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The Vassals Weren't Any Better

by DoDo Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:45:45 AM EST

It is customary in Europe, especially in countries that participated in Iraq's occupation, to claim that EU countries are needed for peacekeeping in countries hit by the War on Terra, because they do it so much better than the violent Americans. This myth lives on despite receiving several blows from exposures about the conduct of British soldiers, and some about others (Danes in Iraq, Germans in Afghanistan).

This myth was especially prevalent in the Netherlands, where support for participation in any peacekeeping mission (including COalitions of the Willing) ran highest in Europe. But now de Volkskrant reports (in Dutch; and SPIEGEL ON-LINE covers it in German) that Dutch soldiers tortured captured Iraqis three years ago.

Interrogation 'methods' included exposure to strong light, playing loud music, not letting people sleep by pouring cold water on them.

The Dutch treatment was probably only the beginning for the culprits: the practice was to hand over captives to the Brits after four days.

After the xposure, the hypocrites in the government apply the US method: they "don't remember" but at the same time deny that the practices amlount to torture.

A reminder: the Netherlands originally sent 1,400 troops to Iraq, but had to withdraw in the spring of 2005, but the Balkenende government sought to keep up its US alignment by leaving 15 military bureaucrats/military police in Baghdad.

I hope out Dutch squad will pitch in with more info about how the scandal unfolds.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:47:01 AM EST
It's starting to steal all the headlines. Election time...

  • Minister Kamp of Defense has confirmed that the "interrogation techniques" as described in the Volkskrant have been done and that he knew about the methods. An internal investigation said that "nothing illegal had been done". Combined with the quotes of the ex-military man highlighted by dvx, this all screams of a (next) botched cover-up.
  • An independent committee is already launched to review the matter.
  • Jurists are divided on the term "torture". There is agreement that the abuse is forbidden by international law. Whether it's torture on its definition or a war crime depends on the degree of abuse, or so is the drift of things as far as I can make them out... Whatever happens, there's ground for a criminal case.
  • Minister Bot of Foreign Affairs has strongly expressed his disaproval, and said he was unaware of the matter. (I've a weakness for Bot, despite his not too brilliant policy. In many issues, he has served as a moral compass within the government.)

In any case, this could not have come at a worse time for the government coalition and certainly not for the VVD.

That's it for now...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 10:03:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote a diary on the defining of certain techniques as not torture on Kos so I will copy the relevant part here as it seems to link in with some of the practices used by the Dutch.

The following interrogation techniques are not torture.

(a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a "stress position";

(b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees' heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;

(c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;

(d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;

(e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

Those exact "five techniques" were used by the British Army on suspected IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland in August and October 1971 when detention without trial was practiced in the name of preventing terror attacks. In due course, the Republic of Ireland government made a formal complaint to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the victims. The complaint was based on Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In January 1978, the European Court of Human Rights passed down its decision in the case. As well as describing in great detail the circumstances and its deliberatons, the court held by thirteen votes to four (para 96) that the use of the "five techniques" in that case did not constitute torture within the meaning of Article 3. On the other hand this landmark judgement was that the Court:

3. holds by sixteen votes to one that the use of the five techniques in August and October 1971 constituted a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of Article 3

This provision of the ECHR should not be confused with Article 3 of the Third Geneva Convention which requires minimum provisions including:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

The ECHR case would presumably provide the precendent on which to base a War Crimes prosecution, even if those specific techniques were not outlawed by Dutch military law. It does however mean that if the treatment meted out by those Dutch soldiers was materially worse than the Northern Ireland case, the prosecution could argue that it had graduated from cruel and inhuman treatment to torture.

by Londonbear on Sun Nov 19th, 2006 at 01:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see why people are so shocked. This is how counter insurgency works. These people are not rotten apples, this is how the work is done.

Col. Mathieu: Should we remain in Algeria? If you answer "yes," then you must accept all the necessary consequences.

It's an absolutely horrible business which we should never have become a part of.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 06:04:00 AM EST
too many monkeyfists clasped round the banana in the bottle, they would have had to 'fess up about peak oil and whay they want to delay that day; the little peoples' utility bills go through the roof meanwhile, and we shuffle obscene amounts of capital to other countries to send us more fossil fuels tp spreed up global warming with, while wasting all the free energy falling around us.

those middlemen have no loyalty to anything except their offshore bank accounts, and have seen to it that the media keeps us as befuddled as possible, and the pols only mouth platitudes, and drag their feet.

this is a macabre, sociopathic trendline that is stopping us wake up en masse.

what will it take?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 08:28:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the Spiegel article:

Luuk Kroon, damals der höchste niederländische Militärchef, sagte dem "Volkskrant", er lehne einen Kommentar ab. Er könne sich an diese Vorgänge nicht erinnern. "Das heißt nicht, dass es nicht gemeldet wurde." Luuk Kroon, at that time the Netherlands' highest-ranking military officer, told the "Volkskrant" that he declined to make any comment: he could not recall these events. "That doesn't mean they were not reported."

Non-denial denial? Self-undermining denial? Sounds suspiciously like a "yes" to me, somehow.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 07:02:51 AM EST
War is hell, make no mistake about it.  Whether it takes the form of torture, or kidnapping and decapitating innocents, it's never a pretty picture.  The idea that gentlemen fight clean wars was always a myth.  

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 09:56:33 AM EST
Whatever. It was supposed to be peacekeeping, not war.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 12:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought it was supposed to be a crusade.
by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 02:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe that's what's needed? Someone who stands up against evil and cleanse the world?


I'll go take my pills.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:05:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Get well soon.
by det on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we have enough cannibals, don't you?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 03:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For some reason I read 'cannibals' as 'cannabis', and it made sense.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 05:26:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe that is what both sides are doing?

Evil is a state of mind.

by Trond Ove on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 10:18:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is customary in Europe, especially in countries that participated in Iraq's occupation, to claim that EU countries are needed for peacekeeping in countries hit by the War on Terra, because they do it so much better than the violent Americans. This myth lives on despite receiving several blows from exposures about the conduct of British soldiers, and some about others (Danes in Iraq, Germans in Afghanistan).

First of all, the fact that EU country soldiers are engaging in torture does not mean that peacekeeping forces in Europe are as bad as the Americans. It might be, but then again it might not.

The church was filled for the funeral service. The preacher carried on with the service for the deceased. At one point in the service he stopped and said: "I'd like someone to come up to the front and say a few nice words about the deceased." There was silence. The silence stretched as people squirmed under the glare of the preacher.

Again the preacher spoke: "Look, no one is going home until someone comes up and says something nice about the deceased." Again there was a long uncomfortable silence. Eventually a young man shuffled his way to the front. He spoke: "His brother was worse."

And so it goes.

Canada had its episode of torture in Somalia. It resulted in a national enquiry. The unit involved in torture was disbanded in shame. I guess I am hopeful that there is some shred of decency in our reactions, and "our brother" is worse.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Nov 17th, 2006 at 09:12:52 PM EST
Just the fact that this is already a big story in the Netherlands shows that the U.S. was indeed "worse." Except for Abu Ghraib, which had the "advantage" of semi-pornographic photos, American torture has barely made its way into the headlines in the U.S. And when it is discussed, commentators are much more likely to  dismiss it as "fraternity pranks" than to condemn torture outright. And, as I can't point out often enough, 66% of the American electorate chose not to vote against Bush in 2004, a year after he and his administration had been proven to be for torture. I call that "worse" and I always will.
by Matt in NYC on Sat Nov 18th, 2006 at 01:47:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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