Sunday, February 27, 2011

Qaddafi's Nurse Departs Before The Qäddaferdämmerung

The British press is all abuzz tonight with the news that Galyna Kolotnytska, the Ukrainian nurse who has been closely associated with Qaddafi for nine years, has chosen to leave Tripoli before the operatic climax of the old regime.

In other words, she won't be the Clara Petacci to his Mussolini. If Qaddafi ends up hanging upside down in a public square, he'll have to do it without his female companion. Wise choice.

Galyna Kolotnytska, one of four Ukrainian nurses said to dote on the dictator and by all accounts his favourite, returned to her native Ukraine in the early hours of Sunday morning on a plane that evacuated 122 Ukrainians.

Her daughter Tatyana, who lives just outside the Ukrainian capital Kiev, had previously said she was expecting her mother in the near future after talking to her on the phone last Friday.

"She spoke in a calm voice, asked us not to worry, and said she would be home soon," the daughter, a student, told a local newspaper.

A leaked US diplomatic cable last November described the 38-year-old divorced nurse, as a "voluptuous blonde" who traveled with Col Gaddafi everywhere.

"Gaddafi relies heavily on his long-time Ukrainian nurse, Galyna Kolotnytska, who has been described as a 'voluptuous blonde'," the cable said.

The British press uses the phrase "voluptuous blonde" a lot, doesn't it? By the way, I've seen the pictures, and I don't think either adjective is accurate.

There's more here, from The Guardian, and here, from The UK Sun.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Un-Cushy Life

Over the last few days I've been reading many great letters and posts that debunk the popular misimpression of cushy Foreign Service lives. I especially liked this one.

But topping them all was this one powerful detail in a post by Becky at Small Bits, That Could Have Been Me:

All the time I drove [around the dangerous city in which her family is posted] I was wondering how to get my youngest out of her 5 point carseat and onto the floor on the car should we get caught in a shooting. The day she got big enough for a booster that used a regular seat belt (and learned to undo the seat belt) was the day I let out a huge sigh of relief.

Think about that. Daily life at one diplomatic post.

Is there any other type of government service in which family members have to consider how quickly their child will be able to duck gunfire?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hopes For Improvement In U.S.-Pakistani Relations

The New York Times just ran a story that suggests Spring might come soon to the frozen relations between the U.S. government and the Pakistani military and intelligence communities. Maybe.

But first, Pakistan Demands Data on C.I.A. Contractors:

Pakistan’s chief spy agency has demanded an accounting by the Central Intelligence Agency of all its contractors working in Pakistan, a fallout from the arrest last month of an American involved in surveillance of militant groups, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said Friday.

Angered that the American, Raymond A. Davis, worked as a contractor in Pakistan on covert C.I.A. operations without the knowledge of the Pakistanis, the spy agency estimated that there were “scores” more such contractors “working behind our backs,” said the official, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about a delicate matter between the two countries.

In a slight softening of the Pakistani stance since Mr. Davis’s arrest, the official said that the American and Pakistani intelligence agencies needed to continue cooperation, and that Pakistan was prepared to put the episode in the past if the C.I.A. stopped treating its Pakistani counterparts as inferior.

-- snip --

The top American and Pakistani military leaders, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and the leader of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, met this week in Oman, where the Davis case was discussed.

According to a report by a former head of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Jehangir Karamat, who runs a research and analysis center based in Lahore, both sides agreed to try to “arrest the downhill descent.”

-- snip --

In another sign that the two spy services were trying to patch up their differences, Leon E. Panetta, the director of the C.I.A. spoke on Wednesday with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the ISI director, about resolving Mr. Davis’s case, American and Pakistani officials said on Friday. Mr. Davis, who appeared in handcuffs on Friday for a hearing in a closed courtroom at the jail where he is being held in Lahore, faces possible murder charges.

-- snip --

The demand for the C.I.A. to acknowledge the number of contractors in Pakistan was driven by the suspicion that the American spy service had slipped many such secret operatives into Pakistan in the past six months, the senior ISI official said.

The increase occurred after a directive last July by the Pakistani civilian government, which is often at odds with the ISI, to its Washington embassy to expedite visas without supervision from the ISI or the Ministry of Interior, the senior ISI official said.

On the other hand, Pakistan has just arrested another U.S. citizen, this one a non-official American who lives and works in Peshawar.

The clampdown on American contractors by the Pakistani authorities appeared to be under way Friday with the arrest of an American citizen, Aaron Mark DeHaven, in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The Peshawar police said Mr. DeHaven was detained because he had overstayed his business visa after his request for an extension last October was turned down.

There was no immediate accusation that Mr. DeHaven worked for the American government, a security official in Peshawar said. But the arrest of Mr. DeHaven, who is married to a Pakistani woman, appears to be a signal that the Pakistani authorities have decided to expel Americans they have doubts about.

The security official said Mr. DeHaven owned a firm, Catalyst Services in Peshawar, that rented houses for Americans in the city.

The American Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement that it did not have details about Mr. DeHaven but that it was arranging consular access for him through the Pakistani government.

During his first months in Pakistan in early 2010, Mr. Davis, the contractor for the C.I.A., was attached to the American Consulate in Peshawar and lived in a house with other Americans in an upscale neighborhood, according to Pakistani officials.

All of the U.S. Consulate personnel in Peshawar live in the same "upscale neighborhood," an area known as University Town. Apparently Mr. DeHaven works for a company that provides logistical support of some kind to one or more of the landlords we rent from. I suppose that association, plus his U.S. citizenship, was more than enough to put him under ISI scrutiny.

Press Briefing On Suspension Of Operations in Libya

State just released the text of a Special Briefing on The Suspension of United States Embassy Operations in Libya, with Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management, and Janet Sanderson, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

Some key quotes:

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. As was just announced in the White House press briefing, given current security conditions in Libya, coupled with our inability to guarantee fully the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel in the country, the Department of State has temporarily withdrawn Embassy personnel from Tripoli and suspended all Embassy operations effective today. The safety of the American community remains paramount to the Department, and we will continue to provide assistance to the greatest extent possible through other missions.

And today, we are gratified that the ferry was able to depart Libya and has arrived in Valletta, Malta, as well as the departure from Tripoli of one last charter that carried our remaining diplomatic personnel from the mission as well as other American citizens and third-country nationals.

-- snip --

At the same time, we also announced yesterday to the American community that we would be making a charter aircraft available today. We brought the charter aircraft in, loaded the remaining official American employees on it and about another dozen or so American citizens and a number of third-country nationals as well. And that aircraft has now departed. As P.J. has said, we have now suspended operations at the Embassy. Again, as P.J. has said, that does not mean that diplomatic relations are broken. We will continue to carry on work with the Government of Libya. And Janet can address that in more detail.

-- snip --

[Deputy Assistant Secretary Sanderson:] Obviously, let me say something about the state of diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya. Let me underscore what Pat has said. Our Embassy is not closed. We have suspended operations. We still continue to reach out to the Libyans where appropriate, both directly and through third parties. The Libyan Embassy here is up and running. We have been – we have not been informed in any change of the status of the ambassador. I will be meeting with representatives of the Libyan Embassy shortly after this meeting to convey our decision about the suspension of diplomatic activities of our mission on the ground in Libya, but the relationship remains and we do have channels of communication to speak directly to the Libyan Government about the very grave concern we have about the evolving situation on the ground.

Thank you.

QUESTION: A couple of things logistically. One, when the flight – in terms of the Embassy being temporarily closed, does that mean that they took the flag with them, the last people out, or is that still up and running?


QUESTION: Up and flying, rather?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Yes, the flag is still flying.

QUESTION: All right.

-- snip --

QUESTION: Can I ask whether there is anybody left at that Embassy, any sort of security personnel or anything like that, and also whether there were any notifications provided to the Libyans prior to everybody leaving the country? I had heard there might have been something yesterday. I don’t know if that was true or not.

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: There are – yes, we have – our locally engaged staff is still on duty at our compound.

QUESTION: Sorry, sir. What is that? I’m – for – in non-diplomatic speak, “locally engaged staff,” what do you mean?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Our Libyan employees are still – were still – we did not break diplomatic relations. Our Libyan employees are still on the payroll and are still at the – working at the chancery.

-- snip --

QUESTION: Can you pinpoint when it was that the decision to suspend operations was made? Was it yesterday, after Qadhafi’s rant?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, this is something that we have been evaluating --

QUESTION: Yeah. But at some point, someone had to sign off on something. When was that signoff?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I think this had been the recommendation of these experts. But the real question was today was the day where all the pieces fell into place, where we were able to move the ferry out. We weren’t going to take this action as long as the ferry was there. We got permission today to bring in the charter.

QUESTION: I understand that. The triggers were the ferry and the plane leaving.

MR. CROWLEY: Correct.

-- snip --

QUESTION: When was the decision made for you to – for all those diplomats to show up at the airfield to get on this plane?


QUESTION: That was made this morning?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we had put the plans in place before today, but we gave the decision to execute today.

QUESTION: I understand that. But when was the – are you trying to tell me that the decision to – the decision to shut down the Embassy was made when the White House announced it? No.


QUESTION: When was it made?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: The decision to shut down was made when we were sure that we could get all official Americans out and as many American citizens as we were able to assemble and transport.

-- snip --

QUESTION: When do you expect to resume operations in the Embassy?

UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: When the – we would resume American operation at the Embassy when the security situation permits it.

"Libya's Bold Past, Promising Future"

While I was walking out of the office this afternoon, I saw this old copy of State Magazine lying on a table.

An auspicious title, no? When Libya's present troubles are over, which might just possibly be in a matter of days, its future could be very promising indeed.

Libyan UN Delegation in Geneva Resigns En Masse

Pretty much as expected.

Libya's delegate to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva sided with the Libyan people against the Muammar Qadhafi regime before the entire Libyan mission resigned Friday, in the latest high-level Libyan defection from the Qadhafi regime. The rights body later passed a resolution recommending that Libya be expelled from the Human Rights council.

-- snip --

The entire Libyan delegation to the UN mission in Geneva later quit in protest to the violence unleashed by the Qadhafi regime against protesters, the Associated Press reported.

The UN rights body later passed by consensus a resolution to have Libya expelled from the Human Rights Council, which the UN General Assembly will vote on next week.

"For the Libyan delegate to speak out on behalf of the people brought home that the Council's action aims not just to press a government but also to save lives," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Suzanne Nossel told POLITICO Friday.

Read more here.

After the UN expels Libya from the Human Rights Council, what I'd like to see them do next is past a resolution to investigate why they made Libya a member in the first place.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Human Rights and Libya

A welcome but somewhat ironic notice went out from the United Nations Human Rights Council today:

The Human Rights Council will hold a Special Session on "The situation of human rights in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” on Friday, 25 February, starting at 10 a.m. in Room XX of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

-- snip --

It should be noted that this is the first time a Council member will be the subject of a Special Session.

Libya is indeed a member of the UN Human Rights Council and will remain one through 2013.

This session will be one to watch. If there is a vote to condemn Libya, will its representative abstain, or will he actually vote against his own country?

Conference Proceedings Available For "The American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975"

The Office of the Historian has released the proceedings of its September conference on U.S. policy and the war in Southeast Asia.

Go to its website (here) and you'll find transcripts and videos for the following:

Opening Address by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Address by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
Keynote Address by Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke
The View from Hanoi: Historians from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Senior Scholars’ Interpretations of the American Experience in Southeast Asia
Media Roundtable Discussion
Address by Ambassador John D. Negroponte
With Friends Like These: The United States and its Allies
Fighting While Negotiating: Force and Diplomacy in the Vietnam War
The Battle for Hearts and Minds: Counterinsurgency and Reconstruction Programs in Vietnam
Ours to Reason Why: Intervention in Vietnam, Reaction in America

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Senior Administration Official Briefs The Press On Diplomatic Immunity

Yesterday, the British press broke an embargo on details of Raymond Davis's employment and assignment. Like Captain Renault they were shocked, shocked, to find out the CIA is working in Pakistan.

Today, Assistant Secretary Crowley held a teleconference for the press to brief them on diplomatic immunity:

MR. CROWLEY: Hey, thanks very much, everybody. Happy President’s Day to you. This morning, Prime Minister Gilani spoke to the Pakistan parliament and he indicated that in the Pakistani view there are differences of opinion between Pakistan and the United States in the case of Mr. Davis on the issues of interpretation and applicability of international and national laws. We thought in light of that, it would be useful just to go through some of the basics on diplomatic immunity and how we, as the United States, see this case.

We still believe earnestly that Mr. Davis is a member of the administrative and technical staff of the Embassy in Islamabad and is entitled to full immunity from criminal prosecution and should not be arrested or detained. And we will continue to work with Pakistan to resolve any differences that we have on this issue.

With that, I thought we’d bring in one of our foremost experts in international law just to kind of go through this issue with you. It is a background call attributable to a Senior Administration Official. For your knowledge, it’s [Senior Administration Office]. At this point, [Senior Administration Official] will make some brief opening comments, and then we’ll open it up for questions.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, P.J. As P.J. said, I’m going to stick to the legal position, which I think is very clear. In fact, under international law, there are very few areas where the law is so clear. And it basically comes down to three uncontested facts.

First, on January 20th, 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad notified Mr. Davis as a member of the administrative and technical staff under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. That’s a treaty to which both the U.S. and Pakistan are parties without reservation, along with 185 other countries. From that point, he enjoyed the status as a member of the staff of the mission. He enjoyed privileges and immunities against local criminal law, including inviolability of person, inviolability from arrest and detention, immunity from criminal jurisdiction. He has those privileges and immunities, and he continues to enjoy them.

The second point is that once he enjoys those immunities, as a matter of law, the only remedy if the Pakistanis are not satisfied is for them to declare him not acceptable and to ask him to leave the country at the earliest possible moment. They have not done that. If they were to do that, they would need to assist him in doing so. Any other form of action, including a judicial proceeding or any other action, is inconsistent with his status as a member of a diplomatic mission and would only compound the violations of international law. And they are, under the treaty, unconditionally obligated to respect, protect, and facilitate his departure.

The third point is that there is no difference in the obligations under international and domestic law. The legal obligations are clear. The only rules that matter here are the international legal rules. As I said, 187 countries have ratified this treaty. It represents 500 years of consistent practice. The U.S. follows this practice with regard toward all diplomats who are similarly accredited or all members of diplomatic missions, including those from Pakistan. Under the international law, local law cannot be invoked as an obstacle to fulfillment of a country’s international obligations. But even if it could be, the Pakistani law is consistent with international law. The 1972 privileges and – Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act of Pakistan says that they will respect these rules. And their own Ministry of Foreign Affairs manual states that they will follow these protocols with respect to individuals in Mr. Davis’s situation.

So the current state of affairs is that Mr. Davis enjoys these international privileges and immunities; the Government of Pakistan is unconditionally obligated to respect, protect, and facilitate his departure on his request; and that the legal obligations are clear under both domestic and international law.

I could say more, but at this point I’m happy to turn it over for questions.

OPERATOR: Once again, if you would like to ask a question at this time, please press *1 on your touchtone phone and clearly record your name when prompted. One moment for the first question, please. The first question comes from Matthew Lee, the Associated Press. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, [Senior Administration Official], can you hear me?


QUESTION: I’m doing well. Listen, just one thing for P.J. P.J., are your opening comments on background or are they on the record as well?

MR. CROWLEY: They’re on the record.

QUESTION: On the record, okay. So it’s just [Senior Administration Official] who’s on background?

MR. CROWLEY: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay, and just a technical point. On the date you said that you notified the Government of Pakistan on January 27th?


QUESTION: 20th of 2010, okay. Are they required to – do they have to affirm or respond to you and say that they accept him as a member of the technical and administrative staff of the Embassy and affirmatively say that he has immunity?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it’s well-established – the diplomatic note, I think, is publicly available – the status of the member of the mission is determined by what the sending state does, namely the United States.

QUESTION: But they don’t have to you and say --


QUESTION: -- yes, okay, Person X is – we recognize Person X as --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. Once we notify, end of story.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just on his – given his – the revelations of his employment yesterday and today, I assume that makes no difference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The whole point of the law is that you don’t look behind the notification. If – once someone has been notified and they assume these privileges and immunities, if the receiving state is unhappy for some reason, they can declare the person not acceptable and they can leave, but they have no other remedies.

QUESTION: Okay. And just – when you say unacceptable, is that basically PNG them, PNGing them?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, because he’s a member of the diplomatic mission staff, the term is “not acceptable.” They can say he’s not acceptable. They have not done that.

QUESTION: Okay, all right. Thank you.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Arshad Mohammed with Reuters. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, [Senior Administration Official]. Thanks very much for doing this. Can they state that he is not acceptable at any point subsequent to the notification?


QUESTION: And then just to make sure I understood it right, their only recourse at that point is to ask him to leave the country and to facilitate his departure?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, under Article 44 of the treaty, and it makes clear that they have to facilitate that departure. And both the United States and Pakistan are signatories to the treaty; they have ratified the treaty, so they have signed and their legislatures have given the necessary approval or, in our case, advice and consent without reservation.

QUESTION: And do you have any recourse given that your position is that he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he should be released and not charged or tried and so on? Is there any higher authority to which the U.S. Government can apply to seek relief here?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the treaty envisions a number of routes, but the primary route is the one that we are pursuing here, which is bilateral conversation with the party that has originally acknowledged that his status as a member of the diplomatic mission. This happens virtually all the time. It rarely goes to a court. In virtually no cases does it go to any other body.

QUESTION: What are the other routes of appeal?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I would say that there’s a long diplomatic history of 99 percent of the cases are resolved through diplomatic negotiation. You can also refer the case to the International Court of Justice, as was done in the Iranian hostages case in 1979.

QUESTION: Have you done so?


QUESTION: And why not? Because you believe that this can be resolved diplomatically?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. I think the positions are clear and we can work out these differences with the Government of Pakistan, with whom we have numerous ongoing diplomatic relations.

QUESTION: And then one last question. Do you have particular concerns about his safety, given that he is accused of – and I don’t think anybody is denying – that he killed two Pakistani citizens, whatever were the circumstances?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m going to stick to the legal briefing, let P.J. speak to any facts. But the point is that, as a matter of law, they are unconditionally obligated to protect him and to facilitate his departure and to respect his privileges and immunities, given the accreditation he’s already received.

MR. CROWLEY: Let me jump in. Obviously, we are concerned about his safety. We have had multiple conversations with the Government of Pakistan regarding his current surroundings. They have told us that he is in the safest possible location in Lahore. And clearly, we hold the Government of Pakistan fully responsible for his safety.

I mean, we are very mindful of the difficulty that the Government of Pakistan faces in terms of public opinion in this case. It’s why we have, on an ongoing basis for the past month, engaged them constructively and forthrightly. But we remain concerned about him, and our message to Pakistan remains he should be released as soon as possible.

QUESTION: One last one, if I may, P.J. Are you – well, two things. One, was that answer on the record or was that also on background?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s fine.

QUESTION: On the record?


QUESTION: And then second, also on the record, is the U.S. Government – since Pakistan seems to be digging in in its position here, is the U.S. Government considering curtailing any of its military or economic assistance to Pakistan as a way of manifesting your unhappiness at Mr. Davis’s continued incarceration?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we’re building a strategic partnership with Pakistan. It’s important to the future of the region. It’s also important to the security of the United States. We are engaging Pakistan in good faith. We want to see this resolved as soon as possible so it does not become an impediment in our relationship and it does not measurably interfere with the work we are doing together in fighting extremism that threatens Pakistan and threatens us.

QUESTION: Does that mean no?

MR. CROWLEY: That – so at this point, we’re not contemplating any actions along those lines.

QUESTION: We’re not contemplating any actions along those lines?

MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.)



QUESTION: Sorry, I didn’t hear the last bit of your --

MR. CROWLEY: We are not contemplating any actions along those lines.

QUESTION: Excellent, thank you.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Jill Dougherty, CNN. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you. I just wanted to clarify exactly what the Pakistanis are saying, because there has been bandied about this concept of partial immunity. But it looks as if you are saying that they are – they’re saying that local law can trump international law. Could you explain that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I’m not sure that that’s what they’re saying, but if they were saying that, in fact, their local law doesn’t trump and the local law is consistent with international law. The question here is whether he was properly notified as a member of the diplomatic – the staff of the diplomatic mission under the treaty, and he was. And so there are – under the treaty, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, those who are the ambassador or head of the mission are diplomatic staff, and then those who are members of the staff of the diplomatic mission, including administrative and technical staff. And once you are notified in one of those categories, you acquire unequivocally the privileges and immunities under the treaty. And I don’t think there is any dispute that that’s exactly what happened. And those include inviolability of person, inviolability from arrest and detention, and immunity from criminal jurisdiction. So he acquired all of those.

QUESTION: Okay. And just to make sure, when you – you phrase it in kind of a unique way, whether he was properly notified. Do you mean they were properly notified of his presence as a diplomat; is that correct?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah, it happens all the time. When people come into post, we send them a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we describe someone as head of mission, a member of the diplomatic staff, or a member of the staff of the diplomatic mission. And he was notified as a member of the administrative and technical staff of American Embassy Islamabad. That was on January 20th, 2010.

QUESTION: Oh, so the American Embassy Islamabad, as opposed to the consulate in Lahore?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: His notification was given by the American Embassy in Islamabad, and that’s the controlling fact.

QUESTION: Okay, because there was a question too that because he was in the consulate at a – not at the main Embassy, that that might have played a role. You’re saying that that’s – that does not play any role?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: People in country can move around, but their status is determined by how they are originally notified under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as he was. I mean, if Ambassador Munter went to the consulate, his status would not change.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from David Martin, CBS News.

QUESTION: I’m still confused as to what the Pakistanis are saying to claim that this is not as clear-cut as you’re making it to be. What is their legal argument?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t – I’m not sure I understand their legal argument. As you say, it’s extremely clear. It turns on these three facts, and I haven’t heard anything to make me think that there is a different argument that’s credible under international law.

QUESTION: So what are they saying? Are they just saying – are they just denying the validity of your argument, or do they have a counter-argument?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think their counter-argument is that he’s not properly listed under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. And we’ve given a diplomatic note which notifies him to the Foreign Ministry as a member of the administrative and technical staff under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. So I haven’t seen the counter-argument.

QUESTION: But I thought you said that there was no dispute that they had been properly notified.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t think they dispute that they were properly notified.

QUESTION: So – but they’re still saying he’s not properly listed?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t think they’re saying he’s not properly listed. I think they’re questioning whether the status that is – seems crystal clear has, in fact, stayed with him. And I don’t think they have suggested why it shouldn’t. Their diplomats and members of the diplomatic staff who come into the United States, once they are notified by diplomatic note of the exact same kind, that’s the end of the story. And the same applies here.

QUESTION: So they’re saying that his immunity somehow lapsed?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They have not made that argument.

QUESTION: Well, first I thought you said that they had – were claiming that he was not properly listed, but you then said they say he is properly listed? Then I thought you --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I didn’t make any claims about what they said. All I said was what we did. And they have received that notification and that was sufficient to establish it and he enjoys those privileges and immunities since. I think you have to go to the Pakistanis to see whether they have a different claim, but I don’t think they have denied the receipt of this note as of January 20th, 2010.


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me go back. I said that his – this is about as clear as it gets under international law. And there are very few areas where the law is as clear as this, but in this case, it is extremely clear.


OPERATOR: The next question comes from Yashwant Raj with Hindustan Times. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you. P.J., this question is to you. NYT has – the New York Times has said Mr. Davis is working for the CIA. Could you confirm that, please?

MR. CROWLEY: We will not comment on his particular activity in Pakistan other than to say he’s a member of the administrative and technical staff of the Embassy and has diplomatic immunity.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Tray McGuire, Upfront News. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Good afternoon. Thanks for doing this call. P.J., can you tell me what exactly is the responsibilities of the administrative and technical staff?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to go further than that description.

QUESTION: Okay. My other question to you is do you – is it the State Department’s (inaudible) that at some point diplomatic immunity isn’t – should be lifted for some diplomats in the case of Mr. Davis, such as murder?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll go back to our Senior Administration Official, but the issue here is with diplomatic immunity he is –[Senior Administration Official], if you can describe what that means.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. So, first of all, all of these things are determined when someone enters the country and when the notification is sent. They can be the head of the mission, the ambassador. They can be a member of the diplomatic staff, a diplomatic agent, or they can be a member of the staff of the diplomatic mission, the administrative and technical staff. And each of those categories has privileges and immunities under the treaty. So when they are notified, they enjoy those privileges and immunities, and under the treaty, people who are listed as administrative and technical staff enjoy a set of privileges and immunities under Articles 29 to 35 of the treaty, which – not to get technical – are inviolability of person, inviolability of your private residence, inviolability of your papers, and immunity from arrest and detention, and immunity from criminal jurisdiction, including requirements to testify. There’s no requirement to look behind that, and you don’t look behind that. The whole point of it is to make it crystal clear up front. And once that’s done, it’s the end of the story.

QUESTION: If these reports are emerging from the New York Times and Washington Post are true that he was a member of the CIA. Does diplomatic immunity become void then?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The only relevant question is: Was he notified as a member of the administrative and technical staff upon entry to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? And the answer to that question was yes. At that point, he acquired privileges and immunities.

When someone enters our country, if that person is notified as a member of the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission that's the end of the story on that side.

Our options then become to either declare the person not acceptable and facilitate their departure or to work with them in their capacity as administrative and technical staff.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: We'll take a couple more and then we'll wrap this up.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Raghubir Goyal with India globe and Asia Today. Your line is open.

QUESTION: P.J. and all of you, thank you for holding this on this holiday. God bless you all. My quick question is that despite Secretary’s and President’s call to the highest level of the Pakistani officials to release Mr. Davis immediately under the Vienna Convention, and they have not done? Second, how do you feel the U.S.-Pakistan relations, because of this? And finally, there was some call from the Pakistani community or from the religious community that there is a rule under the Islamic law if Mr. Davis or somebody paid some ransom, ransom or some money, then he could be forgiven by the victims’ families, if this deal is underway? And of course, Americans are worried that he should be released immediately. Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Goyal, let me say that we will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to resolve this as soon as possible, befitting the relationship that we have and the partnership that we are building. That said, what is commanding here is international law; and as we’ve explained through this call, he has diplomatic immunity and needs to be released as soon as possible. But we will – as many of our leaders have said, we’ll work to resolve this with the Government of Pakistan as soon as possible.

QUESTION: And if ransom money is anything --

MR. CROWLEY: Again, Goyal, we’ll just leave it there.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from Laura Rosen with Politico. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. I’m sorry, I got on late, but did you guys say whether he – which diplomatic mission or consulate he was described as being affiliated with?


QUESTION: Because I thought that other earlier reports had said it was to the consulate in – I’ve seen the consulate in Lahore or the mission in Peshawar.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, the relevant notification is the one shortly after he arrived, January 20th, 2010, a diplomatic note, which I think has been shown to the press, which says we have the honor to inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the assignment of Mr. Davis, administrative and technical staff, American Embassy Islamabad.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks. And then secondly, there were reports a couple days ago that the two men described as trying to rob him – there have been allegations that they’re affiliated with Pakistani security services. Do you have any sense if that’s why the Pakistanis seem --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m only here to comment on the legal status of Mr. Davis.

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll pick up that, Laura. We – many elements of this are still being investigated, but we believe he acted in self-defense. And we haven’t changed our view that these were individuals who had accosted him at, I believe, a stoplight; they brandished weapons, they have a criminal history. And we believe he acted in self-defense. That said, as we’ve said throughout the call, he has diplomatic immunity and should be released.

QUESTION: Thank you. And then also on the person who went to – the Pakistani request for the – access to the person who went to try to help him after the incident – I’m sorry, I missed if you had comment on --

MR. CROWLEY: That aspect of it is still under investigation.


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: But just to clarify, although the position is that he acted in self-defense, the prior question is: Do the Pakistani courts have any legal authority under their own law to determine whether he acted in self-defense? And when he has immunity from criminal jurisdiction, they have no jurisdiction; they can’t get into the questions of defenses or claims. And it’s designed to be clear and unequivocal to make these cases quickly resolved based on a simple showing of whether someone was notified as a member of the administrative and technical staff, which he was.


MR. CROWLEY: Well, thanks, everybody. We’ll wrap up at this point and hopefully these details help you fully understand the position of the United States as we continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to resolve this case.

OPERATOR: Thank you for your participation in today’s conference call. The call has concluded. You may go ahead and disconnect at this time.

Has Anyone Ever Seen Them Both In The Same Place?

There are rumors flying around that Qaddafi has fled Libya. Some say he's in Venezuela.

But check out these photos. Has anyone ever considered the possibility that Qaddafi has slipped away disguised as Bob Dylan on tour?

Dylan is the one on the bottom (I think). I swear, if you just switched their hats, no one could tell the difference. The resemblance is so close, it almost makes me wonder whether the wily desert mad man has been living a second life in Minneapolis as an aged reclusive singer-songwriter.

Audio Reports From Tripoli (And, The Case For Unjust Necessity)

I've been browsing Audio Boo, which a service that I didn't know existed an hour ago, and in particular two users: Feb17Voices and AJEnglish. The latter is an activity of AlJazeera English.

Here's AJEnglish describing events in Tripoli six hours ago (around 3AM Eastern Daylight Time):


When AJE says "heavy artillery" he really means heavy machine guns, from the sound of it. My take-away from his audio report is that Libyan military and police units have not joined the protesters in Tripoli, the protesters there aren't using weapons, and, although there has been heavy sustained gunfire, the military hasn't resorted to air power such as helicopter gunships (much less artillery).

From other audio reports I gather that there is still a heavy security presence around key sites in Tripoli, including Qaddafi's main residence, but that some police stations and other government buildings are on fire.

That all suggests that Qaddafi's military is not willing or able to intervene decisively, which, if true, means his regime is finished.

The U.S. Embassy is surely on lock-down today, and planning to evacuate. Just as surely, local security forces detailed to the embassy will be absent or ineffective, and our local employees will be sheltering at their homes. I'm certain we're doing everything possible to keep the entire embassy community safe while they ride out the storm of revolution.

Speaking of revolutions - really, counter-revolutions, since Qaddafi's is a revolutionary regime - I've been looking back at the end of Ceausescu in 1989, which came about after a week-long popular uprising. The general who stepped up and did what had to be done to finish that regime was interviewed by the BBC two years ago, and he had a striking thing to say:

As minister of defence on 25 December 1989, Stanculescu oversaw the trial and execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, the president and first lady of Romania, his own commander-in-chief.

Was the very brief trial and verdict just, necessary or both?

"It was not just, but it was necessary," says Stanculescu.

"If we had left it to the people of Bucharest, they would have lynched them in the street."

Interesting point. The only way to remove an absolute ruler is absolutely, and until that is done, the popular forces that rejected his authority will seek other outlets to satisfy their sense of justice. In Romania, a quick show trial made the difference between a week-long overthrow of a tyrant and a collapse into anarchy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

We've Been Served

Now we have them just where we want them. The City of Baghdad has sued the U.S. military in a local court seeking damages:

The Baghdad city government is demanding the United States pay $1 billion and apologize for damage to the city caused by blast walls erected during the nearly eight-year long war.

City officials filed a lawsuit in an Iraqi court against the U.S. military, a media official said Thursday. He did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

In an official statement posted late Wednesday on its website, the local government said U.S. forces had marred the "beautiful city."

Blast walls "put up at the pretext of security" damaged the sewage system and sidewalks, caused traffic jams and paralyzed business, the statement read.

Perfect! Now we can counter-sue the city for the damages to our people and property that were caused by all the rockets and car bombs that the city government has failed to prevent.

If there is one arena of conflict in which the United States dominates, it's the legal one. We might not be able to put down a political-military opponent like Muqtada al-Sadr, but we have lawyers who will attack a plaintiff like a pack of hungry jackals and not leave a scrape of meat on his bones.

I checked the Baghdad municipal government website to look for an original text of the press release, but they don't have an English language side. (Foreigners!) So a somewhat disjointed Google translation will have to do:

In the name of God the Merciful
Republic of Iraq
Municipality of Baghdad
Relations Service and Information
Press Release

Baghdad Municipality demands the U.S. side to pay damages estimated at one billion dollars were siphoned the damage caused to the forces of the damaged infrastructure of the capital and to apologize to the people of Baghdad

Baghdad Municipality has decided to demand the U.S. side to pay damages estimated at one billion dollars due to mistakes of the U.S. military with regard to the secretariat of Baghdad, to observe the work and plans implemented by the Secretariat in the sprawling city such as Baghdad.

And those familiar with the scenes of this work will find himself the size of the harm caused to Baghdad when U.S. forces to turn this beautiful city to the camp and randomly destructive reflected overlook the deliberate and underestimated the simplest forms and formats of public taste in the capital of the country grew up on the Dvavi two rivers the first human civilizations.

He insisted the Americans at that time to work individually, ignoring the dozens of calls from the Secretariat worked to disrupt Baghdad, which resulted in the destruction of thousands of kilometers from the streets, without referring to the specialized expertise which the Municipality of Baghdad.

Have led these barriers that were created under the pretext of security and requirements to the destruction of sewers, pavements, and water and green space, agriculture, and mechanisms of irrigation, which has cost the Iraqi state huge amounts of money as well as the great suffering of the citizen-Baghdadi reason and endorsements in Baghdad from Zhamat traffic and access to a state similar to disability or paralysis in the work of citizens and police and hygiene and even the owners of unskilled occupations.

Despite all what has lifted from those barriers deaf after the success of our security forces to improve the level of security, the proportion of Marf them for no more than (5%) note that the lifting operations and the reform of Madmrth those barriers of sidewalks and paving, and water networks and sewer systems and intentional destruction of fences on the streets and highways and repeatedly as well as the destruction of long paths and palm trees from the roads, which cost the Municipality of Baghdad is the other huge amounts of money could be spent on basic services for the beloved people of Baghdad.

Hence, in view of the serious damage and the size of the consequent losses are no longer able to Baghdad Municipality incurred we are about what we're seeing is the responsibility of national, functional and far from the courtesies of political and out of keenness to inform public opinion by, we call on the U.S. side to apologize to the people of Baghdad and the payment of these expenses, which their technical authorities in the Secretariat of one billion dollars, especially that in front of the Municipality of Baghdad strategic projects should be completed as well as other projects were deprived Baghdadis and all Iraqis for decades despite the fact that the Secretariat has been able to implement many of the major projects that will touch Baghdadis soon, especially as we see Iraqna day, witness renaissance of democracy, it is also witness the renaissance of development towards more construction and progress.

I say, millions for blast walls but not one cent for damages!

A Nameless Conflict In Mexico?

"Is Mexico's drug violence an insurgency or a totally new kind of war?"

Foreign Policy has an article asking that question (This Week at War: A Conflict Without a Name) and tying it into the larger problem of how to understand the nature of conflicts that operate outside of the 20th century model.

Here are some excerpts:

On Feb. 15, gunmen on a highway in central Mexico stopped a vehicle with U.S. diplomatic license plates and shot the two men inside. Killed in the attack was Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. A second ICE agent was wounded. In response to the attack, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) declared that "this tragic event is a game changer" that "should be a long overdue wake-up call for the Obama administration that there is a war on our nation's doorstep."

Should what's happening in Mexico be described as a war? On Feb. 7, U.S. Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal described Mexico's troubles as a "form of insurgency," an assertion that immediately provoked a strong rebuke from Mexico's Foreign Ministry. U.S. policymakers need to fashion a strategy in response to a dire security situation across the border that does not seem to be improving. But as Clausewitz advised two centuries ago, before doing so, they would be well advised to first understand what kind of conflict they face.

In a piece for Small Wars Journal, Robert Bunker, a researcher at the University of Southern California, discussed five conflict models by which analysts might classify the troubles in Mexico, encouraging experts on each of the models to cooperate with each other in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the situation in Mexico.

In Bunker's taxonomy, gang studies, the specialty of some criminologists and law enforcement practitioners, is one way to analyze events in Mexico. Students of gang operations analyze how gangs capture control of neighborhoods, prison populations, and local drug markets. Next is organized crime studies, also the purview of criminologists and law enforcement practitioners, but a level of criminal activity that would imply more organizational sophistication and broader territoriality than that implied by gang studies. A third classification is terrorism studies, a focus of academics and government officials at the national and international levels. Under a terrorism model, cartels in Mexico would use terror to compel compliance from rival gangs, government officials, and non-combatants. Insurgency studies are the fourth paradigm, currently an interest of academics and military planners. Under this model, cartels could ultimately form shadow governments either in parallel or inside the legitimate government. Finally, there are future warfare studies, a province of academics which hypothesizes the creation of new transnational organizational structures that could both combine and supplant governments, security forces, criminal organizations, and corporate interests.

-- snip --

The Mexican government currently believes it has a straightforward organized crime problem, and as the Westphal incident illustrates, has little patience for alternate points of view. Should analysts and the policymakers on the U.S. side come to a different conclusion, it could make cooperation with their Mexican counterparts difficult.

Bunker arues that signs of all five models are present in Mexico. He also seems to have a lingering fear that the fifth paradigm and the worst-case scenario -- some new form of sophisticated, transnational, criminal-military organization -- may yet predominate. It is this scenario that neither the Mexican nor U.S. governments seem prepared to contemplate. Bunker's call for cooperation among the analysts sounds like timely advice.

-- snip --

Nation-states still prepare for traditional conventional conflict, if only to deter the recurrence of 20th century, industrial-scale bloodletting and preserve the geopolitical status quo. But those preparations have not stopped alternate forms of warfare from breaking out. At least one party in every ongoing conflict in the world today is composed of non-state groups: spontaneously organized militias, part-time insurgents, full-time terrorists, amateur cyberwarriors, professional mercenaries, or some other type of irregular combatant. Uniformed soldiers of nation-states still go to war, but almost never against uniformed soldiers from another nation-state.

-- snip --

Irregular combatants have recently learned to further improve their odds by remaining as anonymous as possible. Anonymous cyberwarriors avoid cyberretaliation; insurgents in decentralized cells avoid intelligence officers who are experts at disrupting organizations. And with nation-states now having strong political incentives to avoid having their soldiers overtly engaged in warfare, their leaders may increasingly hire irregulars and anonymous proxies as their combatants. An odd result of these layers of deception will be confusion over when a war has begun, when it has ended, or whether some security problems are really wars at all.

How perfect is it that our Undersecretary of the Army is named "Westphal," as in Westphalia and the Treaty of? The treaty that provided the basis for our whole present system of national sovereignty and nation-states, from which flows international law and the principles of self-determination of states and non-intervention by one state in the internal affairs of another? The system that still defines our government's concept of war, and upon which our military is organized? The same system that has such trouble dealing with non-Westphalian entities like, for example, the Taliban and Mexican drug cartels?

So, is Mexico's drug violence an insurgency or a totally new kind of war? My two cents is that it's neither one; it's the old kind of warfare, the kind that was understood perfectly by pre-modern strategists going back to Julius Caesar and the Gallic Wars.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Sort of Diplomat Doesn't Carry A Gun? The Sort in Mexico.

Some news media, especially those in Pakistan and the UK, have asked regarding Raymond Davis: "what sort of diplomat carries a gun?"

To which the answer seems to be: the sort who doesn't want to be helpless if he is ambushed while driving through a lawless land.

Not Exactly The Berlin Wall, But It's A Start

H/T to Passport for this video of protesters in Tobruk tearing down symbols of Qaddafi's Green Book, the intellectual basis for his eccentric rule.

The Green Book is actually a three-part volume. Part I solves the problem of democracy by substituting rule by popular committees. Part II solves the problem of economics by imposing collective ownership with a Quranic twist. Part III presents Qaddafi's Social Basis of the Third Universal Theory, which is his "third way" between capitalism and communism, a far-from-novel idea that goes back to Mussolini if not further.

Read it here while you still can.

Just a thought - didn't Mussolini end up hanging upside down in a public square?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kudos for Kerry

Senator Kerry has really stepped up to the plate with his relationship-mending trip to Pakistan. Even though he isn't my favorite politician (not that I have favorite politicians in the first place, but if I did, he wouldn't be one, if that makes sense) this is impressive stuff:

Behind the scenes, a high-level government source familiar with the discussions said that Kerry crafted the trip and his message on his own. President Obama asked Kerry to travel to Pakistan to deal with the Davis crisis, which has put elements of U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on hold. But after conferring with senior foreign policy aides and Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani over the weekend, Kerry decided to travel to Pakistan for a "relationship saving" mission, not a "rescue" mission, the source explained.

For example, Kerry decided to travel first to Lahore, rather than Islamabad where the Pakistani government resides. Although he will meet with Pakistani government officials at the highest levels, including President Asif Ali Zardari, he wanted first to deliver a message to the Pakistani people directly in the town where the incident took place and tell them directly that the United States wasn't only interested in Davis's release.

-- snip --

The reaction in Pakistan to Kerry's opening press conference among officials supportive of the relationship was overwhelmingly positive.

"He said all the right things on Pakistan," a senior Pakistani official told The Cable. "John Kerry is recognized by most Pakistanis as a friend of Pakistan. By sending him, President Obama has really helped what could have become a bigger diplomatic problem down the road."

The trip comes after a severe downturn in U.S.-Pakistan relations following Davis's arrest. Davis, a former Special Forces operative who speaks fluent Urdu, was being tailed by two suspected agents of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence organization on motorcycles [TSB note: the ISI connection is completely specious, and the two weren't "tailing" Davis, rather, they had parked their motorcycle in front of his car to block it at a traffic light] when he shot and killed them through the windshield of his car. Davis claimed they brandished guns. A third Pakistani man was run over and killed by a U.S. embassy vehicle accidentally as it rushed to the scene.

[A Pakistani government] source told The Cable that the region around Lahore is run by the brother of Nawaz Sharif, the top political opponent to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, and the authorities there might have sought to take political advantage of the situation. By claiming that Davis had committed murder and pushing the story out to Pakistani media, Zardari was placed in the unenviable position of having to choose whether to defend an American murderer or risk the wrath of his countrymen.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi happened to be out of the country at the time. A Foreign Ministry official named Salman Bashir was left to make the decide whether to grant Davis immunity right away but decided it would be politically prudent to make no decision at all and let Davis remain in jail, the Pakistani government source said. Unclear messages from the U.S. side exacerbated the confusion.

"The political tragedy was that it was almost three days before the U.S. government claimed immunity, by which time the tensions had already been inflamed," the source explained.

-- snip --

The most probable outcome will be a face-saving deal whereby the Pakistani courts agree to release Davis, the U.S. government promises to investigate the incident as a criminal matter, and the U.S. pays some compensation to the families of the Pakistani victims.

In the end, the incident illustrates that the U.S. and Pakistani governments still have a ways to go in terms of working together to build stability into the relationship.

Either way, our Pakistani source said that there is plenty of blame to go around.

"[Davis] was wrong in carrying the gun. He was wrong in shooting the people. There definitely was some craziness in what he was doing," the source said. "But it's a clear and gross violation of international law to hold a diplomat."

It's nice to hear that agreement with our position regarding international law. As for the source's other statements, well, opinions differ.

Davis was wrong in carrying the gun - Maybe, maybe not. But when he found himself confronted by two armed robbers, it was lucky for him that he had his own pistol.

He was wrong in shooting the people - I wouldn't say so. More like the two armed dacoits were wrong in their choice of victim.

There definitely was some craziness in what he was doing - OK. Davis would probably agree with that one.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Incredibly Calm and Measured Commentary on the Lahore Shooting Incident

This call for resolution of the diplomatic crisis surrounding Raymond Davis appears today (actually Monday, local time) in Pakistan. In my dreams, the writer was influenced by our embassy's Machiavellian public diplomacy team. Well, I can dream.

Cut the Gordian knot

S Iftikhar Murshed

Monday, February 14, 2011

There has been stern criticism as well as exaggerated approbation on my article of February 7 in this newspaper on the Raymond Davis incident. The criticism was more instructive than the appreciation in as much as it demonstrated that unbridled emotion, no matter how sincere and spontaneous, impedes rational discourse. The reality is that the situation has rapidly deteriorated into a full blown diplomatic crisis which is becoming more serious by the day.

This is evident from reports in the American print media, aired as breaking news by almost all Pakistani television channels, that if Davis is not released by February 11, Washington would close its consulates in Pakistan, ask Ambassador Haqqani to leave the US, and cancel President Zardari’s visit to Washington. Though this was denied by the US Embassy in Islamabad, it highlights the escalating tension between the two countries.

Under dispute is whether or not Raymond Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity after shooting dead two allegedly armed men, Muhammad Faheem and Faizan Haider, in Lahore, on the presumption that they were about to do him harm. A third fatality was that of a man crushed by a US Consulate vehicle speeding helter-skelter down the wrong end of a one-way road in a desperate attempt to reach Davis.

The Shakespearian soliloquy “when sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions,” proved depressingly true with yet another related death. In desperation, Faheem’s grief-stricken 18-year-old widow, Shumaila Kanwal, committed suicide on February 6. As she breathed her last, she lamented that she did not “expect any justice from this government” and pleaded: “I want blood for blood. The way my husband was shot, the killer should be shot in the same fashion”. This heart rending tragedy has further inflamed public anger and is fraught with serious consequences.

It is possible that Shumaila might not have taken her own life had the federal government, and more specifically, the foreign office, come forth with the facts. She did not “expect any justice from this government” because she was unaware of the whole truth which was drowned by her overpowering grief and the din of the popular outcry against the killings. No person in authority dared to state publicly that: (i) Raymond Davis had no apparent motive to kill her husband and his companion other than the claim that he perceived a threat to his life from them and had acted in self-defence; (ii) the right of self-defence is conceded by the Pakistan Penal Code; (iii) the argument advanced by some commentators that the response to a perceived life threat should be proportionate is nebulous, vague, and cannot be quantified, and; (iv) if Davis is a member of the technical staff of the US Embassy as claimed by the Americans, he has diplomatic immunity under article 37 (2) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Silence on the part of the government fuelled sensational media reports as a result of which emotions soared sky high. The tragedy has been exploited with abandon by politicians, retired bureaucrats and military officials, commentators and intellectuals alike mostly for no higher motive than self-projection. The refrain that has been reiterated time and again in television talk shows is that Pakistan is a sovereign country, it must therefore stand up to US pressure and enforce its laws. This is as it should be, but the ground realities are somewhat different. The state has surrendered territorial sovereignty to terrorist groups in parts of the tribal areas, ideological and perhaps even political sovereignty to the religious right, and economic sovereignty to external donors.

Excessive caution and prevarication have generated a diplomatic crisis which could have been avoided had the government come out openly on whether or not Davis has diplomatic immunity. Its Hamlet-like indecision has placed it in a situation where it has to navigate through treacherous waters and the options available are not only limited but also difficult. If Davis is released under American pressure, the government may not be able to withstand the tidal wave of protests particularly after the Shumaila Kanwal suicide. The beneficiaries would be the extremist elements who would unleash a reign of nationwide terror. There would be more violence, more suicide bombings, more target killings and the ongoing military operations against terrorist outfits would receive a severe setback.

Should the government stand firm and proceed with Davis’ trial, the consequences would be equally disastrous. The bitter truth is that Pakistan, which spends a trillion rupees more than it earns and has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios in the world, is dependent for its survival on external assistance by far the biggest portion of which comes either directly from the United States or through American-controlled international financial institutions. According to Christine Fair of the Georgetown University, it is a pity that Pakistan, which has sufficient resources of its own, “must grovel at the table of the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral and bilateral donors.” If Washington were to terminate, or even curtail, economic and military aid, not only would the government collapse but the country would hurtle towards chaos and anarchy. In such an eventuality, the only winners would again be the terrorist groups.

There is however a possible face-saving way out of this situation. The Gordian Knot can still be cut but it entails initial compromise by Pakistan which can always be followed by decisive action to assert its sovereignty. The compromise lies in conceding diplomatic immunity to Raymond Davis as per article 37 (2) of the Vienna Convention. Islamabad would have fulfilled its obligations under international law because of the official notification by the US government that Davis is a member of the technical staff at its embassy in Islamabad.

The firm course of action would involve promptly declaring Raymond Davis persona non grata. Under article 9 of the Convention: “The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision notify the sending State that the head of mission or any member of the diplomatic staff is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.” If the sending state does not comply with this demand, the receiving state is not obliged to recognise the person as a member of the mission and may therefore initiate legal proceedings against him.

For such an outcome, Washington would also have to make concessions. Since it has claimed that Davis is a member of the technical staff at the US Embassy in Islamabad, it should apologise for the deaths its officials have caused. Second, it should give a public assurance that Davis and the persons in the speeding vehicle, if they are American nationals, will face trial in the US. If they are locally recruited, then they should be handed over to the Pakistani government so they can be brought to justice.

These measures have to be taken quickly. The longer the delay, the more intense the popular outrage is likely to become. Procrastination is not only the thief of time, but it also eliminates opportunities which usually exist only for a brief moment.

Having a trial for Davis in the U.S. is unwarranted, however, I see no reason why we could not have a face-saving judicial review of some sort, one that would no doubt find he acted in self-defense. (A Pakistani court would probably come to the same conclusion itself, absent the political pressures they would face if they tried Davis).

This strikes me as workable. The Pakistani government sends Davis home with a great harrumphing and a wag of its finger, the embassy sincerely apologizes for the loss of four lives, a review board in the U.S. finds that Davis was justifiably in fear for his life, and both governments tactfully avoid the subject of the driver of the second car.

It's got to work better than what we're doing now.

Can American Values Radicalize Muslims?

Raymond Ibrahim (bio here) has a post on his website that cites some of the worries voiced by Official Washington about the radicalization of domestic Muslims. Congress worries about that a lot.

Official Washington also worries about radicalization of Muslims outside the U.S., but, in the case of foreign Muslims, it thinks it has a solution to the problem - we can counter radicalization with all sorts of programs to 'promote liberty and democracy' abroad.

This leads Ibrahim to ask a really excellent question about Muslim radicalization, one that has implications for our whole overseas effort:

If American Muslims, who enjoy Western benefits — including democracy, liberty, prosperity, and freedom of expression — are still being radicalized, why then do we insist that the importation of those same Western benefits to the Muslim world will eliminate its even more indigenous or authentic form of "radicalization"?

After all, the mainstream position, the only one evoked by politicians, maintains that all American sacrifices in the Muslim world (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) will pay off once Muslims discover how wonderful Western ways are, and happily slough off their Islamist veneer, which, as the theory goes, is a product of — you guessed it — a lack of democracy, liberty, prosperity, and freedom of expression. Yet here are American Muslims, immersed in the bounties of the West — and still do they turn to violent jihad. Why think their counterparts, who are born and raised in the Muslim world, where Islam permeates every aspect of life, will respond differently?

Read the whole article here.

Pakistan: Hearts and Minds Campaign a Casualty of Lahore Shooting Incident

The senior anchor at DawnNews, a television station associated with Pakistan's most influential English language newspaper, described the damage the Davis case has done to the U.S. image there in an opinion piece at today. You don't have to agree with all of his premises to accept his main point, which is that our public diplomacy efforts in Pakistan are pretty much dead.

Hearts & minds campaign?

The time to evaluate the impact of this issue on the vital strategic relationship between the two countries will come later. But at least in one significant respect, Pakistan-US ties are already badly damaged. And this relates to the nature and direction of public discourse in Pakistan about the United States.

The Davis issue has disfigured the environment in which the strategic partnership with the US was being nurtured. Raymond Davis endorses the typical Pakistani image of the US as a trigger-happy bully. In popular perception, Davis is the personification of a policy conduct Washington has displayed all around since 9/11 at a much larger scale — from the sands of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan and in the Fata region.

-- snip --

This nationwide welling up of anti-US emotion pushes further down the already declining US ratings in Pakistan. This is major damage to the ‘hearts and minds’ outreach programme that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been spearheading to fashion a better image for her country in Pakistan.

The policy worked at three levels: promotion of goods and services that the US brings to Pakistan; dilution of criticism of Washington’s policies by a robust media policy of rebuttals, denials and counter-charges; and isolation of those organisations and individuals whose sense of reality did not conform to Washington’s interest in Pakistan.

Admittedly, this policy worked rather well. The voice of America in Pakistan got considerably amplified, thanks primarily, though not only, to well-planned vigorous pro-US media activity carried out by known native advocates of Washington’s interests.

To change negative publicity into a positive profile, Washington carried out vast and constant diplomatic engagement with the politicians and the military top brass alike. Statistics show that in the last year and a half, Pakistan has been the US officials’ most ‘visited’ country in the world.

-- snip --

How many hearts and minds exactly turned in Washington’s favour, we don’t know. Perhaps not many. But something did change. Thorny controversies that once defined public discourse on the US disappeared into thin air. Towards the end of 2010 and on the eve of 2011 not a whisper was heard about the presence of Blackwater in Pakistan, expansion of US embassy premises, unauthorised and suspicious movement of US diplomats and embassy personnel. Even the matter of granting visas to US officials became a non-issue. The Kerry Lugar Bill’s preconditions for getting aid were totally forgotten.

But then came Mr Davis with his Glock handgun taking Pakistani lives and shooting through the heart the hearts and minds campaign. Since then Washington’s public profile has been completely defiled.

The strategic communication regime Washington’s spin doctors had put in place to create an enabling environment for successful diplomacy — called propaganda in old times — is completely dysfunctional. The trust deficit in the realm of public diplomacy is as wide as never before.

This is long-term damage recovering from which would take much longer than settling the issue of diplomatic immunity.

We do not know what Davis’s real mission was, but he certainly performed one task of strategic scale: ruining whatever little hope public diplomacy campaigners might have had of convincing the simple folk of Pakistan that the US was just a friendly giant they had no reason to run away from.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Raymond Davis Remanded for 14 More Days; U.S./Af/PakTrilateral Meeting Postponed

A heavy police deployment guarded the court premises as Raymond Davis was presented in court. –Photo by AP

Yesterday, on the day Davis's remand to police custody for investigation of the charges against him expired, the Lahore High Court placed him on a 14-day judicial remand. Presumably, the next step after judicial remand is to bring him to trial, unless the Pakistani federal government finds that he has diplomatic immunity.

“He has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The next hearing will be on February 25,” Punjab government prosecutor Abdul Samad told reporters.

“He is being sent to central jail Kot Lakhpat,” said police official Suhail Sukhera in reference to the high-security prison in the eastern city of Lahore, where the US official confessed to shooting two men in self-defence last month.

Punjab Prosecutor Abdus Samad says the judge also has ordered that the Pakistani government clarify whether or not the man enjoys diplomatic immunity, as the US says he does, AFP reports.

The US says the American, identified by Pakistanis as Raymond Davis, shot two Pakistanis dead in late January in self-defense because they were trying to rob him.

Washington insists his detention is illegal under international agreements covering diplomatic immunity.

The U.S. Consul General in Lahore, Carmela Conroy, responded with this statement:

Good evening.

Today, American diplomat Raymond Davis was remanded into judicial detention in Lahore in connection with an incident in this city on January 27.

We understand that eyewitnesses at the scene said that Ray acted in self defense when confronted with two armed men on a motorcycle. We also understand that these men were found with stolen property and, as the police stated today, a loaded gun. We regret that authorities did not consider these eyewitness accounts and physical evidence when they stated that this was not a case of self-defense.

As a member of the Administrative and Technical staff at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Raymond Davis is entitled to full immunity from criminal prosecution by Pakistan under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. All countries, including my country and your country, freely agreed to abide by these rules. Under the rules, he should be freed immediately.

We respect the law and Pakistan's sovereignty, and expect all representatives of our government to respect the laws of our host nation. We respect the people of Pakistan and enjoy working and living in this country. Americans and Pakistanis can accomplish so much together. We need to resolve this case immediately and continue our work, including cooperation in education and health, our common fight against extremist violence, and building bridges between the people of Pakistan and America.

This incident was a tragedy, and we feel tremendous sorrow over the loss of life. We extend our deep sympathy to all the family members who have been affected.

Thank you.

I take it as a bad sign that Davis has now been placed in jail, whereas until yesterday he had been held much more safely and discretely in an office at a police training center.

But at least we now have a statement of regret from a U.S. official - we feel tremendous sorrow over the loss of life - and that small gesture, however belated, might actually have some calming effect on the Pakistanis who control Davis's fate.


Update. A few minutes after I posted this I saw the following press release from the State Department spokesman:

In light of the political changes in Pakistan and after discussions with Afghan and Pakistani officials in Washington, it was agreed to postpone the Trilateral Meeting scheduled for February 23-24. We remain committed to robust engagement between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States, as we share many issues of mutual concern and benefit from being at the same table. We look forward to convening a very productive Trilateral Meeting at the earliest opportunity.

I had discounted the vague murmurs about U.S. retaliation that appeared in the press over the last couple days, but evidently they were true. We are making the Davis case a major diplomatic incident.

Happy Birthday Kim Jong Il, And Many More (?)

H/T to Wired's Danger Room for this dance mix of past birthday celebrations for the Dear Leader of the People's Republic of Korea.

The great occasion won't be until the 16th of February, but the official party planning committee is already hard at work to make this year's party the best ever. And that bar is set so high the committee must be dizzy. Click on the video to check out those endless ranks of goose stepping troops, the sea of robotic yet smiling faces, the splendidly be-ribboned generals on the reviewing stands, the celebratory cannon fire, the happy couples in traditional Korean dress, the female troops in miniskirts dancing with sabers, the endless vistas of red flowers, and so much more.

Already, parties have been thrown by the Cambodian embassy in Pyongyang, the North Korean Agricultural Workers Union and the have thrown early parties. And Foreign diplomats even got to take in a special birthday showing of the celebrated North Korean blockbuster movie “Wheel of Happiness.” Jealous yet?

Going forward, Pyongyang has a photo exhibition running to honor of the occasion, featuring pictures that depict the “energetic external activities” of the birthday boy. And starting on the 15th, figure skaters from all around North Korea will gather to wish Kim many happy returns at the 20th Paektusan Prize International Figure-skating Festival.

But the real magic takes place on the 16th. That’s when Kim can take a rest from the hard work of inspecting duck farms and bringing the world to the brink of nuclear conflict to take in some of the more elaborate festivities held in his name. North Korean state media makes the electrifying promise that the day will be filled with “colorful events” including “synchronized swimming” and athletic feats performed by “excellent sportspersons.”

I can't even imagine what the after-party for Kim's closest friends must be like.

Learned And Unlearned

I just read the most fascinating, recently declassified, memo to the SecState written by a former U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East. It includes a digression on the historical parallels between the crisis of that moment and the lessons we - should have - learned from our experience in Vietnam regarding the problems and limitations of U.S. intervention:

Lessons So Recently Learned. I can't help but note some parallels [between our involvement with a Middle Eastern nation in conflict and] the U.S. role in Vietnam. While certainly not on all fours, there are some similarities, including:

-- The degree of influence and investment (people, money, prestige) we have in a country about which we know little;

-- A commitment in an area where our clients, their friends, and their enemies know we don't live and suspect we may not stay;

-- Like Vietnam, few would honestly question our intentions, but the U.S. ability to bring about our desired outcome is limited;

-- There is a question of whether the U.S. may be training and equipping the [local military forces] to fight the wrong war. I don't have a conclusion, but I will look into it;

-- Continuous infiltration from neighboring nations;

-- Frequent changes in U.S. players (SecState, NSC advisors, ME envoys, Ambassadors, Military personnel, etc.), with all the reeducation required, opportunities lost, errors repeated and slippage, as well as, understandably, the sense that it conveys here of a lack of U.S. seriousness and consistency;

-- A key local military leader quite intimate with the U.S. raising the question of who is in whose pocket, and, inevitably, questions by some as to whether he might become a threat or an alternative;

-- Sense that if we pull out, our client will go under and the U.S. interests in the region with it;

-- A "Catch 22" relationship between the necessity for military success to achieve popular support for the government and visa versa;

-- The desirability of changing the balance of forces on the ground to have sufficient stability to achieve political cohesion and to change the enemy's mind, yet with political constraints against doing so (Congress, our MNF [Multinational Force] allies, etc.)

-- A skittish Congress sending out mixed signals as to our staying power and an un-unified Executive Branch sending out multiple signals, privately and publicly, by word and action;

-- A secret desire on both sides to have a U.S. "Proconsul" with the inevitable weakness and crippling that regulation and control cause to those regulated;

-- Complex and overlapping lines of authority and chains of command, both military and civilian, with all the risks inherent therein;

-- Numerous (too many) visiting codels [Congressional Delegations];

-- A skimpy quiver of arrows, some too blunt, some too mild, and far too few in between; it is a bit like trying to build a house with a hammer and a saw instead of a full set of tools;

-- Facing an unscrupulous opponent who has endless patience and steel and no internal restraints (Congress, press, etc.) as to the means he selects (war, terrorism, assassination, etc.).

The analogy should not be overdone, but it may be worth some reflection, not because of risk of our being drawn into a land war, but because of the many opportunities to do harm to ourselves and others through error, inattention or miscalculation.

American goodwill, intuition and logic in an area that is non-intuitive and hardly logical in our context is a formula for trouble. In the one case, the damage was sizable. My nose tells me that the odds are strongly stacked against us here. I wish we hadn't gone in. We need to be looking for a reasonably graceful way to get out.

Does all that remind you of a current Middle Eastern intervention or two?

It is perplexing. It seem this sort of cautionary advise never sinks into the historical memory of Official Washington, and we end up learning and then unlearning the same lessons over and over again.

The problem might be a lack of continuity in our leadership over time. After all, the senior officials who were around during Vietnam, and in the two or three decades after, aren't the same ones who have been making the decisions about Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade.

Well, maybe some of them were. The U.S. Special Envoy who offered this excellent advise was none other than Donald Rumsfeld. You can read the whole memo at The Rumsfeld Papers, a website set up in conjunction with the publication of his memoir, Known and Unknown.