I’m afraid most of the lessons of Nuremberg have passed, unfortunately. The world has accepted them, but the U.S. seems reluctant to do so. The principal lesson we learned from Nuremberg is that a war of aggression — that means, a war in violation of international law, in violation of the UN charter, and not in self-defense — is the supreme international crime, because all the other crimes happen in war.

Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz as quoted by Glenn Greenwald.

This point was similarly brought up by Telford Taylor, another Nuremberg prosecutor (in fact, one of the chief prosecutors for the United States), in regards to the Vietnam War. Taylor more so pointed out how the bombings of villages suspected of harboring enemies in North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were "flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention on Civilian Protection". I suspect he would find President Obama in similar contempt (to say nothing of the disgusting practices of the Israeli armed forces).

And again, what makes the “War on Terror” particularly disgusting and unjust (and, if we are to learn anything from Nuremberg, prosecutable) is that it twists the head off of the idea that war (and especially war of aggression) is in itself one of the most heinous crimes as it inevitably causes a cavalcade of subsequent and related injustices.

Unlike the Saddams, Milosevics and Pol Pots, our war criminals never receive the same opprobrium and punishment. They usually live long, comfortable lives, are celebrated as honorable statesmen and women who nobly served the nation’s interests. Alexander Haig reminds us that imperial double standards remain very much in place, something that Bush, Cheney, and Obama are doubtless happy to know.

Dennis Perrin (via azspot)

I may have said this before (I’ve been studying the Nuremberg Trials for over a year now for work), but at least one of the lawyers involved with trying Nazi war criminals felt that American actions in Vietnam were equally criminal. I’m sure he would have felt the same about the current disgusting war in Iraq.

Also, this quote highlights why Polanski’s new movie is an utter joke. I’m supposed to believe that an American or British politician (particularly one based off of Tony Blair, particularly when the CIA is involved) is concerned about being tried for war crimes? This is supposed to be suspense? I’m more likely to believe the events of Harry Potter as political/realistic suspense.

Like something straight out of Gravity’s Rainbow

Today I came across a folder sloppily titled "Barber Shop" Singing Problem. Promising.

The first document is a memo from the War Department, Civil Affairs Division, 1947:

Inclosed [sic] is a copy of a letter dated 14 May 1947, addressed to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, from the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc.

I’d be delighted enough with just that, but it gets so much better! In the aforementioned letter the SPEBSQSA Inc. (yes, their ACTUAL acronym), concerned with a bulletin banning Barber Shop Quartet singing among American and Allied personnel in Germany, states their case:

Baber Shop singing is a great morale builder, not only in musical expression, but also on a spiritual basis. The man with a “song in his heart” finds confusion and mistrust giving place to confidence and understanding.

They go on!

In our organization the executive and the common laborer stand elbow to elbow brought together by their common love of singing. If we could only get Stalin and Molotov actually singing in a quartet with Blewin and Marshall, nothing but good could result and they might even agree.

Emphasis on enthusiastic-to-the-point-of-being-nearly-adorable optimism my own. General Telford Taylor comes along to clear up the confusion and save the day with another internal memo:

1. The rule … was solely intended to operate as a check against boisterous and unruly behavior lasting too far into the night.

And we all know how that harmonizing can rile the spirits. Taylor promised to remove the phrase “barber shop” and make the purpose of the rule more clear. The SPEBSQSA Inc. replies with gratitude on their own beautiful stationary with the logo of a barber’s pole positioned in front of a lyre (oh, dear reader, how I wish I had access to a color scanner for you) and where the positions of their International Officers are listed including three different vice-presidents (not to be confused with the separate ”First Vice-President”), a Historian, and an “Immediate Past President” …Are you thinking what I’m thinking? (if you work in archives, you probably are). What sort of crazy names do the members of an organization like this have? Here are some fun examples:

  • W.L. Otto
  • W.D. Common
  • Luman A. Bliss
  • Maynard L. Graft
  • O.C. Cash (the founder! and “Permanent Third Assistant Temporary Vice-Chairman” .. yeah, I know)
  • Virgil E. Pilliod
  • O.H. King Cole (obviously my favorite of the bunch)

THESE are the men who promised, through their motto, to go to great lengths to “KEEP AMERICA SINGING”

These documents and more coming soon to an archive near you. (or not if you don’t live near the city, but you can always count on something equally insane, so keep your eyes peeled)