China more popular among our allies than the US

It could only happen under the compassionate reign of Commander Codpiece.

The United States’ image is so tattered overseas two years after the Iraq invasion that communist China is viewed more favorably than the U.S. in many long-time Western European allies, an international poll has found.

The poor image persists even though the Bush administration has been promoting freedom and democracy throughout the world in recent months — which many viewed favorably — and has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in relief aid to Indian Ocean nations hit by the devastating December 26 tsunami.

“It’s amazing when you see the European public rating the United States so poorly, especially in comparison with China,” said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which surveyed public opinion in 16 countries, including the United States.

In Britain, almost two-thirds of Britons, 65 percent, saw China favorably, compared with 55 percent who held a positive view of the United States.

In France, 58 percent had an upbeat view of China, compared with 43 percent who felt that way about the U.S. The results were nearly the same in Spain and the Netherlands.

The United States’ favorability rating was lowest among three Muslim nations which are also U.S. allies — Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan — where only about one-fifth of those polled viewed the U.S. in a positive light.

Only India and Poland were more upbeat about the United States, while Canadians were just as likely to see China favorably as they were the U.S.

See the article for sampling info, and to see how Iraq, the McWar on Terror and the little man who started them have virtually obliterated our international image, which was so outstanding under our last “real” president.

The Discussion: 88 Comments

Richard. Reference “…Iraq, the McWar on Terror and the little man who started them”. Bit of an overstatement, isn’t it? We can hardly lay the WTC attacks at Goerge W’s door, and the War on Terror was a legitimate response.

June 23, 2005 @ 6:21 pm | Comment

I can certainly understand the worlds anger at America. But, if the Chinese acheive any sort of real power,the world will be begging for the good ol’ ‘”W” days. China’s rise will be the planets undoing.Can anyone imagine this future?The Chinese can’t run a public toilet properly. Everyone ride’s a bicycle yet they really can’t ride bicycle’s. They have difficulty walking down the street properly. Sidewalk?Everyone should live here awhile to see how bad a country can actually be. I have many, many problems with America. It is certainly not perfect. I just hope that the next superpower will not be a absolute basketcase of a country like China. Canada step up!

June 23, 2005 @ 6:48 pm | Comment

Don’t mean to highjack. Just wondering about your opinions. Do you think that China will really become a superpower. We all hear about it everyday. I simply cannot see it happening.So many problems to list. Does cheap toasters make you a world leader?Am I missing something?Thanks

June 23, 2005 @ 6:54 pm | Comment

Lirelou, I never blamed Bush for the attack on the WTC and fully supported the invasion of Afghanistan. On September 11, no one was more firmly behind Bush than I was. But the WOT morphed into something altogether different and we never hear OBL’s name anymore. Forgotten are the promises of capturing him “dead or alive.” Soon it was all about totally irrelevant, non-terrorist Iraq. And it became the McWar on Terror, a pseudo-war on terror, where our objectives blurred and we lost focus, and we let OBL go. In so doing, we created a virtual breeding ground of new, highly dedicated and trained-in-the-field terrorists, as the recent CIA report acknowledges.

American Man, China is not now nor will it anytime soon be a “superpower,” at least not by traditional definitions. My favorite post and thread on this topic can be found here and I hope all new readers who haven’t seen it go there now.

June 23, 2005 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

Thank you Richard. I will sleep better now!

June 23, 2005 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

“Do you think that China will really become a superpower. ”

The answer is definitely no. Buddism has strong influence on China and Buddism is the most non-violent religion. Also a key feature in Confucian is being moderate. Overall, chinese culture lack of strength and desire to dominate.

On average, western culture is more about dominance and conquering. The question people ask is like a mirror of his soul. That partly explains why Americans seem to be so obsessed with “superpower question.”

June 23, 2005 @ 8:00 pm | Comment

sigh. I miss powell, he at least tried for some damage control the first four years. attempted containment.

really thought he was testing the waters in ’92 for a full on run in ’00. if wishes were horses…

June 23, 2005 @ 8:07 pm | Comment

So Steve, the excesses of the cultural revolution were an aberration? Cultures grounded in Buddhist and Confucian values don’t fight wars? Non-western cultures can be trusted not to be interested in conquest and dominance?

For the record, the Econimist posits that China will not reach economic parity with the U.S. until some time between 2041 and 2050. I cannot imagine a reemergent China which is satisfied with only haveing its voice heard in regional affairs. IMHO, China will expect to be treated as a premier world power, i.e. a superpower.

June 23, 2005 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

“Steve, the excesses of the cultural revolution were an aberration? Cultures grounded in Buddhist and Confucian values don’t fight wars? ”

Indeed. Communism, invented in western Europe, is quite foreign to Chinese culture. Mao, and many intellectuals in early 20th century, attribute the humiliation of China to the traditional chinese culture. The violence nature of communism fits his goal.

Commnism by Mao, is like Christ used by Taipin rebellion, and today’s chinese capitalism. It is just a vehicle.

Buddism regards killing as sin, not even ants. How to justify killing human? Yeah, buddist can fight a war, but usually they lost. When China was strong, confucian influence was weak.

When Ming dynasty sailed to africa, what did they do? They exchange gifts. For westerners, they trade slaves and profit. From gladiator to slave trade, western culture is much more violent and animal-like. Do not get me wrong. I think animal instinct is a good thing and make people strong.

June 23, 2005 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

Mao, Pol Pot,Kim were/are moderates? I guess it’s a question of definition. My dictionary defines moderate as”Being within reasonable limits” 30 million + dead isn’t enough for you Steve-O?Is Mugabe a moderate?

June 23, 2005 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

Steve-O, Your Chinese aren’tcha?

June 23, 2005 @ 8:52 pm | Comment

“Mao, Pol Pot,Kim were/are moderates?”

Again, Mao is deeply against confucian. Mao was infected by communism bug, which started from the west.

The west has a traditon of violent culture, from gladiator, to duel, to boxing. Main stream culture encourage people sorted out by violence. The audience also seemed to enjoy the blood spilled.

Have you heard any chinese had duel? unthinkable. In Chinese, Junzi (respectable person) only argue with mouth, never use violence.

June 23, 2005 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

If Western Europeans view China more favorably than the US, that is a far greater indictment of Western Europeans than it is of George Bush.

As for Canada, I suspect they’d be singing a very different tune if they shared a 3,000 mile border with China rather than the US. Just ask the Tibetans, Vietnamese, Indians, Russians and Koreans what benign neighbors the Chinese are.

June 23, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Comment

It’s not only Western Europe. Now, I think they are quite wrong in their thinking, but it does indicate we have a severe PR problem, and that translates into problems elsewhere, fairly or unfairly.

June 23, 2005 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Panda Express restaurant’s in Los Angeles have a more traditional “Chinese” culture than “modern” China.Deal in the here and now. China NOW is only about power,corruption,money,money,and er… pursuit of/and abuse of power has a history as long China.And as we all know. “China has a very loooooong history, much longer than America’s”. Also blaming Communism on the west is oh so very typical. Take some responsibility.I know it’s difficult, but it’s part of being a grown up. The term”Arrested Development” always comes to mind when dealing with the Chinese people. Building an office tower isn’t really development. Building your mind is. In this sense you are still a very backwards nation. I just hope someday you can look at yourselves. China has so much potential. Don’t waste it on blaming others.China’s leaders have destroyed your culture.Take responsibility and move on. Thats what great nations SHOULD do. No country is perfect. Not America or China. Deal with it! The loss of Chinese culture is a loss to the whole world.

June 23, 2005 @ 9:49 pm | Comment

BTW, I highly recommend the spicy eggplant at Panda Express. It’s D Lish Urse!

June 23, 2005 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Steve, I take your point that Buddhism emphasizes non-violence and that China has not in general directed its energies outside of China to anywhere near the degree that a lot of Western countries have (though some nations on China’s borders might disagree). But certainly in Chinese history there is a tremendous history of intra-Chinese violence – take a quick spin through “Records of the Historian” and you’ll find massacres aplenty. Mao was really much more along the lines of an Emperor than he was a western-style Communist. He idolized the first Emperor Qin and Shang Yang considerably more than he did Karl Marx!

So no, I don’t think you can blame violence within China on Western imports like Communism.

June 23, 2005 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Dear Conrad,

You are missing the entire point here. The rest of the world is not comparing Chinese society with that of their own societies. The perception among the majority of Europeans, Australiasians, Canadians and peoples of the Middle East and Asia, is that the United States poses a bigger threat to the world than does China. It’s a question of which country has the more aggressive, more dangerous foreign policy.

Surely you can appreciate why so many people view China as being less of a threat the the United Steates? The simple fact of the matter is that the United States does pose a much greater threat to world peace than does China!

It is true that China has, during the course of the last century, invaded Tibet and Vietnam. But it is also true to say that China today has diplomatically resolved literally all of its border disputes, like it has say, for example, with India.

Now compare the number and scale of aggressive acts committed by China over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, with the number and scale committed by the United States. Any rational person would have to conclude, very easily, that the United States poses a much bigger threat to the world than does China.

The United States was definitely the world’s most aggressive nation of the 20th century, and, so far, of the 21st century. Since the end of World War Two, it has bombed no less than 21 countries. The first of these was China, which it started bombing almost as soon as the Second World War ended, in 1945. It bombed China again in 1946, 1950, 51, 52 and 53.

Iraq is simply the latest poor nation to be the victim of US aggression. So far, the Bush regime has spent an enormous $78 billion plus of its tax-payer’s money on this illegal and murderous imperialist adventure. $1.8 billion would have been enough to have fed all of Africa for a year.

The United States spends more money on maintaining a military apparatus than the rest of the world put together, so that it can maintain its grip over all of those developing countries whose resources it wishes to plunder.

It’s not difficult to compile a huge list of dictators, usually very brutal ones, that the US has installed over the years as client rulers: Pinochet, Marcos, Suharto, Saddam Hussein, the Shah of Iran, just to name a few. And look at the way the present regime in Washington is also right now trying to interfere in the internal affairs of the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter – Venezuela.

It illegally occupies an island that belongs to Cuba, and on which it operates what Amnesty International has recently called “the gulag of our times”, and in fact, as every Annual Amnesty International report has said dating back at least as far as 1996, “throughout the world, on any given day, a man, a woman or a child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.”

The fact is Conrad, a majority of people in this world, a small majority perhaps, but a majority nevertheless, regard the US as the world’s biggest terrorist, because the US is the world’s biggest terrorist. Many US scholars agree: Noam Chomsky, the late Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal (“the United States of amnesia”), ad infinitum.

You can try to dismiss as being inherently anti-American, but I will strongly reject any such charge. I am not anti-America (I even work here in China for a Chinese-American joint venture) but I most certainly am anti-US imperialism (which has to date, proven to be a very bloody, murderous imperialism).

Mark Anthony Jones

June 23, 2005 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

Britain and Australia seem to be along for the ride in alot of this. Followers are as guilty as leaders. Britains/Aussies always complain to me about America.YOUR leaders are re-elected by whom? Why don’t you elect anti-American governments? What pisses me off as an American is that we were supposed to be different. We have no moral highground on anyone. We never really did. Hypocrisy sucks in China or America or anywhere. We all want cheap stuff now. Somebody has to pay the price.

June 23, 2005 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Dear American man,

The governments of both Britain and Australia do indeed support America’s imperialist adventures, despite the fact that the majority of the electorate in both of these countries did not support such say, the present invasion and occupation of Iraq for example.

Both Blair and Howard were re-elected nevertheless, and that’s because the Iraqi war was not the only election issue in both of these countries, and because the alternatives were no better. As Gore Vidal has argued, both major parties in the so called “two-party system” are funded by the same corporate interests – they both share mostly the same overall policies, and most voters are accutely aware of this.

As an American, you shouldn’t take criticisms of your country’s imperialism and foreign policies as a personal attack, or as an attack against Americans as people. It is an attack against a certain economic class, whose interests are served by the state (regardless of whether or not the Republicans or the Democrats are in power).

Mark Anthony Jones

June 23, 2005 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

“If Western Europeans view China more favorably than the US, that is a far greater indictment of Western Europeans than it is of George Bush.”

Notwithstanding Mark’s response (welcome back by the way), all I can say is “hear hear Conrad!”

Mark: “You can try to dismiss as being inherently anti-American, but I will strongly reject any such charge.”

I don’t know about Conrad, but I not only can, I do dismiss what you say, because you’ve consistently shown yourself to be anti-American. You’ve got a lot of very interesting things to say, but in matters pertaining the USA, you’re terribly predictable.

June 23, 2005 @ 11:27 pm | Comment

M.A.J. I don’t take it personally at all. It just gets a bit boring. I,personally,am more than the country I was born in.It’s very easy for everyone (myself included) to generalize about people.Not all American’s support our leaders. It’s like my African-American friend says-“it’s tiring being thought of as being black first” We are not all alike.

June 23, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

Dear Filthy Stinking No.9,

When I next return to Sydney, I’m going to track you down and buy you a beer (that’s if you live in Sydney!) But first, let me assure you that I am not in any way inherently anti-American.

I very often listen to American music (especially its jazz – I consider Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” as an indespensable part of my life), I love a lot of American literature (Hemmingway in particular, but also Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Steinbeck – just to name a few), I admire the works of many of America’s film directors (like Woody Allen and even Clint Eastwood – he’s a much better director than he is an actor!) though America has also given the world some superb actors (like Sean Penn for example).

I have cousins who live in LA and I have numerous American friends, both at home in Australia, in Britain, Korea, Japan and here in China, and I even work for a joint Chinese-American company! (If I was really anti-American I wouldn’t work for Americans, would I?)

But I am strongly against much of America’s foreign policy, yes! The sheer strength and scale of America’s bloody imperialism horrifies me, as it does so many others throughout the world – and with bloody good reason too, I was suggest!

Whenever I discuss America on the pages of Peking Duck, I am normally discussing US imperialism, and that is simply because that is the topic being discussed; that has been posted up for discussion.

In matters pertaining to US imperialism, yes, I am predictable! Both emprically and ideologically consistent, if you like!

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 23, 2005 @ 11:47 pm | Comment

Dear American man,

I can appreciaite your feelings here, but I have never asserted that all Americans are the same, that all Americans are imperialists, that all Americans belong to the one class, or share the same class interests.

And it may sound boring to you to hear my views, but I was responding to comments posted by Conrad on this blog site, and on a topic baked by Richard.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 23, 2005 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

Mark Anthony Jones,

glad you are back, i like your quality comments. do you have a blog?

June 24, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment


I am not going to address your political arguments because you are obviously unconvincable. I will, however, point out the factual errors in your comment.

1. You write: “You are missing the entire point here. The rest of the world is not comparing Chinese society with that of their own societies. It’s a question of which country has the more aggressive, more dangerous foreign policy.

Actually, I believe it is you who have missed the point. The question clearly asks the respondant to compare China with the US and asks which he views “more fovorably”. The question doesn’t say a word about foreign policy and, while that may be a factor, the question clearly calls for one’s overall impression.

2. China has engaged in military engagements with Tibet, Vietnam, India, Russia, Korea, and the UN since the CCP came to power. Contrary to what you say, China’s borders with India, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all remain in dispute. It also has expessly reserved the right to use military force against Taiwan.

3. You write: “The United States was definitely the world’s most aggressive nation of the 20th century

That is simply wrong by any objective measure. In the 20th Century Germany was responsible for 2 world wars killing somewhere around 40 million people in Europe.

In the same century, Japan sought to subjugate Asia by force killing 25 million Chinese and God knows how many others in the process.

Russian subjugated and held by military force all of Eastern Europe, invaded Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan.

In comparison the US was can be charged with arguably initiating war in Vietnam, a few piddly and temporary invasions in Central America and the Carribean and Iraq II and some tactical bombing of a few tin-horn dictators (e.g., Qaddafi).

4. The US did not install Marcos, he was elected in an landslide election. The US did not “install” Suharto, Pinochet or Saddam Hussein either. Each rose to power in a military coup where the evidence does not support US involvement. It can be fairly said that the US installed the Shah, although the Shah’s predecessor, Mohammed Mossadegh, had assumed dictatorial powers (dissolving Paliment and claiming to have won 99.9 percent of the “vote”) and the Shah’s replacements are hardly liberal democrats either.

5. The US is not illegally occupying “an island” that is part of Cuba. Guantanamo Bay is not an island. A lease in perpituaty was granted to the USby Cuba in respect of Guantanamo in 1903 and was reaffirmed 1934. There has never been any finding by any international court of competent jurisdiction that the US is illegally occupying Guantanamo.

6. Citation of Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag and Gore Vidal as objective scholars speaks for itself.

June 24, 2005 @ 12:14 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

I promise I will address all of your points, only some of which I think are challenging to answer, but I’m afraid it may have to wait until Monday, as I have too many social commitments over the weekend, and I have some pressing work to attend to for the remainder of my afternoon.

Please be patient with me!

Thanks though, for your spirited response.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 12:20 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

I will address each of your 6 points separately, but I shall begin by addressing your 6th point first, which is probably all I have time to write for now. So please wait until Monday for the remainder of my response.

You’re argument that the United States has a legal right to occupy Guantanamo Bay is open to serious challenge I’m afraid, and at any rate, the overwhelming majority of Cubans do not support the US occupation of their island.

In November 2003, international law expert Professor Alfred de Zayas, from the University of British Colombia, gave a lecture on the state of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. He began this lecture by detailing the position of the US base in international law, and found that there are four main ways in which the lease and the treaty that created it can only be described as illegal.

1) The treaty was imposed by force –

The 1903 Treaty that brought about the base at Guantanamo was invalid from the beginning, as it was imposed by force. After four years of military rule the United States decided against a complete annexation of Cuba, instead they wanted a system that would allow political and economic control – their answer was to grant Cuban independence under US terms.

The US administration made it clear that there would be no Cuban constitution unless it included an appendix, known as the “Platt Amendment” which demanded the right for US military intervention in Cuba and a naval base. Initially rejected in Cuba, the Platt Amendment had also been unpopular in the US Senate, described by one Senator as an “ultimatum to Cuba” – the Cuban government had no other choice but to yield to US pressure and agree to the lease if they wished to have any form of independence.

The Treaty was signed, supposedly granting Cuban independence, but merely transforming Cuba into a quasi-protectorate. Articles 51 and 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties say that any treaty signed under coercion is illegal, it could be argued that the Vienna Convention only came into force in 1980, yet international opinion was way ahead of this.

In 1947, Serge Krylov, a judge at the International Court of Justice said that any treaties “which an imperialist power imposes its will upon a weaker state” are invalid.

2) The treaty was binding in 1903, but is illegal in the post-colonial age –

After the Second World War the decolonisation process began and a new set of norms and principles based around the UN Charter meant that obsolete, unequal, colonial laws were being replaced.

In the 1970s, the Panamanian Ambassador to the UN argued against the Panama Canal Treaty, which had created a lease that granted the US sovereignty over the Canal for an unlimited time. They were widely supported, the Peruvian Ambassador said it was “not in the spirit of the age” and the Canadians said it was a “part of the old order”.

During the relevant discussions at the UN the Friendly Relations Resolution of 1970 was used as constituting customary international law. In the case of the Panama Canal, the treaty had become obsolete, due to the creation of a new international order, encapsulated in the norms and principles of the UN.

Yet despite many calls from Cuba at the UN for the return of Guantanamo (the latest being June 2002) there has not even been any discussion, hardly in keeping with the UN Charter and its obligation to negotiate disputes.

3) The terms of the lease have been broken –

The US administration should certainly be trying to negotiate the terms of the lease, as they have continually broke the terms set down in it. The 1903 Treaty permits a “base for naval and coaling purposes” and goes on to say that any commercial use would be illegal.

But it is well known that Guantanamo Bay now contains several commercial concessions, including a bowling alley and of course a certain well known fast food chain.

Other uses have included an internment camp for Haitian refugees in the early nineties, logistical base for the regime changing invasions of Grenada and Panama, numerous acts of provocation against Cuba as well as its present disgraceful use, all of which brake the terms of the lease.

4) The treaty breaks the rules of sovereignty.

Conrad, it is clearly absurd to think that any bilateral or multilateral Treaty can be lawful if it is based on anything other than the sovereign equality of the contracting parties. Yet in this case, countless US administrations have suggested that a disputed lease is more powerful than the sovereignty of one of its neighbours.

Article 56 of the Vienna Convention appears to provide an answer to this, as it allows for denunciation or withdrawal from a treaty containing no provision on an ending. Targeted at this kind of treaty or alliance, which may and often do lapse after a change of government.

To make it even simpler Conrad, there is Article 62, that allows for termination on the grounds of fundamental change of circumstances. Once again Cuba is facing special treatment, it is quite unrealistic to say that a lease has no end, no other international lease has lasted for over 99 years, yet this one has lasted for over a hundred without an end in sight, despite the illegality of the situation.

The continued occupation of Guantanamo Bay is a rather unsubtle reminder of nineteenth century colonialism, completely at odds with the principles of the United Nations Charter, which highlights the right to self-determination and the right to dispose of a peoples natural resources.

I rest my case on this point.

I shall address your other arguments on Monday.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 12:41 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Very quickly – I will address your first piont.

Numerous surveys on this topic have been conducted throughout the world in recent months – two in Australia alone. In some of these surveys, the questions asked have indeed focussed on which country is percieved to be the “bigger threat” to world peace and stability.

The survey in question however, does, as you have quite rightly pointed out, ask which country is viewed more favourably – but when people from outside of America address this question, naturally, they are going to compare America, as they see it, with say, China for example, in terms of each country’s behaviour on the international stage. The present war in Iraq, perhaps more than anything else, is what presently shapes peoples’ views towards America, which have always been ambivalent, to say the least.

It is how American foreign policy is guaged which is what shapes peoples’ views about America. This is why China is seen more faourably.

Incidentally, it was your 5th point, not your 6th point, which I addressed above.

Until Monday, regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 12:53 am | Comment


One more point, since the subject is a comparison of Chinese and US foreign policy — you point to the US’s support of some unsavoury authoritarians. Note that this support happened during the cold war against communism. In each of the countries you cite (with the possible exception of Iran) there was a very real threat of a communist takeover which, by any objective view of history, would have been far more oppressive than the dictators supported by America.

Now let’s look at some of China’s allies.

1. Stalinist Russia — the most murderous regime in world history except for Communist China itself.

2. Pol Pot — the most murderous regime, per-capita, in world history.

3. The Kims of North Korea — the most murderous regime in power in the world today.

4. Robert Mugabe — China strengthens its ties with this tyrant even as he seems to be embarking upon a plan to uproot and starve political opponents.

5. The Burmese military junta — Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest while China remains Myanmar’s firmest friend.

6. Islam Karimov — Hundreds of protestors are gunned down in Uzbekistan. The US condemns the crackdown. China says this: ““We firmly support the crackdown on the three forces of separatism, terrorism and extremism by the Uzbekistan government. We support the efforts by the Uzbekistan government to stabilise the domestic situation and to engage in national development.

7. The Sudanese government commits genocide. China sells it arms and prevents any UN Security Council action regarding the rapes and killings in Darfur.

8. The Iranian mullahs — Iran sells arms and anti-riot equipment to Iran while, again, threatening to block UN Security Council action regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

Yes indeed, I can see why China’s foreign policy is so admired.

June 24, 2005 @ 12:57 am | Comment


I am very aware of the “Cuba Solidarity” website from which you effectively cut and pasted your response regarding Guantanomo (see Needless to say, Cuba Solidarity cannot be expected to (and does not) provide a balanced legal analysis.

The legal analysis is actually more complicated and generally favors the US. The best evidence of this is the fact that Cuba has never sought an international legal ruling that the US presence is illegal, despite the great propaganda value such a ruling would bring. Why? Because it realizes it would likely lose.

As for Alfred de Zaya, besides being consistently on the far left, the man has written a book “defending the integrity and reliability” of the Nazi War Crimes Bureau — the Nazi German government’s department charged with “investigating and documenting Allied atrocities” against Nazi Germany. He’s written another book condemning “ethnic cleansing” against Germans at the end of WWII and a monograph regarding the “human rights violations” committed by the US and Israeli governments against an accused Nazi death camp guard.

June 24, 2005 @ 1:24 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

We could easily argue forever here, but just one thing I ought to point out for now – and that is this: is was not only China, but also the US which supported Pol Pot. Ronald Reagan’s administration in particular!

Not only this, but US policy is what led to the rise of Pol Pot in the first place. Declassified United States government documents leave little doubt that the secret and illegal bombing of then neutral Cambodia by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger between 1969 and 1973 caused such widespread death and devastation that it was critical in Pol Pot’s drive for power. “They are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda,” the CIA director of operations reported on 2 May 1973. “This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of young men. Residents say the propaganda campaign has been effective with refugees in areas that have been subject to B52 strikes.” In dropping the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on a peasant society, Nixon and Kissinger killed an estimated half a million people. Year Zero began, in effect, with them; the bombing was a catalyst for the rise of a small sectarian group, the Khmer Rouge, whose combination of Maoism and medievalism had no popular base.

After two and a half years in power, the Khmer Rouge was overthrown by the Vietnamese on Christmas Day, 1978. In the months and years that followed, the US and China and their allies, notably the Thatcher government, backed Pol Pot in exile in Thailand. He was the enemy of their enemy: Vietnam, whose liberation of Cambodia could never be recognised because it had come from the wrong side of the Cold War. For the Americans, now backing Beijing against Moscow, there was also a score to be settled for their humiliation on the rooftops of Saigon.
To this end, the United Nations was abused by the powerful. Although the Khmer Rouge government (“Democratic Kampuchea”) had ceased to exist in January 1979, its representatives were allowed to continue occupying Cambodia’s seat at the UN; indeed, the US, China and Britain insisted on it.

Meanwhile, a Security Council embargo on Cambodia compounded the suffering of a traumatised nation, while the Khmer Rouge in exile got almost everything it wanted. In 1981, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said: “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot.”

The US, he added, “winked publicly” as China sent arms to the Khmer Rouge.

In fact, the US had been secretly funding Pol Pot in exile since January 1980. The extent of this support – $85 million from 1980 to 1986 – was revealed in correspondence to a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On the Thai border with Cambodia, the CIA and other intelligence agencies set up the Kampuchea Emergency Group, which ensured that humanitarian aid went to Khmer Rouge enclaves in the refugee camps and across the border. Two American aid workers, Linda Mason and Roger Brown, later wrote: “The US government insisted that the Khmer Rouge be fed . . . the US preferred that the Khmer Rouge operation benefit from the credibility of an internationally known relief operation.” Under American pressure, the World Food Programme handed over $12 million in food to the Thai army to pass on to the Khmer Rouge; “20,000 to 40,000 Pol Pot guerillas benefited,” wrote Richard Holbrooke, the then US assistant secretary of state. The Australian journalist, John Pilger, even witnessed this.

Travelling with a UN convoy of 40 trucks, he was driven to a Khmer Rouge operations base at Phnom Chat. The base commander was the infamous Nam Phann, known to relief workers as “The Butcher” and Pol Pot’s Himmler. After the supplies had been unloaded, literally at his feet, he said, according to Pilger: “Thank you very much, and we wish for more.”

In November of that year, 1980, direct contact was made between the White House and the Khmer Rouge when Dr Ray Cline, a former deputy director of the CIA, made a secret visit to a Khmer Rouge operational headquarters. Cline was then a foreign policy adviser on President-elect Reagan’s transitional team. By 1981, a number of governments had become decidedly uneasy about the charade of the UN’s continuing recognition of the defunct Pol Pot regime. Something had to be done. The following year, the US and China invented the Coalition of the Democratic Government of Kampuchea, which was neither a coalition nor democratic, nor a government, nor in Kampuchea (Cambodia). It was what the CIA calls “a master illusion”. Prince Norodom Sihanouk was appointed its head; otherwise little changed.

The two “non-communist” members, the Sihanoukists, led by the Prince’s son, Norodom Ranariddh, and the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, were dominated, diplomatically and militarily, by the Khmer Rouge. One of Pol Pot’s closet cronies, Thaoun Prasith, ran the office at the UN in New York.
In Bangkok, the Americans provided the “coalition” with battle plans, uniforms, money and satellite intelligence; arms came direct from China and from the west, via Singapore. The non-communist fig leaf allowed Congress – spurred on by a cold-war zealot Stephen Solarz, a powerful committee chairman – to approve $24 million in aid to the “resistance”.

Until 1989, the British role in Cambodia remained secret. The first reports appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, written by Simon O’Dwyer-Russell, a diplomatic and defence correspondent with close professional and family contacts with the SAS. He revealed that the SAS was training the Pol Pot-led force. Soon afterwards, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the British training for the “non-communist” members of the “coalition” had been going on “at secret bases in Thailand for more than four years”. The instructors were from the SAS, “all serving military personnel, all veterans of the Falklands conflict, led by a captain”.

The Cambodian training became an exclusively British operation after the “Irangate” arms-for-hostages scandal broke in Washington in 1986. “If Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indo-China, let alone with Pol Pot,” a Ministry of Defence source told O’Dwyer-Russell, “the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements.” Moreover, Margaret Thatcher had let slip, to the consternation of the Foreign Office, that “the more reasonable ones in the Khmer Rouge will have to play some part in a future government”.

So yes Conrad, we can all see why America’s foreign policy is so universally detested!

You are wrong, Conrad, when you try to argue that the US was not the world’s most aggressive country of the 20th century – but even if you are correct on this point, then so what? It certainly does not detract from my central argument, which is that US imperialism today is bloody and murderous, and that it is seen as a threat to world peace and stability.

What country today, do you think, behaves more aggressively than the US? Certainly not China – I next Monday I will demontrate to you, using a mile of empircally verifiable evidence, that the present US administration supports China when it comes to Taiwan, and at any rate, any posturings by the CCP over Taiwan pale when you consider the present global scope of US aggression!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 1:27 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Rather than resorting to the age old tactic of trying to triavialise people, like you do with de Zaya, why don’t you address his actual arguements?

Cuba does indeed know that it would be useless to challenge the US on this. When the world court found in favour of Nicaragua, the US simply ignored the ruling.

As far as I’m concerned, de Zaya’s arguments are perfectly legitimate. The question here shouldn’t only be a legal one, but also a moral one. Does the US have a moral and ethical right to continue to occupy the island?

Clearly not!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 1:36 am | Comment


You can demonstrate it or not, as you wish. I am done with this thread. I haven’t got the time to rebut all of the Chomskian historical distrtions that you put forth.

I’ll simply close with this, if you think that the US is a more aggresive imperialistic power than Nazi Germany of Soviet Russia, then it’s pointless trying to reason with you.

June 24, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Fine, but I just want to point out a few things first.

Even if we accept your view that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany brought more suffering to the world than the history of US imperialism, which began back in the 19th century, and which continues today, the point here, is that today, in 2005, the United States is the world’s most aggressive nation, with a military budget larger than that of the rest of the world combined. And because the US today continues with its long policy of making military interventions into other countries, it is, quite understandably, regarded by many throughout the world as a renegade nation, as a rogue state, as the world’s biggest terrorist, and as a bigger threat to global peace than China – a country whose military simply lacks the logistics and hardware needed to launch invasions like the type the US is capable of. And China, contrary to what to might like to think, has indeed settled most of its former border disputes!

If the US has a PR problem, its because this reality.

And rather than dismissing academics like Chomsky as leftist, rather than trying to triavialise them by slapping onto them a silly label, you would be best advised to address their actual arguments – and to do this you need to present alternative arguments, backed by empirically verifiable evidence.

I am no defender of Nazi imperialism, or the imperialism of the former Soviet Union either. But nor am I a defender of US imperialism.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment


June 24, 2005 @ 2:04 am | Comment

Now your boring me!

June 24, 2005 @ 2:13 am | Comment

I’m with Conrad on this one, lock stock and barrel. It’s the same reason I’m not willing to engage in debate with Christians about religion. There simply isn’t any point, because nothing with be accomplished.

I’d welcome sitting down for a beer with you Mark, and I’m sure we’d get along fine as long as we avoided certain topics. I’ve got lots of Christian friends too. You’re a really intelligent guy, and I have missed having you around. Glad you decided to come back. But with regards to the views expressed in this particular thread … the two of us might as well be living on different planets. Even our ideas of what constitutes objective evidence is so far apart that I think purposeful dialogue could not be achieved.

June 24, 2005 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Take it to a hotel.

June 24, 2005 @ 2:37 am | Comment

Sorry you Americans, you got a huge image problem all over the world. I myself don’t share Mark’s views of the USA as the evil satan that only brings death and trrany to the world, but I’m sometimes struck by surprise when some in other political issues quite reasonable friends of mine start the Amerika-bashing with some of the same arguments as Mark.

Let’s face it, America is an Empire today, and already David got more sympathies than the big uggly goliath.
Together with the invasion of Irak which most people in Europe, I assume, look at as a war about oil and not human rights, all the abuses commited by Americans in and outside Irak, and a President who’s rhetoric sounds more like 19th than 21st century, it’s not so surprising that Amerika is not that popular.

Sorry Conrad but in one point Mark was absolutely right. It’s all about foreign politics, not about the social or political system.

June 24, 2005 @ 3:37 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

It is not only de Zaya who argues that the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is illegal. Many other top lawyers do as well, including, for example, Robert L Muse DC Bar, who expressed his belief that the occupation violates international law during a speech he delivered to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., April 11, 2005. “The US,” he said, “is in breach of the terms of the various agreements in at least two ways: it is using Guantanamo Bay for purposes other than as a coaling or naval station and it allows commercial enterprises to operate on the base.”

The Vienna Convention on Treaties provides, at Article 60(1), that: “A material breach of a bilateral treaty by one of the parties entitles the other to invoke the breach as a ground for terminating the treaty …”

“Because the US is in illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay,” said Muse, “Cuba is entitled to use force to recover that part of its national territory. However disparities of power make that most unlikely.”

It’s not as if Cuba hasn’t protested either Conrad – the Cuban government strongly denounced the treaty on grounds that article 52 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties declares a treaty void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force—in this case by the inclusion, in 1903, of the Platt Amendment in the Cuban Constitution. The US warned the Cuban Constitutional Convention not to modify the Amendment, and was told US troops would not leave Cuba until its terms had been adopted as a condition for the US to grant independence.

The Cuban government also cut off water to the base, causing the US to first import water from Jamaica and then to build desalination plants.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 3:50 am | Comment

I think it would help our image to admit OUR mistakes.Stop pointing fingers at others.My own father is VERY conservative. he hates “The Bushies”. I don’t know where all these creepy people come from. Killing innocent people is not particularly honorable.It certainly isn’t what I learned in church when I was just a lil’ American Boy.It’s all about money as usual.Human rights, my chapped patooty!

June 24, 2005 @ 3:54 am | Comment

Dear Shulan,

Where have I ever argued that the US is a Satan? All I have ever argued is that the imperial face of America is a bloody and murderous one.

I have never argued that the US brings “only” death and destruction to the world either! Even its imperial adventures can sometimes bring about some genuine benefits to the populations that come under its influence. This is true of all imperialisms.

Sometimes US foreign policy is directed in the right ways, in positive ways, supporting genuinely moral highgrounds. But unfortunately, the main thrust of its imperialism, is militaristic in its thrust, and the death and destruction that results overshadows the many positives.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 3:56 am | Comment

Dear All,

It is interesting, the way that people like Conrad try to disguise their defeat in debates like this one by simply dismissing the views of academics like Chomsky for example, whose views I sometimes (though rarely) draw upon. They are dismissive, but without providing any credible alternative view – ie. a view backed by empirically verifiable research.

Let us just consider somebody like Chomsky for a moment. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 for example, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any living scholar on earth, and the eighth most cited source overall. He has been described by the New York Times as America’s most important thinker. Now let us just consider this for a brief moment – here we have an academic who is cited as a source more often than any other living scholar! And the eighth most cited source overall – when combining both the living and dead. I ask Conrad this very simple question: what does it take for a scholar to be worthy of being taken seriously in your opinion? Do they need to share with you your own political and ideological views? You can dismiss people like Chomsky and Vidal as not being “objective” but this is merely a cop-out on your part. The fact is, he is one of the world’s most highly respected scholars, which is why his works are so often cited.

When Chomsky criticises the former Soviet Union for example, as he has done on many occasions, I never hear any Americans jump up and down and declare him to be a loony.

But when he applies the same skills of research and analysis in ways that are critical of US foreign policy, then suddenly he is not being objective enough. He is dismissed as part of the so-called “loony left.”

The same applies to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Whenever these organisations criticise countries like, say, China for example, many Americans are happy to accept the findings. But as soon as they criticise the US, well, it’s “only” an Amnesty International report, and like, who takes them seriously anyway, right?

What constitutes objective evidence, to answer Filthy Stinking No.9, is whether or not that evidence is scientific, and by that I mean empirically verifiable. In other words, it has to be capable of being disproved.

If I was to say, for example, that something is a fact because God said so, then I cannot use this as evidence, because it is not capable of being proved or disproved. In other words, it is not scientific, it is not empirically verifiable.

But if I said that I think the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is illegal because it violates Article 60 (1) of the Vienna Convention of Treaties, then I am supporting my view with the weight of scientific evidence. The Treaty itself can be referred to, and US behaviour on the island tested to see whether or not they have indeed broken the terms of that treaty.

Conrad is lazy, in that rather than engaging meaningfully with the evidence, he chooses instead to ignore it all together, calling into question the sanity and credentials of only one of many lawyers from around the world who have reached this same conclusion.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 4:18 am | Comment

Gore Vidal is a good actor. I really liked him in Billy the Kid.Noam Chomsky was born near me in Philadelphia. I like Philly cheese steaks alot.

June 24, 2005 @ 4:27 am | Comment

Dear American Man,

I agree – Gore Vidal is indeed a good actor. And I don’t mind Philadelphia Cheese myself sometimes!

Have a great weekend!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 4:32 am | Comment

Dear Mark,

Please make your posts shorter. It’s a personal request, not a slam.

I’m with Shulan on this one, and with Mark, and with Conrad.

The US has an aggressive foreign policy, more aggressive recently than before. However, in the scheme of things, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao were much worse. Good thing they were killing people inside their country and not outside it, because otherwise they might have even nastier reputations. I think this is the point – Stalin’s “1 million is a statistic” is so much more permissible on some twisted level because he was killing russians and not taking over Iraq.

I’m not even going into the Nazis. I think comparing Bush to Hitler is beyond extreme.

So here it is – the US is unpopular because it is doing things outside its domain. And more aggressively than any other current nations. The U.S. has certainly made itself a bullseye. What happened to the U.S. of the Marshall plan?

Also, while we’re on the topic of stupid foreign policies – let’s not get too high on our horse about the US. France, the UK, China and Russia are all, in my eyes, also guilty of recent crimes against humanity to various degrees. They just make sure the noise they make is quieter than whatever the US is making at the time.

June 24, 2005 @ 4:40 am | Comment

See, we aren’t all that different. M.A.J. Have a lovely weekend too!I’m gonna watch me some porno.

June 24, 2005 @ 4:40 am | Comment

Dear Laowai,

Yes, very briefly – I agree with you that the US in not alone in its imperialism, in its crimes against humanity. But I have never, of course, claimed otherwise.

The original issue here, was whether or not the US today poses a greater threat to world peace and stability than China – the results of the surveys (including the one cited in the article posted on this site) suggests that I am not alone in thinking that the US is indeed the greater threat.

This, I have maintained all along, does not make me in any way inherently anti-American. It simply means that I am deeply disturbed and horrified by US foreign policy, as are many millions of others throughout the world.

I have to meet up with people for dinner now, and so I may not get the chance to respond to any more comments until Monday.

Have a nice weekend Laowai.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 4:47 am | Comment

M.A.J. You keep threatening to leave for dinner but you never do. Why not order up some Chinese takeout and pop in a Lucy Lee dvd? Thats my weekend right there!She sure is a looker.

June 24, 2005 @ 4:51 am | Comment

Sorry Mark, but what you do is demonizing the USA. You label everything in the US foreign policy as imperialistic. That’s just the old communist matra that the end of capitalism is Imperialism. You are taking all the things before 1989 out of the cold war context.
There is a lot you can critizise about the USA, but please see it in a historical context.

Noam Chomsky is a great scholar, but he also has an agenda which sometimes blurs his view.
He refused for example till the mid 1980s to see the Pol Pot regime as what it realy was, a state that was turned into a gigantic gulag. For him those media reports where only western propaganda. Why? Because the left in the West desperatly was looking for a new socialist model after the Soviet Union was demasked as a terror regime. Remember the excitement about the cultural revolution in the late 60s among western leftists? Same thing.

June 24, 2005 @ 5:07 am | Comment

Shulan, you bring up a nice point – I was talking with a colleague from Germany just now and we were talking about the social welfare system and the 10% unemployment they have over there.

60 years ago, we had two big ideals – either communism or capitalism. These were the solution to all the problems of the world, if you listened to the converted on either side. Now we’re left with shite-all. communism is crap, social welfare states look like they stagnate, and U.S. capitalism isn’t taking care of the little guys. What’s left?

Do we need to make a sacrifice as to what we take and what we don’t? can’t have it all, I guess.

June 24, 2005 @ 9:03 am | Comment

I am not an economist and anything I say is bound to sound simplistic in the extreme. But just looking at it from a commonsensical perspective, I see a problem of balance, at least in the US system. As more and more is being taken away from the “little guy” — health insurance, bankruptcy rights, retirement benefits — more and more is being doled out to those on the top — massive tax cuts, gargantuan CEO salaries and obscene golden parachutes…. I think it would be easier for us little people in America to accept a spirit of mutual sacrifice if it went all the way around. But when we see US companies with the right connections reaping unbelievably huge amounts of money for do-nothing contracts in iraq, or when we see our elected leaders playng golf in Scotland paid for with dirty money from corrupt lobbyists — well, let’s just say that this heightens the sense of polarization and unfairness. Systems that were put in place specifically to help create a balance, like the graduated income tax and the estate tax and assistance for the poor, have been treated with unprecedented contempt by our present administration. How can those of us who work for a living not feel resentful and threatened?

Obviously the European socialized system needs an overhaul. It’s unrealistic and it’s led to complacency and a sense of entitlement. Can there be a balance somewhere between our two systems? I have no idea, but it doesn’t have to be either the heartless US system where the worker is treated with contempt or the spoiled, anti-competitive system that has Europe in an economic quagmire. Does it?

June 24, 2005 @ 9:52 am | Comment

Laowai 19790204:
I don’t know either. On the one side I see the bad sites of our welfare state here in Germany and the globalization that just started and will challenge this system even more, on the other side I read those horror stories about the working poor in America. In the end it looks as if Europe will become more like the USA as China and India have just started their long march towards the global markets.
Just reading a book which deals with that:
Thomas L. Friedman, The world is flat;
Quite interesting.
Here is a link to a video of a speech he gave at Yale about the book:

June 24, 2005 @ 9:59 am | Comment

Welcome back Mark Anthony Jones. Hope you’re keeping well sir.

June 24, 2005 @ 11:52 am | Comment

Shulan, just out of curiousity, are you German out of Germany, Chinese out of Germany, or something else? Doesn’t really matter but it might let me ask better questions in the future.

June 24, 2005 @ 12:10 pm | Comment

Dear Shulan,

First of all, I do not argue, nor have I ever argued, that all US foreign policy is bad, or even imperialistic.

I think I have already made that clear.

I have also stated, on this very thread in fact, and in response to your earlier comment, that not all imperialistic legacies are in every aspect negative.

Secondly, I have not taken US imperialist policy of the eighties out of its Cold War context, any more than I have taken its 19th century imperialist policies out of its colonial context. To use the Cold War as an excuse for some of America’s past imperialist adventures isn’t going to wash with me I’m afraid. If you are going to argue along those lines, than, to be both fair and philospohically consistent, you will also need to soften any harsh views you might have about the former Soviet Union, and its imperialist adventures, as well as China’s 1954 invasion of Tibet (which was launched largely in response to the Cold War threat – the UK presence in both India, Nepal and Burma, and the increasing Soviet presence coming from the north west. Tibet was invaded initially for the geopolitical purpose of providing China with a buffer to these perceived threats. The fact that the CIA were also making covert operations into Tibet both before and after the invasion didn’t help in this respect!

Two wrongs never add up to make a right, and I do not accept the legitimacy of any argument which justifies military invasions with the use of an immoral “the ends justifies the means” argument. It is why nobody can seriously argue that the present invasion and occupation is a just one. If you were to take all of the death and destruction that has been unleashed on Iraq, well, nobody could seriously argue that all of that has been justified by the mere removal of Saddam Hussein, or that this invasion is somehow supposed to be adding to global security – to protect us all from the threat of terrorism. The invasion and occupation is itself an act of terrorism.

And finally, where did Noam Chomsky ever defend Pol Pot? Please provide me with your evidence for this. I am not saying that you are wrong, but I have read all of his books, and I do not recall him ever defending Pol Pot. Both China and the US supported Pol Pot, as I have detailed on this very thread earlier (something which the legendary Conrad seems to have been unaware of). Please provide me with the reference, so that I can check up on this claim.


Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

Dear Shulan,

O.K. I have researched the controversy surrounding Chomsky’s views about Cambodia. His critics frequently extract a handful of quotes from “Distortions at Fourth Hand” or After the Cataclysm and suggest that Chomsky was an enthusiastic advocate for the Cambodian communists.

I am prepared to accept the view that yes, Chomsky was initially skeptical of the reports of Khmer Rouge atrocities, but he was certainly not alone: CIA reports also downplayed the atrocities. As I said earlier, he never actually supported Pol Pot as such. This is an unfair charge – little more than a rant by radicals on the so–called political right.

At any rate, given that he now acknowledges the full extent of the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, is it fair to continue to criticise him?

Afterall, the CIA, in its demographic study in 1980, claimed that Pol Pot killed 50-100,000 people and attributed most deaths to the Vietnamese invasion, also denying flatly the atrocities of 1978, which were by far the worst (that’s the source of the famous piles of skulls, etc.; these became known after the Vietnamese invasion in 1979, and were certainly known to the CIA).

Michael Vickery has written about the CIA study, suggesting that it was tailored to fit the fact that the US was tacitly supporting Pol Pot in ’78 and later. There’s a careful analysis in Vickery’s “Cambodia.” He’s a very serious Cambodia scholar, and his analysis is taken seriously by other reputable scholars (e.g., Australian scholar Robert Cribb, in his standard scholarly work on the Indonesian massacres with comparative evidence). Vickery estimates about 700,000 deaths “above the normal” in the Pol Pot years – which, if accurate, would be about the same as deaths during the US war (the first phase of the “Decade of Genocide,” as 1969-79 is called by the one independent government analysis, Finland). For that period, the CIA estimates 600,000 deaths. The Yale Genocide project (Ben Kiernan and others) gives higher estimates, about 1.5 million. In fact, no one knows for sure. No one ever knows in such cases, within quite a broad range. When numbers are put forth with any confidence, and without a big plus-or-minus, you can be sure that there is an ideological agenda, in any such case.

I have never argued, of course, that every single thing that Chomsky has ever said or written is gospel – why would anybody want to make such a claim about anybody?

But to take Chomsky’s doubts – the doubts that he had at that time, from 1976 to early 1980 – his doubts about the figures – and to view them in isolation from everything else that Chomsky was saying at that time about the Cambodian situation, and to then conclude from this that he was an enthusiastic supporter of Pol Pot – well, that is a serious distortion on the part of his critics.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 6:43 pm | Comment

hi mark,

I agree with you on the two wrongs not making a right bit. Not sure where Chomsky has said this about Pol Pot but it is a common criticism of his political views, so I’m interested to know where it comes from too.

June 24, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

Hi Laowai,

I think I have adequately addressed the Chomsky controversy in my comments above.

I’m glad we can agree philosophically on the moral illegitimacy of the “ends justifies the means” argument. It horrifies me when people try to justify mass murder and plunder by arguing that it is all worth while just to remove a dictator, or to introduce some variant of “democracy” or whatever.

It demonstrates a complete lack of empathy for the victims of such invasions and occupations, and to think that the installation of a foreign political system construed as “democracy” could somehow justify the loss of tens of thousands of lives – hundreds of thousands if we believe some studies – I’m referring to Iraq here), not to mention the poisoning of soils through depleted uranium, destruction of homes and habitat, ad infinitum – anybody who thinks such an outcome could somehow ever be justified is seriously lacking in the common sense department – victims perhaps, of a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 7:00 pm | Comment

MAJ makes some very valid points here…but we’re no where near China in terms of casual slaughter and unbelievable environmental destruction, much of which can never be corrected, according to scientists.

June 24, 2005 @ 7:04 pm | Comment

Richard – I don’t think that I have ever argued that people within the borders of the United States are “slaughtered” at rates comparable to the number of Chinese who are “slaughtered” within its own national borders – if “slaughter” here is the appropriate word to use?

But when it comes to slaughtering peoples of the developing world, which of the two has the more serious record?

Slaughtering people, where they reside within your own national borders or not, is equally detestable in my opinion.

But the reason why so many people today perceive the US to be a bigger threat to world peace and stability than China, should be obvious!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Comment

I didn’t say you argued that. But the topic of this thread is about how people see the US as worse than China. I’m just saying that even though what you say in you earlier comment is fair, it still doesn’t justify the comparison.

June 24, 2005 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

Richard – I have a social event to attend in a minute, so we may have to continue this exchange of views on Monday. But I think you are making the same mistake that Conrad made: the survey is vague in the way that it poses it question, but obviously, most respondents in Europe, the Middle East, etc., have not lived or even been to either the USA or China. Their perceptions are going to be influenced largely by the foreign policies of these countries – and many people, a small majority perhaps, have the impression that the USA poses a bigger threat to the world than does China. This perception is very understandable, I would suggest!

In Australia, two similar surveys were recently conducted, but they asked the question more specifically – which country poses the bigger threat to world security. A small majority answered “America.”

Anyhow, I have to go now.

Have a good weekend.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 24, 2005 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

Mark … a true fanatic, if ever I saw one. You’ve got all the features. It’s not called defeat when you refuse to enage in a pointless activity … it’s called common sense. Debating these issues with you is like trying to teach a horse to sing. It wastes your time, and annoys the horse.

June 25, 2005 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Wow,one thing I have to admit, your are doing a great job arguing for your point of view.
What concerns Chomsky, I think I read the allegation in Ben Kieran’s “The Pol Pot Regime”. As I don’t have the book at home I can’t give you page numbers. If those accusations are wrong or exaggerated, well, I’m allways ready to learn.

Seems I’m in a quite unfavorable position as it looks as if I would defend all those faults of US forgein policy. I do not, I just have a problem with the word imperialistic, which you use far to often for my taste. It implies some evil intent of dominance and exploitation behind actions when used in political debate and stems, in the form you use it, from communist explanation of who history works.

See, I’m from west-germany and for me it looks as if western Europe not being overrun by the Soviet Union has a lot to do with the presence of the US in Europe. There is a slite differnce between the Soviet Union’s policy towards Eastern Europe and that of the US towards Western Europe and other allies.

I’m an ethnical German from Gremany. The Shulan (树懒) is just a very friendly animal in English called sloth.

June 25, 2005 @ 4:45 am | Comment

shulan, great point – I think you’ve hit on something. Scandanavia, Germany, Poland tend to like the US to some extent in spite of what’s happened recently, perhaps due to the somewhat still present dipole of Russia vs. the US, yes?

So mark – we’ve basically agreed that it is the external bits that form public opinion and not the internal bits, yes?

June 25, 2005 @ 7:18 am | Comment


You’re not doing such a bad job of arguing your point of view yourself either.

I broadly agree with your position. Particularly Mr. Mark Anthony Jones’s overuse of “imperialistic” when referring to America. Mr Jones does appear to have a rather large bee in his bonnet about America. No disrespect intended.

June 25, 2005 @ 8:30 am | Comment

“Debating these issues with you is like trying to teach a horse to sing. It wastes your time, and annoys the horse.”

Very funny Filthy No9.

I’m looking forward to the day when M.A.J. and KLS go head-to-head in a full-on debate. That should be great reading, better than the telly.

June 25, 2005 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Mark anthony jones and KLS? As long as KLS had the time to plough through MAR’s posts!

June 25, 2005 @ 2:01 pm | Comment

Dear Filthy Stinking No.9.,

With all due respect, and I do respect you, but I’m afraid I am going to have to take issue with you over your last comment on this thread.

I am actually quite easy to debate with, in that I present my arguments by supporting them with empirically verifiable evidence. I have defined what constitutes empirically verifiable evidence already on this thread. Scroll up and read, if you haven’t already seen it.

Logic tells me therefore, that if somebody disagrees with my views, then they will challenge it, will try to convince me otherwise. I can be swayed. Numerous classmates in my university tutorials can testify to that, and lecturers too.

All it takes is for somebody to present an alternative arguments, backed by empirically verifiable evidence.

Now let me illustrate this point by referring to the exchange that I had earlier on tihs thread with Conrad – yes – the legendary Conrad, that so many people seem to admire so much, for his ranting extremism.

Let us take the issue of the legality of the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay, just as an example. I argue that the occupation is illegal, under present international law. I also argue that the occupation is immoral, regardless of whether it’s legal or not.

Conrad’s response was to diagree. Ok. Fine. But why does he disagree? He says that the legal issue here “is more complicated” and that it “favours” the US position. But he does not/has not provided any evidence whatsoever to support this claim.

I site at least four reasons why I think the occupation is illegal – and I support this with evidence. Eg. The 1903 treaty on which the occupation is based permits its use for coaling and naval purposes only. The treaty clearly states this. The present use of setting up a gulag there violates this. Can Conrad prove otherwise?

Articles 51 and 52 of the Vienna COnvention say that all treaties signed under coercion are invalid. The Cubans signed the treaty under coercion, and I have once again cited evidence to support this. If Conrad disagrees, then where is his evidence to support his view?

You argument that it is pointless debating with me because I am somehow incapable of being swayed is insulting. The simple fact of the matter is that people like Conrad are little more than ranters, and ranters don’t like to be seriously challenged. If Conrad produces some evidence to challenge mine, then I many have to make concessions to him, I may have to alter my own point of view. But Conrad, instead, chose to opt out of the debate, and in doing so he tried to disguise his own inadequacies by dismissing the debate as pointless. And you aid him by calling me a “fanatic”. When people are too lazy to debate, or are incapable of debating effectively, they always resort to employing cheap tactics to marginalise the views of their opponents – by trivialising them and their sources, by labelling them as a Marxist or fanatic of a left wing loony or whatever. It’s pathetic!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

Dear Filthy Stinking No.9.,

With all due respect, and I do respect you, but I’m afraid I am going to have to take issue with you over your last comment on this thread.

I am actually quite easy to debate with, in that I present my arguments by supporting them with empirically verifiable evidence. I have defined what constitutes empirically verifiable evidence already on this thread. Scroll up and read it, if you haven’t already seen it.

Logic tells me that if somebody disagrees with my views, then they will challenge it, will try to convince me otherwise. I can be swayed. Numerous classmates in my university tutorials can testify to that, and all my old lecturers too.

All it takes is for somebody to present an alternative argument, backed by empirically verifiable evidence.

Now let me illustrate this point by referring to the exchange that I had earlier on this thread with Conrad – yes – the legendary Conrad, that so many people seem to admire so much, for his ranting extremism.

Let us take the issue of the legality of the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay, just as an example. I argue that the occupation is illegal, under present international law. I also argue that the occupation is immoral, regardless of whether it’s legal or not.

Conrad’s response was to diagree. OK. Fine. But why does he disagree? He says that the legal issue here “is more complicated” and that it “favours” the US position. But he does not/has not provided any evidence whatsoever to support this claim. He hasn’t even stated what these “more complicated issues” are!

I site at least four reasons why I think the occupation is illegal – and I support this with evidence. Eg. The 1903 treaty on which the occupation is based permits its use for coaling and naval purposes only. The treaty clearly states this. The present use of setting up a gulag there violates this. Can Conrad prove otherwise?

Articles 51 and 52 of the Vienna Convention say that all treaties signed under coercion are invalid. The Cubans signed the treaty under coercion, and I have once again cited evidence to support this. If Conrad disagrees, then where is his evidence to support his view?

Your argument that it is pointless debating with me because I am somehow incapable of being swayed is insulting. The simple fact of the matter is that people like Conrad are little more than ranters, and ranters don’t like to be seriously challenged.

If Conrad produces some evidence to challenge mine, then I may have to make concessions to him, I may have to alter my own point of view. But Conrad, instead, chose to opt out of the debate, and in doing so he tried to disguise his own inadequacies by dismissing the debate as pointless.

And you aid him by calling me a “fanatic”. When people are too lazy to debate, or are incapable of debating effectively, they always resort to employing cheap tactics to marginalise the views of their opponents – by trivialising them and their sources, by labelling them as a Marxist or fanatic of a left wing loony or whatever. It’s pathetic!

Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 9:29 pm | Comment

Has anyone heard about the American students in OZ being intimidated?It was in some OZZY newspaper.They were in Queensland and MANY people were threatening them because they were Yanks.So they had to pack up and leave the country.Oz officials are calling it a Race crime . HUH? Either way, not a very pleasant story.I am sorry if I offended anyone.

June 26, 2005 @ 9:40 pm | Comment


Let me explain to you why continuing this debate with you is a pointless exercise. You have cut and pasted a number of arguments from various websites as to why the US presence in Guantanamo violates international law. These arguments are incomplete, selective, biased and wrong.

To argue the merits of an international legal question, one must possess an understanding of the underlying legal issues. You are not a lawyer, much less an international lawyer. Therefore, I do not fault you for not having such an understanding. I do, however, fault you for thinking that you are capable of determining the legality of the US presence in Guantanamo based upon a survey of partisan websites.

For the record, I am a lawyer practicing international law, so I’m not just pulling this stuff out of my arse.

1. You claim that the 1903 treaty was signed by Cuba under “coercion”. That is not correct. It was signed in connection with negotions regarding the end of the US “protectorate” over Cuba that followed the Spanish American War. “Coercion” in this context is a term of art with an established legal meaning and, even if granting the lease was demanded in exchange for ending the protectorate, that does not consititute coercion under international law. Unequal bargaining position does not equal coercion.

2. You ignore the fact that the 1903 treaty was terminated in 1934 and that the Cuban government again granted the US a lease to Guantanamo that year. The 1903 treaty was superseded by the 1934 agreement and there is no claim that the 1934 agreement was entered into under coercion. Consequently, even if the 1903 treaty was the product of coercion (and legally it was not), the grant was reaffirmed in 1934 under circumstances where no one alleges illegal pressure.

3. You claim that the US operation of a detention facility on the base violates the terms of the lease. This is almost certainly wrong as a matter of law. The lease says that the base shall be used as a “naval station”. While I am unaware of any authority directly on point, the law allows the US to perform operations incidental to and consistent with such use (the precedents here are clear). The operation of a detention facility is likely to be deemed incidental to and consistent with the use of the base as a naval station. The detention of hostiles is a function one can reasonably anticipate being performed on a military base.

4. As for Robert Muse and Alfred de Zayas’ argument that operating food and recreation outlets (e.g., a bowling ally, movie theatre and McDonalds) for use by base personnel is inconsistent with Guantanamo’s use as a naval base and therefore violates the lease — this is, frankly, hilariously silly. Such operations are clearly consistent and incidental and, even were they deemed to be a violation, would certainly not be held to be a “material” breach such as would permit termination of the lease.

Finally, if Cuba really thought that the US presence at Guantanamo violated international law, they could cause massive international embarrassment for the US by seeking an advisory ruling from the ICJ (just as the Palestinan Authority did with the Israeli wall in the West Bank). The fact Cuba declines to do this is evidence that they are well aware of the legal realities.

June 26, 2005 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

Thank you for responding to my criticisms.

You have not really convinced me though.

Article III of the treaty clearly states: “The United States of America agrees that no person, partnership, or corporation shall be permitted to establish or maintain a commercial, industrial or other enterprise within said areas.”

Allowing the McDonalds corporation to operate a restaurant on the island is arguably therefore a breach – though I agree with you, that it is not a serious breach.

But the establishment of a prison which in itself violates international laws in terms of the way that prisoners there are treated, clearly does constitute a serious breach of the treaty.

Article II of the treaty, Conrad, very clearly says: “The grant of the foregoing Article shall include the right to use and occupy the waters adjacent to said areas of land and water, and to improve and deepen the entrances thereto and the anchorages therein, and generally to do any and all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose.” OK. So you m ight be able to get away with arguing that a McDonalds restaurant is there to service the nutritional needs of US military personnel working at the base, but surely you can argue that a prison designed to hold international terror suspects forms a “necessary” part of the naval base!!!! Don’t be so ridiculous!

And otice the words, “and for no other purposes.” The establishment of a prison is most certainly therefore a breach.

Your view that a prison used to hold international terror suspects, and for years without even charging them (a violation of international law in itself) – your view that this is merely “incidental” to its use as a naval base is outrageous, and one which most certainly is not going to wash with me. Not all lawyers Conrad, agree with you!

Conrad, just to demonstrate how confused the present US regime in Washington is over the sovereignty issue of Guantanamo Bay, I refer you to the following court case: the Coalition of the Clergy verses Bush – San Diego Federal District Court, February 21, 2002. This was one of the early cases brought on behalf of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. The relief sought was habeas corpus. Such relief is effectuated by the issuance of a court writ that requires the authorities responsible for an individual’s detention to demonstrate that that person is being detained lawfully. Habeas corpus, as you would know Conrad, is the most important writ known to the Constitutional law of England and was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution at Article I, Section 9.

The court in San Diego denied the request for a writ of habeas corpus on the ground that “no federal court had jurisdiction” over the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The court reached this conclusion by framing the question this way: “Does the US have “sovereignty” over Guantanamo Bay?”

The court answered the question by distinguishing between “territorial jurisdiction” and “sovereignty,” and found the latter term controlling in deciding the issue.

The court then referred to Article III of the 1903 lease agreement which said:
“While on the one hand the United States recognises the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba over the above described areas of land and water, on the other hand the Republic of Cuba consents that during the period of occupation by the United States of said areas under the terms of this agreement the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within said areas.”

It then held that the US had “defined the legal status of Guantanamo Bay” and the court had no authority to “ignore their determination.”

The court quoted a Supreme Court Opinion to the effect that “the determination of sovereignty over an area is for the legislative and executive departments.” In its final mopping up the court cited several cases holding that Guantanamo Bay “is not within the sovereign territory of the United States and is not the functional equivalent of US sovereign territory.”

On appeal the Ninth Circuit wisely vacated the district Court’s “far-reaching ruling that there is no US court that may entertain any of the habeas claims of any of the detainees.” Instead the Court of Appeals upheld the lower Court’s decision that the case should be dismissed because the coalition that filed the suit lacked “standing” to assert the claims of the detainees.

The other case, Conrad, to consider habeas corpus relief is Rasul v. Bush, which was brought in Washington, D.C. and decided in July, 2002. Again the inquiry was described as follows: “whether aliens outside the sovereign territory of the US can use the Courts of the United States to pursue claims brought under the US Constitution.” Having framed its inquiry in those terms, the court answered in the negative by holding that “no court would have jurisdiction to hear these actions.”

Rasul was brought by the parents of two citizens of the U.K. and one Australian being held at Camp X-ray, Guantanamo, and over time came to include twelve Kuwaitis whose relatives claimed they were in Afghanistan and Pakistan to provide charitable aid. They claimed to be seized by villagers seeking bounties from the US.

The court denied relief on the basis of the Supreme Court’s Eisentrager case which held that an alien outside the US’s “sovereign territory” is not permitted access to the courts of the United States to enforce the Constitution.

Given the Rasul Court’s conclusion that Eisentrager was controlling the sole task for the Court was to decide whether Guantanamo Bay is part of the sovereign territory of the US,
the Court cited the 1903 lease agreement and held that “it is clear from this agreement [that] the US does not have sovereignty over the military base at Guantanamo Bay.” The Court then considered whether aliens on a US military base situated in a foreign country are considered to be within the territorial jurisdiction of the US under a de facto theory of sovereignty; although the Court showed little enthusiasm for the inquiry by saying Eisentrager never qualified its definition of sovereignty in such a manner.

However, things soon became very interesting Conrad. The Court reviewed a case (Ralpho v. Bell, 569 F.2d 607 (D.C. Cir. 1977)) that held an alien resident in Micronesia was entitled to Constitutional protection. The Court said that Ralpho stood for the proposition that aliens residing in the “sovereign territories of the US are entitled to certain basic Constitutional rights.” The problem, though, is that the UN trusteeship given the US over Micronesia did not provide for sovereignty over that territory. Instead it gave the US “full powers of administration, legislation and jurisdiction over the territory subject to the provisions of the trust agreement.” The Court then escaped its predicament by saying (1) the military base at Guantanamo Bay is nothing “remotely akin to the territory of the US,” rather, the US merely leases an area of land as a military base, and (2) that several cases have said the base at Guantanamo is not within the territorial jurisdiction of the US.

Nevertheless the Court was clearly rattled. At the conclusion of its Opinion, the Court returned to Ralpho to say that it was a case that “involves land so similar to United States territory” that Constitutional protections were extended to aliens present there.

So I ask you this Conrad: is Guantanamo Bay itself so “similar to United States territory” that the Constitution should apply there? I believe the answer is not only yes, but that the base has actually become subject to the condominium sovereignty of both the US and Cuba.

Sovereignty may as a matter of both definition and description be said to be, “supreme legitimate authority within a territory.” Or as Hans J. Morgenthau has said, “Sovereignty is the supreme legal authority of the nation to give and enforce the law within a certain territory.”

Professor Ian Brownlie captures the essence of the relationship between sovereignty and jurisdiction when he says: “Sovereignty describe[s] the legal competence which states have in general. Thus jurisdiction, including legislative competence over national territory, may be referred to in the terms ‘sovereignty’ or ‘sovereign rights.'”

US jurisprudence is similar, as you should know Conrad: in The Schooner Exchange v. Macfaddon, Chief Justice Marshall stated:
“The jurisdiction of [a] nation within its own territory is necessarily exclusive and absolute. It is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by itself. Any restriction upon it, deriving validity from an external source, would imply a diminution of its sovereignty to the extent of the restriction.”

In the Island of Palmas Case, the elemental connection between sovereignty and the principle of the independence of nations was given the following expression:
“Sovereignty in the relations between States signifies independence. Independence in regard to a portion of the globe is the right to exercise therein, to the exclusion of any other State, the function of a State. The development of international law, [has] established this principle of the exclusive competence of the State in regard to its own territory in such a way as to make it a point of departure in settling most questions that concern international relations.”

The US has acted with respect to the naval base at Guantanamo Bay to the “exclusion of any other State” and entirely independent of the wishes of that other State, i.e. Cuba. They have therefore broken the treaty! I can’t stress this point enough Conrad.

Conrad, there is a presumption in international law, and which you should be aware of, since you’re a lawyer, that the grantor of a lease retains residual sovereignty. However, a grant in perpetuity by definition cannot be terminated and can amount to an at least temporary cession of territory. In the Eastern Greenland case for example, (1959) the World Court said that sovereignty can be “based not upon some particular act or title such as a treaty of cession but merely upon continued display of authority, involves two elements each of which must be shown to exist: the intention and will to act as sovereign, and some actual exercise or display of such authority.”

Correct me if I’m wrong here Conrad, but the term “novation” describes in international law the gradual transformation of a right, for example a lease, or a pledge, or certain concessions of a territorial nature, into sovereignty without any formal and unequivocal instrument to that effect. For example, the British claims in respect of Belize were in origin nothing more than the right, guaranteed by Spain to Great Britain on behalf of her nationals by Article 17 of their Peace Treaty of Paris of February 10, 1763 “…not to be molested in their trade of cutting Campeachy wood in the Spanish territories bordering the Bay of Honduras.”

Condominium is a case of sovereignty which is exercised by two or more states. That seems to be what prevails today at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The US claims to possess sovereignty over the base as a result of both the perpetual terms of the lease and the exclusive and absolute jurisdiction asserted there over the years. Cuba, however, retains, in the words of the 1903 lease agreement, “ultimate sovereignty.” It follows, therefore, that if we accept this position, that the remedy of habeas corpus should indeed be available to the foreign nationals imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

The chief utility to the US of the base at Guantanamo Bay is that courts have held that the US Constitution does not apply to non-US nationals incarcerated there. If it is determined by US courts that public international law compels a finding that the US does exercise a condominium sovereignty with Cuba over Guantanamo Bay, then the US base there loses its value as a modern day gulag.

At any rate Conrad, the establishment of a prison constitutes a violation of the terms of the treaty – I don’t see how anybody can really argue otherwise. The US does though, and it does so on the basis that it exercises a condominium sovereignty. Yet if this is indeed the case, then all prisoners on Guantanamo Bay ought to be subject to the very same legal rights as all other American citizens. Bush and his cronies can’t have it both ways! Hence the confusion, the predicament, that the present administration faces over this issue.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 26, 2005 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

1. I do not agree that the establishment of a detention facility for hostile combatants violates the relevant agreement. It is certainly far from “clear” as you assert.

There have always been detention facilities on Guantanamo and it is clear that a detention facility is not, of itself, inconsistent with the terms of the lease.

The question then is, is the detention of prisoners engaged in armed hostilities against the US inconsitent with the use of Guantanamo as a naval base. Or put another way, is the detenetion of hostile combatants an activity one might reasonably expect to be conducted on a military (naval) base? I think logically and historically, the answer to that must be yes.

2. As for your arguments regarding whether habeus corpus extends to Guantanamo detainees, I have no idea why you are arguing about the district court decision in Rasul v. Bush. That case has already been appealed to and decided by the US Supreme Court, which held that habeus corpus DOES extend to the detainees. However, the question has nothing whatsoever to do with sovereignty. According to the Court, the fact that the US exercises jurisdiction over Guantanamo is sufficient. Soverignty is irrelevant.

In short, your statement that “the chief utility to the US of the base at Guantanamo Bay is that courts have held that the US Constitution does not apply to non-US nationals incarcerated thereis simply wrong. The US Supreme Court has held precisely the opposite.

Interestingly, to tie this back to the subject of the original post, the United States grants far greater legal protections to captured al Qaeda and Taliban fighters held in Cuba than China grants to its own citizens held on the mainland.

June 27, 2005 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

As to regards to your other point, the Cuban government does indeed strongly denounce the treaty, and it does so on the grounds that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties in 1969 declares in its Article 52 that a treaty is void if its conclusion has been procured by the threat or use of force. What do you make then, of the inclusion, in 1903, of the Platt Amendment into the Cuban Constitution? Keep in mind here that the Cuban Convention was warned not to modify the Amendment and was told that the US troops would not leave Cuba until its terms had been adopted as a condition from US to grant independence. This sounds like coercion to me! The 1969 Vienna Convention on Treaties actually clearly says that coercion of either a representative, or the state itself through the threat or use of force, if used to obtain the consent of that state to a treaty, will invalidate that consent. Now look carefully at the circumstances surrounding the Platt Agreement: the US warned the Cuban Constitutional Convention not to modify the Amendment, and was told US troops would not leave Cuba until its terms had been adopted as a condition for the US to grant independence. Now look Conrad, how can you seriously argue that this “threat to use force” does not, under international law, according to the Vienna Convention, constitute “coercion”?

You are trying to excuse the inexcusable, I think.

And on a slightly different, but related issue, one of the other problems, apart from questions of sovereignty, that the US has is with its treatment of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners – most of them were captured and transferred to the camp from non-US soil. Now Conrad, as you must surely know, international laws regarding warfare only allow the US to do so if the persons can be classified as prisoners of war. If they can not, the actions are kidnappings. But the US refuses to classify them as such, becasue to do so would mean that they would have to treat them like human beings, under terms stipulated by the geneva Conventions.

Conrad, are you going to try to argue otherwise on this issue as well?

Mark Anthony Jones

June 27, 2005 @ 1:24 am | Comment

It is not coercion as a matter of law. Period. Coercion in this case is a term of art that has a fixed legal meaning. Unequal bargaining position is not coercion. There is plenty of legal authority for that proposition.

You are trying to attach a layman’s understanding to a legal issue — like, for example, the argument that one has not committed breaking and entering because the door was unlocked nothing was “broken”.

Regarding your other point, the Geneva Conventions simply do not apply to the detainees. No one can seriously argue otherwise.

June 27, 2005 @ 1:33 am | Comment

Fianlly, the Cuban government can “denounce” the treaty until its blue in the face. Talk is cheap. The fact remains, the Cuban government has consistently refused to seek an advisory judgment from the ICJ, which it could do and which it surely would, for PR reasons alone, if it thought it would prevail.

June 27, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

Yes, I am of course aware of the fact that last year the Supreme Court rejected the argument in Rasul v. Bush with the majority decision and ruled that prisoners in Guantanamo have access to American courts, citing the fact that the US has exclusive control over Guantanamo Bay. My purpose in discussing the case was to demonstrate the confusion that has existed over the legality of the US prison and its treatment of prisoners – which does, despite what you think, hold implications regarding sovereignty.

I do not think that the present detention centre is consistent with the terms of the treaty. It’s a clear violation. As you should know Conrad, the language of treaties, like that of any law or contract, must be interpreted when the wording does not seem clear or it is not immediately apparent how it should be applied in a perhaps unforeseen circumstance. The Vienna Convention states that 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.” International legal experts also often invoke the ‘principle of maximum effectiveness,’ which interprets treaty language as having the fullest force and effect possible to establish obligations between the parties. The idea then, that the people of Cuba might be happy for the US to use their land, which they have sovereignty over, for the use of the type of detention centre that currently exists, is ridiculous. The Cubans have already protested to Washington about this in fact. If we take the language of the treaty, the wording of it, and we interpret them “in good faith” according to the “ordinary meaning given to the terms of the treaty in its context and in the light of its object and purpose,” then I think it is true to say that the present prison violates the terms of the treaty.

As for your claim that the US treats Taliban suspects better than China treats its own prisoners, well, I doubt it.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 27, 2005 @ 1:44 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

I guess, if you wish to get technical on the use of terminology, the word “duress” would be more accurate in this context. A contract or treaty entered under duress is voidable, as stipulated by the Vienna Convention, which defines such duress, or coercion, defining it as the use of force, or the threat of force, to obtain the consent of that state to a treaty.

The concept of duress has to be distinguished from undue influence, as you say, and the US government might very well like to argue that by threatening Cuba with military force, and by threatening not to remove its military from its soils, that that is not duress or coercion, but rather the exploitation of a stronger bargaining position, if you like, but this isn’t going to fool anybody is it? Not all lawyers, or courts, are going to accept your position on this.

And finally, many lawyers (including international lawyers) do indeed seriously argue that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay ought to be protected under the terms of the Geneva Conventions, and by the terms of the US Constitution, since the US exercises condiminium sovereignty over Guantanamo
Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 27, 2005 @ 2:28 am | Comment

As for your claim that the US treats Taliban suspects better than China treats its own prisoners, well, I doubt it.

China is currently indefinitely imprisoning, beating and torturing far more people in its laogai camps than the U.S. could ever hope to squeeze into Guantanamo.

Guantanamo inmates are not executed, do not have their organs sold, are not forced to work in dangerous and toxic condidtions, are not forced to undergo abortions and are not forbidden religious practice.

All of these are true of laogai inmates and none of them have a right to habeus corpus.

Do you muslim Uygur prisoners in Chinese laogai have Korans to be abused?

Mark, you claim that the US is a greater threat to world peace than Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union and a greater abuser of human rights than mainland China. How can you expect any thinking objective person to take you seriously?

June 27, 2005 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Dear Conrad,

You are distorting my views now! I have never argued that the United States is a bigger threat than Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union – both of which no longer even exist!

I have, however, argued that the US was the most aggressive power of the 20th and 21st centuries – when you tally up all of the military incursions that they have made throughout this entire period. I also argue that today, in the year 2005, the US is the most aggressive nation on earth, which is why so many people around the world pereive it to be a bigger threat to world peace and stability than a country like China.

As for your point about China’s treatment of its own prisoners, well, I certainly do take your point, and I concede now that you may be right on that one. I will need to investigate further.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 27, 2005 @ 2:42 am | Comment

i don’t want to self-advertise again, but if you want some perspective on how jolly the chinese media is about the results of this poll check out a short translation at

June 27, 2005 @ 7:23 am | Comment

Wow! What a fascinating exchange of views above. Congratulations to the both of you! I would like to add my own two cents worth to this discussion too though, and in the form of an overall verdict.

But first, well done Conrad, for re-entering the discussion. It did seem, I must say, as though you had in fact rather cowardly opted out of the debate, as Mr Jones had surmised. But you bounced back admirably.

But I’m giving this one to Mr Jones nevertheless, because I think that he provides the more convincing argument.

I believe that Mr Jones’ initial argument, that it is America’s place in this small world of ours, which was what was essentially being judged by most of those surveyed, is an accurate judgement on his part. This is just common sense really, isn’t it? As Mr Jones so rightly observes in my opinion, most of us Brits, as well as I believe most Canadians, Europeans, and Australians, regard China as the more benign of the two nations, at least when it comes to global impacts in terms of militarism, and in terms of cultural hegemonic impacts.

When people are asked to compare the two nations, China and the United States, it shouldn’t really surprise us that most non-Americans are going to regard China as posing the lesser threat to global peace and security.

But Mr Jones perhaps goes a little far when he suggests that the United States has been the most aggressive nation of the 20th and 21st centuries. Conrad, in my opinion, scored some points when he challenged this assertion, though Mr Jones, should he be pushed on this issue, would most likely come out the winner, because his initial argument rests on the fact that the US today, as he says, spends more money on its military than the rest of the world combined, and that in today’s world, the United States is indeed the most militaristically aggressive. I don’t think anybody can really argue successfully against that.

Most of the discussion above centres on whether or not the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is legal or not under international law. This has been where the real debate has occured. Both have scored some good points on this one, but once again, I believe that Mr Jones has come out on top. Allow me to explain why.

Conrad argues that the establishment of the Guantanamo prision facility does not violate the 1903 and 1934 treaties, on the basis that (a) the treaties were never made under duress, and (b) that the existence of the prison itself is “incidental” to its use as a naval facility.

But I think that the evidence presented by Mr Jones suggests otherwise.

The Vienna Convention does in fact stipulate what “duress” or “coercion” is, as Mr Jones points out: it is the use of force, or the threat of using force, to obtain favourable terms and conditions in a treaty. Conrad disputes this point by arguing that Mr Jones has used a layman’s definition of coercion, and not the legal one, and that the threats used against Cuba were merely the exercising of a greater level of “bargaining power.”

I think Conrad is incorrect here. Mr Jones has used not a layman’s definition of coercion, but that used by the 1969 Vienna Convention. The question really is one of interpretation, not of the meaning of coercion or duress, but of whether or not America’s threat to maintain its military in Cuba constitutes coercion, according to the definition as spelt out by the Vienna Convention, or whether we can dismiss it as the exercising of sheer bargaining power. Some lawyers, particularly those representing the US government, may argue for the latter, and this may be accepted by some of the more conservative, pro-government judges. But as Mr Jones has rightly pointed out, not all lawyers and judges are likely to see things Conrad’s way. Many, as Mr Jones says, don’t.

Mr Jones also scores another important point when he later introduces the idea that treaties need to be interpreted in “good faith” – as required by the Vienna Convention. Mr Jones is right to point out that the establishment of the prison on Guantanamo Bay violates this “good faith”, in that, quite clearly, it violates Cuba’s sovereign wish not to have such facilities operating on their soil, and that such possibilities were never invisaged in the terms of the treaty.

Furthermore, Mr Jones I believe also scored some vital points when he argued that the prision facilities violate the terms of the treaty, in a very literal sense, regardless of whether we take the concept of “good faith” into account or not. Conrad’s argument that military facilities of this type, whereby international terror suspects can be held for many years without trial or without even being charged, his argument that this is an “incidental” feature of a naval base, is quite unconvincing, and as Mr Jones has quite rightly pointed out, many lawyers throughout the world have already argued on the illegality of the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay on this point.

So I’m giving this one to Mr Jones.

I do, however, fault Mr Jones on his view that China’s treatment of many of its prisoners equates to nothing worse than the way the US treats its Guantanamo Bay prisoners – Conrad scored a good point by presenting us with evidence to the contrary, though Mr Jones, to his credit, seems to have conceded on that one.

I look forward to reading more quality discussions of this type on the pages of this website. Congratulations to both Conrad and Mr Jones – your little exchanges here have actually helped me to clarify and to develop my own views on this subject, for which I am deeply grateful.

Anne Myers

June 27, 2005 @ 7:41 am | Comment

By the way, I noticed, Mr Jones, that you mentioned you live in Shenzhen. I reside in Guangzhou, so perhaps, at some point in the future, we could meet up to discuss these issues, and China, more generally, more freely. I don’t know where Conrad lives, but if he happens to live in the Shenzhen-Guangzhou area I would love it if could join us as well.

Anne Myers

June 27, 2005 @ 8:10 am | Comment

Dear Anne Myers,

Thank you for sharing with us your verdict.

I take your point that by arguing that China treats its prisoners no worse than do the Americans at Guantanamo Bay, that I had foolishly left myself open for severe criticism. I made that rash comment off the cuff, and I didn’t really mean it – I mean, I wasn’t really convinced by what I had said there myself. Still, I have to take responsibility for saying it. But if readers were to scroll up further along this thread, they will see that what I had said was in fact inconsistent with what I had been arguing earlier, in that I pointed out to Shulan that I had never really argued that China treats its people better than America treats it people, within the context of what happens within their own national borders.
The question here, as far as these survey results go, relate mostly to foreign policy.

The last point that I would like to raise concerns what Conrad had to say about the laogai prison camps. I need to research this more carefully, but if memory serves me correctly, abuses in these prisons were first reported to the world thanks to Amnesty International, who published an entire report about it. Now, if I am factually correct in saying that, than surely Conrad would, if he wishes to be consistent, surely he would have to accept Amnesty’s reports about human rights violations by the US as well. I mean, as I mentioned earlier on this thread, all of Amnesty’s annual reports since 1996 have concluded that the US is, in effect, the world’s biggest terrorist – and I have quoted a key passage from the 1996 report already, in one of my comments above.

If Conrad is happy to accept the findings of Amnesty’s report on abuses in Chinese prisons, then surely he ought to also accept their report on abuses in American prisons – and they are very critical about not only the Guantanamo Bay prison, which they described recently as “the gulag of our times” but also they have, for many years now, been very critical of the US prison system in general, and in particular, of America’s use of the death penalty.

Finally, I would be more than happy to meet up with you socially, when I next visit Guangzhou, or when you next visit Shenzhen. I can’t speak for Conrad, but I’d be more than happy for him to join us, should he be interested. Just email me Anne, so that I have some way of contacting you.

Best regards,
Mark Anthony Jones

June 27, 2005 @ 6:42 pm | Comment

Dear Conrad,

One other point here, regarding the laogai prisons.

The Laogai Research Foundation, which is extremely critical of the abuse that goes on in “some” of them, also notes that “Laogai prison camps house only the criminals who have completed the process of arrest, trial and sentencing.”

Now most of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, many of whom have been there for years, and many who have also been tortured and abused, have yet to even be charged with an crime, let alone have their cases heard in court!

The more i research this topic, the more I’m beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t too far off th eamrk afterall.

Mark Anthony Jones

June 28, 2005 @ 2:47 am | Comment

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