Should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Others Be
Jailed for War Crimes?
2. A Public Note to my Friend, Bernie Sanders
3. Calling Out Drone War as a War Crime
4. Can Philosophy
Stop Bankers From Stealing?
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, June 9,
is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item
1 is about murders and justice and Operation Condor; item
2 is about Bernie Sanders, by Robert Reich; item 3
is about drone wars and Ann Wright; and item 4 is
about bankers and morality (and seems a little confused or vague).
Should George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Others Be Jailed for War Crimes?
The first item is by Rebecca Gordon on Truthdig and originally on
This is from the beginning (and before
starting this: Clearly the answer to the question in the title
should be - in my opinion - yes!):
Operation Condor was launched by
the security forces of five military dictatorships: Chile, Argentina,
Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Brazil soon joined, as did Ecuador and
Peru eventually. As a Cold War anti-communist collaboration among the
police, military, and intelligence services of those eight governments,
Condor offered an enticing set of possibilities. The various services
could not only cooperate, but pursue their enemies in tandem across
national borders. Indeed, its reach stretched as far as Washington,
D.C., where in 1976 its operatives assassinated
former Chilean ambassador to the U.S. Orlando Letelier and his young
assistant, Ronni Moffitt, both of whom then worked at the Institute for
Policy Studies, a left-wing think tank.
This is just a summary. There is a lot more
in the article, that is good. It is too long to excerpt it, and I only
take up two points it raises.
How many people suffered grievously
or died due to Operation Condor? A definitive number is by now probably
beyond recovery, but records from Chile’s secret police suggest that by
itself Argentina’s “dirty war”—the name
given to the Argentine junta’s reign of terror, “disappearances,” and
torture—took the lives of 22,000 people between 1975 and 1978.
Thousands more are thought to have died before that country’s
dictatorship ended in 1983. It’s generally believed
that at least another 3,000 people died under the grimmest of
circumstances in Chile, while thousands more were tortured but lived.
The first point is this - and please note this point is not
about justice itself, but about the time it took:
Why did it take 40 years to bring
the architects of Operation Condor to justice? A key factor: for much
of that time, it was illegal in Argentina to put them on trial. In the
first years of the new civilian government, the Argentine congress
passed two laws that granted these men immunity from prosecution for
crimes committed in the dirty war. Only in 2005 did that country’s
supreme court rule that those impunity laws were unconstitutional.
That is a clear answer. The final point is
I agree, but I think one general aim of
justice (and here I mean real justice, based on
knowledge of the relevant facts) is
that it aims at knowing the truth and
at publishing the truth if it is known.
But there’s a question that can’t help
but arise: What’s the point of bringing such old men to trial four
decades later? How could justice delayed for that long be anything but
One answer is that, late as they are, such
trials still establish something that all the books and articles in the
world can’t: an official record of the terrible crimes of
As to its being "official": Personally, while I agree in outline, I am more
interested in having a good published report than in having a
less good published official report. (But this is probably due to
my personal back-
This is a recommended article.
A Public Note to my Friend,
The second item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as
No, I am sorry, but this is simply not
true. I like Bernie Sanders and I like Robert Reich, but it simply is not
true that not winning the presidential candidacy you have
striven for during nearly a year is a success.
I don’t know what you’re going to do
from here on, and I’m not going to advise you. You’ve earned the right
to figure out the next steps for your campaign and the movement you
But let me tell you this: You’ve
What I agree with is that Bernie Sanders ran a fine campaign
with many good proposals, and what I also agree with is
that he should have won the presidential candidacy (and quite
probably would have done so if only the main media were
reporting the truth
rather than indulging in lies and propaganda), but I don't
agree he succeeded. That is simply not a fact.
The rest is indeed considerably better. First there is this, on what
Bernie Sanders did win, which indeed is quite impressive:
At the start they labeled you a
“fringe” candidate – a 74-year-old, political Independent, Jewish,
self-described democratic socialist, who stood zero chance against the
Democratic political establishment, the mainstream media, and the
Then you won 22 states.
And there is also this on Sanders' program:
I agree with most of that, though I am a bit
hesitant about "[y]ou’ve also inspired millions
of us to get involved in politics". Then again, my reaction
You’ve done it without SuperPACs or big
money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires. You did it with
small contributions from millions of us. You’ve shown it can be done
without selling your soul or compromising your conviction.
You’ve also inspired millions of us to
get involved in politics – and to fight the most important and basic of
all fights on which all else depends: to reclaim our economy and
democracy from the moneyed interests.
Your message – about the necessity of
single-payer healthcare, free tuition at public universities, a $15
minimum wage, busting up the biggest Wall Street banks, taxing the
financial speculation, expanding Social Security, imposing a tax on
carbon, and getting big money out of politics – will shape the
progressive agenda from here on.
is (once again) personal, and based on the facts that (i) my
parents were very much more "involved in
politics" than almost anyone I know and that
(ii) I don't think that being convinced to vote is much
of an involvement with politics.
3. Calling Out Drone War
as a War Crime
third item is by Dennis
Bernstein on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Leading the charge against the U.S.
“drone war” — now a key part of the Pentagon’s forward fighting
strategy — is an unlikely individual, Colonel Ann Wright, who spent
most of her adult life as a diplomat, working in the U.S. State
Colonel Wright reopened the U.S.
embassy in Kabul in 2001. But in 2003 she took an action that would
transform her life. She resigned her position in opposition
to the then-impending U.S. invasion of Iraq. Since then, she has become
a full time global peace activist.
This is here mostly because I agree with
Ann Wright. Here is the first part of what I will quote:
Yes, indeed. I also know the defense
president Obama would give for his drone program, namely that it kills fewer
people than an ordinary war would kill, but I agree (I suppose)
with Ann Wright that this is baloney:
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Set the
Scene. As a former diplomat, somebody who spent a good deal of
time in the military, what brings you and Code Pink to Creech for the
seventh year in row? What’s at the core for you?
COLONEL ANN WRIGHT:
Well, it’s this weapons system. The weapon system that the
president of the United States is using as kind of his personal
He has become the prosecutor, the judge,
the jury, and the executioner of people around the world, who the
United States intelligence agencies have identified as people who are
doing something that is against U.S. interests. And we certainly know
that our intelligence community is not infallible, and they’ve made
lots of mistakes.
We also know for a fact that the drone
program kills lots and lots and lots of people who are no threat to the
You can't prove that you are morally good or justified by
showing that the immoral acts you furthered are or might be less
than some alternative you might also have followed. For they
immoral and still bad (and indeed both alternatives may be
Here is more on Ann Wright's ideas and motives:
AW: Well, I think it’s that
our government is always saying that its surveillance programs –
their invasion of our own privacy by surveillance through cell phones
or through drone actions here in the United States – how precise it is,
you know, “very few violations of constitutional rights.”
We don’t seem to have anyone that
adjudicates the evidence. We just have the president of the United
States who now has taken the authority to make that decision on
whatever is written on this little piece of paper, on a
Tuesday, to determine whether a person lives or dies, and along
with that person anyone else that might be in that circle.
So it’s very imprecise […] and it in
no way correlates to our own judicial look at what humanity is supposed
to be doing to each other. There’s no opportunity for that person to
defend themselves, to offer evidence to say “Hey, you got the wrong
person. Here’s the evidence that shows that I didn’t do anything that
you are alleging.” They don’t have that chance at all. They are just
And people that are in the car with
them, are in the house with them, the kids, the relatives, the mothers,
the grandfathers are disappeared because our intelligence agency, which
is not infallible, has made a mistake. So, those are things that
concern me, as a former military, retired military, former State
I think she is quite right and this is a
Can Philosophy Stop
Bankers From Stealing?
item is by Lynne Parramore on Native Capitalism and originally on New
This starts as follows:
Does the question of morality have a
place in the realm of banking and regulation? That it feels awkward to
even raise the issue is convenient for bankers who engage in reckless
and harmful activities every day without fear of punishment.
Ed Kane, Professor of Finance at
Boston College, believes it’s vital to discuss moral questions, in
plain English, without abstractions. Following his own advice, he is
blunt in characterizing some of the behavior in the banking industry in
recent years: “Theft is a forced taking of other people’s resources,”
he says. ‘That’s what’s going on here.” Kane urges a deep inquiry into
our culture to understand why bankers so commonly get away with crimes
in the United States.
First three personal admissions:
I have been following the crisis now for
three years almost daily, in the course of which I have read a
reasonable amount of articles by Lynn Parramore. My general conclusion
is that she often is vague. Second, I do know a whole lot
more of philosophy than Lynn Paramore. (I have studied it and am
reading philosophy now for more than 50 years.) Third, this article is not
so much about philosophy as it is about morality, although it's true
that the title may not be Parramore's (for it may be by some editor).
And next an observation on the first
The initial question seems to me a piece
of academic baloney: Clearly banking and regulation are
subject to moral judgements. Everything that humans do is -
quite naturally also - subject to moral judgements, and indeed banking
and bankers are far more often judged in moral terms
(this or that of their actions or non-actions are or are not good, desirable, or
decent) than in factual terms, for the simple reason that everyone
can make moral judge- ments, simply because everyone has
values, while knowing the facts of the matter one judges tends to be
more of a problem.
And no, this does not imply one's
moral judgements are unfounded: You do not need to be a
baker to judge that the bread is rotten; you do not need to be
a banker to judge that he is a liar and a fraud. You may be quite
correct in either case, and in either case you do not need
professional qualifications. (You may be wrong, and you may be
mistaken, but you are entitled to make moral judgements.)
Also, "[t]hat it
feels awkward to even raise the issue" (whether
banks, banking and bankers are subject to moral rules and judgements)
seems a supposition that only pleases immoral and unjust
bankers. I see no reason to make it at all, and every reason not
to make it: Everybody judges things, and most of these judgements are
in terms of values,
and such judge- ments simply are part and parcel of being human.
Here is some on Kane's views:
In my opinion (a philosopher's) the
first quoted paragraph is an obvious platitude, although I am
willing to believe that for a professor of finance
In Kane’s view, the word “should” — used
in the moral sense — needs to be reinserted into the vocabulary of
bankers. Today’s executives may spend a lot of time considering the
question, “Could we get away with it?” but there is little focus on the
question, “Is it right to do it?”
In a new paper for the Institute for New
Economic Thinking, ”
Ethics vs. Ethos in US and UK
Megabanking” Kane argues that when bankers make reckless and
harmful choices while counting on unlimited taxpayer support to bail
them out, they are plainly stealing. He calls it “theft by safety net.”
this may seem different.
But I agree with Kane's diagnosis that the bankers simply are stealing
Then there is this, with which I agree in a sense (and see
Why is this not considered a crime?
Because, says Kane, politicians nearly everywhere are bought off by
bankers. Plain and simple. The regulators who might intervene are more
worried about their careers and hopping through the revolving door
between government and the industry.
In Kane’s view, pernicious cultural
norms within banks and regulatory agencies have crowded out fundamental
moral principles. Regulators in both the U.S. and the U.K. are fully
aware that the reckless pursuit of profits is one of the main reasons
for the expanding scale and frequency of financial crises over the last
50 years, but they tend to approach the issue differently.
As to the first paragraph: I tend to agree
that very many (American) politicians probably "are
bought off by bankers", but I do not
proof of this (beyond lobbyists, that also are far less researched than
And it also is not "[p]lain and simple", simply because a
lot more is going
on than buying off politicians, and one main thing is deregulation: Not
only are bankers buying off politicians; they have also
mostly succeeded in deregulating
away most of the legal rules that protected the
non-rich, and most of the legal rules that made their actions financial
Here is a final question:
Is it too late?
“It really gets down to our family
structure,” says Kane. “Many children are not being disciplined.
They’re not learning about their obligations to other people. They’re
learning only about the obligations of other people to them. When they
sense that their parents are lying and cheating, well, it’s seen simply
as a betrayal.”
The educational system in the U.S. doesn’t
help. “The thing that our schools teach better than anything else is
how to copy. Who to copy from. How to get away with it,” says Kane
I say. If "[i]t
really gets down to our family structure"
(which again is very vague: I choose to understand it in the sense:
"the education one's own family provides in the home") I am very
I did get a decent moral/ethical education
from my parents, but they were among the 1 in a 1000 to 1 in 500 of
Dutchmen who resisted the Nazis in WW II - the rest, for various
reasons, some of which may have been good or unavoidable, chose to
(Immediately after WW II it seemed as if "7 million Dutchmen had been
leaders of the resistance", although nearly all of them did nothing in
the resistance.  And in case you don't worry: More
than 1% of all Dutch - over 100,000 persons - were murdered
in WW II for "having the wrong race", while anti-semitism was at its
fiercest in Holland in the 1950ies, when the facts about the
concentration camps were known. )
And as to the education I got: It was really very bad -
but since then (35 and more years ago) all of education has
been halved, while almost no one discusses education or
the values and facts it should teach.
Finally, is it really as bad as Parramore seems to think? I don't know,
for she is - once again - vague.
What seems true is that she has found a
professor of finance who has discover- ed (pretty late, I'd say, but I
am not a professor of finance) that there are moral dimensions
to banking, bankers and finance.
I agree, but I know that since I was 8 at
the latest. (And I learned it from my family, indeed.)
 The personal
background is that my father spent 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a
"political terrorist" in German concentration camps, where his father
was murdered, and I can recall very many publications from the
1950ies and 1960ies in which survivors of concentration camps
tried to get their torturers to court, which generally did not
succeed (then). Besides, of the few that did get punished, many were
liberated after 3 to 5 years in prison.
This only started to change somewhat in the 1970ies and later.
 The quote - "7 million Dutchmen had been leaders of the resistance" - was given by former prime minister Piet de Jong,
who reported that his boatsman had said so, briefly after returning to
Holland in 1945, after having
fought for years in the English Navy as a captain of a submarine.
Piet de Jong concluded from this "that the
war had been very serious". I conclude from this that the vast majority
of Dutchmen (there were 7 million adults then) lacked the moral
courage or the principles to go into the resistance.
Also, I found precisely the same
spirit in the University of Amsterdam in the 1970ies and 1980ies:
of the students agreed that "everybody knows that truth does not exist"
simply because it made their studies and their getting an academic
degree a whole lot easier.
 Incidentally, even
these numbers - over 100,000 Dutchmen were murdered, which was more
than 1 in a 100 of all living Dutchmen - are rarely
mentioned in Holland. But they are completely true.
As to Dutch anti-semitism: I rely on a long interview with the
Portugese prof. dr. José Rentes de Carvalho, who spent many years in
Holland, and - because
he was blackhaired and dark - was much discriminated in the 1950ies "as
a Jew" (which he wasn't). Prof.dr. Karel
van het Reve
said similar things, but then he had a similar background (communist
parents) as I have (which he also gave up, but a little later than I