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April 04, 2006

John Reid

Wonderful, just wonderful:

"We risk trying to fight 21st-century conflict with 20th-century rules which, when they were devised, did not contemplate the type of enemy which is now extant," he said. "The laws of the 20th century placed constraints on us all which enhanced peace and protected liberty. We must ask ourselves whether, as the new century begins, they will do the same."

Well, quite, all those outdated laws meant to protect the individual from the power of the state. They’ll all have to go you know. For after all, aren’t we ruled by the bestest people ever, ones who would never do anything out of order, never constrain those individual liberties, never, never ever, do anything that might shift the balance of power, pulling more of it to the centre?

April 4, 2006 in Military | Permalink


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What does he "the type of enemy which is now extant"? Does he mean people who leave place bombs in public places? Perhaps he should read Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, which was "based on a real-life incident that occurred in Greenwich in 1894".


Posted by: Backword Dave | Apr 4, 2006 12:18:27 PM

Once again, a minister of the crown is demonstrating his complete lack of understnading of the legislation pertaining to his area of responsibility. Given the venue of his speech and the mention of the conventions of war, I think we can assume that Dr Ried was refering to the problems facing the Army overseas rather than the internal security of Great Britain.

The Geneva and Hague conventions are pretty specific as to how an army should conduct itself with respect towards civilians and captured enemy combatants. An occupying army is required to protect and govern any civilians within the area under its control unless there is a recognisable form of government to do this. Troops operating in a governed country are required to obey the laws of that country according to agreements made between Britain and the host nation.

With respect to combatants, they are to be treated in accordance with the provisions of the conventions provided that they meet certain criteria; namely that they be wearing an identifiable uniform and that they be under the control of a command structure. Combatants who fail to meet these requirements (being found under arms while out of uniform being the classic case) may be treated as criminals and can be punished accordingly, up to and including being shot. Again the extent of the punishment is dictated by the laws of the Army's own nation and those of any host government that may be in office.

It's actually all the Human Rights legislation and policies introduced by this government that are confusing the issue. NuLabour, in a fanfare of good intentions brought in a great deal of legislation in its early years in office. It has also accepted wholesale regulations imposed by the eu (unlike the French who excluded their military from some of the more impractical aspects of eu law).

British troops are now expected not only to conduct operations according to law, but with a mind to possible reactions from human rights ambulance chasers (of whom the PM's wife is one)ever on the outlook to boost their own standing (and pocketbooks) by trying to apply peacetime mores to the conduct of military operations.

Not that Dr Ried is ever likely to admit that he and his idealistic chums are part of the problem. Expect more hamfisted legislation with consequences far from the intention.


Posted by: The Remittance man | Apr 4, 2006 2:05:06 PM

"did not contemplate the type of enemy which is now extant" ...
yes indeed, in the old days it was merely nazi germany and imperial japan etc whereas today its a few muslim lads with some tupperware tubs of homemade explosives etc.

Posted by: johnny bonk | Apr 4, 2006 2:22:23 PM