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What kind of message does that send to the rest of the world or the signatories of the vienna convention? Why should other countries bother to contact american diplomats in case one of their countrymen is arrested? The vienna convention - every part of it - is a very good international treaty, which is used among others by american authorities quite often - unfortunately not so well at home. Cherry-Picking at its best, or should I say hypocrisy.

what kind of message does it send to the world when a country ignores international agreements..
a bad one, right?
what about the Stability Pact? was Germany's idea, and now they can't comply with it.
normally Germany should have to pay huge fines for non-compliance..
but strangely enough the haven't even though they haven't met the requirements for what the past 3 years or so? Strangely enough France has not met the requirements either and coincidentally France has not had to pay.
I wonder what would have happened if Germany and France were in compliance and Portugal was not.
Do you think Portugal would have to pay?
OF COURSE IT WOULD.
Cherry picking indeed ...

>>what about the Stability Pact? was Germany's idea, and now they can't comply with it.
exactly, they can't - the US could but chose not to - What makes you think portugal would have had to pay? Greece was cooking the books and still won't have to pay. And what does your remark have to do with the vienna convention??

The anniversary of the looting of the Iraq National Museum is upon us. I have researched and written a thorough article on this subject. Along with English-language news outlets, I also read German and French sources, which I discuss in footnote #3. If any German commenters would like to add any research to my article, please do so. I would appreciate it. I have been following Davids Medienkritik for over a year now and know how sharp all of you are.

Thanks in advance.

*

Germany can't comply and they should pay..
they made the rules, and they are not abiding by them.
Of course Greece doesn't have to pay...
Germany and France don't have to, why should Greece? The smaller countries of the EU would SCREAM if Greece had to pay and France and Germany do not..
geez
you can't see the hypocrisy?
If some small country like Portugal was NOT in compliance and Germany and France were, Germany and France would be SCREAMING to have portugal pay.
don't be so naive.

My point about the whole thing is that there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around.

I have a brother-in-law in the US State Department and suprise, many countries do not inform the US embassy when US citizens are arrested in foreign countries. This does present an opportunity to show cultural differences between countries. For some, agreements are merely symbolic gestures, not terms to be adhered to (Maastricht, Kyoto). For others, agreements are terms to be met under some penalty. Perhaps it's the influence of a "business" culture where one is forced to rely on agreements. No wonder some fear a free market society. They may at one point be required to actually do something.

Jeffrey, great article on the Iraqi museum story

If any readers really don't understand how anti-American bias works this should be required reading

The story is pretty straightforward - if the US Government or Military is accused of something, the reaction of these "journalists" is to rush it to print without any effort to verify the facts - and even when these facts are well known, to ignore the truth later on when it goes against the anti-American version told earlier

This is by no means a German problem - it is a fact of life in all Euro media and much US media

Of course, in the US one can lose a sterling reputation for such actions ( see Rather, Dan ) - while in Euroland it earns one praise and even more money ( see BBC, Licence Fee extended for another 10 years )

Frankly if someone tells me they are a journalist I have no respect for them for this profession - seeing them today as hack propaganda artists of the kind familiar to readers of Pravda and Der Sturmer of years gone by

If someone is a journalist from the BBC or Stern you should really console them for not being able to survive in 21st C media where their facts are checked and so they have to actually do their job

Sueddeutsche carried an editorial saying this decision "is extremely stupid and wrong." It also said that Secretary Rice will again nurture all the prejudices that exist abroad about the arbitrariness of U.S. justice authorities. Stefan Kornelius also wrote that "this decision provokes a response: The majority of Americans will certainly not like it if they can no longer rely on the protection of U.S. consulates during their trips abroad."


We and others weren't signatories to that portion of it.

So, what's the big deal?

Besides, as certain Europeans keep reminding US, only 4% of Americans have passports, so again, what's the big deal? Other than problems w/Mexico, where a lot of Americans go and we don't need no steenkin' passport, so what?

@Sandy P

Good point. Also what foreign nations that are likely to be visited by American citizens are likely to cause a diplomatic incident because of this. France perhaps? I really cannot see the German police refusing to contact the embassy just because of this, if say a US citizen backpacking across Europe buys an invalid ticket on the metro! A loss in tourist dollars is not exactly what Europe needs right now.


OT:
RTL2 are showing "Dave" the film at the moment and are advertising on a scrolling message at the bottom, offering the American national anthem for your mobile phone tone!

I'm not sure what the big deal is concerning the withdrawel.

According to the State Department the United States was not withdrawing from the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations itself, which gives people arrested abroad the right to contact their home countries' consulates. But the United States is withdrawing from an optional protocol that gives the International Court of Justice the jurisdiction to hear disputes under the convention.

The State Department also emphazied that roughly 160 countries belong to the consular convention, however, less than 30 percent of those countries belong to the optional protocol. By withdrawing from the protocol, the United States has joined the 70 percent of the countries that do not belong; e.g. Brazil, Canada, Jordan, Russia and Spain.

Among the countries that have signed the protocol are Australia, Britain, Germany and Japan.

The US will continue to accept its jurisdiction concerning about 70 specific treaties covering subjects like navigation, terrorism, narcotics and copyrights.

One of the major forces driving the withdrawal is the matter of the flood of illegal immigrants committing crimes in the US, and the corresponding laws of individual states, the laws of the US, versus the international court.

Many state Attorney Generals are getting fed up with certain individuals/groups within the US, and foreign governments, slowing attempting to form the utopian "World Court" that should have the jurisdiction over individual member states.

A perfect example of this frustration is what a spokesman for the Attorney General of Texas said, ..."The State of Texas believes no international court supersedes the laws of Texas or the laws of the United States...."

So everyone running around screaming about what "message" this sends should step back, take a deep breath, and look at what the US is actually withdrawing from.....the US is only withdrawing from one protocol that 70% of countries that signed the convention also agree isn't in their country's best interest.

The US is not the vilian here.

Pogue,

Thanks for reading the article and the compliment. It is indeed a sobering story and it does, as you say, have international scope.

On the radio yesterday I heard Tom Fenton, whose book "Bad News" has just been published, argue that the main problem with journalism is that there simply aren't enough reporters who do basic journalism on the ground anymore. I agree with him on that point, having looked into the numbers a bit. But this reduction in international correspondents does not, in any way, explain how someone like Paul McGeough was able to blame the Americans on the first day of the story with no fact-checked evidence to back up his claims. And, more importantly, the system is such that he NEVER went back to even find out who Nabhal Amin was and where the 170,000 figure came from.

For the other commenters here, this is the footnote from my article that addresses the German-language reaction to the Iraq National Museum story:

3. English headlines used variations on "plundered," "ransacked," "looted," and "pillaged"; German headlines were dominated by "gepluendert" and its cognates like "die pluenderer" and "die pluenderung" while the Suddeutsche Zeitung cried "Nur die Mongolen waren schlimmer" and TAZ exclaimed "Die schlimmste Verwuestung seit dem Mongolensturm" and one headline simply asked, "Wie bloed muessen die USA den sein?" and another baldly stated "Der amerikanische Ignoranz," and others referred to "die Vandalen"; French headlines used "pillages" and "les pillards." A collection of articles is available online at http://www.h-net.org/~museum/iraq_3.html.

"Nur die Mongolen waren schlimmer" is my current favorite. Maybe you can find a better one.

*

It's hard not to get sarcastic about this: "...prejudices that exist abroad about the arbitrariness of U.S. justice authorities..."

Our problem with international authorities such as the ICC, ICJ, etc. is that they are wildly arbitrary. Even in principle, they're questionable, but as presently constituted they are instruments of the foreign policy of nations whose interests are opposed to ours. You can call it a "court" of "justice" all you like, but it's neither.

The UN enthusiasts believe that all these hopelessly broken international institutions must be worshipped uncritically, because "they're the best we have". They'll never improve if we try to fix them! Yeah, right.

In the US, there is a fundamental belief that governments ought to be accountable, that they are employees of the people. I get the impression that this idea hasn't caught on quite so well in Europe, and even less in a lot of other parts of the world.

I'll address that last part about the soldier kicking the dead guy.

Let's see....

It's war. The guy is dead. Our soldiers, contractors and other foreign and domestic nationals (men, women and children) have been beheaded, mutilated, shot in the head, tortured, burned to unrecognizable hunks of charred flesh, hung from bridge girders, blown to pieces by men in civilian clothes via suicide bombs, VBIED, IED and had their deaths, kidnappings and humiliation, begging for their lives to be spared while some lunatic reads from the qu'ran or a bunch of other lunatics dance around chanting about death right before they run into a civilian neighborhood or mosque to save them from the real ass kicking they deserve, aired on international news and the world wide web, not to mention regular releases of the video version of "mein kamf" by some wacky guys in bed sheets promising the world death and destruction and more deaths of thousands of innocent people doing nothing more egregious than going to church, work, or the bakery, while nobody in the European press even blinks or, worse yet, gives the criminals a pass as "freedom fighters" or "dissidents"....

And somebody is upset about a picture of a soldier dragging a dead guy out of a car and kicking the body?

I'd say there is an extreme lack of perspective.

I'd also like to tell these guys to kiss our collective american ass and, please Mr. Soldier, kick the body one more time for me. Better yet, find some live bodies whose ass needs kicked and kick them for me, too.

Yours truly,
Happy to be an ugly American

Erg . . .

You said: "Our problem with international authorities such as the ICC, ICJ, etc. is that they are wildly arbitrary. Even in principle, they're questionable, but as presently constituted they are instruments of the foreign policy of nations whose interests are opposed to ours. You can call it a "court" of "justice" all you like, but it's neither."

I believe the term we would use is "kangaroo court." I don't follow legal matters closely, but in the past few years I've had the distinct impression that "international" courts in Belgium and the Netherlands pick and choose according to their own prejudices. Attempting to try Ariel Sharon as a "war criminal" did not sit well with me AT ALL. In fact, it was at that point that I began to look at "international law" with a whole new point of view--not a favorable one. "International law" and "international courts" began to look suspiciously like a lynch mob.

A further point. How do we know that the Belgians and the Dutch aren't going to use Sharia in their nasty lynch mob courts? Who is making all the laws?????? Who are the judges?????


It seems too much of a coincidence that the ruling in that caused the pullout was regarding some 51 Mexicans that were arrested for horrific crimes, found guilty in a court of law are are on death row in Texas. BUT the Mexican consulate was not notified about the arrests (as if they really cared at the time or would have done anything). Now Texas is faced with the expensive task of a retrial (thanks guys!) at the cost of several million dollars for each of these 51 scum. As long as the europeans continue to use international instutions to push a political agenda the americans will continue to pull out of these institutions.

What message does it send? "YOU CAN'T HAVE OUR SOVEREIGNTY!"

Promethea:

I don't follow legal matters closely, but in the past few years I've had the distinct impression that "international" courts in Belgium and the Netherlands pick and choose according to their own prejudices. Attempting to try Ariel Sharon as a "war criminal" did not sit well with me AT ALL. In fact, it was at that point that I began to look at "international law" with a whole new point of view--not a favorable one. "International law" and "international courts" began to look suspiciously like a lynch mob.

That was a regular Belgian court, not an "international" court. Some Palestinians wanted to have Sharon indicted under a local Belgian law; the court rightly dismissed the suit.

A further point. How do we know that the Belgians and the Dutch aren't going to use Sharia in their nasty lynch mob courts? Who is making all the laws??????
The Belgian and Dutch parliaments, respectively.
Who are the judges?????
Belgian or Dutch citizens obviously, just like judges in the USA will most probably be American citizens.

And next time please try to use fewer question marks, it makes you look like an idiot.

Chicago Guy:

the United States is withdrawing from an optional protocol that gives the International Court of Justice the jurisdiction to hear disputes under the convention.

Thanks, that's piece of information that was missing and without which the decision to withdraw can't be properly understood.


One of the major forces driving the withdrawal is the matter of the flood of illegal immigrants committing crimes in the US, and the corresponding laws of individual states, the laws of the US, versus the international court.

It's different here. *Our* illegal immigrants aren't commiting all that many crimes (our violent crime rate is pretty low overall), but it's hard to get rid of them because they tend to throw away their ID, and even if it can be proven that they came from a certain country, the authorities there mostly refuse to take them back.


Many state Attorney Generals are getting fed up with certain individuals/groups within the US, and foreign governments, slowing attempting to form the utopian "World Court" that should have the jurisdiction over individual member states.

A perfect example of this frustration is what a spokesman for the Attorney General of Texas said, ..."The State of Texas believes no international court supersedes the laws of Texas or the laws of the United States...."

Isn't the real problem Mexico trying to get as many Mexicans into the US as possible, and to use them as leverage to influence Amercan policy? We have the same problem with Turkey.


On that matter, Mexico wants the wants to shut down the 'minute Men' project



Hi,
actually i am still not well informed about that convention problem.
Could anybody provide me(us) with more detailed information on what "optional" protocol the usa is withdrawing ?
Perhaps with some links and transcripts of the people involved in that decision ?

thanks in advance

Just a point of clearification.

Texas has been around a lot longer than the International Court of Justice.

Texas seems to have been doing a lot better during this time period than Europe has with the concept of justice.

The withdrawal from the optional protocol is seen as necessary in light of some recent proceedings, mainly in death penalty cases, which gave the ICJ powers that the President of the US lacks. In the Medellin case, the ICJ ruled that failure to notify Mexican consular officials necessitated a new trial. Note that the defendant had all his rights protected under US and Texas law. For anyone who would suspect the criminal justice system (which can err), keep in mind that the case was under scrutiny throughout.

One thing I think most Europeans fail to understand is that under our federal constitutional arrangement, the President cannot simply order Texas, or any other state, to set aside its laws for an ICJ ruling. Each state has its own laws and procedures, which can be tested by its own constitutional guarantees, and by the rights and precedents of the US Constitution.

After the ICJ ruled in Medellin, the president wrote a plea letter to the Texas authorities, but he did not issue a directive--it is questionable whether he has the power to do so.

Much of this is perceived by some as a backdoor attack on the death penalty. In any event, the three-layered jurisdiction--treaty(ICJ), US, and state--creates some complex legal niceties. It is not so much, or solely, a sovereignty issue, as it is one that impairs the entirety of the system of federalism under which we operate. Basically, powers not specifically granted to the federal government remain with the states.

Discussion and links may be found here (and scroll down if you're interested):
http://lawofnations.blogspot.com/2005/03/us-withdraws-from-icj-jurisdiction.html

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