Of Strife And Men

20 People Who Will Save Ireland

wo weeks ago, the Sunday Tribune listed the people who had played a role in getting the country into its current mess. But we are where we are. The focus now must be on getting out of the hole we are in. Here we identify the 20 people who can play a leading role in getting the Irish nation back on its collective feet.

Well, 19 men and one woman (we can exclude both ‘Sean and Mary Citizen’, whose role is to take whatever’s coming on the chin).

To paraphrase a well-known priapic war criminal of Irish extraction, ‘ask not what your country can do for your man, ask what you can do for your man’.


7 Responses to “Of Strife And Men”

  1. 1 copernicus March 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Speaking as a lawyer, ascription of the designation “criminal” generally takes place following a successful prosecution on indictment wherein findings of fact and malice aforethought are made consistent with the rules of evidence and the standard and burden of proof.

    Any allegations notwithstanding.

  2. 2 Hugh Green March 16, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    So if a party is powerful enough to escape succesful prosecution for the crime of aggression -the bombing of South Vietnam in the particular case of JFK- there can be no admissible circumstances under which that party be termed a war criminal?

    How Kennedy Viewed the Vietnam Conflict – The New York Times

    On numerous occasions President Kennedy told me that he was determined not to let Vietnam become an American war. He agreed to have Americans serve as advisers, and he also authorized American pilots training Vietnamese to fly T-28’s to do the actual flying — covertly — in bombing missions inside South Vietnam.

  3. 3 copernicus March 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    “no admissible circumstances”

    I’m not sure if this expression is supposed to have a legal tenor to it.

    Leaving aside the fact that in law “admissibility” is a term used to distinguish evidence which can from evidence which cannot be put before a tribunal – if you are referring to Defamation law, then – were JFK still alive and sought to sue you – you could probably get away with describing him as a war criminal by virtue of the fact that he was a public figure and you are entitled to express robust opinions about them (see jurisprudence on Art 10 ECHR). Perhaps.

    But if you were trying to make the charge stick in a criminal court, you’d have to show on the facts that he committed an illegal act and that he intended that his actions would constitute a war crime.

    Covert does not mean illegal, and while those missions (at the invitation or with the acquiesence of the said Government of South Vietnam) were doubtless in breach of certain Treaty obligations, breach of Treaty obligations rarely amounts to what is commonly defined as “illegality”, what do you say was the “law” being broken here and from what facts do you infer his knowing intention to commit acts constituing a “war crime”?

  4. 4 Hugh Green March 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I’m not sure if this expression is supposed to have a legal tenor to it.

    It’s not (though when someone starts singing in a particular key it’s hard for me not to sing in tune); I’m just wondering whether you think you can call someone a criminal without it being proven in a court of law.

    I’m well aware covert does not mean illegal, and that illegal does not mean criminal. But under Article 6(a) of the Nuremburg Charter, the ‘planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression is criminal’ Source.

    from what facts do you infer his knowing intention to commit acts constituting a “war crime”

    From bases deep inside South Vietnam, unmarked U.S. bombers with U.S. crews flying under the cover name of “Operation Farm Gate” were systematically endeavoring to eliminate enemy rear bases and infrastructure. In this process, a lot of civilians were bombed and strafed, which according to some U.S. officers and civilians on the ground, only produced more Viet Cong.(Source)

    Not, however, that I am really all that bothered about Kennedy’s status in legal terms. So I guess I could have simply called him a murdering monster and avoided so much heat from the legal profession.

  5. 6 copernicus March 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Ouch me arse.

    Hugh is still a million miles away from making out his case. I also don’t know why he thinks a technical comment constitutes “so much heat from the legal profession” of which I represent a very minor component indeed. Hugh is absolutely right that the question of whether or not Kennedy was a “murdering monster” in the colourful phrase wouldn’t have drawn any particular attention. Or whether or not he was priapic for that matter.

    But, it wasn’t a colourful phrase that was used. It was a legal one. And I certainly think it raises the possibility that one might be said to leave oneself open to being undermined on credibility grounds when one makes elisions of that sort.

    At any rate, the source material indiates Kennedy’s “intention” was to target enemy rear bases and infrastructure. As events transpired, however, civilians were killed.

    The war was ongoing not planned and initiated by Kennedy. His advisors etc were in country at the invitation/acquiescence of the South Vietnamese Government on whose soil the bombings and straffings took place. So it is strongly debatable that it was waged “internationally” in a legal sense.

    But as you say, you’re not bothered about legal sense.

  6. 7 Hugh Green March 18, 2009 at 11:08 am

    OK, a few things.

    It’s not quite right to say that I’m ‘not bothered about legal sense’. What I said was I am really not all that ‘bothered about Kennedy’s status in legal terms’, the point being that I wanted to put forward, in the original post, a contrary characterization in reaction to the high esteem in which the male authors of the male dominated list appear to hold the man.

    In so doing, I may have given the impression that I accept the principles of international law, and am particularly concerned with the legality or otherwise of Kennedy’s actions. I don’t, and I’m not. When I say Kennedy was a war criminal, I do so based on prevailing standards that have resulted in the prosecution of others for war crimes.

    So there are lots of things I could have said, and I chose ‘war criminal’. But when I did so, I wasn’t operating according to your standards, which, as far as I can see, hold that in general you ought not to refer to anyone as a war criminal unless a successful prosecution has been made.

    Assuming I get your original comment right, in general you shouldn’t refer to Franco as a war criminal, even though he bombed civilian populations, used slave labour (acts typically defined as war crimes), since he was not successfully prosecuted for war crimes. There are many more examples, of course. Those are fairly stringent standards, and I see no compelling reason, other than the successful pursuit of a legal career, why I or anyone else should be held to them.

    I strongly suspect there are people in Spain who will claim that for particular operations, Franco’s ‘intention’ was to target enemy rear bases and infrastructure, but that, as events transpired, civilians were killed. One hears the same sort of thing in relation to Lebanon and Gaza. If you think it’s legitimate to say that professed intention is a decisive factor in concluding whether or not a war crime was committed, based on your expert reading of law, I shall defer to your greater expertise, but it would not say much about the moral force of international law. After all, when did war criminals not claim the best of intentions?

    On the ‘internationality’ of the waging of the war. One of the main reasons South Vietnam -an entity established not through popular legitimacy but through external intervention- had continued to exist was US support from the mid-1950s onward. However, I will concede there is a fair amount of room for debate on this matter. I would note, nonetheless, that there is considerably less room for debate on the matter of the ‘international’ nature of the waging of the war of aggression against Cuba, which, if I were interested in conducting a prosecution against Kennedy, and I am not, I would make sure to address.

    Also, the tone of the ‘heat from the legal profession’ remark was intended as affably sardonic, not persecuted.

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