I first encountered the 17th century philosopher Hugo Grotius in 1978, when I briefly studied the international law and polRegime Change, 1970's Style
I first encountered the 17th century philosopher Hugo Grotius in 1978, when I briefly studied the international law and political philosophy with respect to unilateral declarations of independence (UDI's) and what has since become known as "regime change".
There was a UDI on 11 November, 1965 in Rhodesia. Soon after, legal cases started to emerge in which there were jurisdictional issues about what government, what courts and what laws were applicable immediately after the declaration.
I was particularly interested in these issues, because exactly ten years later on 11 November, 1975 (towards the end of my first year at university in Canberra) Australia experienced its own version of an extra-parliamentary regime change, in which Malcolm Fraser replaced Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister, after his dismissal by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. (I had dinner with Gough and a number of other students in October, when he was quite bullish about his prospects of enduring the crisis.)
Many speculated (and still speculate) that there was some CIA involvement in the regime change. There was a precedent. Two years earlier in Chile, President Salvador Allende was ousted in a coup d'état staged with CIA support.
The CIA has subsequently been complicit in coups in Honduras and Venezuela, amongst many others.
De Facto Control
Coups have become part of contemporary Realpolitik.
Following any coup d'état, there is always a question with respect to the legitimacy of the new government.
Theoretically, there is a distinction between "de jure" and "de facto" control of a state.
Historically, the concept of de jure control reflected the reliance of the concept of sovereignty on the divine as the source of legitimate power and authority. If the new government doesn't derive its power from this source, it cannot be legitimate. The original government remains de jure.
However, as recent events such as these showed, de jure control means nothing in the absence of de facto control.
There inevitably comes a point when de facto control manifests itself as de jure control.
The old government can only pretend it's in control and still legitimate for so long.
Now, arguably, a coup d'état just needs to survive to become legitimate.
These arguments are influenced by the thinking of Grotius, who created a learned moral calculus of war and peace in 1625.
GROTIUS' MORAL CALCULUS OF WAR AND PEACE:
What is War?
Cicero styled war a contention by force.
What Constitutes the Justice of War?
Any thing is unjust, which is repugnant to the nature of society, established among rational creatures. Thus for instance, to deprive another of what belongs to him, merely for one’s own advantage, is repugnant to the law of nature.
Florentinus, the Lawyer, maintains that is impious for one man to form designs against another, as nature has established a degree of kindred amongst us. On this subject, Seneca remarks that, as all the members of the human body agree among themselves, because the preservation of each conduces to the welfare of the whole, so men should forbear from mutual injuries, as they were born for society, which cannot subsist unless all the parts of it are defended by mutual forbearance and good will.
Natural right is the dictate of right reason, shewing the moral turpitude, or moral necessity, of any act from its agreement or disagreement with a rational nature, and consequently that such an act is either forbidden or commanded by God, the author of nature.
The civil right is that which is derived from the civil power. The civil power is the sovereign power of the state.
The Law of Nations
But the law of nations is a more extensive right, deriving its authority from the consent of all, or at least of many nations.
War Between Sovereign Powers
No war is considered to be lawful, regular, and formal, except that which is begun and carried on by the sovereign power of each country.
Declarations of War
To make a war just, according to this meaning, it must not only be carried on by the sovereign authority on both sides, but it must also be duly and formally declared, and declared in such a manner, as to be known to each of the belligerent powers.
The Sovereign’s Subjects
A declaration of war, made against a sovereign, includes not only his own subjects, but all who are likely to become his associates, as thereby they make themselves accessories in the war.
Just Causes of War
The justifiable causes generally assigned for war are three, defence, indemnity, and punishment.
Means of War
Wars, for the attainment of their objects, it cannot be denied, must employ force and terror as their most proper agents.
Alternatives to War
There are three methods, by which independent nations may settle their disputed rights without coming to the decision of the sword.
The first method is that of conference.
The other method is that of compromise, which takes place between those, who have no common judge.
A third method of terminating disputes, without hostilities, was by lot.
Nearly related to the last named method is that of single combat, a practice recommended under the idea that by the risque of two lives a quarrel might be decided, which would otherwise have cost the blood of thousands.
Destruction and Rapine
War “will authorise mutual acts of destruction and rapine.”
The annoyance of an enemy, either in his person or property, is lawful.
This right extends not only to the power engaged in a just war, and who in her hostilities confines herself within the practice established by the law of nature, but each side without distinction has a right to employ the same means of annoyance.
Killing an Enemy
To kill a public enemy, or an enemy in war is no murder.
The persons of natural-born subjects, who owe permanent allegiance to a hostile power may, according to the law of nations, be attacked, or seized, wherever they are found.
Even women and children are frequently subject to the calamities and disasters of war.
There is nothing repugnant to the law of nature in spoiling the effects of an enemy, whom by the same law we are authorized to kill.
Nor does the law of nations, in itself, considered apart from other duties, which will be mentioned hereafter, make any exemption in favour of things deemed sacred.
Conquest of Lands
Lands are not understood to become a lawful possession and absolute conquest from the moment they are invaded. For although it is true, that an army takes immediate and violent possession of the country which it has invaded, yet that can only be considered as a temporary possession, unaccompanied with any of the rights and consequences alluded to in this work, till it has been ratified and secured by some durable means, by cession, or treaty.
Now land will be considered as completely conquered, when it is inclosed or secured by permanent fortifications, so that no other state or sovereign can have free access to it, without first making themselves masters of those fortifications.
After a place has surrendered, and there is no danger to be apprehended from the prisoners, there is nothing to justify the further effusion of blood.
UNITED NATIONS CHARTER
Article 2 (4)
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Article 2 (7)
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state...
The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.
Grotius analysed war from the point of natural law, rational laws that didn't necessarily have to derive their authority from divine law.
Much of his analysis is relevant to issues that confront us today in Syria:
* on what basis can one state start a war against another?
* must a war be based on a just cause?
* what is a just cause?
* must there be a formal declaration of war?
* if there is effectively a civil war in the other nation, which party is in control and has sovereign power?
* can you attack an opposition or rebel group without compromising the sovereignty of the legitimate government?
* do you need the consent of the sovereign government to attack a rebel group on its territory?
* if the opposition or rebel group is in de facto control of a particular area within the territory, does it become a government or state in its own right?
* does this allow another state to attack that group without the consent of the legitimate government, even if that government wishes to regain control of that territory?
* how are these concepts of natural law affected by the United Nations Charter?
* does the resolution of the UN Security Council about ISIS expressly or implicitly condone military action?
* is the motive of ousting the Assad regime an act of war? Does it make the intervention an unjust war insofar as it concerns the Assad regime (as opposed to ISIL)?
Mourning Becomes the War, Mourning Becomes the Law
...so now, the West is at war. We're at war...
Well, of course we're at war, even if we haven't formally declared it yet (so that we must comply with the laws of warfare). We haven't stopped being at war since the beginning of the twentieth century (or was it the nineteenth century?)...
One of the problems is that recently we've got used to fighting wars with technology: planes, drones, no men on the ground, except perhaps proxy combatants...
We're used to fighting the Other, but more importantly, we've got used to fighting the Other Elsewhere.
During the First and Second World Wars, we experienced war on our own territory, in our own streets, in our own neighbourhoods, close to our own homes.
The Other still experiences this Elsewhere, only the Other has decided to bring our war on its territory to our neighbourhood.
The moment war emerged from the trenches and from being fought by professional combatants, the real victims of a decision to declare war have been the innocents, the civilians.
Whether or not these innocents sympathise with the combatants, they don't deserve death or injury or destruction or involvement, not on their territory, nor on ours. They don't deserve to be collateral damage.
We should grieve for the innocent victims of war, wherever they suffer, whoever they sympathise with.
We have forgotten what it means to suffer on our own territory, what it means to be shot and killed by a ricocheting bullet while at a desk in our own home.
The Other who suffers Elsewhere has decided it is time to bring the experience of war, the experience of suffering to our neighbourhood.
This is what war has become, this is what war is like. We can't hide, as if innocent, behind technology and proxy combatants and mere training and supply of armaments to opposition or rebel groups.
We can't continue to manufacture and supply the weapons of war and feign innocence.
If we are at war, we are guilty of being at war.
We have to acknowledge that, if we participate in a war, anywhere, that war will be brought home to us, onto our territory, adjacent to our terraces, outside our cafes and bars, close to our homes, no matter how secure our borders.
This is the way wars will be fought in the 21st century. Not on computers alone.
People suffer, values are implicitly attacked. Ours as well as theirs.
For whom do we grieve? Only our innocents? Or their innocents as well?
How little do we ask why this war is being fought at all.
We are no more civilised than where and how and why we fight our wars.
SOUNDTRACK: [For Those who Danced Too Briefly to the Music of Time]
Let them have their Caliphate, their state, their culture, their economy (even if it ceases to be a market for our economies). Let us respect their sovereignty, their borders, their independence, their difference. Let's stand silent at the border, and welcome anyone who wants to cross to our side and live and love and dance in our neighbourhood.
"Pseud's Corner" is a long-running column in the UK magazine "Private Eye" that digests examples of pompous, pretentious aPseuds Espied by Private Eye
"Pseud's Corner" is a long-running column in the UK magazine "Private Eye" that digests examples of pompous, pretentious and pseudo-intellectual writing in the media, literature and academia, usually spotted and submitted by its readers.
Although many of the targets are offended by the inclusion of their writing, some strive for the cachet of an appearance.
Barry Humphries admits that he has submitted examples of his own work under a pseudonym on numerous occasions, but never earned publication.
With the increasing focus on brand development, there's more and more pseudery in advertising and marketing.
Here's a recent example from the business section:
Untouched by the Reminessence, Dear
Re-reading these extracts from the period up to 1973, they didn't seem to be that unusual or as amusing as I recalled them.
There are three possible explanations. One, that more and more people write like this nowadays and it no longer stands out. Maybe the column and this book have been mistaken for a style guide?
Two, the examples are so terrible that we assume that the writers must have been ironic?
Or three, perhaps, dog forbid, I now write like this, even without trying.
Paragons of Divine Exemplarism
But best to leave you with some examples from 1973:
"[A chair] is a philosophical dichotomy: required to be positive in trinity. It must say what it has to say and do what it has to do whilst being what it has to be...The Epsom combines a series of rhythmic interacting curved forms which yield without changing. It takes a sophisticated plain material, or leather, real or man-made, and contrasts it with the satin-smooth arrogance of highly machined surfaces."
William Plunkett Ltd. - Publicity Handout
"Marioni's own earliest 'sound piece' (which, incidentally, held an unseen time element since it involved drinking beer all afternoon beforehand) was the act of urinating into a galvanised bucket from the top of a ten-foot ladder."
Cordelia Oliver - "The Guardian"
"The best songs (Beatles Double LP) for me are the love songs in which lyrical pentatonic innocence is modified but not destroyed by rhythmic ellipsis or harmonic ambiguity."
Wilfred Mellers - "New Statesman"
"Getting back into a Mini after some years of not having driven one is like crawling back into the womb."
Judith Jackson - "Sunday Times"
"There is nothing that does not happen to Jacqueline Bisset in 'The Grasshopper'. She runs away from home, suffers a broken marriage to a Negro, is beaten up by a crude, self-made tycoon, befriended by a homosexual and turns to drugs. She becomes a call girl and then a rich man's mistress. Finally, a musician who pimps for her runs off with all her money, leaving her alone and finished at the age of 22.
'I know so many girls like Christine,' Jacqueline Bisset says of the character she plays. 'The theme is so modern; so much part of today.'"
Unity Hall - "The Sun"
"The goal was as simple and as impressive as the Parthenon."
Malcolm Winter - "Sunday Times"
"Beethoven plays the key note, repeats it three octaves down the scale, jumps up to the diminished 7th, then plummets to the key note of the dominant 7th. That last note is the bluest note you ever heard - and he wrote it in 1801, 60 years before the American Civil War."
James Greenwood - "Daily Mail"
"As she sang, her nose looked very like that of Bob Dylan."
Geoffrey Cannon - "Grauniad"
"Easily appreciable dialectically is the contradictory inter relationship between repetition and variants leading to a stepwise process which, with a certain acceleration, gives rise to a chain of more and more radical transformations of the structure originally established which seems therefore to have been 'dissolved' by progressive negations in a Hegelian sense."
Heinz-Kloll Metzge - DGC Record Sleeve
"What welded these manifestations of individualism into an enigmatic parable of universal fatality was the fact that each victim had been shot in the base of the skull – a method of execution which the German language, so capable of inventing words for all eventualities, names a Nackenschuss."
Michael Moorcock - "The Final Programme"
"Except for one sudden flurry of excited question-marks...the only punctuation is the full-stop. What a haggard stoical gait that gives to Beckett's prose, never to indulge in a comma or dash or semi-colon or colon. His style stiffens towards death; his full-stops, daunting but undaunted, take up all his time and space. His, and ours. Time must have a stop."
Christopher Ricks - "The Sunday Times"
"All myths explore the richness of systematic ambiguity."
Geoffrey Cannon - "The Guardian"
But Which One?
One of these extracts isn't strictly correct...but which one?
Plus one more recent example in honour of the well-deserved All Blacks victory in the final of the Rugby World Cup 2015: