Mapping virtual selfdom

2006-06-25

in Geek stuff, Internet matters

Working in the Department of Politics and International Relations

There’s nothing like seeing all the websites to which you have contributed listed in one place to make you feel like a hardcore geek.

Now, back to being the only person in the Department of Politics and International Relations. At 8:45pm on a Sunday. Surrounded by books on the Middle East, and drinking Red Bull.

[Update: 11:59pm] After three hours of editing, I have something with which I am actually pretty happy. It is definitely much better than my decolonization essay. I am going to go home, then give it one last check over before giving it to Dr. Hurrell tomorrow. Just one paper left!

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan June 25, 2006 at 10:23 pm

I don’t like Flickr. I tried it and decided it just wasn’t worth the bother of migrating photos there. I want either more control over how a photo hosting site works, or a connection with an expert community of the kind you get through Photo.net.

B June 26, 2006 at 1:58 am

“Samantha, ne pas de boys.”

R.K. June 25, 2006 at 10:03 pm

No Flickr, no del.icio.us?

And you call yourself a geek!

Ian June 26, 2006 at 6:55 am

Milan,

A comment on your comment on Two Academic Jobs – or should I leave it (my second) under yesterday’s posting? I need a little advice on blog-comment etiquette.

Your list of topics is indeed long enough, but you might want to link Canada’s response to the invasion of Iraq with that of other countries – and indeed certain government officials in participating states – who knew the venture was unlawful, and advised accordingly. I’m perfectly sure the Canadian cabinet was advised that (a) Canada was under no legal obligation to participate, but (b) it did not feel it had a right to either. Too many analyses get as far as point (a), when conclude that other governments were free to participate, or not, as they chose. In he pre-invasion weeks, there was an astonishing silence as regards the fairly strong presumptions against the legality of the use of force, and the notion of the sovereignty integrity of Iraq (despite who was in charge, our ex-amigo Saddam or someone else).

In this connection, I was flabbergasted to read an article in the Melbourne Journal of International Law by a Senior Lecturer at LSE that the invasion made him aware – for the first time – that International Law was something more than a series of free-floating and abstract ideas…”it lies at the heart of the international system of which it is a part”. While this candour seems disarming, for myself, I’d regard it as shaming if my students didn’t tumble to this by week four of my course. I did well to free British legal academia when I did…

My only other thought is that the coalition can hardly said to be “at war” with or in Iraq. I’m not referring to the lack of a formal declaration, but rather the fact that life in the US and the UK seems to go on as usual – as opposed to the total war mentality at the time of WWII, with its impacts and effects on so many aspects of everyday life, you couldn’t escape it. It would be interesting to know if popular awareness of being “at war” in these countries goes beyond the fairly exiguous references to the Napoleonic Wars in the novels of Jane Austen.

Final point, if you’re going to use power-point, keep the slides simple and (unlike this comment) to the point. Sitting through presentations were the speaker reads from her/his slides reminds one of being taught to read…

Ian

Milan June 26, 2006 at 10:23 am

Ian,

Regarding comment placement, it’s probably best to keep them with the post they are about. I will find them wherever they are put, but it might be confusing to other people. Of course, jokes as obscure as the one immediately above your comment are likely to be similarly bewildering to many people.

I am not planning to use Powerpoint. I have generally found it more of an impediment than a help. Instead, I am planning to distribute a handout of some 3-4 relatively sparse pages, and speak on the basis of a general outline that I will have practiced turning into a properly-flowing presentation.

On Iraq, I don’t want to get bogged down in what is sure to be quite a controversial topic. This seems even more likely given what I have learned about Regent University since yesterday (see comments in previous post). I was planning to explain the Canadian decision primarily in terms of public opinion and the political peculiarities of the end of the Chrétien era, as well as general hesitation on the part of nations like Canada that at least like to mostly believe that they take international law seriously.

On the relevance of international law, an illuminating recent development concerns this putative North Korean missile test. As far as I know, no international law restricts the right of North Korea to develop and test missiles – any more than it does the United States, for instance, or Japan. Despite this, you hear a lot of talk being bandied about regarding everything from imposing sanctions to launching a military strike. There may well be reasons aside from legal ones that motivate concern, and could motivate such responses, namely the fear that North Korea would use such weapons against any of a number of states, but it seems that law is at the margin of this discussion.

Ian June 26, 2006 at 3:42 pm

Milan,

Law will continue to be at the margin of these discussions as long as people want to leave it there. I’m not referring to you here – you and I have discussed the extraordinary imperviousness of the Canadian media to the legal issues. HOWEVER, the paper by the LSE SL I referred to earlier suggests that the legal dimension was very much a part of the public discourse in the UK in the weeks leading up to the invasion. I have cuttings from, inter alia, The Guardian, articles which had no equivalents in the Canadian media. Of course, an academic’s perception as to what lies at the heart of public discourse mightn’t be shared by others.

Your strategy is sound, and you do well to tailor your remarks to your audience and avoid getting bogged down needlessly. However, when summing up the Canadian cabinet’s attitude, you might like to consider the fact that there can be no doubt that they would have been advised that Canada had no right to participate in the invasion of Iraq, not to mention being party to the ICC Statute. Tony Blair would have been given the same advice – NB the Foreign Office senior lawyer who resigned called the invasion “a war of aggression” – not a term of art in her case…

Ian

Ian June 26, 2006 at 5:45 pm

R.K.,

Here’s this lawyer’s argument. Violating the territorial integrity of a state is possibly the most serious international act, because it challenges the sovereignty of a fellow member of the international community. Although the decades since the end of WWII have hardly been free of armed conflict, every document on note on international governance from the UN Charter on has stressed that the use of force is not longer an acceptable means of settling international disputes, save in certain well-defined cases, e.g. self-defence (and some would argue, anticipatory self-defence), and, as your comment suggests, where the UN has mandated it.

Clearly, the US et al did not act in self-defence: they were not under attack, nor was an attack on them likely (according to Iraq-watchers, the country was virtually on its knees, despite Saddam’s rhetoric: I remember more than one of them saying that the reason Blix isn’t finding WMD is because there isn’t any to find…). So, did the UN mandate the use of force? Lord Goldstone says yes, using an elaborate argument based on SC Resolutions passed before and just after the Kuwait war… The reasons for that intervention were obvious, and the mandate was explicit. Wouldn’t you like to see an equally explicit mandate in this case, where there has been no invasion, etc? After all, we are talking about taking the most serious step in the international arena.

International Law does not allow states to take unilateral action against others merely because they are in violation of SC Resolutions (we can all think of one Resolution that has been ignored since, say, 1967). And as for the Saddam’s nastiness argument – Bush Senior was asking Congress for loan guarantees, I think they were, a few weeks before the Kuwait invasion – AFTER the chemical attack on the Kurds, etc., when we all knew perfectly well what sort of murderous swine he was. Yet we all had embassies in Baghdad or diplomats accredited to his regime until he made his little slip with his neighbour, didn’t we?

If you have a spare half-hour, you might want to look at Gerry Simpson’s paper in the Melbourne Journal of IL – he lays it all out pretty concisely.

As to the coalition’s motives…Iraqis aren’t stupid. They remember perfectly well who supported Saddam in the old days: I would be surprised if you’d find many in that country who would disagree with the proposition that the west has intervened in their part of the world only when it has suited the west, despite pious claims to the contrary.

What do you think?

Ian

R.K. June 26, 2006 at 4:09 pm

Ian,

Why is the Iraq war so obviously illegal? The UN Security Council resolutions before the Gulf War and afterwards required certain kinds of disarmament. Saddam lied to the UNSCOM and UNMOVIC inspectors. The US and UK argue that it was on the force of the original resolutions, which were under Chapter Seven, that the legal basis for the invasion rests.

Admittedly, they didn’t find any WMD, and they haven’t exactly raised the level of human welfare in Iraq, but these are after the fact considerations. At the time the war started, it was reasonable to believe that Saddam had illegal weapons programs.

R.K. June 27, 2006 at 11:25 am

I certainly don’t believe the war was motivated by humanitarian concerns. Likewise, the war has clearly been a terrific screw-up. It’s just hard to imagine Tony Blair being a war criminal.

I guess that ties into how easily we can cheer the valliance of British civilians during the Blitz while forgetting the concurrent firebombing of Japan.

Milan December 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

For unspecified reasons, the ClaimID service has been discontinued.

The Wayback Machine has 14 copies of my former page.

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