the opinion that our Government was at fault in not taking a more principled stand on Hicks.

    However once you accept that there is a close correspondence between Hick’s situation and that of a POW then his continued incarceration becomes to a degree supportable (you do not in general, release POW’s until the war is over).

    There are generally acceptable field and base interrogation methods (although perhaps not so generally acceptable if well known) applicable to POW’s.

    My basic point is getting Hicks status as a political POW is more better way forward (for Hicks and others in his situation)than making him a political prisoner.

    Widening POW status also reduces the need for retrospective laws and criminal charges.

    If the Great M Thatcher had accepted POW status for IRA prisoners it would have made managing their eventual release tidier.

  33. Taust (if you are still there), I got the following reply to my query at RSMG regarding costs of adjustment to global warming:


    No further work on adjustment costs per se, but you may be interested in the following working paper that is along the lines of climate change and the precautionary principle.”

    Here is the working paper link. I haven’t read it yet.

  34. Gordon;

    still here tho’ much assailed. Thanks for following up but you missed in putting in the link.

    It does look as though economists follow fashionable rather than vitally useful research topics. but then (thanks be to god) I am not an economist so I cannot really judge or the RS will be woken up to monster me.

    I will make some time free to work through the paper more carefully. Some order of magnitude estimates ought to get to a reasonably robust assessment of net magnitude.


  35. Petard.

    thanks for your posting.

    I am arguing that it would be less disruptive of basic human rights if the terrorists were treated as POW’s. Yes I realise that the USA assessed the situation differently but I increasingly think this was a mistake.

    We would have to have a twin entry point either capture in circumstances were the alleged combatant was caught using violence or the current definition of terrorist acts. Once proven subject to POW status.

  36. Petard;
    re the torture strand

    I believe that we should address the use of torture.

    What is the evidence for its effectiveness or otherwise.

    For example I would hazard a guess that the sensory deprivation method must have a certain effectiveness for it to have become so popular in civilised armies eg the British Army.

    In general in polite society it is almost impossiblr to talk about the subject. As I point out this silence can be dangerous.

    I am fairly sure that torture or practices very close to torture are carrried out by civilised armies but without the occassional burst of sunlight how can one be sure the practice is well regulated to accord with standards the population find acceptable.

  37. taust,
    The evidence for the role of torure can be gleaned from the testiminy of those who have been tortured and survived. It’s role is terror, the method is pain-excruciating pain.The point about torture is that the pain it inflicts is designed to ‘terrorise’ the tortured into ‘revealing the truth’. It certainly terrorises the mind as well as inflicting injuries on the body, but as a means to the truth, it leaves a lot to be desired, quite apart from the question it raises about the terrorism practiced by those (us) who denounce the ‘terrorism’ of the ‘other’ (them).

    Are you familiar with the ‘confessions’ of women tortured in order that they reveal the ‘truth’ of their association with the devil and their evil actions towards their neighbours? Do you think this practice was a reliable way of ascertaining the truth? Becasue if you do, how do you reconcile the fact that practically all the women who were torured, racked, dunked (water boarding) and the like, confessed to being familiars of the devil and practising witchcraft? Do you believe these confessions?

    Are you disgusted?

    Do you think that this time it will be different? Do think that a person who is tortured tells the ‘truth’ or just says what it takes to stop the pain? And if s’he is determined not to ‘speak the truth’ under torure, do you then believe that this practice is a suitable alternative to execution after the truth has been ascertsained by a court, or in fact do you beleive that torture itself should be the court. It is a measure of the depths to which some liberal democracies have sunk, that such questions and arguements casn even be entertained. If you think I am being protected by torturers and thereby reveal my hypocricay for opposing it, let me be even clearer to you. No-one, but no-one need think, whether elected by 99% of the population, or as in Bush’s case, less than 30%, need think they are acting in my name, or that I welcome these methods as a form of ‘protection’. It is in fact a form of ‘protection racket’ undertaken by a poltiical elite that seems to have temporoarliy lost its sense as well as its moral compass.

    It is designed tog terrorise us all, in the name of our security and safety. Ity is a disgrace.

  38. taust,

    “However once you accept that there is a close correspondence between Hick’s situation and that of a POW then his continued incarceration becomes to a degree supportable (you do not in general, release POW’s until the war is over).�

    I do not know what “Hick’s situation� is for certain, except that he was picked up in Afghanistan. The what, when, where and how his doings there is merely conjecture at this point.

    Being classified a POW would be an improvement on his present “underprivileged belligerent” status. The only benefit being it would give him access to a “regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.â€? (article 3 of GC111)

    It is difficult to then conclude there is a war going on and that he should be held to the end of it.

    Is the Global “War on Terrorismâ€? (GWOT) an actual war in the conventional sense? Since “terrorism” is a tactic rather than a country or entity. You cannot have a war against a tactic — you can only have a war with a country or an entity.

    GWOTs characteristics seem to be more akin to a counterterrorist strategy, and that strategy itself employs some terrorist tactics. There is speculation now that it is exacerbating the situation.

    If you look at the history of the phrase “war on terror�, it has been used in connected with the feuding Arab tribes since the 1940s (Jews are Arabs). 9-11 could be classified a continuation of that feud, as most of the people killed in the world trade centre were Jews and it was perpetrated by Saudi Arabians. The Americans were just peripheral damage in that attack.

    It is impossible to eradicate terrorism so should Hicks be incarcerated indefinitely?

    If Hicks could have a fair hearing these issues could be put forward and “His continued incarceration� could be found to be unsupportable.

  39. Ive been asleep at the wheel.


    thanks I am sorry to make you re-link it was there all the time I missed the color change. I would like to claim old age but I think it was just lack of attention.

    Stopthe rubbish;

    one would hope that in general the evidence gleaned from torture would be validated from independent sources.

    Remember at the time of the witchcraft trials witchcraft had a status comprable to taking action to prevent climate change now ie was generally accepted. Thus there appeared to be validation of the confessions extracted by torture.


    The war on Terrorism spin is just that. Leave it alone it leads to blindness.

    It is arguable that we are using extreme violence against a group or groups of people who have a common idealogy.

    The lawyers correctly say you can only declare war against another State. Guess what? The real world hads moved on and the Law needs to reflect the reality.

    I respect your view that torture should be banned. It is a view that I would be most comfortable holding.

    However torture occurs.

    I am willing to accept that on occassions agencies of Australia use or are complicit in the use of torture. I would like to put some ‘sunlight’ into the area so that the what, where, and when, can be discussed and assessed whether or not community standards are met.

  40. “The real world has moved on and the Law needs to reflect the reality.�

    Yes Taust, but probably in a way different to what you envisaged.

    “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing�

    Terrorism has been around for a long time.
    The only thing that has changed is that Bush is putting himself above the law in the name of something he himself is stooping to, terrorism. The costs to the world of his hypocritical actions are to undermine mandated basic human rights and freedoms. This can only be detrimental to our society.

    One only has to draw a parallel between Hicks treatment and that afforded to John Walker Lindh, to highlight this point.


    Both were said to have made confessions under interrogation. One has had the protection of legislation that has teeth, the US constitution and you can reasonably assume he is being given a fair and transparent process. The statutory protections afforded to hicks are less onerous, the effect being that he has lost basic human rights and freedoms.

    Yes, in Hicks case the law needs to be changed to underpin people’s basic human rights and freedoms and to protect the world from people like Bush.

  41. econwit;
    with regards to Hicks I think we are both trying to achieve the same end. Given the percieved stress the democratic societies are under; what is the way of classifying those adopting direct violent action in support of an ideology incompatible with(I presume) our joint view of a law respecting democracy?

    The current definition of POW does not fit the direct violent action personnel.

    The criminal law in democracies has processes that at times in response to direct violent action groups most democracies have had to suspend or avoid. An example is the UK regime in Northern Ireland. The current example is the treatment of those direct violent action group members currently being held by the USA.

    The issue is how do we ensure such people get the maximum practical protection of the Law ie due process whilst at the same time reducing the risk to citisens of the democracies to as low as reasonably practical.

    My gut feel is if you start by accepting that they are POW’s then this is a better starting point than applying criminal law from the start.

    The current émergency’ is going to be with us for at least ten to twenty years and is probably in that time going to expose some 10,000 people to the regime whatever it is so it is worthwhile trying to get it more optimal.

  42. taust,
    If their actions may amount to the criminal, charge them. If you are not sure of the position, investigate them – but while they are free. Otherwise, release them.
    It is not that hard.
    You do not have a war unless it is between sovereign states. The “war on terror” is a nonsence in and of itself. The biggest threat is in the freedoms that are taken from us in the name of security.
    “Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither” – Benjamin Franklin
    This problem has been with us for a long time and the solution has not changed – we just keep forgetting to implement it.

  43. I am half persuaded that because of the relative fall in price of weapons and the all pervading presence of high energy sources in our society as compared to even 50 years ago that violent direct action groups do have a different potential today.

    I am half persuaded that normal criminal laws and processes have al ow effectiveness against well organised groups eg bikie gangs, tobacco companies and violent direct action groups.

    I am half persuaded that two principles clash that I would normally use to cut back the effort I have to make in arriving at a decsion viz the rule of law, and the entitlement to safety.

    Thus I am unable right away to give an answer that at least superficially only follows one principle.

  44. Taust,
    I can appreciate the dilemmas you describe.

    Terrorism has been around for along time. IMHO the incidence of its occurrences as a percentage of society stays pretty constant. The labels might change (IRA, KKK, PLO, Taliban, etc. etc the list goes on),
    but their modus operandi doesn’t change, they are just criminals and should be treated as such.

    The legal concepts that we rely on to differentiate our society from a terrorists one should not be undermined during times of stress. It is not a perfect system, but it is all we have.

    If you agree that bush can use torture to lock anybody up on the basis of innuendo, you are ascribing to the concept of “locking up 10 innocent men so 1 guilty person is caught. This is different from our present legal system which is based on the showing of hard evidence transparently, if this can not be achieved then “it is better that 10 guilty people go free than to have one innocent man loose his freedom.�

    It is a difficult question to answer, if you are a victim you would probably go with bush, if you are an innocent accused it would be hard to be incarcerated or executed. I am with maintaining the status quo as imho the majority of people aren’t actual victims of terrorism, and the chance of more innocent people than are guilty ones being locked up is high.

    Anyway, there has been some progress in the US and Hicks might soon get his day in court, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s