Nul points

America’s moral standing is lower than Afghanistan’s, according to the British Army.

A certain John Bellinger, legal adviser to the State Department, has been complaining in London that British forces in Afghanistan have actually been applying European human rights standards to their Taliban foes and indeed not even taking them prisoners.

Leave aside the moral warp and look at this as practical foot-in-mouth diplomacy.

(a) The goal of the US is to increase European efforts in Afghanistan, but the war is not popular anywhere in Europe and especially not in Germany and Spain. American indifference to the laws of war is part of the problem, not the solution.

(b) The European Convention on Human Rights, embedded in national laws, is a cornerstone of the European constitutional order. Applied to military operations, it works SFIK as a backstop to the Geneva Conventions, adding individual remedies rather than new rights. Attacking it is offensive and stupid. The British Ambassador in Washington probably thinks that the USA should ditch the Second Amendment and ban handguns, but he’s not going to say so.

The London Ministry of Defence says Bellinger doesn’t know what he is talking about:

British defence officials expressed puzzlement at Bellinger’s remarks. “British forces are undergoing detention operations in Afghanistan; there is no suggestion that they have been scared off,” said one.

Finally we get to the real reason for Bellinger’s huff (my italics):

British commanders have asked for assurances any detainees handed over to the Afghan authorities will be treated properly, and not passed to the US.

McCain and Palin repeatedly describe America as “the greatest force for good in the world.” But conservative British Army officers, not human rights activists, place its government’s moral standing below that of Afghanistan.

In the the dire annual Eurovision Song Contest, some entries are so bad (against very stiff competition) that nobody votes for them. The announcement is “nul points”.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web