U.S. Asserts Right to Kidnap Foreign Nationals

The Times Online reports that a lawyer representing the United States in a British court

has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.

The 1992 United States Supreme Court case which states that foreigners abducted and brought to face trial in the U.S. have no legal remedy is United States v. Alvarez-Machain:

"[Alvarez-Machain] contends that the [U.S.-Mexico extradition] Treaty must be interpreted against the backdrop of customary international law, and that international abductions are "so clearly prohibited in international law" that there was no reason to include such a clause in the Treaty itself. The international censure of international abductions is further evidenced, according to respondent, by the United Nations Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States. Respondent does not argue that these sources of international law provide an independent basis for the right respondent asserts not to be tried in the United States, but rather that they should inform the interpretation of the Treaty terms.

The Supreme Court essentially held that if the extradition treaty between the U.S. and another country doesn’t explicitly say abductions aren’t allowed, they are.  You may agree with this reasoning (although I can’t see why any non-American would) or, like the dissenting judges, you may think the majority is "disregarding the Rule of Law that this Court has a duty to uphold."  Keep in mind, however, that the Supreme Court decision only allows the practice (or, more precisely, says there is no legal remedy against it).  The U.S. government could adopt a policy that it would not kidnap foreign nationals and bring them to trial in the U.S.

That hasn’t happened.  Instead, the Bush Administration has decided, before the courts of its closest foreign ally, to publicly claim the right to kidnap foreign nationals.  A spokesman for a British human rights group says  “This law may date back to bounty hunting days, but they should sort it out if they claim to be a civilised nation," and a Tory MP calls "the very idea of kidnapping repugnant to us."  The Justice Department, asked to respond, provided a careful and well-reasoned explanation of U.S. policy that assuaged the concerns of its close ally declined to comment.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if the U.S. wants to improve its image abroad, proudly claiming a right to do something which would provoke howls of protest if another country did it to an American is a pretty crappy way of going about it.

23 thoughts on “U.S. Asserts Right to Kidnap Foreign Nationals

  1. I oppose any issuing of a carte blanche to the U.S. government allowing kidnapping at will of citizens abroad.

    However, there are some rare, strictly defined cases where I would condone abduction, for example, of a bin Laden. Contrary to international law it may be, but kidnapping can avert much bloodshed and in the end be the more civilized course of action.

    The point is that in an era of asymmetric warfare with a foe who does not play by the rules and has no scruples regarding loss of civilian lives, there may be no alternative to selective use of military force or covert actions, including abduction, in other countries except for outright war, which should be avoided wherever possible.

    I underscore “selective” with a careful weighing of moral and strategic options, including prudent use of the diplomatic instruments G.W. Bush has neglected.

    Like

  2. @Paul:
    As the Times Online writes, “Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.”, so if I understand that correctly what you suggest was already possible. What the court ruled now seems to go far beyond terrorists.

    @Koch:
    What you suggest may clearly be a possibility for Sudan or Syria as “country B”, but I just can’t see France, Belgium or Germany react in that way. On the other hand I can’t really see the USA indeed using that option in allied countries except for the mentioned terrorists.

    Like

  3. > I oppose any issuing of a carte blanche to the U.S. government allowing kidnapping at will of citizens abroad.
    > However …

    Paul, ein bißchen schwanger non datur, I’m afraid – it’s the same issue with torture. Kidnapping bin Laden might achieve short-lived tactical advantage, but it breaks the rule of law, destabilising confidence into the basics of society, and doesn’t help in the long run – regardless of the tabloid’s jingoist cheer and the eventual smart rationalisation in the quality press.

    Terrorism cannot destroy a stable society that provides its citizens with desired goods, both material and immaterial. The problem are societies, ideologies, and cultures (and cultures?! How dares he!) that find democracy, power sharing, rule of law, and this colonialist flimsy Human Rights charade expendable. This goes for the theocracies, monarchies, and presidential dictatorships of the 57 OIC members and, to some extent, for Russia and China. Parliamentary democracy doesn’t do well without a settled and content citizenry (1) to support it. We Euros won’t have that southwards any time soon, so the problems to tackle require keeping our noses to the grindstone (2) – kidnapping or killing Mr. Bad won’t do.(3) Yes, the present US administration is ill-advised to leave bounty hunting related legislature as it is, and I hope Hillary or Obama will do better. However, the essentials of US foreign policy might change less then Euro liberals might expect, except for some polish – which is good thing.

    Folks, some might know my little ways by now. So, if you didn’t like the above, better skip the footnotes: I’m particularly silly and talkative this time.

    Speaking of settled citizenry: aren’t these plans to settle citizenry in Germany, um, rather unsettling?Die Welt, 19/11/07: Konzern vermietet Wohnblocks ethnisch getrennt – Menschen aus unterschiedlichen Kulturkreisen könnten in einem Mietshaus nicht konfliktfrei zusammenleben (Trust rents apartment buildings ethnically segregated – People from different culture areas cannot live together conflict free in an apartment building)

    The ultra conservative CSU party keeps its nose to the grindstone, too. Here the head of the “Arbeitsgruppe Integration und Islam” of the CSU-Landtag faction explains why having a 50:50 percentage of Muslims and Christians in Germany will be a good thing, both spiritually and, um, ballot related:Münchner Merkur, 30/11/2007: Martin Neumeyer – Die CSU muss um Muslime werben (CSU must woo Muslim voters)

    Racists, eat your hearts out! Even the CSU sees the light. ¡Venceremos! …some might be startled by that ominous 50:50 percentage, Mr. Neumeyer doesn’t even fret about – believe an old Islamophobe horse: you’ll understand that our higher ups, as inept and lackadaisical they may seem, do know perfectly well where Bartel den Most holt – and you will find such startling news not hidden on page 30 anymore, eventually. In the end, voters are like foals – they are higly irritable and need to be broken in gently.

    Though it won’t do, I’d like Mr. bin Laden to be the sheep in this Arabian delicacy. Else, should it be a mere creation, proceeding from a heat-oppressed brain, I’d like him to be the duck in a Turducken. Let’s dispense with all this daisy chain humanity stuff for one dreamy moment, ok? Let’s joyously regress. No Basti, I don’t mean it.

    btw: while a truly speak up against kidnapping people, I obviously allow for some wiggle room when it comes to blogs. I guess ein bißchen schwanger might be just human in the end – yes, let’s have ein bißchen Frieden, ROP style, that is.

    Like

  4. I had an uneasy feeling while writing my below post because, first, I do not know the legal background well, and second, to condone any kidnapping on foreign soil is to enter a moral gray area that could quickly evolve into something as grotesque as the current Iraq War, or worse. As Marek writes, there’s no such thing as just being a little pregnant.

    If the newer court ruling means that the U.S. government may simply abduct people in other countries for crimes less serious than terrorism, I oppose it. The existing substantial body of international law on extradition should suffice for crimes like manslaughter, etc.

    I agree with Koch that abduction is tantamount to an act of war; so the extreme measure of abduction would be appropriate, in most cases, only as a response to an act of war. As 9/11 could be construed as such an act, I would have few qualms ordering the kidnapping of bin Laden, even in Pakistan, as a more humane alternative to, say, carpet bombing of a foreign city.

    Islamist terrorists already have declared Americans to be fair game for kidnapping, murder, and other mayhem no matter where they are. Possibly some Americans would be abducted in retaliation for a kidnapping of bin Laden. But it’s part of the unpredictable nature of war, even this current asymmetric one, to hazard the consequences, especially when you have a limited range of options as the U.S. did after 9/11.

    Of course, a more moral U.S. foreign policy and less military interventionism might have been prevented 9/11 from happening in the first place. If that’s your point, Andrew, I agree, but I would not summarily dismiss abductions, at least in response to an act of aggression as grave as 9/11.

    Like

  5. “The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.”

    In point of fact it was not the ‘American government’ but a British QC (barrister) working for the US government who made the assertion. It’s a matter of law, not a matter of policy.

    The point arose as part of an extradition case in the UK – some rich Brits are wanted in the US on charges of bank fraud and tax evasion. One of the Brits was arrested in Canada at the request of an American prosecutor who asked the Canadians to drive him to the border and hand him over. That did not happen – the man was held for 10 days (apparently in Canada) and then ordered released by a Canadian judge. Whatever it was – it wasn’t kidnapping.

    Another case was cited which DOES seem to have been an abduction, a Mexican citizen was abducted from Mexico by the US DEA on drug trafficking charges. On the face of it that is outrageous – but assuming that the DEA had done theor homework and proved the case sufficiently well to justify extratitionb – the denial of extradition in these circumstances is equally outrageous. Let’s not forget that EU member nation routinely deny extradition of criminal suspects to many US states despite air-tight extradition laws – under the grounds that the death penalty may be applied.

    The crime was done in the US and local law applies – that is the legal norm. Except for the US of course……

    Feh.

    Like

  6. “The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.”

    In point of fact it was not the ‘American government’ but a British QC (barrister) working for the US government who made the assertion. It’s a matter of law, not a matter of policy.

    The point arose as part of an extradition case in the UK – some rich Brits are wanted in the US on charges of bank fraud and tax evasion. One of the Brits was arrested in Canada at the request of an American prosecutor who asked the Canadians to drive him to the border and hand him over. That did not happen – the man was held for 10 days (apparently in Canada) and then ordered released by a Canadian judge. Whatever it was – it wasn’t kidnapping.

    Another case was cited which DOES seem to have been an abduction, a Mexican citizen was abducted from Mexico by the US DEA on drug trafficking charges. On the face of it that is outrageous – but assuming that the DEA had done theor homework and proved the case sufficiently well to justify extratitionb – the denial of extradition in these circumstances is equally outrageous. Let’s not forget that EU member nation routinely deny extradition of criminal suspects to many US states despite air-tight extradition laws – under the grounds that the death penalty may be applied.

    The crime was done in the US and local law applies – that is the legal norm. Except for the US of course……

    Feh.

    Like

  7. I agree with Koch that abduction is tantamount to an act of war; so the extreme measure of abduction would be appropriate, in most cases, only as a response to an act of war. As 9/11 could be construed as such an act, I would have few qualms ordering the kidnapping of bin Laden, even in Pakistan, as a more humane alternative to, say, carpet bombing of a foreign city.

    Only that doesn’t really work if the country whose souvereignity is violated (e.g. Italy) has nothing to do with any terrorist attack. That an abduction would be more humane than carpet bombing (which would usually be a war crime, by the way, even in a war of defence) is not logically a justification, nor will it typically be of much relevance (the US can’t actually carpet-bomb Milan, can it?).

    That the act of abduction can be considered a casus belli is similarly irrelevant, since essentially nobody can really hope to defeat the US on the battlefield, and most certainly nobody can expect to get away from the attempt without a massive spilling of blood. In international “law” there is no policeman, and might is right.

    Like

  8. The problem is that it’s a black or white issue, Sebastian, it doesn’t admit to gray areas. The US asserts a legal right to abduct suspects in certain cases (and the boundary lines of what those cases are are blurry). Or a country (let’s use Italy) has an absolute right to thumb it’s collective nose at the US request for extradition and harbor some henious criminal (initials OBL mebbe?) – and the US can do nothing. In fact everyone in the US should give up completely – Judgment Has Been Rendered by the Higher Authorities (i.e. an EU country). 😉

    Note that in the specific case in the UK the indignation is about something a bit wider – the defense seems to be implying that since the UK courts refused extradition on this individual that somehow also binds the Canadian courts. Hmmm, I rather doubt Canadians would agree with that idea – nor should they!

    Like

  9. There’s a reason lawyers are called “mouthpieces,” Don. The barrister was representing the United States government in the case, so his comments almost certainly represent U.S. policy. If they didn’t, I presume the Justice Department would have said so when asked for comment.

    Of course the EU refuses to extradite nationals of EU states if they face the death penalty. That’s within their rights, since they regard the death penalty as a human rights violation. Generally, EU states don’t object to their nationals being tried in the U.S., they simply request assurances that authorities will not seek the death penalty. In fact, Article 7 of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. specifically gives Britain the right to require waiver of the death penalty as a condition of extradition. I doubt the U.S. would have signed this treaty if it thought Britain’s demand was unreasonable. Once the relevant authorities waive the death penalty, the suspect is usually extradited.

    Often, some high-profile extradition refusal will outrage ill-informed commentators in the US. They rarely do enough research to figure out that, as in international relations generally, what comes around goes around. That is, the U.S. will also refuse to extradite its citizens to other nations if authorities for various reasons: that the conduct he committed in the foreign country is not considered a crime in the U.S. (such as a political offense), or that the U.S. authorities think the person will be tortured or denied a fair trial after extradition. The U.S. just refused an extradition to Italy on these grounds in October 2007.

    Everybody understands that in lawless territories or failed states, there may be no (non-corrupt) authority to work out an extradition deal with. But what the U.S. is asserting here is the right to kidnap nationals of a foreign country which (a) has a functioning justice system; and (b) has signed an extradition treaty with the United States, and which (by hypothesis) has, under that treaty, refused to extradite that person for reasons it considers sufficient.

    If the U.S. decides not to extradite a U.S. citizen to a foreign country for trial there, that foreign country has to lump it. When the opposite occurs, though, the U.S. announces that it reserves the right to kidnap the person in question. Is there any reason this attitude shouldn’t rankle the rest of the world?

    Like

  10. “Is there any reason this attitude shouldn’t rankle the rest of the world?”

    And I’m episodically rankled by some toffee-nosed twits denying extradition of some murderer hiding in Europe.

    Being rankled is good fun but I find I don’t have the stamina to keep it up all the time. Perhaps you are different – certainly many Germans seem to enjoy the experience of being serially rankled at the USA for something or other, although I won’t include you unless you so wish. The ‘Bitch du Jour’ I call it.

    Whatever way people get their rocks off is OK by me. Hate Bush, great. Hate neocons, Rumsfeld, McCarthy, Big Bird, whatever? Great fun.

    Just don’t expect me to take all that spleen too seriously…..

    And no, Andrew. The QC (I doubt he would appreciate the term ‘mouthpiece’ at all) presented an opinion on what US LAW is. Policy is situational, law isn’t. The US has not attempted to abduct the UK Natwest bankers whom prosecutors are pursuing on charges of being culpable to Enron fraud cases – presumably it is not policy to do so. The Canadian action was not an abduction – it was an attempt to ask Canada to arrest and release a criminal suspect (for bank fraud) to US prosecutors for trial. Why should this person be immune globally merely because the UK hasn’t seen fit to extradite him?

    One point where we might agree is that it does not appear to be administration policy to try to change the law to outlaw abduction in all cases. Peoiple can puff up their heads and bloviate all they wish – but I think that doing what you believe is the ‘moral thing’ would be dead stupid; a lot of innocent people could (and probably will) end up very dead because of a decision to eliminate the grey areas in the law. And all to give a bunch of pompous twits (in the US, Germany, and elsewhere) a passing feeling of satisfaction.

    Like

  11. “Is there any reason this attitude shouldn’t rankle the rest of the world?”

    And I’m episodically rankled by some toffee-nosed twits denying extradition of some murderer hiding in Europe.

    Being rankled is good fun but I find I don’t have the stamina to keep it up all the time. Perhaps you are different – certainly many Germans seem to enjoy the experience of being serially rankled at the USA for something or other, although I won’t include you unless you so wish. The ‘Bitch du Jour’ I call it.

    Whatever way people get their rocks off is OK by me. Hate Bush, great. Hate neocons, Rumsfeld, McCarthy, Big Bird, whatever? Great fun.

    Just don’t expect me to take all that spleen too seriously…..

    And no, Andrew. The QC (I doubt he would appreciate the term ‘mouthpiece’ at all) presented an opinion on what US LAW is. Policy is situational, law isn’t. The US has not attempted to abduct the UK Natwest bankers whom prosecutors are pursuing on charges of being culpable to Enron fraud cases – presumably it is not policy to do so. The Canadian action was not an abduction – it was an attempt to ask Canada to arrest and release a criminal suspect (for bank fraud) to US prosecutors for trial. Why should this person be immune globally merely because the UK hasn’t seen fit to extradite him?

    One point where we might agree is that it does not appear to be administration policy to try to change the law to outlaw abduction in all cases. Peoiple can puff up their heads and bloviate all they wish – but I think that doing what you believe is the ‘moral thing’ would be dead stupid; a lot of innocent people could (and probably will) end up very dead because of a decision to eliminate the grey areas in the law. And all to give a bunch of pompous twits (in the US, Germany, and elsewhere) a passing feeling of satisfaction.

    Like

  12. I’m in a hurry, so this is OT as usual, but I’m not even trying to be funny and you’ll have to ask for the sources if needed.

    > Paul | December 04, 2007 at 01:36 PM
    > Of course, a more moral U.S. foreign policy and less military interventionism
    > might have been prevented 9/11 from happening in the first place

    …and WWII could have been prevented, had some unnamed moustachioed head of state had his will about Poland. Most certainly not my estimate, but that’s up for speculation, as is a lot. Toppling one’s son of a bitch for a change instead of pampering him could well be argued as being a moral approach, silly lies notwithstanding. While military interventionism is not advisable as a rule, the legalistic approach of non-intervention in sovereign states keeps millions dying in North Korea, Kongo, Sudan, Somalia, you name it. How moral is that? Even if you opt for it, it’s a dilemma. Islamic societies claim to be subject to a cultural invasion by the West, making them lose their identity and traditions, and know what? It’s true: Pop and Coke rule, for better or worse. To speculate that these societies reactionary forces (not the paupers, but educated restless young men) will keep their chagrin to the eventual UN committee’s complaint, provided they don’t face uppity provocation, is far fetched.

    I resent the notion that 9/11, Madrid, and London are to be blamed on us. Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front had 150,000 to 200,000 (estimates vary) throats cut and heads severed in the course of 10 years of civil war (women, children, old folks: these guys don’t discriminate). Did that serve any anti-imperialist agenda? In Turkey around 5000 women are killed each year by patriarchal perversions. Since new ruling (introduced by the new Islamist government, I acknowledge that) made it harder for honour killers to get away with a slap on the wrist by sympathetic courts, the new trend is forced female suicide – are we to blame? Let’s not mention Women’s Lib in Kabul or Lahore. While hereditary corruption even let Benazir Bhutto reign, women suffer everywhere where Mullahs rule, not only in the ‘tribal areas’. As of yet(!), Islamist terror in Western countries is the tip of the iceberg, Muslims having to cope with the brunt of it by the millions. How does that corroborate the idea of 9/11 prevention by Western moderation? Islamists are mad on the West as it prevents them from doing what Qutb, Maududi and al-Banna told them to do, while many, um, moderate folk in Muslim countries mind our societies to thrive, while theirs rot. It’s not pacifying to see that daily on TV, whether by soap opera or the ads in between. Then again, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Taiwanese, Indians have found ways to deal with that productively – but, oh, there I go again…

    @Don
    Eventually, you will find that a war on terror is as ineffectual as the war on drugs. Some folks don’t fancy our ways – and some folk fancy to buy drugs. The first is a political problem, the second needs an economical and a medical approach. Both issues have to be tackled, but while use of force is a legitimate means and should be applied whenever needed, it is the least we can do. Dang, one way or the other, this blog is centering on fancy Glasperlenspiele.

    Like

  13. “Eventually, you will find that a war on terror is as ineffectual as the war on drugs.”

    You may be putting an assumption in my head which isn’t there. Neither the ‘War on Terror’ nor the war on drugs have been utter triumphs – nor complete defeats – critics to the contrary.

    “Some folks don’t fancy our ways – and some folk fancy to buy drugs. The first is a political problem, the second needs an economical and a medical approach.”

    I might agree partially. I think there is a place for interdiction of supply and efforts aimed at rolling up distrubution – but that doesn’t deal with demand obviously. Germans tend to prefer working on the demand side and the US upon supply – both are equally effective or ineffetive I think. The US should do more about demand & the Germans more about supply.

    “Both issues have to be tackled, but while use of force is a legitimate means and should be applied whenever needed, it is the least we can do.”

    The argumetn being advanced here (not by you) is that use of force is never the way. Sorry I can’t buy that. Abduction should be used extremely rarely and authorised at political and legal levels if possible – but there are situations where the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    What the Brits are complaining about isn’t abduction however. They are complaining that A US prosecutor attempted to have the Canadian authorities arrest a suspect in a fraud case whom British authorities had denied extradition upon – even though the death penalty is not possible for fraud cases. They seem to be asserting that British law should override Canadian law within Canadian borders and presumably US law within US borders. That seems a trifle sweeping to me.

    Like

  14. This is a difficult subject, partly because it’s not clear, at least to me, Andrew, whether such sweeping statements as

    “The Bush Administration has decided, before the courts of its closest foreign ally, to publicly claim the right to kidnap foreign nationals.”

    should be allowed to stand without qualification (and thanks, Don, for your comments in this regard).

    Until I see more convincing evidence to the contrary, I can’t believe that Washington has chosen to engage in world-wide kidnapping against all international norms. It must be well aware of the age-old principle of reciprocity in international relations, that indeed, Andrew, what comes around goes around.

    I suspect the U.S. government does prefer to keep as many options open as possible in combating Islamist terror, including abduction. But not to the extent indicated here.

    That said, after witnessing developments in Washington in the last few years, hardly anything would surprise me anymore.

    Nevertheless: a little more fact and less exaggeration, please….

    Marek, I’m not in favor of appeasing Islamist thugs, far from it.

    “…and WWII could have been prevented, had some unnamed moustachioed head of state had his will about Poland.”

    An unfair comparison.

    In my view, the Bush strategy in fighting Islamist terrorism has been wrong from the start. Bombarding Iraq was not a promising method of winning hearts and minds and turning the populace against al-Qaeda.

    Abu Ghraib marked a major defeat in Bush’s “war against terrorism.” The famed photos had no less effect than the 1968 image of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a Viet Cong POW in the head.

    Bin Laden is a sly foe. In fighting him, fewer bombs and more intelligence, less hedgehog and more fox, are called for.

    By the way, Marek, I left my Siebengebirge lair last week on a trip to Berlin and had the opportunity to walk through your part of Kreuzberg. I saw what you’re up against. More power to you.

    Perhaps on my next trip we can meet in your favorite restaurant, the corner one you wrote about in an earlier post, to discuss this subject and others.

    Like

  15. > Paul: In my view, the Bush strategy in fighting Islamist terrorism has been wrong from the start

    So do I. Yet it’s not Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that trigger Islamic reactionaries ire – they make for a good excuse. US crackpot politics lent them a helping hand, as did the CIA, when outfitting Afghan Mudjahadeen with Stinger rockets in the first place. As usual, Churchill was right, when musing that the “United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”

    > Paul: By the way, Marek, I left my Siebengebirge lair last week on a trip to Berlin and had the opportunity to walk
    > through your part of Kreuzberg. I saw what you’re up against. More power to you.

    Then you are more perceptive than I had been four years ago, and better informed as I was then. After moving here for finding it entertaining and exotic, it took me that long to reach the present sorrow state and lose my prejudices. Oh, sorry Andrew, to nurse them, of course.

    > Paul: Perhaps on my next trip we can meet in your favorite restaurant

    Certainly, drop me a line.

    > Don: You may be putting an assumption in my head which isn’t there

    Sorry, I’m somewhat sweeping sometimes, when trying to hammer in my little points. The French Prime Minister made it clear recently, that “racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism” are the same and to be fought, “in France and everywhere else around the world.” That puts me in an ugly neighbourhood, and I’ll might have to ask for internet access in my local jail or in Devil’s Island to further annoy my fellow German Joysters.

    Like

  16. Not that I wanted to imply that Kreuzberg is bristling with Turkish hate and resentment. But walking on a street–not your street–near Kottbusser Tor I did attract some unfriendly glances. There was definitely an us vs. them feeling in the air. No multiculturalist could convince me that there isn’t a great cultural divide in Kreuzberg.

    Having spent most of my adolescence in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, inner city and daily experienced the results of white and black racism, Kreuzberg was déjà vu. Segregation, ghettoization–it’s happening in Germany, whether Germans wish to acknowledge it or not.

    Like

  17. > Paul: Not that I wanted to imply that Kreuzberg is bristling with Turkish hate and resentment

    Actually it is, but our excellent welfare system cares for a uneasy truce for the time being. The young hate white non-Muslims and despise the non-white ones. Besides, Turks hate Arabs and viceversa, except when the police is around or, um, business requires patience. However, as of yet, the elders want peace and order, and Imams don’t want open rebellion for the time being. As long as Hartz IV is flowing and demography isn’t where it will be in 20 years, non-Turk adults can get by. Woe is you, when you are their age. But not to worry, most schools have around 90-100% migrant attendance, the kids are safe – the well-educated, that is.

    Here’s a story of your usual pagan hedonists asking for a protestant new school in Kreuzberg36. Guess why. Anyway, if they shouldn’t have their will, their bags are packed. Have a DIW paper on “Germans in Germany’s Ethnic Neighborhoods”. Conclusion: “These results would seem to paint a rosy picture of the lives of German residents of ethnic neighborhoods, were it not for a notable absence of school-aged German children within these spaces.” “Notable” is funny. Anyway, here’s why – a Berlin senate study I linked to earlier.

    Like

  18. “Segregation, ghettoization–it’s happening in Germany, whether Germans wish to acknowledge it or not.”

    I don’t think that the gut feeling you had on your stroll through the Kottbusser Tor area speaks to some higher truth about that neighborhood. Kreuzberg, despite the picture Marek manic-obsessively insists on painting, is not just Turkish youth gangs. It’s also an artist’s neighborhood with countless bars, restaurants and clubs, frequented by white Germans, who often happen to live in that very area. I don’t think the same can be said about something like South Chicago (and no, we’re not talking South Loop, but south of 55th street). There’s also another major difference between Kreuzberg and American ghettos and the banlieues: immigrants who make money do not immediately move to another neighborhood but rather reinvest in their communities.

    Like

  19. “Abu Ghraib marked a major defeat in Bush’s “war against terrorism.” The famed photos had no less effect than the 1968 image of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a Viet Cong POW in the head.”

    True, Paul. But it’s not *news* – it’s a propoganda campaign aimed against the US government. There is next to nothing published about the hundreds of thousands of people that the Baathists tortured to death at Abu Ghraib. The photos of the realtively minor offenses which happened in 2004 have been trumpeted to the skies and keep popping up. Not just on Al Jazeera and Al Quaeda websites, either. No, it’s Der Speigel and other nominally *responsible* news organisations doing the real damage.

    The hell with them all.

    Like

  20. Marek, I did feel some of that hate in the air. I’m sure it wasn’t just paranoia. I hope Kreuzberg residents, on whichever side of the fence they may be, do not allow themselves to be infected with the toxin of hate, returning hate with hate. A naive hope, perhaps, and yes, no appeasement or multicultural fantasies, but what’s the alternative to reaching out to the other side?

    Appreciated your links. I know that here in the Bonn area (where you once lived, if I remember correctly, in the former diplomatic community) parents regularly send their children to Catholic schools, even if they have no religious affiliation, to escape classrooms overfilled with migrants. This is the reality. Most Germans, like Americans, don’t really want integration. They want foreigners to continue doing the work they don’t want to do, out of sight and out of mind. This is an attitude you’ve criticized in your posts and you are right to do so.

    Thanks for your contact information. It’ll be a long while before I’m in Berlin again, but I will give you a call when and if.

    Don, True enough, Kreuzberg, a very large city district, is also very varied. Not far from Kotbusser, for example, I chanced upon tree-lined, gentrified Dieffenbachstrasse. It looked very livable indeed (here Marek, the true Kreuzberg resident, may correct me). Also, the perils of Kreuzberg cannot compare to those of American ghettos, which I know at first hand. Nevertheless, I’m sure that my uneasy feeling while strolling through some Kreuzberg streets was grounded in fact. The great cultural divide does exist.

    RE Abu Ghraib and the double standard of reporting extensively on American crimes while largely ignoring Baathist atrocities. It angers me, too. Also the continual fallacy of moral equivalence committed by European journalists. Anything to sell newsprint. But let me stop here before I launch into a rant.

    Like

  21. Thanks Paul. I think events post 2001 have killed NATO. I think a rump alliance will survive (UK, Canada, US, Iceland, Ireland, perhaps a few others). Before 2001 I was a staunch supporter of NATO, though I had doubts occasioned by some of the crap flying around about Kosovo and Bosnia.

    Now? If Central Europe were to get into a serious crisis I would laugh and advocate that the US offer 3000 garrison troops to be stationed in Saarbruken, with strict orders not to venture out past nightfall…..

    I’d also avidly read anything I could find about supposed German atrocities and join mass rallies against European warmongers stirring up those poor Russians…

    Like

  22. > Kreuzberg, despite the picture Marek manic-obsessively insists on painting, is not just Turkish youth gangs

    I never did and even lengthily expounded on the reasons why I came here in the first place many times. Even on this very page I linked to a study that indicates that Germans living here do tend to enjoy themselves – till children need to be protected eventually from our migrant’s youth Bildungsferne and the violence the Berlin senate’s study explains in detail. And yes, I linked to that study, too. How come you chose to merrily ignore it, while resorting sneakily to Paul’s anecdotal evidence, which so conveniently can be construed as an invalid argument?

    Besides, isn’t it specious to claim that things in French banlieues and US ghettoes are worse? Still 85% of unskilled labour goes to the EU and only 5% to the US each year, and this unskilled labour doesn’t come from China or Bolivia, if you know what I deviously mean. Should we earnestly go on pumping disgruntled Muslim paupers to our ghettoes till US standards of misery are met? This abject reasoning doesn’t cut it. Speaking of which: isn’t it funny how officer Schnurpfeil first feels compelled to speak of initiation rites and group dynamics before allowing himself to touch the usual funny community related issues, when explaining the rise in juvenile gang violence? “In den verschiedenen Herkunftsländern” besteht “ein anderes Verhältnis zu Gewalt” says the guy with practical experience, while the pedagogue sees to it that a stone-cold (racist, market-driven, you name it) society is getting its well deserved come-uppance. If thirld world’s noble savages run afoul its ugly white men who are to blame.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s