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David Hicks should give his parole, and be released - patrickm at Larvatus Prodeo

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partickm argues at Larvatus Prodeo that Hicks' treatment damages the war to replace autocracies with liberal capitalists. He should give his parole and be released.
Click here to read or join the full discussion at Larvatus Prodeo.

What patrickm said there:

It is clear that Hicks is a standard enemy combatant who ought to be returned to Australia and set free after giving his parole. Detaining Hicks in this disgraceful way has harmed and continues to harm the war effort. He ought to have been held as a bog standard POW and when he offered not to return to the battle field released back to Australia to get on with his life.

Five years is not the main issue IMV, the issue is that he has not been afforded the POW standards that he was entitled to as a soldier fighting for the Taliban. Australians were and are entitled to go overseas and join the army of the lawful govermnet of a country. The Taliban were the recognised government. You can join the US army if you want. The Taliban subcontracted training activities to the Al Qaeda group so it is no surprise that Hicks was trained by them. Everybody was as I understand it.

The war in Afganistan was ended with the establishment of the new government and there was no justification for holding him past that point provided he agreed not to return to fighting.

This issue shows that there is always struggle within united fronts. The ruling elites in both Australia and the US have demonstrated a decided lack of wisdom and are less thorough going democrats than Tony Blair has shown himself to be in handling the issue years ago! Well done Blair.

T’were well this backflip were done t’were well it were done quickly.

Unfortunately when he returns further relevations will again damage the war effort and that is the price that the Iraqi people must pay for this failure of the two western ruling elites. Progressives ought to work to seperate the two issues and prevent the ALP that would abandon the Iraqi peoples from linking them.


I note Razor’s rebuttal remarks to Patrick above concerning David Hicks and al-Qaeda and the Taliban vis-a-vis the Geneva Convention.

One difficulty here is assuming that the Geneva Convention has to be sidelined in the first place in the “war on terror”. One has to first of all concur with the Bush administration’s rhetoric on the war on terror, a point that needs careful discussion and reflection. Even allowing for the vocabulary on the war on terror, it is interesting surely that conventional forms of military action have ensued in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though it is admitted that al-Qaeda does not constitute a geo-political nation on whom one can “declare war”. As both Afghanistan and Iraq have been invaded by Coalition forces moving army divisions around using conventional weapons, the US has been applying basic military tactics in the field. There is a strong presumption then in favour of observing the Geneva Convention irrespective of whether it is acknowledged by the opposing side.

The US did not suddenly exclude the Geneva Convention from applying when it unilaterally invaded Panama to deal with Manuel Noriega’s hideous regime nor in the prosecution of the first Gulf War.

On reflection it might be worth recalling that the Allied forces in the Pacific theatre of World War Two applied the Geneva Convention standards to those combatants who served the Japanese Imperial Forces (includes army, navy, air force and also the partisans who supported Japan). It can also be recalled that Japan did not care for the Geneva Convention when it launched its aggression in the Pacific theatre (and in China from 1931 onwards), and those POWs taken by the Japanese were subjected to acts of gross cruelty (witness the Burma railway, Changi prison, the shooting of Australian nurses on the ship the Vyner Brooke in 1942 as recounted by the survivor sister Vivian Bullwinkel, etc). It might also be recalled that while Japan launched its attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour its actions on December 7th 1941 also yielded civilian casualties.

When the US declared war on Japan it did treat Japanese POWs under the Geneva Convention even though Japan had opted out of it. It might be said that Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted “payback” for Pearl Harbour (itself a hideous sequence of acts). Yet the Japanese prisoners taken were not subjected to the sorts of “special conditions” currently laid down the US military commission holding Hicks and others at Guantanamo.

I think the basic point is that the US can pursue its objectives against the networks that comprise al-Qaeda while nonetheless treating those people it captures and detains under those optimal jural conditions that have long characterised the democratic freedoms so loftily espoused in the common-law traditions found in the USA, UK and Australia.

By way of analogy, as the Nazis perpetrated atrocities, would it logically and morally follow that the allies should have incarcerated Goering, Hess, Jodl, Donitz, Speer etc in the same conditions that civilians suffered under in Dachau and Buchenwald?

Whether it is a legal certainty that David Hicks is guilty or not, the conditions under which he has been detained in Guantanamo are very hard to justify on legal, military or moral grounds.

It might also be noted juridically that Australia and the US both ratified in 1948 the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Articles 6 - 11 of the civil and political rights contained in that declaration do apply to David Hicks. These provisos include-
art 5 - no torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
art 6 recognition as a person before the law;
art 7 equality before the law without discrimination and equal protection of the law;
art 8 right to effective legal remedy
art 9 no arbitrary arrest or detention
art 10 full equality for a fair public hearing by independent and impartial tribunal
art 11 no-one held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law at the time when it was committed.

Irrespective of “if” the Geneva Convention applies or is sidestepped, the USA nonetheless finds itself holding Hicks and others in a manner which is contrary to the UN Declaration. We might recall that this Declaration was drafted in the wake of the Nazi atrocities so that such things might not be repeated. I do not recall the US administration saying that the UN Declaration would be suspended for the duration of the war on terror.


Razor; you are simply wrong about the Taliban who were the government forces of Afghanistan; the US declared war on that force; therefore their soldiers (and any civilians who bore arms with them on the battlefield) are thus recognized belligerents and the US treated the Taliban as such. Of course some could still be criminals for other reasons, and further dealt with but that is another question.


Mark the fact that;

The Taliban were only recognised by Pakistan and Iran and one other country…

Is a red herring. Though I’m sure you did not intend it as such and would support the call for his release back to Australia provided he gives his parole.

David Hicks is a POW and comes under the GC because;

4.1.3 Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

are POW’s

And Razor;

4.1.6 Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

are POW’s

Those in this category, who do not respect the laws and customs of war (such as by killing captured soldiers and so forth) simply become war criminals and liable to be dealt with accordingly.

Now I do not claim in depth study here but as I understand the situation;

Professional soldier David Hicks was living as a result of his Taliban income (we ought to ‘follow the money or the supplies’ because we know he has to eat). He was returning to his ‘post’ because a state of war was upon his army and he was captured by the Northern Alliance and sold to the US forces. Inhabitants are people that are present when you turn up to overthrow the regime and he was present and preparing to form up and take up arms. Absent any crime (and that could have been dealt with long ago if there was evidence that could stand a trial) he ought to be free.

It really is hugely damaging to the war effort to have any number of people confused by this issue and organizing for Hicks, when they ought to be organizing to defeat the bombers of universities and market places in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Note to Karen those are the people that are damaging the interests of the Iraq masses!)

It is inexcusable that the debate is sidetracked into an area where such basic rights and duties have to be explained and once more fought for. But that is the nature of united fronts. We unite with right wingers like Blair, Howard, Bush and Maliki to defeat fascists like Saddam, Al Zarqawi and Sadr.

It is only the fact that Hicks is Australian (also an abandoned Brit so no marks for Blair here) that sees him in this horrible state. If he were a natural born Iraqi or a local ‘brown skin’ Muslim he would have been free long ago. This is a case of racism.

His treatment is not only wrong in principle (and that is sufficient reason to set him free on his parole - just like any good German or Japanese soldier there is no endless WOT he was captured in the war against the Al Qaeda protecting the Taliban government of Afghanistan) but it also clearly harms the total world wide war effort. This is completely inexcusable bungling that allows the likes of Rudd, Garrett and Brown to make propaganda gains.

The ALP support the war in Afghanistan, so does Mark I think, but their leadership are as daft as any peace activist who chanted ‘no blood for oil’ when it comes to a strategic policy to deal with the region that gave us 9/11.

Take Garrett who is a supporter of the ‘War on Terror’ (a stupid and misleading name that conceals the reality of the need for a revolutionary war for bourgeois democracy). Garrett now supports the US Bases in Australia (though he was weak as piss the other day and had to be sent out the next day to clarify his weak kneed position). He has stated that he supports the US bases because the WOT is primarily a war of intelligence gathering. He is a dolt. The current war is about changing the governments of the region from autocracies to bourgeois democracies.

Intelligence gathering is only a minor part of any war. We know what the enemy want and where and how they work. We know where they are coming from. The job is to stop them. That could never be achieved by endlessly killing the mosquitoes. The region is a swamp and must be drained.

Africa and most of the old USSR a-stans can’t be left behind either.

The old US policies of promoting stability and suppressing the struggles of the people against their autocrats is finished. It’s over.

Progressives ought to be discussing the next strategic step forward instead our ruling elites are so breathtakingly incompetent that we are still dragging them past their bungling Abu Ghraib scandals, CIA Extraordinary Rendition nonsense, Guantanamo Bay and torture scandals. Progressive forces must eventually lead. First we have to expose the pseudo-left and liberals for being even more reactionary than garden variety right wingers like Blair and Howard.

Razor says;

To argue that because of the harsh treatment of terrorists by the US and the Coaltion of the Willing, those forces are inhumane war criminals is outright hypocrisy and head-in-the-clouds idealism. The fact is that the vast majority of operations conducted by coalition forces is in accordance with the law of war - minimising civilian casualties, treating enemy casualties as your own, prosecuting our own troops who commit atrocities etc etc.

The whole point is the damage these activities do to the war effort. The war will be won by mobilizing the masses not relying on the delusion of Rambo.


and the rights of nations to self-determination (iraq): both bourgeois democratic rights history shows nations, oppressed nationalities, and individuals will always fight for, often to the death, if necessary.

We live in the era when ‘nations want liberation, countries want independence and the people want revolution’ and the US had since WW2 basically been the biggest obstacle to achieving these. But the new US policies are reversing this. The liberation of Iraq (don’t you remember the three elections in 2005 that confirmed that the Iraqi people were liberated) is clear.

Progressives are at war with Baathists, Jihadists and the most reactionary Shia theocrats and nationalists in the Shia death squads. The pseudo-lefts are more right wing than even GWB. Rudd and the ALP are further right than Howard. Get used to the new world.


Created by youngmarxist
Last modified 2007-02-21 04:06 PM

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