Bush’s pseudo-speech to start in a few minutes

Pseudo because it’s not a speech, it’s more fluff and stay-the-course BS. One of the most brilliant bloggers out there calls it like it is,pointing out it’s just a rehash of Commander Codpiece’s Mission Accomplished landing on the Lincoln aircraft carrier. Will he carry out a fake turkey?

Update: I have to include at least one snip from the post:

Imagine a backdrop of corporate CEO’s as the President calls for a tax on multi-million dollar compensation packages to help pay for the war effort. Picture a backdrop of high-roller K Street lobbyists as the President proposes a lobbying registration fee to finance the armoring of military vehicles.

Returning to planet earth, the Moose recalls that the President never advocates sacrifice except from the courageous troops and their families. Expect more of the same from this President. He is incapable of political imagination – of reaching beyond the confines of his base-polarizing framework. Tonight, he will present himself as the Commander in Chief before his troops. A leader with his army.

But President Bush does not have the capacity to articulate a simple message of candor and unity to a civilian population that is divided and increasingly distrustful of his words. Or maybe he will surprise us all.

But then again, maybe not

I’m blogrolling him now.

UPDATE 2: From Rep. Louise Slaughter:

President Bush spoke tonight and his silence was deafening. If anyone was surprised… if anyone was shocked to see their Commander-In-Chief so divorced from reality, they really haven’t been paying much attention. But day by day more Americans are seeing the light.

Each day they see the news… More casualties. More wounded. Billions of dollars lost or wasted. Congress cutting off veterans benefits. New memos discovered detailing White House plans to invade Iraq using manipulated or manufactured evidence. The list goes on and on.


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

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The Discussion: 88 Comments

Lirelou, I love that quote.

And I agree with Mark that there’s a lot of validity to Marx’s theories. Sadly, whenever implemented they’ve been corrupted. But by their very nature that is bound to happen — MUST happen –because he forgot to take into account human nature, which is to strive, to compete, to resist equality.

June 29, 2005 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

Dear Richard,

No, my whole point, in response to Lirelou, is that Marx’s theories have NEVER been “implimented” – only distortions of “some” of his views, and neither he, nor his theories, can be blamed for that! Surely not?

As for human nature, Marx did not ignore it. If you read Sam from Shenzhen’s favourite Marxist scholar, Norman Geras, for example, you will know better! Geras wrote a very famous and influential book called Marx and Human Nature, and the topic has also been widely discussed in the pages of many academic journals over the years, especially in the pages of the New Left Review.

Marx did not write very much about human nature though, not explixcitly, and that’s because he was too preoocupied with the task of analysising the capitalist mode of production – his three volumes of Das Kapital. He did however, plan to write about human nature, and about the jurisprudic forms expressed by capitalist social relations of production and reproduction (the family) – he outlined such a plan in The Grundrisse. But unfortunately he died before he had the chance. That task has been left up to others – a task that, for example, scholars of the Frankfurt School of Marxists have taken up, like Theodore Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Fredric Jameson, etc. They look at culture, in particular, and in Marcuse’s case, brings together a fusion of Freud and Marx. Juliet Mitchell does the same.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 29, 2005 @ 8:38 pm | Comment

“by referring to the disciplines of the social sciences as “soft” you are essentially trying to emasculate me. It has become a power issue for you, either consciously or unconsciously, a sign of insecurity (sexual insecurity would be how most psychologists would view it, since you have employed the use of sexual metaphors).”

It’s official Mark. You’re out of your friggin’ mind.

Trying to have a rational discussion with you is an isometric exercise — i.e., a big strain that gets one nowhere.

June 29, 2005 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Dear Ivan,

I shall address the questions raised about the English Civil War first.

I am indeed aware of the controversies surrounding Christopher Hill’s original interpretation of the English Civil War as a bourgeois revolution. I have read the works of the Thatcherite revisionist historian, Conrad Russell as well, and he does indeed raise many valid criticisms. But the controversy is far from being solved, as you seem to suggest. The debate rages on you know.

Marxist interpretations continue to be revised in the light of these revisionist challenges as well, which I think is a very healthy process, because it means that both the Marxist and revisionist interpretations are strengthened as a result. Each is constantly being revised and modified.

The historical constant which framed Hill’s work, as you no doubt know (and he died only a few years ago, in 2003, aged 91) was the rise of capitalism, a rise in which the events of the 1640s and 1650s were portrayed as a climacteric which changed the country for ever.

Whether the beneficiaries were conscious of it or not, the period was a bourgeois revolution from which the bourgeoisie profited. That much remains, in the Marxist interpretations, though they do vary, of course. There is no one Marxist interpretation, and that’s because, despite what many like to think, there is no Marxist blueprint, or determinist model, for Marxists to follow. Let us not confuse anything that Marx said with say, for example, the dogmas of Leninism, or Maoism, or whatever.

One of the more recent Marxist historians of the English Civil War, is Norah Carlin. I refer you to her book, The Causes of the English Civil War. In it, she points out that “It is as difficult to talk of disproving suggested causes of historical events as it is to talk of proving them. Existing arguments for a theory can be criticised, but it is always possible that better arguments could be put forward, or the theory itself developed and improved. That the testing of a theory may lead to its being modified rather than abandoned is evident from the whole history of natural and social science. That is why it is wrong, for example, to claim that the theory of history as class struggle has been ‘disproved’, though to say that this or any other explanation of the civil war is unproven would merely be stating the obvious.”

Ivan, if explanations of the English Civil War in terms of social change are worth pursuing – even for revisionists – it is not because they can reduce the complex question of causality to a simple, agreed formula of bourgeois revolution, but because they can still attempt to bring together the different strands of explanation; to mediate, in effect, between long-term changes in the economy and short-term political events, and even to aim at that ‘integrating or totalising role’ towards which social history has frequently aspired, and repair the breach between the history of society and the history of the state.

It was Ivan, the Marxist theory of bourgeois revolution that placed the development of the modern economy, society and state at the centre of historical investigation in the first place. Revisionism rejects a key role for the English Revolution in the emergence of modern society, but that is a continuation of a debate, and the question remains, although the answer keeps changing: what did the English Revolution contribute to the development of capitalism?

Norah Carlin may be right to reject the answers previously suggested by Marxists, but her book clears the ground of much of the triviality and parochialism of revisionism for renewed efforts to find answers to questions about the role of the English Revolution in the development of the modern economy, society and state – questions central not only to the study of English history but also to the study of world history.

And Ivan, your point about the Puritans and the Royalist not being divided along class lines isn’t quite as cut and dry as you seem to think. Both the figures, and the interpretations of those figures, are both controversial, and in constant dispute. Loyalties, however, were very complex – humans are complex – and the revisionists have done us all a good service in challenging Hill’s initial account. Marxists have been forced to modify, but once again, the revisionist have also been forced to modify their accounts in various ways as well. The end result, thanks to such debate, is that we now all have a much more complex understanding of the English Civil War, even though differences of opinion, of interpretation, continue to exist, and debates continue to rage in the pages of journals like Past and Present.

Now, lets move on to one of your other points: you suggest that Marxism is potentially very destructive, unless it can accommodate itself with a regard for the pre-modern respect for the feminine principle. Well, of course! I think most Marxists would agree that as humans, the very concept of both “feminine” and “masculine” is but a mere social construct. Freud also argued that – in fact, to his credit, he was the first to ever do so. He was certainly way ahead of his time in this respect. Most sociologists today certainly agree with him on that one. These concepts simply describe particular categories of behaviour, with each of the two being artificially ascribed to gender.

One set of characteristics identified with the word “masculine” and the other with the word “feminine”. One set is supposedly meant to be characteristic of men, the other of women. But as Freud recognised, humans are far more complex than that. In reality, we all harbour both “masculine” and “feminine” qualities, ideas, values, expressions, modes of behaviour, desires, etc. Men cry too! And quite naturally so. When they do, they usually feel better (unless they are made by others to feel bad for having done so, that is.)

None of this is incompatible with any of Marx’s ideas or theories, and in fact, it is more often than not Marxists who are the ones responsible for developing such views.

The idea that we, as humans, ought to rediscover the value of the feminine, to get in touch with our “feminine side” (as many now put it) is hardly new, but it is an idea certainly of great value. If this means, for some, a reappraisal of pre-modern symbols, like the Mother Mary for example, then fine! No Marxist is ever going to dispute the value in this. I don’t know where you ever got the idea of otherwise?!

Perhaps you are confusing Marx with Stalin or Mao or Lenin or somebody? I don’t know.

And I reject your assertion that my perspective is myopic and limited. I am very widely read, and not all that I read is produced by Marxists, and not all the Marxists that I do read are the same.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 29, 2005 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

Dear Ivan,

Sorry, one more thing regarding the English Civil War: you said that just because the Puritans and Royalist were not divided along class lines that “it is bullshit to say that the English Civil War accounts with any Marxist theory of class conflict.”

Well I would have to disagree. First of all , as I mentioned earlier, whether or not such class loyalties existed or not is still the subject of debate. But this aside, there are other ways classes to take into acconut, and this, for example, is what is at the heart of Norah Carlin’s interpretation.

She is of the view that the civil war is inexplicable as merely a conflict between aristocratic factions -which is what the revisionists like to argue. But as she explains, “Petitions and other forms of popular participation in the crisis of 1640-42 must be taken into account in any explanation of the civil war, which was the first conflict of its kind to involve more than a tiny minority of the population in national issues: this is what made it different from the baronial wars of the late middle ages.”

She notes that when an arch-revisionist, the earl-historian Conrad Russell, announced in 1973 in The Origins of the English Civil War that “social change explanation of the English civil war must be regarded as having broken down”, he added that if a new social change explanation did appear, it would be likely to be based, not on the gentry, but on the “middling sort” – larger farmers and more substantial craftsmen. Revisionists adopted the first part of the statement but many, including Russell himself, ignored the second part. However, by getting away from the fruitless disputes about rising and declining gentry, Russell had put his finger on the new social development which made the English Civil War different from medieval baronial conflicts.

Norah Carlin focuses on the “village and small town elites” consisting of big farmers, traders and substantial craftsmen, who dominated local communities as jurymen, constables, churchwardens and overseers of the poor. This “middling sort”, as they were called at the time, “had become accustomed to regarding themselves as participants in government rather than the dependants of feudal overlords.” In her conclusion she says that “it is no accident – though I have to say it was not fully planned in advance – that each of the preceding chapters of the book tends towards one thesis more than any other, that of the importance of the middling sort as a catalyst which polarised the divisions over religion, politics and government in 1641-42”.

The independent role of the middling sort provides the basis for the new social change explanation, but Norah Carlin recognises that the middling sort were themselves divided, that they were not all parliamentarians, that many were royalists or neutrals. As I said earlier, and which I’m sure we both can agree on – humans are indeed complex.

Regards again,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 29, 2005 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Dear Conrad,

It seems as though I may have touched on a raw nerve! So sorry if I have. 🙂

I reject your assertion that it is impossible for you to engage in a rational conversation with me though. I refer you again, just in the way of example, to the debate that we had earlier on the “China more popular among our allies” thread. Anne Myers certainly seems to have judged me as rational, since, in her adjudication (and she seems to be very impartial and fair) she gave me the more favourable verdict.

I seem to be able to engage in meaningful and productive debates with others on this website too for that matter.

Perhaps then, one might surmise that it is you, who has the problem. You might like to start, in the way of rectifying this, by questioning and reassessing your own world view.

Best of luck then,

Mark Anthony Jones

June 29, 2005 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

He’s the frat boy president.I hate frat boys.He really IS dim.No doubt.Nobody can argue with that.Except Texans.Texas is the dumbshit capitol of America.

June 29, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

Dear American Boy,

Who is (was) a “frat boy president”? And what is a “frat”? It’s an American term, I assume.

Sorry again, for my ignorance. But be fair on me here – I mean, I can’t be expected to know ALL of the world’s jargon and colloquialisms!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 29, 2005 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

Frat boy=moron.Basically.

June 29, 2005 @ 11:24 pm | Comment

I am a MAN. Dammit!

June 29, 2005 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Your reply comment about not using the impeachment process to settle policy issues is well taken, but the conduct of Bush is at a level of seriousness and harm to the American nation and body politic, that a national forum is need to debate or “try” the issues of his presidency.

June 29, 2005 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

Dick Luger has THE best name in American politics.So vivid!

June 29, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment


I’ve tried to be gentle with you but, screw it. The fact of the matter is that I really don’t give a flying f**K what you think about a question of international law. I read your “argument” and you are, to be blunt, entirely ignorant on the subject and too arrogant to understand your ignorance. I’d as soon listen to my dog’s opinion of string theory as I would your views on the proper construction of a treaty.

I hate to burst your bubble (since you’ve brought it up a couple dozen times in the last two days and it clearly means a lot to you) but the fact that this Anne Myers commenter agrees with your analysis doesn’t advance your case. It simply shows that neither one of you knows jack-sh*t about the rules of legal construction.

Mark, even a chimpanzee can be taught to cut and paste great gobs of verbage he doesn’t understand from websites (see http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/ cubasi_article.asp?ArticleID=32, which you cut and pasted without attribution and tried to pass off as your own argument). The difference is that, unlike you, the ape doesn’t think he’s engaged in profound debate when he does it.

How incompetent was your legal analysis? In the part that you didn’t plagerize, you cited a district court case without noting or even being aware that it had been expressly overturned by the US Supreme Court, for Christ’s sake! When first year law students to that, we advise them that they have no talent for the law.

June 29, 2005 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

Plagarism is wrong? Oh,shit…………

June 29, 2005 @ 11:57 pm | Comment


“Oh and I like this place (Peking Duck) because it seems most of us know how to debate in friendly and courteous ways here…” Ivan

I am curious Ivan-who-wrote-the-above-quote, if you are the one and same “Ivan” who commented about me in a most pornographic, vulgar and filthy way on a previous thread a week or so ago.

If this is one and the same Ivan I would suggest he be banned from this site as a phoney, a hypocrite and a liar.

The reason I did not react earlier was I thought he was a troll, but now, if it is the same person, he shows up all the time. Do you all want to read what such a person says?

June 29, 2005 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

Let’s burn Ivan at the stake.

June 30, 2005 @ 12:04 am | Comment

You can be banned for being a phoney, a hypocrite and a liar? Uh-oh. . . .

June 30, 2005 @ 12:15 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

The fact is, when I cut and pasted a few sections from the Cuban Solidarity website, I nevertheless attributed the section pasted to de Zaya – I didn’t try to pass off his views as having originated with me. It is simply quicker and easier to cut and paste when you’re blogging. If I had deleted the fact that it was de Zaya’s views, then yes, I would be plagiarising. But I didn’t did I? I ALWAYS acknowledge the authors when using the views of others. Period. I’m look Conrad, you don’t even know how to spell plagiarise (which you spell as “plagerize”).

Your other complaint, is that you do not consider me to be qualified enough to make judgements about matters of international law. Well, I’m not a lawyer, but I reject your assertion that that somehow disqualifies me from being able to make sound judgements in relation to matters of law. For starters, the issue as to whether or not the occupation of Guantanamo Bay is in violation of international law is held by many lawyers – not only de Zaya, but also be Muse, for example. Now look Conrad, I intend to supply you with a much more extensive list of lawyers who argue that the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is illegal under international law. When I do, and I will, then your claim that you know better simply because you’re a lawyer and I’m not, will sound pretty hollow. Anybody can pick up a law book and read it. My usage of the term “duress” and “coercion”, which you tried to dismiss as being merely a layman’s understanding, for starters, was the very definition used by the 1969 Vienna Convention.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 12:32 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

The fact is, when I cut and pasted a few sections from the Cuban Solidarity website, I nevertheless attributed the section pasted to de Zaya – I didn’t try to pass off his views as having originated with me. It is simply quicker and easier to cut and paste when you’re blogging. If I had deleted the fact that it was de Zaya’s views, then yes, I would be plagiarising. But I didn’t did I? I ALWAYS acknowledge the authors when using the views of others. Period. Now look Conrad, you don’t even know how to spell plagiarise, which can also be spelt as plagarise or plagerize, but which you spell as “plagerize”.

Your other complaint, is that you do not consider me to be qualified enough to make judgements about matters of international law. Well, I’m not a lawyer, but I reject your assertion that that somehow disqualifies me from being able to make sound judgements in relation to matters of law. For starters, the issue as to whether or not the occupation of Guantanamo Bay is in violation of international law is, I know, a controvserial one. But the view that it is illegal share is shared by many lawyers – not only de Zaya, but also be Muse, for example. Now look Conrad, I intend to supply you with a much more extensive list of lawyers who argue that the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is illegal under international law. When I do, and I will, then your claim that you know better simply because you’re a lawyer and I’m not, will sound pretty hollow. Anybody can pick up a law book and read it. My usage of the term “duress” and “coercion”, which you tried to dismiss as being merely a layman’s understanding, for starters, was the very definition used by the 1969 Vienna Convention. I can just as easily accuse you of being ignorant on the subject.

No need to be so arrogant Conrad. 🙂

Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 12:40 am | Comment

Ya, Conrad that might give some people here indigestion, but why waste time on such idiot characters.

BTW, you ever run into this Ivan liar on your old blog? He has not yet had the guts to show up and answer the charges.

June 30, 2005 @ 1:10 am | Comment

Mark Anthony,
Continued occupation of Guantanamo by U.S. forces is illegal under international law only if Cuba, the aggrieved party, brings action in an international tribunal to oust the U.S. from Guantanamo, and that tribunal holds for Cuba. I suspect that they would, but to my knowledge Cuba has not sought to gain any international tribunal’s support for their claim. Rather, the matter remains a bilateral issue. Lists of lawyers prove nothing, as by the very adversarial nature of Anglo-American common law they can be found on all sides of a controversy.

Conrad. Reference phoneys, hypocrites, and liars, don’t we normally elect those to public office? That’s a grenade that would take down a lot of members on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Not to mention tarring a few other public figures now held as heroes.

June 30, 2005 @ 1:28 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Sorry – I’m typing here in such a hurry, that I’m making all sorts of careless m istakes. In the comment I posted above, addressed to you, I take a snipe at you for not being able to spell plagiarise – I myself mistyped the word in doing so: the sentence in question should read: Now look Conrad, you don’t even know how to spell plagiarise, which can also be spelt as plagarise or plagarize, but which you spell as “plagerize”.

I am rather frustrated here at th emoment, because my computer is experiencing server problems: I have located at least two law society websites that discuss the Guantanamo Bay occupation controversy, and so I will be able to supply you with a list of professional lawyers who also, like Muse and de Zayas, who are also lawyers, judge the US occupation to be in violation of international law. I know too, that they all argue this along the same lines. Now once again Conrad, and with all due respect, you cannot argue that a non-lawyer is incapable of reading the views of various lawyers, and then forming an opinion based on those views. I have read the arguments of both – and I have engaged with you on the issue, but your arguments, I think, do not stand up. They are simply not convincing, and for the reasons I explain, and which Anne Myers summed him. You can dismiss her views, but how do you know that she isn’t a lawyer herself?

You can’t dismiss the views of other lawyers on the basis that you ARE a lawyer, can you? Not when such views are also held by lawyers.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 1:32 am | Comment

Dear Lirelou,

Yes, I will address your points later – as I just mentioned above, I am experiencing server problems, so accessing sites using Google is proving to be very difficult right now.

But I do take your point. The reason why I shall provide a list of lawyers though, is simply because Conrad wants to dismiss the validity of my views on the grounds that I am not a lawyer, and therefore, in his opinion, incapable of making sound and informed judgements on matters of law. I reject this. Anybody can read the views of lawyers, from all sides of the argument, and form a valid opinion of their own. What matters is that they read widely on the topic, so that they are able to comprehend and synthesise all viewpoints, so that they can then reach an informed opinion.

A list will prove nothing, as you said, because there will always be adversarial viewpoints. But by providing a list, it makes it more difficult for Conrad to be so dismissive.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 1:42 am | Comment

Dear Lirelou,

Yes, back to your interesting point about Cuba’s failure to challenge the occupation formally, through international courts. Conrad actually raised this as well, during our initial debate, surmising that it was a sign that the Cuban government recognises the hopeless of their cause.

I think the answer is different though. Cuba’s reaction of late has certainly been confusing. They have always maintained that the US occupation of Guantanamo is illegal under international law, and they have refused to cash in all of the cheques that the US government places into their Swiss bank account each year in the form of rent – clearly not wanting to acknowledge or to lend legitimatacy to the occupation in any way legally.

But in recent years, the Cuban government has entered into a kind of detente with the US, and I think it is pragmatism that is holding them back. Remember, that the Cubans didn’t initally object to the prison facility, saying that they would tolerate the breach as a gesture in support of the “War on Terrorism”. That was the official Cuban Government line. They only started protesting the facility after it came out that serious human rights abuses were occuring at the facility.

Another reason probably holding them back is this: when the Nicaraguans took the US to the World Court, and won, the US simply ignored the ruling altogether, and then withdrew their recognition of the World Court altogether. I don’t think the US actually recognises the World Court anymore, does it? Correct me if I’m wrong there.

This, together with the present detente, explains the soft, rather quiet response of the Cubans on this issue. They have formally protested to the US Government the illegality of both the occupation and the present prison facility though.

What you are saying above though, is, essentially, that the occupation is only illegal if it is judged to be illegal in an international court of law. But surely one can argue that something is illegal, without having to necessarily prove it by winning a court judgement? I mean, if I steal somebody’s car, I have acted illegally, regardless of whether or not I have been taken to court, because I have violated a law – and regardless of whether I have been found guilty or not, I have, as I said, broken the law. If I violate a law by violating the terms agreed to in a contract or treaty, then am I not acting illegally? Wouldn’t any attempts to take this issue to the World Court, or to some other tribunal, be based on the belief that the occupation was illegal?

Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 4:03 am | Comment


I have stated: (1) that the majority and accepted view is that the US lease is valid under international law and (2) the arguments that YOU raise make no legal sense.

The fact that you can cite examples of lawyers who take the minority view does not: (a) alter the fact that the overwhelming weight of authority says that they are wrong or (b) make your own arguments any less nonsensical.

Let me try one more time to explain why you (and your sources) are wrong:

Background: In negotiating the terms upon which the US would grant Cuba its independence (which had passed to the US from Spain following the Spanish American War). The US demanded, and Cuba agreed to, the following provision:

To enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba, and to protect the people thereof, as well as for its own defense, the Government of Cuba will sell or lease to the United States lands necessary for coaling or naval stations, at certain specified points, to be agreed upon with the President of the United States.

A Supplement Agreement was then negotiated giving the US a lease to the Guantanamo site. This lease was silent as to its expiration date.

You claim that articles 51 and/or 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties renders the 1903 Agreement and the US lease of Guantanamo illegal.

That argument fails for the following reasons:

1. Article 51 of the Vienna Convention states: “The expression of a State’s consent to be bound by a treaty which has been procured by the coercion of its representative through acts or threats directed against him shall be without any legal effect“.

Coercion under Article 51 is limited to threats or acts directed against the State’s representative (e.g., if you don’t sign this treaty Mr. Ambassador, we will shoot you). There is no claim that the US threatened Cuba’s representative(s) in the negotiations. Therefore Article 51 does not apply on its face.

2. Article 52 of the Vienna Convention states: “A treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations.

The US did not threaten or use force against Cuba in negotiating the 1903 Agreeement. The US merely said “take it or leave it” (i.e., accept this provision or no independence for you). Cuba took it. Hard negotiating? Yep. A bad deal for Cuba? Maybe. But it does not amount to “force”as that term is defined by established international legal precedent.

Attempts to argue that this is “force” under Article 52 are, frankly, stupid, bull-headed, obstinate and wrong, since every single precedent and all authoritative treatises say that “force” is the use of or express threat of military action. However, as set forth in #3 below, even if it was force, it still wouldn’t matter.

3. Even had there been a threat or use of force by the US against Cuba, Article 51 and/or 52 still would not apply. The Vienna Convention did not take effect until 1980. Article 4 of the Vienna Convention states: “th[is] Convention applies only to treaties which are concluded by States after the entry into force of the present Convention with regard to such States.” Since the US Cuba Agreement was entered into in 1903 — WELL BEFORE 1980 — the Vienna Convention, including Articles 51 and 52, does not apply to it.

4. The US does not occupy Guantanao pursuant to the 1903 Agreement. In 1934 the US and Cuba concluded a treaty which changed the terms of their relationship. The 1934 Treaty replaced the 1903 Agreement. The Platt Amendment, giving the US the right to intervene in Cuba was dropped and a provision giving the US a lease on Guantanamo was included. Unlike the 1903 Agreement, the 1934 Treaty specified that the US lease would be in perpituity.

There is no claim by anyone involved that the US used force or the threat of force in 1934. Both sides entered into the negotations voluntarily and Cuba got what it wanted, the recission of the Platt Amendment.

So, even if the US used force in 1903 AND the Vienna Convention applied to the 1903 Agreement — neither of which are true — it would still be irrelevant because the applicable document is not the 1903 Agreement but the 1934 Treaty.

5. The so-called “unequal treaties doctrine” is of no avail. To the extent the doctrine exists, it only applies pursuant to Article 62 of the Vienna Convention and since, as noted above, the Vienna Convention is not retroactive, is of no effect.

The unequal treaties doctrine:

“prohibits the threat or use of aggressive military force against a state in order to bring about a treaty.”

(See Stuart S. Malawer, IMPOSED TREATIES AND UNEQUAL TREATIES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW at p.155 http://www.global-trade-law.com/chapt.4a.pdf)

A minority of commentators argue that the doctrine should also include the use of economic force (e.g., sanctions). However, this is not recognized at law and would not apply to the US Cuba situation if it was. (See Malawar, pp. 74-89).
A very small number of commentators on the far left argue that all treaties resulting from unequal bargaining power should be invalid. However, this is rejected by the overwhelming majority of authorities and commentators and has never been recognized by any international tribunal. (See Malawar, pp. 74-89).

In order for a new rule of treaty interpretation to apply under Article 64 of the Vienna Treaty it MUST be a “preemptory norm” (i.e., accepted and recognized by a substantial majority af countries, etc.). (See Malawar, pp. 155-56). This is demonstrably and catagorically not the case with respect to voiding treaties resulting from unequal bargaining power. It therefore cannot be applied to the US Cuba treaties, even if it were retroactive, which it isn’t.

6. The operation of a detention center for hostile enemy combatents is entirely consistent with the use of Guantanamo as a naval base. Indeed, one would expect enemy combatents to be detained on a military base. A similar question was addressed by the courts when Haitian refugees were detained at Guantanamo and the courts held that holding civilians detained at see while attempting to enter the US illegally WAS consistent with the us of Guantanamo as a naval base. If holding peaceful illegal aliens is consistent with the operation of a military base, then holding hostile enemy combatents certainly is.

7. I believe you have agreed that the “McDonald’s” argument is silly and immaterial.

There is a reason that Cuba has not taken its case to the ICJ, which would be of immense propaganda value. The reason is that Cuba has sought and received legal advice and that advice told Cuba pretty much what I have just told you above.

June 30, 2005 @ 4:09 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,


O.K. You have produced a far more detailed, and convincing argument this time round, and I’m prepared to accept your view now that both the 1903 and 1934 treaties cannot legally be said to have been signed by the Cubans under duress.

I am still not fully convinced though, by your view that the present military facility is consistent with the normal activities of a naval base. Holding civilians detained at sea for having attempted to enter the US illegally seems a far cry from holding international terror suspects, detained in far away countries, flown to Guantanamo, held there for years without charge, and in conditions found to be in violation of basic human rights – I’m sorry Conrad, but I can’t see how that can possibly be construed as being consistent with the normal functions of a naval base.

It also violates the concept of “good faith” that I mentioned in the earlier thread, does it not? Remember that Cubans still maintain sovereignty over Guantanamo, and I’m sure that the 1934 treaty was agreed to on the understanding that the land leased would never be used for the purposes of building such a prison facility.

Sure, having a prison designed to hold illegal refugees, intruders, etc., that I think could be argued to be consistent with the operations of a naval base. But using the leased land as a site to construct a prison facility designed to hold terror suspects from all around the world, that is not, most certainly, what the Cubans had in mind when they agreed to lease that land to the US for use as a naval base. As I mentioned in my last comment addressed to Lirelou above, the Cuban Gov. themsleves, as a gesture of support to the US with its “war on terror” agreed to the building of a prison facility, even though they qualified this by pointing out that it was a breach. They have since protested to Washington though, arguing that the present facility and the use that it has been put to, violates the terms of the treaty – thereby calling into question the illegality of the entire occupation.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

P.S. I’m glad that you seem to have calmed down a little, and that you refrained this time from using expletives! Surely we can engage with one another’s arguments critically, whilst remaining friendly, if not friends.

June 30, 2005 @ 4:35 am | Comment

What specifically the Cubans had in mind is not a relevant legal question.

The question is whether the detention of hostile combatants engaged in armed conflict with the US is consistent with the function of a naval base.

The answer must be ‘of course’. Indeed, a military base is probably the most obvious place to detain hostile combatants. But it doesn’t need to be the most obvious. It only needs to be consistent, and it is clearly not unreasonable to hold hostile combatants at a military facility.

Look at it this way. The detainees can be (1) held in military facilities or (2) held in civilian prisons. There are no other options. You yourself argue that the detainees are subject to the protections of the Geneva Convention. Who receives training regarding the Geneva Convention, soldiers or civilian prison guards? The former not the latter. Therefore, military custody is where one would expect these people to be.

You are trying to reach a negative answer by making the question absurdly specific, i.e., “holding international terror suspects, detained in far away countries, flown to Guantanamo, held there for years without charge, and in conditions found to be in violation of basic human rights.

Hell, in 1903 holding people without charge was pretty much the norm, human rights were largely unknown, international terrorism didn’t exist and, as for detainees being flown in, the Wright Brothers were still tinkering at Kitty Hawk.

June 30, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment


As for remaining friendly, I am fine when you inslut me. But when you start casting aspersions upon my penis, well, that’s another thing entirely. I’m quite fond of him.

June 30, 2005 @ 5:31 am | Comment

Pete, there is only one Ivan posting here, unless there are two Ivans using the same IP address.

As to the argument going on above, I can’t deal with it first thing in the morning. Conrad, let’s just give in, join the Workers Party and help usher in the revolution.

June 30, 2005 @ 7:41 am | Comment


Definitely, I would like to see liar Ivan shipped off to Congress to join his fellow travelers, and being on public display wearing a cangue with his offensive comment to me in writing stapled to the cangue. Better than ten thousand cuts.

June 30, 2005 @ 9:12 am | Comment

Mark Anthony,
I don’t mean to trivialize your use of male-female perspective analysis, which can throw interesting light on various subjects (*), but male-side, female-side, the only side that matters is the human side.

(*) Mika Etchebehere made some interesting comments about the male and female aspects of command in her biograhpy “Ma Guerre d”Espagne a Moi”. She had commanded an infantry company in the Spanish Civil War.

June 30, 2005 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

Dear Lirelou,

Yes! That was my point exactly though, and that was Freud’s point as well – that the only side that matters is, as you say, the human side. That was my precise argument in fact, which I made in response to Ivan.

Both “masculine” and “feminine” are artificial, social constructs – they are no more than particular words, used to identify two sets (or categories) of human behavioural traits, or characteristics. The idea of assigning one set to men, and claiming that this set is inherent to the nature of men, and the other to women, well, that’s completely artificial. Freud realised this, and he very explicitly said that he was of the opinion that the two concepts are meaningless, because the characteristics that we call “feminine” and “masculine” are inherent to all of us. It is common for people to say things like, “you should get in touch with your feminine side”, or “your masculine side” – it’s simply an acknowledgement that what society has defined as being inherently distinct of the two genders is in reality shared by the two genders.

Dear Conrad,

I’m sorry if I offended you with the taunt about sexual insecurity, but I couldn’t resist, because you had in fact couched your argument in terms of sexual metaphor – the “hard” and “soft” sciences argument, that it is the more “serious” hard sciences like economics that matter, and the “soft” liberal arts students are emasculated, trivialised, in the way that say, women were dismissed and trivialised back during Victorian times.

Now this phenomenon has been very widely discussed, and Brian Eslea’s book, Fathering the Unthinkable, is a good example. He talks a great deal about how Western academia has been couched in terms of the “hard’ and “soft” sciences, and what these sexual metaphors mean.

Now look Conrad, given the context of the discussion that was earlier taking place, commenting on your use of such metaphors just proved too difficult to resist!

And I never mean to insult you when I launch into criticisms of your views – which brings me now to your argument that the establishment of a gulag is consistent with the normal operations of a naval base!

Well look, I can see and appreciate your argument, up to a point, but I’m afraid we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Back in 1999, I used to live in Yokosuka, Japan – about 20 minutes south of Yokohama, and about 40 minutes south of Tokyo. It is the site of America’s largest naval base in Japan, and is normally home to the large aircarft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk. Because I lived and worked in a city with such a large American population, not surprisingly, I made many acquaintances with Americans who worked on the base, some of which developed into solid friendships. So I was often invited onto the base, which is like a rather self-contained city. It has a McDonalds to service the “nutritional” needs of its personnel, so yes, de Zaya is wrong when he argues that such commerical interests are not consistent with the normal operations of a naval base. The Yokosuka base even has a large department store, a cinema complex, you name it! And yes, it also has a prison facility, because, lets face, there will always be a few rotten eggs who will commit various crimes, usually petty ones, but occasionally more serious crimes are committed too, like murder or rape.

So yes, prisons and fast food stores are quite reasonably seen as being consistent with the normal operations of a modern day naval base.

But a gulag? Well, I don’t think so.

You are right Conrad, when you say that the majority opinion among lawyers is that the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is legal, they don’t all say so, but the majority do, as you say. But it is also true to say that the majority opinion among the world’s lawyers is that the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo facility violates international law, and on several serious counts.

You argue that what the Cubans originally had in mind is not a relevant legal question. I’m not so sure about that. The Vienna Convention states that, under international law, treaties are to be interpreted “in good faith” according to the “ordinary meaning given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.”

The key word here is “purpose”. The idea that the people of Cuba might be happy for the US to put to “purpose” their land, which they have sovereignty over, for the use of the type of detention centre that currently exists, is of course nonsense. And as I have said already, the Cuban government has voiced its protest to Washington already over this issue.

You say that the feelings of the Cubans on this matter have no relevancy as far as the law is concerned, but surely the legal concept of “good faith” applies in this situation? If it does, then the question of whether or not the present gulag in consistent with the “normal” functions of a naval base are highly relevant, as is the question of how the Cuban people feel about having such a facility operating on their sovereign land.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Sorry, just one last thing: I appreciate the fact that the Vienna Convention is not retroactive, so arguably there may be no need to interpret the 1903 and 1934 treaties in “good faith” – but it could be argued I think, that it has always been necessary to interpret the wording of treaties and contracts in good faith, and that this requirement had existed long before the Vienna Convention stipulated it in writing. I mean, contracts and treaties become fairly useless unless they are adhered to in good faith, and so it always has and always will be necessary to interpret them using this principle.

Regards again,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

And Conrad, by the way, I also thought it was quite interesting the way you personified your penis by referring to it as a “him”, as if it had a mind all of its own.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 30, 2005 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

Gidday! I’m a long time friend and colleague of MAJs, visiting him here in Shenzhen today – just ducked over to here from Hong Kong in fact.

I’ve just been reading the exchange he’s been having with Conrad on one the threads below, the one about Bush’s speech. What a bloody bizarre conversation those two have been having! I mean, as I said, MAJ is an old friend of mine from way back, and as much as I reckon he’s a pretty fair dinkum bloke and all (he’s a bloody generous guy with his money – always happy to shout a round of drinks and all), but he does, I have to say, have a few bloody bizarre ideas hey! I mean, what’s all this stuff about bloody sexual metaphors used by Bush in his speech and all? And why is Conrad talking about his own penis, as if it was his best mate?

The both of them are bloody good arguers that’s for sure, and they’re both bloody bizarre too I reckon. Conrad and MAJ. I bet Conrad’s one of them bloody Sagittarians too. MAJ is one them bloody archers too you know, always firing off shots with his bloody mouth.

Still, they’re good for a bit of a laugh, hey?

Better go quick now, before MAJ gets back from the loo.

Steve L.

July 1, 2005 @ 2:06 am | Comment

Dear All,

I’m sincerely sorry about the comments just posted above. Steve tends to be quite a prankster at times I’m afraid, especially when he is well enebriated, as he is at the moment.

Mark Anthony Jones

July 1, 2005 @ 2:39 am | Comment

Texas is the dumbshit capitol of America.

Dear American Boy; You can fuck yourself, my pretty, and your little dog, too. Whichever village you came from needs to call its idiot home.

July 1, 2005 @ 8:44 am | Comment

Buford? or is that Cletus?You should’nt have sex with close family members.Even the Chinese know this.

July 5, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

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