Incarcerate warmongers!

The national elections in the U.S. are over, not all results are finalized yet - but a new season has already begun: The season of the warmongers. There's rarely a day without a new 'contribution' to the warmongering against Iran - political 'strategists', senators, pundits - the 2006 fashion of warmongering against Iran is back in force (and I will certainly not link to such crap!).

Let me show you how Germans would handle them:

§ 80 Vorbereitung eines Angriffskrieges

Wer einen Angriffskrieg (Artikel 26 Abs. 1 des Grundgesetzes), an dem die Bundesrepublik Deutschland beteiligt sein soll, vorbereitet und dadurch die Gefahr eines Krieges für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland herbeiführt, wird mit lebenslanger Freiheitsstrafe oder mit Freiheitsstrafe nicht unter zehn Jahren bestraft.

§ 80a Aufstacheln zum Angriffskrieg

Wer im räumlichen Geltungsbereich dieses Gesetzes öffentlich, in einer Versammlung oder durch Verbreiten von Schriften (§ 11 Abs. 3) zum Angriffskrieg (§ 80) aufstachelt, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe von drei Monaten bis zu fünf Jahren bestraft.

This was an excerpt from the German criminal code. It basically says that you go to jail for no less than ten years if you prepare a war of aggression and you go to jail for at the very least three months for spurring people for a war of aggression.

These paragraphs are extremely rarely used; they seem to work quite well.

A member of parliament would be stripped off its immunity by the parliament and be sent to court and then jail for one of these crimes, too.

Thugs belong into jail, and thugs who are guilty of promoting the second-worst crime ever invented by mankind certainly belong into jail for a long time - not in the headlines, or commentaries of national newspapers, not on national TV shows and certainly not into the legislative or even government.

Sven Ortmann


  1. Fortunately here in the U.S. we actually have something called freedom of speech. We don't criminalize foreign policy thoughts, observations or recommendations.

    Unfortunately, sometimes military action or wars are necessary, and views on that necessity often differ. There's a reasonable case to be made that a war with Iran -- particularly at this time -- would be a bad idea. Demonizing people as "warmongers," and actually calling for them to be jailed because you disagree with them politically, is a great way to get anything you write dismissed out of hand by everyone who doesn't already agree with you.

  2. Yes, we must jail people who think differently than we do, otherwise the fascists may win...

    I always find peoples blind acceptance that it is the duty of the unelected state to impose its morality on the people, by violence if required, deeply disturbing.

  3. @UNRR: Unfortunately, it's a farce. Your TV personalities and stations get fined if they use certain words on-screen.
    Your freedom of speech is limited as it is anywhere; you must not insult, you must not lie under oath, you must not motivate someone else to commit a crime.
    Likewise, it would be no problem to outlaw the motivation of the second-worst crime with a speech.

  4. @TRT: So you do not want any criminal code at all? You seem to find the state and the absence of anarchy deeply disturbing.

    Someone who talks another one into killing a person is a criminal and gets sent to jail everywhere. Arguing for a war of aggression is the same on a many orders of magnitude larger scale.

  5. Sven
    No, I'm all for the rule of law, far more than most infact. I simply see a difference between "thou Shalt not damage property of another" and "thou shalt not think in a manner I deem subversise".

    The simple fact is the US does not deem killing in war murder, so incitement to murder, a reasonable law in many circumstances, does not apply.

    Now, if said pundits were trying to raise their own armed force with which to make war on Iran, that would be different, instead they are simply arguing that the legal action of the legaly elected government of the USA should be to take military action.

    I (probably) wouldnt vote for a candidate who wished to commit the UK to war, in Iran, but its tyranical in the extreme to prevent that candidate running or others voting for him.

    What next, its illegal to incite people to vote against Angela Merkal?
    Its illegal to run against Angela Merkal?
    Its illegal for anyone not to consider the word of Angela Merkal the word of God and obey it without fail?

    I dont believe it is the job of the state to enforce morality.
    That wars of aggression are wrong is a moral opinion.

  6. It's not about morality, but about illegality and your strawman argument doesn't help. Voting for Merkel is NOT recognized to be a crime as defined by the legal system. Your equivalency is false.

    I understand that a state first needs to recognize for real and not just for show that a war of aggression is a crime before it can punish those who prepare or argue for its commitment.

    Yet, once that's done and the hypocrisy gone away, you cannot escape the fact that there's a logic line from recognizing a crime to its entry into the criminal code, complete with its preparation and proposal - as is done with all severe crimes.

    This is either not about moral at all or the whole criminal code is about moral.

  7. "Voting for Merkel is NOT recognized to be a crime as defined by the legal system. "
    Neither is War.

    How about this.
    Should a political party be allowed to form that wishes to make it legal for men to have sex with young boys?
    Not, would you vote for them, simply, should they be allowed the same legal rights as everyone else, to agitate for political action.

    I wouldnt vote for them, you wouldnt vote for them, but if they win, thats an unfortunate side effect of democracy.

  8. Again a strawman. This is not about war, but about wars of aggression.

    The UK committed four times to banning this, for example; Kellogg-Briand Pact, Nurembourg Trials, Charter of the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty.

    It's hardly my argument's fault if a nation can be hypocritical enough to fail to draw the legal consequences of its four times banning of a crime, down to actually sanctioning it for its own citizens instead of only for defeated enemies.

  9. Except Laws can be changed.

    It was once illegal for women to vote.
    Do you think anyone who campaigned for the law to be changed to allow women to vote should have been jailed?

    Homosexuality was once illegal.
    Do you think anyone who campaigned for that law to be changed was guilty of incitement to homosexual acts and deserved to be jailed?

    "The UK committed four times to banning this"
    The UK didnt commit to anything, the UK Government at the time commited to it.
    Governments are replaced.
    There judgements are overturned.

  10. No, that's hypocrisy.

    The UK is still a member of these treaties. It's just hypocritical and expects others to live up to their commitments when it itself is not willing to meet all its commitments (or drop them officially = leaving the treaty).

    That's hypocrisy, not a legal argument.

  11. "It was once illegal for women to vote.
    Do you think anyone who campaigned for the law to be changed to allow women to vote should have been jailed?"

    You missed the rather important bit.

    Your arguement is that it should be illegal to argue that the law should be changed, that is madness.

  12. There's a substantial difference between arguing for a change of a law and arguing that a country should attack another one for greed or out of arrogance, inevitably killing hundreds to millions of people and destroying great wealth.

    Banned - understood to be a crime - crime sanctioned - preparation of crime sanctioned - spurring for crime sanctioned.

    You are not discussing a crime with your example, but the lack of a legal right. There's not just lacking the legal right to commit a war of aggression - it's internationally outlawed and understood to inflict huge damage.

  13. "These paragraphs are extremely rarely used; they seem to work quite well."

    Erm...isnt Kosovo 1999 the prime example why these paragraphs have actually no meaning at all?

  14. "Unfortunately, it's a farce. Your TV personalities and stations get fined if they use certain words on-screen."

    A minor obscenity exception for public broadcasting hardly means a right to free speech is non-existent.

    "Your freedom of speech is limited as it is anywhere"

    That's pretty obviously untrue.

    "you must not insult"

    Since when? I must have missed when insulting people became a crime in the U.S.

    "you must not lie under oath"

    Again, another specific, limited exception to free speech.

    "you must not motivate someone else to commit a crime.

    "Likewise, it would be no problem to outlaw the motivation of the second-worst crime with a speech. "

    Actually it would be a gigantic problem. First because your personal definition of what constitutes a political "crime" is not shared by a majority in the U.S., and second, because criminalizing political viewpoints would be an obvious violation of the first amendment that would quickly be struck down in any court in the U.S.

  15. The Kosovo thing wasn't as much a criminal law problem as it was a problem of a questionable interpretation by the Constitutional Court.
    That's a different (and serious) problem.

  16. Sven, been coming here a long time, and I agree with you on a lot (specifically, I don't think the risks on hitting Iran outweigh the benefits, didn't think so about Iraq, either).

    But when you begin to turn to politics, you turn into a double-speaking mitteleuropan of modern horror. Specifically, your theory that all relagations on free speech are the same: as contentious a piece of (I can think of no other word that captures the accuracy of what I need to purvey) horseshit. Limiting the immediate incitement to violence is an entirely separate class from all curbs on political speech, and what's more, I suspect you're not so stupid to believe what you're saying.

    I don't believe you don't see any categorical difference between the immediate and direct incitement to violence (which is the US code, actually stating "immediate, direct and integral incitement", with 'integral' being a lawyer word for 'unmistakable intent').

    Simply because you seem to understand otherwise quite complex notions, I distrust what you say about limiting speech you just don't like. The incitement to immediate violence does not, for one point, involve an obvious value judgment of even more obvious use to a particular point on the political spectrum.

    The places where America fails in that regard are precisely where they need to be fixed: political correctness, as used as a form of political enforcement, does really limit freedom, that is obviously true. But you using whatever lapses the Americans have only begs the original question: why should the US look on that as anything but a failure to keep free speech instead of an argument for more limits?

    I've been to your country, and it was very pleasant. It was, however, the most pinched place I'd ever been, and I for one (after a half century of de-Nazification) could immediately see where your society could lean that way: your instinctual hatred of freedom (making your main title rather dubious)- I don't know, I just thought maybe you'd like to try actual freedom as a remedy to repression this time. Instead your country seemed to be a strange daguerreotype of Nazi Germany. However I hesitate to use that as a kind of semi-trope; it seems unfair for a limited (five month) trip to just one place inside Germany to make a definitive judgment on a people (as, ahem, certain types love to do about one nation in particular), but the lack of want for freedom seemed to me integral to everyone I knew there. It certainly effected every political conversation I had (the arrogance of which was breathtaking).

    I don't know, Sven- if you don't see the problem of slippery slopes in restriction of speech (which, I quickly note, Weimar had plenty of), I have to say you're either stupid or a hypocrite. There doesn't seem to be a way for you to hold your opinion without immediate contradictions, as the Marxists say.

    I have to admit, I don't really believe you'll post this. But then, I guess that will be par for the course.

    Anyway, I hope this doesn't seem facetious, but I do come to your blog every day to see other matters: you are almost always an interesting read.

  17. @UNRR: Well, if person A expresses its opinion that person B better kills person C and it's actually imaginable that this leads to B killing C, then your first amendment does nothing. Same here, just several orders of magnitude greater.

    Btw, defamation is a crime in many U.S. states.

    One example of free speech limitation suffices to make it "limited", but I agree that I was obviously not in a good mood when I called it a farce. It's just not unlimited, and honestly, I can only imagine a single reason for its limitation that is better justifiable than the one from this topic.

    Maybe you should think of it less in legal terms; four thousand U.S. soldiers who died for no gain in Iraq could still be alive if the U.S. had had such a law which could restrict the warmongering. Likewise, between one and three trillion USD damage to national wealth could have been averted.

    Now think about the entirely useless involvement of the U.S. in the First World War; 116k less KIA if there had been no warmongering.

    Or imagine what the successful employment of such a law could have done for Italy 1915-1918 or Imperial Japan.

  18. Ahh!

    "Your comment will be visible after approval."

    I guess I have all the information I need to have right there.

    I have to admit I laughed a long time when I saw that, Sven.

  19. @James; there's simply too much at stake with warmongering, especially when great powers are involved.
    A criminal countermeasure has to be used. It would effect only a few dozen or few hundred people who would be obliged to shut up about one specific topic or choose their words carefully - but this setting could save entire nations from destruction.
    Attempt to remember the faces of German cities and compare them with British ones; how many old (60+ years) buildings do you recall?

    Btw; Germans tend to organize a lot (and thoroughly); I guess this contributed to your impression. We prefer a purposeful rule over the lack of a rule coupled with an unsatisfactory outcome.

  20. About the laugh: Actually - no, you don't. It's rather here:

    I don't give trolls a free forum for insults against me, my country, my continent, other commenters et cetera any more. They simply don't deserve it. Same with the robo link spammers.

  21. "There's a substantial difference between arguing for a change of a law and arguing that a country should attack another one for greed or out of arrogance, inevitably killing hundreds to millions of people and destroying great wealth."

    No, there isnt.
    Either you think it should be legal to discuss changing laws, or you dont, there is no middle ground.
    You cant issue a list of areas where its ok to think about changiong laws, and areas nwhere its not, you arent a messenger sent from God.

    I'd also point out its unlikely that anyone has said, "America is greedy and arrogant, therefore we should kill 3x as many iranians as there actualy are and destroy great wealth".

    Again, your outright refusal to accept German Law isnt the standard in the rest of the world is ruining your arguement.
    We know what the German State does to people who disagree with it, we were all forced to see pictures of the camps in school.

    It is perfectly legal in America and the UK for ANYONE to have ANY opinion on foreign policey and to discuss that belief.

    It is perfectly legal for an American (or English) Pundit (or blogger) to point out that supposidly sensible Germans still believe they have the right to dictate what american citizens can and can not talk about.

    The US congress has not passed a law declaring that the US is at war with Iran, therefore it is currently not within US law to make war against Iran. Although probably not specificaly illegal, and therefore legal, it would be hard to carry out without breaking other laws.

    It is well within the rights of any american citizen to argue that the US should be at war with Iran, it is well within the rights of any american to run for for office on that platform, and if enough run and win, it is well within their legal right to start that war.

    That you believe only state dictated morals may be openly discussed is a worrying indictment of the level of freedom in the politic I'm being chained to, but is frankly, irrelevent.

    You cant just jail people who disagree with you, thats what tyrants do.

  22. a little off topic but i feel it contributes to the discussion:

    i (a German btw) have allways wondered about the conflicting values of free speech and the banning of political patys and/or symbols like the swastika and the roman salute.

    My initial feeling is that the ban is correct, and my first impulse is to even extend it to the NPD (a nazi type party) as well.
    But i still feel a little guilty because my usual opinion regarding civil liberties is all about personal freedom.
    I am in the impression that our system is a bit hypocritical in this regard.
    I still think the ban is correct as is even more the banning of wars of aggression.

  23. @TRT:
    I do not dictate; I say you're doing it wrong because you have different priorities based on different learning. It would be really helpful if you changed your ways because warmongering is amongst the most harmful acts to society that are possible. To outlaw & sanction harmful actions to society is the purpose of a criminal code. Warmongering has traditionally been done by those in power; that's more likely than not the reason why it's not outlawed, not freedom of speech considerations.

    Exceptions to basic rights exist where their exploitation causes great harm and this exception can be justified.

    Actually, I think we should drop those bans, for they are extremely primitive and childish approaches to a small problem. Same with the holocaust denial. Those laws were probably smart in the 50's and 60's, but nowadays these actions would be largely self-defeating anyway.

  24. James pretty much made most of my points for me. But you might also consider the idea that people don't share your basic assumptions, and stop pretending your opinions constitute facts.

    It's pretty difficult to respond without laughing to anyone who actually uses the term "warmonger" in a serious way, or who doesn't even seem to understand that what constitutes a "War of Aggression" is highly debatable. But I thought I'd give it a shot, since you are obviously intelligent and well-educated on military affairs.

    Ultimately though, when it comes down to it, all you are doing is advocating the outlawing of speech with which you disagree, based on your own biased assumptions which you mistake for facts. That's a tyrannical position incompatible with freedom. You also apparently don't understand that if speech you disagree with can be banned by law, there is nothing to stop other forms of political speech from being banned also -- including ones which you might agree with. Fortunately that is not going to happen in the U.S. because of the broad interpretation of the first amendment, which rightly protects even highly unpopular forms of political expression such as flag burning.

  25. Isn't it interesting how only anglophone sources seem to dispute that a war of aggression is well-defined after having been defined several times in multilateral treaties and commissions, with consensus!?

    The flag burning example is et another straw man (and here have been many straw men in this page!). The killing of thousands or millions of people and the vast destruction of wealth on the order of billions to trillions of dollars is not even remotely the same league as burning a piece of own property to annoy others.

    The incredibly greater extent of the problem requires a separate consideration of the value of freedom of speech vs. the value of thousands or millions of lives.

    Or, to use a strawman myself for once: An alien species arrives with starships and asks a guy whether he's fine with them erasing mankind and colonizing earth. Do you assert his right to say "yes"?

    Certainly, there need to be limits - and this has been recognized by supreme courts long ago, even yours. The limit is justified with the harm which can be done to the society or individuals. Unlimited free speech is about utopia, not about reality or the legal situation.

    About your "Fortunately hat is not going to happen"; well, fare well with more needless wars, thousands of dead soldiers, poor reputation and trillions in war costs. Its own warmongers did hurt the U.S. a hundred times more than terrorists ever did.
    I wouldn't say that's fortunate, but tastes do differ.

    More importantly; humans can rarely change their opinion once they've firmly assumed one. Let's agree to disagree.

  26. Holy cow, Sven- I didn't even think to check back: I'm surprised and gladened you actually posted my remarks. It didn't occur to me you wouldn't censor them so I didn't bother looking.

    I'll come back later for a detailed response. Hey, that's good of you- I didn't think for a second you'd allow an opinion that went so far counter to your ideas. Good on ya, as the Australians say. I'll be back here tonight (my tonight, your day, I think) or tomorrow (your night).

  27. Hey everyone- I'm sorry to be late on this, but I'll respond to everyone sooner or later.

  28. Sven, I'm going to be taking your argument pieces at a time, so forgive me being rather voluminous in my responses. Oh, and please call me Jim: "there's simply too much at stake with warmongering, especially when great powers are involved. A criminal countermeasure has to be used"

    Nonsense. First, nearly every nation on earth gets along just fine without a statute. Second, the counter-argument is obvious: speaking as one who was against the Iraqi incursion, first strike has obvious existential necessity in many instances, including national survival and genocide in third parties.

    The point is, I can make just as compelling arguments that what you call "warmongering" (one word- Jesus, English really is your second language) is necessary defense. I can also make equally compelling arguments that such a law is a fifth column for foreign powers. I can also...well, let's forget the list: the point is I can make more good arguments against it that you can make for it, which is precisely what free speech is for: deciding what is true by the light of day and treating citizens as adults.

    That you have the law in your country is a laughable defense: you don't think having to come out from under the ashes and rubble of the Third Reich and subsequent dire existential threat from the USSR had to do with your nation being free of aggressive politics? Just maybe? A little?

    I think you *can* get the theory if you just give up the idea that you're a republic with citizens. If not, you can clearly change yourselves to subjects or serfs with a contractual agreement for certain goods and services: just don't calls yourselves free. I actually think it'd be good for Germany: admit you don't care about freedom nonsense and that you have other priorities.

    But this "wanting your cake and eating it too" stuff is just nonsense: you're either basically free except for clearly defined violence and treason or you're not. You chose to be a subject. And that's ok. Just be clear about it.

  29. 'Getting along fine most of the time' leaves room for improvement. Your argument thus fails to justify the "Nonsense" rating.

    Building/joining an alliance and other peace-preserving policies can very often replace a strategic surprise attack. True preventive wars were rarely backed up by public warmongering anyway. It tends to take away the strategic surprise.
    Intervention vs. genocide is a huge challenge and problem. It's also historically one of the most rare reasons for war.

    Feel free to make your arguments, not just hint at them. I could hint at having a hundred times better and more arguments than you do, but seriously; who cares about such hints?

    Your "free" vs. "subject" rhetoric doesn't convince me the least.

    Free citizens agree on certain norms to sanction and thus suppress antisocial behaviour. Warmongers work towards events that inevitably cause great harm to the society.
    It's not a loss of freedom to ban such behaviour - not more than to prohibit for example insider trading, which is by comparison utterly harmless.