1. #1

    Trump does War Criminal Vladmir Putin a solid: shuts down War Crimes div. at State

    Shining Beacon on a hill indeed.
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/17/...crimes-office/

    Tillerson to Shutter State Department War Crimes Office
    Critics charge top U.S. diplomat with giving the green light to perpetrators of mass atrocities.

    ecretary of State Rex Tillerson is downgrading the U.S. campaign against mass atrocities, shuttering the Foggy Bottom office that worked for two decades to hold war criminals accountable, according to several former U.S. officials.

    Tillerson’s office recently informed Todd Buchwald, the special coordinator of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, that he is being reassigned to a position in the State Department’s office of legal affairs, according to a former U.S. official familiar with the move. Buchwald, a career State Department lawyer, has served in the position since December 2015.

    The remaining staff in the office, Buchwald was told, may be reassigned to the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the former official told Foreign Policy.

    The decision to close the office comes at a time when America’s top diplomat has been seeking to reorganize the State Department to concentrate on what he sees as key priorities: pursuing economic opportunities for American businesses and strengthening U.S. military prowess. Those changes are coming at the expense of programs that promote human rights and fight world poverty, which have been targeted for steep budget cuts.

    “There’s no mistaking it — this move will be a huge loss for accountability,” said Richard Dicker, the director of Human Rights Watch’s international justice program. The war crimes ambassador’s “organizational independence gave the office much more weight.”

    Buchwald did not respond to a request for comment. A State Department spokesperson did not confirm or deny the office was being shuttered. “The State Department is currently undergoing an employee-led re-design initiative and there are no predetermined outcomes‎,” the spokesperson said. “We are not going to get ahead of any outcomes.”

    One senior State Department official, speaking on background, said it was “pure speculation on someone’s part” that the war crimes office was closing. But the official said there’s a massive drive to reorganize and consolidate the State Department, including folding special envoy offices back into bureaus to streamline the policy making process and cut out redundancies from the unwieldy bureaucracy. The official also cautioned that policymakers often float the idea of closing certain offices and bureaus “just to see what comes back.”

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright established the office in 1997, creating the post of ambassador at large for war crimes to elevate the importance of confronting mass murder in U.S. foreign policy. The decision was part of a growing movement in the 1990s, fueled in large part by genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, to prosecute individuals responsible for the world’s worst atrocities.

    Advocates have long believed appointing a prominent, high-level political appointee, preferably with influence in the highest levels of government, was the only way to prod the American foreign policy bureaucracy into confronting reports of mass atrocities.

    For two decades, the office has spearheaded cooperation with a range of internationally supported criminal courts from Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to Cambodia and the Central African Republic and pushed for greater U.S. support for the International Criminal Court.

    “This is a very harsh signal to the rest of the world that the United States is essentially downgrading the importance of accountability for the commission of atrocity crimes,” said David Scheffer, a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, who served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes. “This send a strong signal to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the United States is not watching you anymore.”

    The closure is only the latest, and most serious, setback for the office which has found sometimes grudging support from Democratic and Republican administration, and survived “even the darkest days of John Bolton’s rule in the international organization department at State,” Dicker said.

    Even before the Trump administration took power, the future of the war crimes office was in question. The State Department during the Obama administration has also considered downgrading the office, and folding it into the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL. Following the August 2015 departure of Stephen Rapp, the last full-fledged ambassador-at-large for war crimes, the Obama administration never nominated a successor for the top post, leaving his deputy, Jane Stromseth, in charge until December 2015.

    Buchwald, then a career State Department lawyer, was plucked out of the bureaucracy to head the office. He was given the title of special coordinator and granted temporary ambassadorial ranking, which has since expired. His appointment was never sent to the Senate for confirmation, meaning the office has not had a full-fledged ambassador at large for more than two and a half years.

    Since its first days, the office has sought to elevate the importance of supporting the prosecution of a rogues gallery of alleged mass murderers from Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and to push back on institutional fears within the U.S. government that the pursuit of justice may complicate competing U.S. interests of persuade their countries to pursue peace or aid the United States in the fight against terrorists.

    For instance, the war crimes office helped run a special rewards fund for information leading to the apprehension of war criminals and was instrumental in pressuring Sudan’s Bashir, the world’s only sitting head of state wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, to drop plans to attend a convocation of world leaders at U.N. Headquarters in New York.

    Beth Van Schaack, a former lawyer in the war crimes office who first reported this morning on the decision to shutter the office, wrote that “Buchwald has apparently been told that his detail will terminate shortly.”

    Van Schaack wrote that the move against the war crimes office is part of a broader reorganization of the undersecretariat for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, which oversees a series of bureaus that deal with refugees, migration, human trafficking and the effort to counter violent extremism.

    “Having a free-standing office,” headed by a U.S. ambassador, is “so critical for maintaining our bipartisan tradition of leadership on both justice and accountability and to make sure we have a strong voice for these issues in the government,” Jane Stromseth, the former deputy of the war crimes office, told FP.

    Michael Posner, who served as assistant secretary of state for the human rights bureau during the Obama administration, suggested that shuttering the war crimes office did not foreclose the prospect that another State Department agency might carry the torch.

    “The key is the appointment of strong people and the provision of adequate resources and political support to enable them to do their jobs effectively,” he said. “Treating human rights and global justice issues as foreign-policy priorities advances U.S. interests and values. They are inseparable.”

    Considering that Tillerson's State Department reorganization is hugely unnecessary and unpopular in the first place (if anything, State needs to grow), this can be interpreted only as Trump taking pressure of his boss, Vladmir Putin. The war crimes investigations for Putin's actions in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria have been gathering pace the past year. The US was taking the lead in that.

    No longer.

    And let's be clear: this does not just mean Putin. It mean's Assad. It means Iran. It means terrorists / ISIS. It means African dictators like Bashir. If Putin's aim was to reverse the post-1992 consensus on international norms (nevermind the post-1945 world order), striking out a key mechanism in that order - the means by which other governments and international organizations prevent and punish atrocities - would be a critical step for this.

    Just deplorable.

  2. #2
    Bloodsail Admiral Slinkypoe's Avatar
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    Michael Posner, who served as assistant secretary of state for the human rights bureau during the Obama administration, suggested that shuttering the war crimes office did not foreclose the prospect that another State Department agency might carry the torch.

    “The key is the appointment of strong people and the provision of adequate resources and political support to enable them to do their jobs effectively,” he said. “Treating human rights and global justice issues as foreign-policy priorities advances U.S. interests and values. They are inseparable.”
    Good luck with those "strong people" you need. The article mentiones, that the future of the office has been in danger before:

    "The State Department during the Obama administration has also considered downgrading the office, and folding it into the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL. Following the August 2015 departure of Stephen Rapp, the last full-fledged ambassador-at-large for war crimes, the Obama administration never nominated a successor for the top post, leaving his deputy, Jane Stromseth, in charge until December 2015."

    Is this the same sloppiness, that paved the long long way for the current omnishambles ?


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Slinkypoe View Post
    Good luck with those "strong people" you need. The article mentiones, that the future of the office has been in danger before:

    "The State Department during the Obama administration has also considered downgrading the office, and folding it into the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL. Following the August 2015 departure of Stephen Rapp, the last full-fledged ambassador-at-large for war crimes, the Obama administration never nominated a successor for the top post, leaving his deputy, Jane Stromseth, in charge until December 2015."

    Is this the same sloppiness, that paved the long long way for the current omnishambles ?
    Absolutely. The Obama Administration checked out after the 2014 midterms. The State Department became a single issue office: The Iran Deal and nothing but the Iran Deal. The National Security Council became a single issue office: kick the ISIS can down the curb and protect the Obama legacy of "bringing the troops home" from foreign wars (nevermind the pesky contractor surge, contractors being entirely ex-Troops).

    And of course, there was Obama's "strategic patience" with North Korea, aka procrastinate and hope the problem goes away.

    Obama's foreign policy was cataclysmically ruinous in its own ways after a strong start. As was Bush's first six years. They key American foreign policy problem going back to 1992 is that the last four Presidents all either bring in "true believers" at the start, or at the end, who are highly ideological and don't know shit about the nature of international relations and America's role int he world, and they deeply damage America's standing or international security in someway.

    The only times in the last 25 years US foreign policy hasn't been a complete disaster of highly political decisions is a short period between 1997 and 2000, and between 2007 and late 2011 (or Early 2012) when then adults who knew things actually ran the goddamn show.

    The best thing a future American Presidents could do is make the Secretary of State someone from the Foreign Service, and not some fucking Senator, Businessman or lackey, similarly to how Trump named McMaster as National Security Adviser (to be clear, his third choice) and not someone like nobody Susan-fucking-Rice (though not for lack of trying of course).

    American foreign policy needs to be left to the professionals, and not to political figures with agendas. America's place in the world today would be so much stronger if we didn't have the likes of say, Bush figures trying to re-write reality, and Obama figures trying to deny reality.

    I'll say it again: thank god the US has no true international equal yet that we gunning for us. If we did, we'd be toast. Modern Americans all the way to the top just aren't serious enough about managing American power. The treat it as a God given birthright rather than a finite, expendable resource that needs to be carefully cultivated and spent only when absolutely necessary.

    You'd think two inconclusive failed wars in the Muslim world would teach us a thing or two about fighting stupid fights rather than the important ones. But no, not America evidently.

  4. #4
    I find myself unable to get overly upset about this since I have trouble seeing what the merit of this particular office does.

    Literally stated dealing with war criminals is an issue for the military, at the very least I'm not sure how else you would arrest them.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Xeones View Post
    I find myself unable to get overly upset about this since I have trouble seeing what the merit of this particular office does.

    Literally stated dealing with war criminals is an issue for the military, at the very least I'm not sure how else you would arrest them.
    To charge one with war crimes you must have an investigative committee, which if I understand correctly has been shut down.

    To bring up charges for war crimes (and the way you do it is present a case to other nation, perhaps the UN, against the defendant) you need an office to deal with the investigation, shut down.

    To prosecute, sentence, carry out punishments (in the modern era usually we're talking sanctions most likely) you need an investigative body, shut down.



    =====

    The story about him possibly giving Russia back the compounds that Obama took away for election interference and suspected espionage are back into question. As in Donnie might give them back to the Russians.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Xeones View Post
    Literally stated dealing with war criminals is an issue for the military, at the very least I'm not sure how else you would arrest them.
    Typically said war criminals are the military.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tojara View Post
    Look Batman really isn't an accurate source by any means
    Quote Originally Posted by Hooked View Post
    It is a fact, not just something I made up.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mormolyce View Post
    Typically said war criminals are the military.
    It does seem like a War Crimes Division is pointless as a vehicle for 'justice' when its sole purpose is a political weapon to use against adversarial nations. It didn't send the Bush administration to the Hague for Iraq. It didn't send the Obama administration to the Hague for carrying out an illegal international assassination campaign that killed potentially tens of thousands of civilians. They aren't going to demand that we cut ties or arrest the leaders of ally countries like Saudi Arabia that is guilty of targeting civilians in Yemen (A 'war' where the civilian casualty rate in Saudi bombing is something like 90%).

    I don't know, I'm starting to wonder whether pushing stories like this is part of Trump's controlled opposition.
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  8. #8
    The Insane
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    Why would Trump want a war crimes office when he's murdering civilians in the Middle East?

  9. #9
    Pandaren Monk Tydrane's Avatar
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    I thought that adjudicating on war crimes was the purview of the United Nations?

    "Blah blah blah US world police blah blah" -> "OUTRAGEOUS. TRUMP NOT WORLD POLICING ENOUGH!"

    One-eyed fools.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tydrane View Post
    I thought that adjudicating on war crimes was the purview of the United Nations?

    "Blah blah blah US world police blah blah" -> "OUTRAGEOUS. TRUMP NOT WORLD POLICING ENOUGH!"

    One-eyed fools.
    Americans complaining about World Police, particularly elected Americans, is a 100+ year old humble brag. We were complaining about it before the country even was the world police.

    "Humble Brag" is in fact, exactly what it is.

  11. #11
    Oh no, another useless bureaucratic office that does absolutely nothing got shut down. How terrible.

    Guess that's what happens when you don't do your job. Bush, Obama, Saudi royalty, Ukrainian government are still not charged with war crimes.
    But the Russians rigged it! When I was entering the polling booth, intent on voting for Hillary, this guy in a Putin T-shirt with a funny accent said "Machine, how you say? out of calibration. Must press Trump to vote Hillary." I said, "O, spacibo comrade" and hit the Trump button. Only later did I realize the guy might have been Russian!

  12. #12
    Pandaren Monk Tydrane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skroe View Post
    Americans complaining about World Police, particularly elected Americans, is a 100+ year old humble brag. We were complaining about it before the country even was the world police.

    "Humble Brag" is in fact, exactly what it is.
    I think context is important.

  13. #13
    Bloodsail Admiral Slinkypoe's Avatar
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    Another one:

    Top State cyber official to exit, leaving myriad questions

    http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/mo...estions-221386

    TL;DR:

    - Christopher Painter, coordinator for cyber issues was fired
    - people can actually be cyber diolomats. The more you know
    - his job entailed "negotiating joint agreements with other countries on issues like protecting critical infrastructure and developing cyber norms"
    - the whole cybersecurity community is upset he is no more. At his office
    - may return at the DOJ in the future
    - the departure delays the development of international cyber strategy and the adressing of important cyber issues
    - Tillerson wants to either close or merge office
    - doing so “would mean the United States would be the only major country without a lead diplomat to discuss cyber norms and trying to
    reduce the ever-escalating cyberattacks we see around the world,”


  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Venant View Post
    It does seem like a War Crimes Division is pointless as a vehicle for 'justice' when its sole purpose is a political weapon to use against adversarial nations. It didn't send the Bush administration to the Hague for Iraq. It didn't send the Obama administration to the Hague for carrying out an illegal international assassination campaign that killed potentially tens of thousands of civilians. They aren't going to demand that we cut ties or arrest the leaders of ally countries like Saudi Arabia that is guilty of targeting civilians in Yemen (A 'war' where the civilian casualty rate in Saudi bombing is something like 90%).

    I don't know, I'm starting to wonder whether pushing stories like this is part of Trump's controlled opposition.
    ya, its really nothing but a political tool to be used when it suits the admin which is currently in power. Its not like shutting such an office would make it impossible to have sanctions or take action against war criminals. It just removes a bureaucratic layer which prob wasn't doing much in the first place.

  15. #15
    Over 9000! Lei Shi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skroe View Post
    It means Iran.
    Iran has done nothing wrong. They adhere to the treaties, the same can't be said about the US.

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