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Old 07-17-2008   #121
Rex Brynen
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Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
The Columbian government should have a "no comment" policy on everything about this operation. That is why it worked in the first place. Celebrate the release of the hostages, other than that be like Sgt. Shultz from Hoagans Heroes.... "I know nothing"
Actually, I think they did the right thing in apologizing (especially since evidence of misuse of the ICRC was already in the public domain). The ICRC has been quite heavily involved in Columbia, both in humanitarian assistance and in facilitating previous hostage releases--it really is not the kind of assistance that Columbia wants to compromise.
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Old 07-18-2008   #122
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Actually, I think they did the right thing in apologizing (especially since evidence of misuse of the ICRC was already in the public domain). The ICRC has been quite heavily involved in Columbia, both in humanitarian assistance and in facilitating previous hostage releases--it really is not the kind of assistance that Columbia wants to compromise.
I understand what you are saying Rex but I disagree. Evidence is not proof and I think the Columbian government had plenty of room for plausible deny- ability by simply stating they will not discuss in detail any capability to rescue hostages and then leave it at that.
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Old 07-18-2008   #123
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I understand what you are saying Rex but I disagree. Evidence is not proof and I think the Columbian government had plenty of room for plausible deny- ability by simply stating they will not discuss in detail any capability to rescue hostages and then leave it at that.
Slap

I am with Rex on this one. The government of Columbia needs ICRC more that ICRC needs the government of Columbia. What counts most is the perception of the folks on the ground toward the ICRC; without the mea culpa from the government, assumptions would tend toward suspicion.

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Old 07-18-2008   #124
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Slap

I am with Rex on this one. The government of Columbia needs ICRC more that ICRC needs the government of Columbia. What counts most is the perception of the folks on the ground toward the ICRC; without the mea culpa from the government, assumptions would tend toward suspicion.

best

Tom
Hi Tom, again I understand what you are saying, but I think the most important perception is the people see the Government of Columbia as in charge, to show the people they are the government and can protect them from FARC. Placing ICRC interests above that is not a good idea.
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Old 07-18-2008   #125
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Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
Hi Tom, again I understand what you are saying, but I think the most important perception is the people see the Government of Columbia as in charge, to show the people they are the government and can protect them from FARC. Placing ICRC interests above that is not a good idea.
And by pretending to be the ICRC, they undercut their ability to show they are in charge. I am glad the hostages were saved, Slap but the use of the ICRC logo as a ploy was a mistake.
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Old 07-18-2008   #126
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And by pretending to be the ICRC, they undercut their ability to show they are in charge. I am glad the hostages were saved, Slap but the use of the ICRC logo as a ploy was a mistake.
I think is was good use of urban camoflouge(cain't speell). By doing this they pulled off the operation without a shot being fired or an injury or death to anybody. That's getting all Sun Zu and stuff on the enemy. All warfare is based on deception.
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Old 07-18-2008   #127
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I think is was good use of urban camoflouge(cain't speell). By doing this they pulled off the operation without a shot being fired or an injury or death to anybody. That's getting all Sun Zu and stuff on the enemy. All warfare is based on deception.
Committing a war crime is not good for long term interests.

It remains to be seen what the after effects will be regarding ICRC and other IO/NGOs.

We will have to agree to disagree on this one.

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Old 07-18-2008   #128
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Just on a side note, I'll mention how important that Red Cross bib is to ICRC personnel. They frequently go into combat zones, into insurgent areas, and negotiate checkpoints, with just that as protection--no body armour, no PSD, no side arms... just a white piece of cloth.

In many war zones--coupled with good field-level intelligence and good local staff--it is enough, in large part because how ICRC has protected the symbol and its own reputation.

In some areas (Iraq and Afghanistan among them), obviously, it is not.
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Old 07-18-2008   #129
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If the use of the red cross emblem was a mistake or not is open to debate, but it is not a war crime. The Legal concept of Exigent Circumstances was created just for cases like this.(sometimes lawyers do good stuff) Exigent Circumstances will allow Law Enforcement to violate other laws,rules,and procedures in situations where there is an extreme risk of loss of life. Freeing hostages would qualify.

Further if it was a mistake,that does not require the Columbian Government to discuss it in public. (Having a no comment policy is the same as pleading the 5th in this country) They could have seen the Red Cross in private.
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Old 07-18-2008   #130
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If the use of the red cross emblem was a mistake or not is open to debate, but it is not a war crime. The Legal concept of Exigent Circumstances was created just for cases like this.(sometimes lawyers do good stuff) Exigent Circumstances will allow Law Enforcement to violate other laws,rules,and procedures in situations where there is an extreme risk of loss of life. Freeing hostages would qualify.
It doesn't apply in this case--while international humanitarian law often allows a degree or exigency (or military necessity) to be balanced against harm to civilians, there is no such exemption for use of the red cross symbol (for the obvious reasons that people would constantly be using ambulances to gain tactical surprise). Misuse of the ICRC is an absolute war crime, against which IHL would allow no such defence.

Hence the Columbians 'fessing up and apologizing so fast--and blaming it on a nervous soldier.
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Old 07-18-2008   #131
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Since nobody was hurt or killed I don't see how use of the Red Cross is a war crime. So we go with copyright violation and a $50.00 fine.
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Old 07-18-2008   #132
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Default I believe 'War Crime' is a bit of a stretch.

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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
It doesn't apply in this case--while international humanitarian law often allows a degree or exigency (or military necessity) to be balanced against harm to civilians, there is no such exemption for use of the red cross symbol (for the obvious reasons that people would constantly be using ambulances to gain tactical surprise). Misuse of the ICRC is an absolute war crime, against which IHL would allow no such defence.
Without getting into the semantic and legal argument about whether there is such a thing as International Humanitarian Law (as opposed to the existence of international norms, which I fully acknowledge and further acknowledge cover the use of such symbols), use of the Red Cross -- or it's allied symbols including the Red Crescent and Red Star of David (or red Crystal ) -- in an operation may be acknowledged by treaty to be misuse but I don't see how it rises to 'war crime' status. No such misuse is generally likely to produce massive or repulsive damage equating to a war crime.

As to its use of symbols on ambulances to achieve tactical advantage; I've been the recipient of three attempts to do that on two continents -- all were unsuccessful. My favorite was the US Peace Corps Nurse in the Dominican Republic in mid-1965 who attempted to smuggle two 'wounded' Rebels and about 500 pounds of miscellaneous ammo and weapons past us to the Rebels. When we insisted on searching her ambulance, driver and patients (though not initially her) she proved she was not a lady...

Nor did the Indian Major general who was the UN Military rep there at the time prove he was a neutral observer with his attempt to defend her and accuse us of a 'war crime.' I'm no lawyer but some of them came to our defense and it was pretty well acknowledged that no crime had been committed by us or her.
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Old 07-18-2008   #133
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Yes, I think we're getting a bit hung up on the "war crimes" issue (and we haven't even started into the "breach" versus "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions aspect)... the bottom line is that misuse of the red cross is explicitly prohibited under Article 44 of the First Geneva Convention (1949).

And yes, misuse does occur.. the Israelis have been known to commandeer Palestinian ambulances to make arrests, and the Palestinians have been known to use them to transport wanted individuals or weapons. I can't think of a case there, however, where anyone has misused the ICRC symbol though (as opposed to a generic red cross).
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Old 07-18-2008   #134
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Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
Yes, I think we're getting a bit hung up on the "war crimes" issue (and we haven't even started into the "breach" versus "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions aspect)... the bottom line is that misuse of the red cross is explicitly prohibited under Article 44 of the First Geneva Convention (1949).

And yes, misuse does occur.. the Israelis have been known to commandeer Palestinian ambulances to make arrests, and the Palestinians have been known to use them to transport wanted individuals or weapons. I can't think of a case there, however, where anyone has misused the ICRC symbol though (as opposed to a generic red cross).
Agreed but with a difference. What is important to consider is the secondary and tertiary effects of misuse in arenas such as Colombia, Congo, or elsewhere the effective rule of law is already in dispute. Again I am tickled pink they got the hostages out; using the ICRC emblem was maladroit at best and may cost others their lives in the future.

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Old 07-22-2008   #135
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I think this is potentially dangerous. Latin America has a huge way to go economically, and seeing everybody shoot their military spending through the roof is not beneficial to any of that. Brazil is going to be the regional power in the long-run; they are already an economic "dwarf-giant," if you will, and their political power will rise in tandem. We should continue to support Colombia, but I just don't see the utility, for us, the Colombians, or anybody in Latin America from a new round of arms races caused by descent into competing "camps." In the long run, Brazil (especially), Argentina, Chile, and Colombia are the powers in LA, not Venezuela or Ecuador or Bolivia, no matter what Chavez and Morales would say.
Whether or not it's beneficial to them, the Latin American states have already started the arms race (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...73&postcount=3). Chavez recently acquired some new Sukhoi fighters, and apparently he's looking for more from the Russians. Regardless of the fact that his people are still struggling to make ends meet, he's going to buy weapons and boost his domestic surveillance programs. He's got a country flush with oil revenues and he's got a whole lot of ambition. He wants to stick it to The Man, that being the United States and its "puppet," Colombia. Just because it's the proper and prudent course of action doesn't mean that a man like Chavez is going to follow that path.

Remember, this is IR we're talking about. Regional hegemons wax and wane, and states always compete to enhance their power and influence. An arms race was easy to predict in this case. It was inevitable, IMO.

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Indeed, but since the 1980s, the drug trade has been the watchword and political cover. And to a degree, even if FARC is defeated, our real goals will still coincide with counternarcotics. Economic development and eradication of the drug trade are going to require huge amounts of aid and effort.
Oh, don't get me wrong. If the FARC evaporates tomorrow I don't expect us to pick up and leave. Drug interdiction is still a huge reason why we're there. But I will counter by saying that if the FARC and the drugs disappear overnight, we will still have a considerable presence in Colombia and we will still shower money on them, because the overarching reason for our involvement in Colombia is based on its importance as a strategic and democratic ally in that region.
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Old 08-06-2008   #136
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Default Red Cross probes emblem 'misuse'

Misuse of the symbol undermines Red Cross neutrality

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The Geneva-based ICRC says the footage shown on Colombian TV on Monday indicates that the emblem was being used before the operation to free the hostages from Farc guerrillas had even begun, indicating intentional misuse.

"If authenticated, these images would clearly establish an improper use of the Red Cross emblem, which we deplore," said ICRC deputy director of operations Dominik Stillhart.

Mr Uribe said he had apologised to the Red Cross for the error, which he said had been made by a nervous soldier acting against orders.
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Old 10-12-2008   #137
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Default International support for the FARC

I thought about posting this in the Latin American section, but decided there are relevant points in this article about international support (both State and non-state) for insurgents and terrorists are relevant on the global level. The take away is that the McCormick Counterinsurgent Diamond model argues you must isolate the insurgents not only from the populace and but also international support. Of course theory is always easier than practice.

http://www.nefafoundation.org/miscel...eption0908.pdf

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This paper examines:
The FARC's long-standing ties to Latin American countries such as El Salvador
and Nicaragua,
The information-sharing with other terrorist groups, particularly the Provisional
IRA of Ireland and the ETA Basque separatists of Spain, and the role this
collaboration played in allowing the FARC to develop weapons that primarily
targeted the civilian population,
The FARC's role in founding and directing the Coordinadora Continental
Bolivariana (CCB), an umbrella group active in much of Latin America.
The FARC's European network,
The FARC's attempts to acquire weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, from a
variety of countries and intermediaries of different nationalities.
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Old 10-13-2008   #138
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore
I thought about posting this in the Latin American section, but decided there are relevant points in this article about international support (both State and non-state) for insurgents and terrorists are relevant on the global level. The take away is that the McCormick Counterinsurgent Diamond model argues you must isolate the insurgents not only from the populace and but also international support. Of course theory is always easier than practice.

The FARC’s International Relations: A Network of Deception
The necessity of isolating the insurgent from international support has long been a recognized keystone of successful COIN, but - as you state - it is a goal that is very difficult to reach. Reduction of such support (to varying degrees), rather than isolation from, tends to be what is achievable in practical terms. And in today's operational environment, there is a broad spectrum of factors that make such reduction much more difficult than it was in the Cold War era.

Back in 2001, RAND published a decent, if simplistic, study on Trends in Outside Support for Insurgencies. The brief NEFA paper talks to several of the issues in the context of the FARC that the authors identified as post-Cold War support trends.

As an aside, given events since '01, the topic could use an in-depth relook.
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Old 12-15-2008   #139
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Default more on coke subs

Jules Verne eat your heart out:

In Colombia, they call him Captain Nemo: Authorities say Enrique Portocarrero was the innovative creator of stealthy submarines called semi-submersibles, used by cocaine traffickers to evade detection, By Chris Kraul. Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2008.

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But law enforcement officers here have dubbed him "Captain Nemo," after the dark genius of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." They say the 45-year-old has designed and built as many as 20 fiberglass submarines, strange vessels with the look of sea creatures, for drug traffickers to haul cocaine from this area of southern Colombia to Central America and Mexico.

Capping a three-year investigation that involved U.S. and British counter-narcotics agents, Colombia's FBI equivalent, the Department of Administrative Security, arrested Portocarrero last month in the violent port city of Buenaventura, where he allegedly led a double life as a shrimp fisherman.

A day later, they descended on Portocarrero's hidden "shipyard" in a mangrove swamp 20 miles south of here and destroyed two of the vessels, which police say were each capable of carrying 8 tons of cargo.
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Old 12-16-2008   #140
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National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 (18.7 MB pdf)
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DTOs rapidly adapt to law enforcement and policy initiatives that disrupt their drug trafficking operations. Law enforcement and intelligence reporting revealed several strategic shifts by DTOs in drug production and trafficking in 2007 and early 2008, attributed in part to the success of counterdrug agencies in disrupting the operations of DTOs. Many of these shifts represent immediate new challenges for policymakers and resource planners. The National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 outlines the progress and emerging counterdrug challenges in detailed strategic findings, including the following:

• Mexican DTOs represent the greatest organized crime threat to the United States.
• Violent urban gangs control most retail-level drug distribution nationally, and some have relocated from inner cities to suburban and rural areas.
• Cocaine is the leading drug threat to society. Methamphetamine is the second leading drug threat, followed by marijuana, heroin, pharmaceutical drugs, and MDMA respectively.
• Cocaine availability levels in the United States are lower than 2005 and 2006 levels.
• Domestic methamphetamine production is projected to surpass 2007 levels.
• To increase domestic methamphetamine production, individuals and criminal groups are increasingly circumventing state and federal pseudoephedrine and ephedrine sales restrictions.
• The level of domestic outdoor cannabis cultivation is very high and possibly increasing.
• Marijuana potency has increased to the highest level ever recorded.
• Lucrative northeastern white heroin markets are attracting Mexican DTOs that distribute Mexican black tar or brown powder heroin.
• Southwest and Southeast Asian heroin availability and distribution are limited.
• The level of prescription drug abuse is very high, and individuals are able to acquire these drugs from numerous sources.
• Asian DTOs are producing MDMA in large clandestine laboratories in Canada.
Complete 94-page document available at the link.
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