The debate, according to the BBC, has focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Over the past several years, many in the international community could simply not bring themselves to accept that the murder of innocent Jewish men, women, and children in the worlds only Jewish state, is just as bad as the murder of anyone else. Because of this, they refused to agree on any definition since any meaningful definition would have to include the preferred Palestinian method of warfare.
The proposed draft that the UN is hoping countries will sign, says the following:
“We affirm that the targeting and deliberate killing of civilians and non-combatants cannot be justified or legitimised by any cause or grievance, and we declare that any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or an international organisation to carry out or to abstain from any act cannot be justified on any grounds and constitutes an act of terrorism.”
This definition is useful for several reasons.
First, the “targeting and deliberate” clause separates terrorism from accidental of unintentional killings, so as not to include episodes like the police shooting in London , or the unfortunate collateral damage inherent in any modern military conflict.
Second, the clause includes not only murder, but even actions “intended to cause death or serious bodily harm,” but do not. Thus, failed attempts may still constitute terrorism.
This act is a long time coming, if indeed it is adopted. The lack of any agreed upon definition has prevented the possibility of any comprehensive convention on terrorism or agreed upon counter-measures. In place of any agreement is the relativist and morally empty mantra that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
It is time for the world to realize that one mans terrorist is another mans terrorist. Words have meaning and unless such meaning is legitimized by the most important international body on the planet, this world will continue to be a no-man’s-land of moral equivalency and international misunderstanding.
The World War II Memorial sits in a place of prominence in the National Mall, but it is not all that prominent. By the standards of most memorials in the capital, it lies low to the ground, not obscuring the sight-lines of the Mall. That’s not to say it isn’t big. It spreads out over a large area. Stone columns inscribed with the names of states and territories line the perimeter. Two larger columns flank the memorial. One side is dedicated to the Pacific theaters; the other to the Atlantic. A low-lying wall emblazoned with four thousand gold stars is meant to symbolize the ultimate sacrifice made by over 400,000 Americans.
Perhaps most striking about the memorial is all the water. In front of the wall of stars sits a still pool. On either side, small waterfalls flow from another pool. In front of both major columns sit identical small pools, with water running here and there. And a massive fountain and pool dominates the middle of the monument. Jets of water continuously spray upward and diagonally. Not exactly like a fountain in Las Vegas, but if you’re thinking Oceans 11 (the new one) you’re not too far off. On a hot day like this past Saturday—a hot summer day in Washington! Gasp!—people gather around the central pool and dip their feet in the water.
It’s all very noisy. All the flowing water is like one of those relaxation CDs with the volume turned way up. Then there’s the people. In order to be heard over the water, they have to talk louder. In order to be heard over one another, they have to talk louder still. And they are taking pictures. With so spread out a memorial, there are lots of pictures to take.
The result is that the World War II Memorial is more like a carnival than a memorial. It’s a regular clamor, a cacophony, a hullabaloo. There is none of the melancholy sense of loss that accompanies the Vietnam Memorial; none of the overwhelming grandeur of the Jefferson Memorial; none of the stark power of the Washington Monument; none of the throat-catching solemnity of the Lincoln Memorial.
People gab away. They get together for group pictures. They splash their feet in the water and chase children who want to go in deeper. They smile and talk and soak up the sun. Tourists and locals, citizens and visitors from abroad, organized groups and unorganized humanity, all stomping through a monument to those who fought and died in the world’s greatest war.
There is nothing grand or great about it. It’s perfect.
Perhaps Gonzales did not get the memo that John Roberts, and not he, was offered the SC nomination. What makes Gonzales’ statement so puzzling is its rather cavalier tone. Of course, as anyone knows, the Supreme Court is not obligated to follow anything. There is no Constitutional provision that would prevent them from deciding cases based on the flip of a coin or a game of monopoly. Furthermore, many-a-Supreme Court case has been rightly overturned by some subsequent court throughout American history and our democracy has been no worse for much of it.
No, what troubles me about the statement was when I read the grounds that Gonzales says a Justice should overturn the most controversial ruling in the last 30-plus years: “If you believe it’s wrong.” If you believe it’s wrong? A Republican cabinet member in the Bush White House advocating Justices making rulings based on what they personally think “is wrong”? Now that doesn’t sound very much like judicial restraint to me. If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, I would hope that it is done on the basis of sound Constitutional interpretation and not simply because they think abortion is wrong. Now what would the media say if a liberal President (or a Bigfoot since it is just as rare to actually see one) said that Justices should vote against the death penalty, or gun manufactures if they “believe it’s wrong.”
As Justice O’Connor, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Souter said in their 1992 opinion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”
In all fairness, however, it is possible that Gonzales meant “wrong” in a legal and not in a personal, way. If not, then I guess it is good that he is not the nominee after all.
While we are on the subject, I will likely make few friends by saying that I would not find overturning Roe all that catastrophic. After all, doing so would not make abortion illegal, it would simply means that states MAY make it illegal if they so choose. If you don’t want them to, then go out and join those most rare of political animals: the local election voter.
Although I support a woman’s right to chose to have an abortion, I am not entirely convinced that such a right can be Constitutionally protected under the privacy right enumerated by Griswold v. Connecticut. Like many issues, perhaps it is best left to communities (i.e. states) to make decisions based on the interests of its own citizens.
It also seems germane to point out that Smith College Professor Eric Reeves gave the best overview I have seen of the Sudan crisis over the course of five days last week in The New Republic's"&c." notes section. You'll need to scroll down (I am not hyperlinking separately because it comes in five parts), and the five lessons are long -- I printed them up after some reformatting and it comes to some fifteen single-spaced pages, but it is essential reading. And The Sudan only ranks third in the Failed States Index, which tells us much that we need to know about life in C'ote d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.