Prosecuting Israelis? (Townhall.com) September 30, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
Tags: International Law
Many close observers ofPalestine’s bid for statehood at the U.N. believe their primary motive is to join the International Criminal Court and seek charges againstIsraelfor war crimes inGaza. But it’s not at all clear that will happen.
The Palestinian Authority has worked for over two years to get the ICC to bring charges and the Prosecutor rightly seems reluctant to wade into those political waters. Even at the U.N., the Secretary General has declined to comment on whether “observer state” status would permitPalestineto join the ICC, and some believe he will try to avoid the issue as long as possible.
The fact is that U.N. bureaucrats and international courts should not decide the complex diplomatic, political and military questions that characterize theIsraelandPalestineconflict. These should be, and whatever the U.N. decides about statehood, will ultimately have to be decided through diplomatic negotiations.
To listen to the audio please click here: http://townhall.com/talkradio/dailycommentary/622190
Governor could improve voters’ trust in government w/Lenny Mendonca (San Francisco Chronicle) September 28, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Newspaper Columns/Essays.
Gov. Jerry Brown says he has 600 bills on his desk, but many he will not sign because “there’s not 600 problems that we need those solutions for.” We suggest he locate and sign two bills, SB14 and SB15, that help solve two of his biggest problems: the annual budget mess and the lack of public trust in Sacramento’s leadership, which voters say are closely linked.
Performance-based budgeting, the focus of SB14, has been recommended in California by independent commissions for years. It requires the state to identify program objectives when it spends money, as well as how much meeting those objectives should cost, and requires analysis of whether these goals are met. This approach is not fancy or complicated – in fact, it’s Budgeting 101 in the private sector, and 25 states already use it in some form.
SB15 focuses on another big problem by requiring multiyear planning for budget revenues and expenses. The state needs tools to get a handle on its damaging boom-or-bust tax and spending cycles, and this is a good start. Again, you’d be hard-pressed to find major entities, public or private, that don’t do this, and it is high time it be required in California.
In one sense, these bills represent basic blocking and tackling, fiscal reforms that the state sorely needs. But at a broader level, signing them sends a message to frustrated Californians that Sacramento will get its fiscal house in order and begin to rebuild trust with the people. We co-chaired California’s first-ever statewide deliberative poll this summer, in which a scientifically selected, random sample of 412 Californians was given an in-depth opportunity to deliberate on the state’s problems and potential solutions. It wasn’t a pretty picture on the problem side:
– More than 2 out of 3 California voters question whether the Legislature can “get important things done.”
– Nine out of 10 voters don’t trust the Legislature to make difficult budgeting decisions without showing exactly how major new programs or tax cuts will be paid for.
– Voters believe 39 cents of every new tax $1 will be wasted.
Still, these weekend deliberators said, they have faith that things can be changed and improved, calling for precisely the kind of measures now on the governor’s desk, and then some:
– 83 percent said each annual budget should be accompanied by a long-term plan for revenue and expenses (as called for in SB15).
– 88 percent would require legislators to say how they will pay for new programs or tax cuts of $25 million or more.
– 84 percent would limit one-time revenue “spikes” to one-time expenditures, such as paying down debt or filling the state rainy-day fund.
In effect, Californians were saying to their Legislature: We want to trust but verify good fiscal practices. And, by the way, with greater transparency and controls of these kinds, the people said they were optimistic that many of the state’s problems could begin to be solved.
Perhaps California has embarked on a season of reform – beginning with redistricting and open primaries on the political side, and now with an opportunity to enact performance-based budgeting and long-term financial forecasting on the fiscal side. These small steps could be the tugboats that move our ship of state in a new direction, and begin restoring people’s trust and confidence in California governance.
David Davenport, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Lenny Mendonca, a director of McKinsey and Company, co-chaired the bipartisan California Deliberative Poll project (www.nextca.org).
This article appeared on page A – 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle
A Central Part of the Palestinian Identity (‘The Frank Gaffney Show’ Secure Freedom Radio) September 27, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Interview Podcasts.
Tags: International Law
With JAMES ROCHE, ANDY MCCARTHY, DAVID DAVENPORT
Will the reality of a Russian government run by the admittedly authoritarian Vladimir Putin translate into a hurdle for the Obama administration? Frank opens today’s Secure Freedom radio with his thoughts on the subject. When Putin officially becomes President again, this will be the first time in Moscow since 2000 that Russia will acknowledge that there is no power center besides this one man. The Obama administration, as displayed in the past, is completely helpless in stopping this authoritarian rule from continuing. The current administration’s policy towards the Russian government has been based on appeasement of its leaders. Thus, Russian strategic forces are being upgraded with new weapons, as the United States must downgrade its own. By passing the New START treaty, the Obama administration has stopped any production for new nuclear technology and has only forced the US to cut up our long-range nuclear weapons. Why are we allowing such an atrocity to occur while the Russians are able to keep their short-range missiles?
Contributing Editor for National Review Online and weekly commentator on Secure Freedom Radio, Andy McCarthy discusses his desire and America’s need for a competent President during these trying times. In the words of Ambassador John Bolton, President Obama is the “First Post-American President,” who is rejecting American exceptionalism and innovation. McCarthy fears what Obama will do in the one and a half years that he has at the helm of American leadership. Now, in order to gain more financial backing for his re-election campaign, he is catering his policies more towards the Jewish minority. Hurting the situation, the President maintains an ignorant view of foreign policy in regards to Palestine. His administration believes that most Palestinians are in favor of an Israeli state, whereas data suggests that over 90% of Palestinians in their early teens through early 30s deny that Israel has a right to exist. How can our leaders expect the numbers to be any different when it is as central to the Palestinian identity that Israel needs to be destroyed as the First Amendment is to Americans?
Research Fellow and Counselor to the Director at the Hoover Institution, David Davenport gives us a legal lesson on the qualifications for statehood. Currently in international law, there is no clearly defined test to determine whether a territory is or is not a state. There is also no clear body that has the power to recognize a nation as such. However, there are four traditional criteria that determine the legitimacy of a state. The two most important of these criteria are that the state must have a clearly defined territory and have control over this territory. Palestine does not fulfill either of these requirements; therefore, it cannot be considered for statehood. Davenport thinks that the reason they are asking for statehood now is due to their frustration with the Two-State Agreement failing between the cracks.
To Listen to the Podcast please click: http://www.securefreedomradio.org/2011/09/27/a-central-part-of-the-palestinian-identity/
Palestinians eye a can of courtroom worms (The Washington Times) September 22, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Newspaper Columns/Essays.
Tags: International Law
One interesting question raised by the Palestinian statehood initiative at the United Nations is how this will affect the role of the International Crimical Court (ICC) in skirmishes between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Gaza and in other conflict zones. Some assert that triggering ICC prosecutions of Israeli soldiers and government officials for war crimes is a primary motive behind Palestine’s push for statehood. But as is often the case in the Middle East, things are more complicated than they appear.
The Palestinian Authority has been pounding on the ICC prosecutors door since January 2009, trying in vain to trigger an investigation into Israel’s alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008. The prosecutor of the ICC initially responded that, because Israel is not a party to the court and the Palestinian Authority is not a state, he had no jurisdiction to investigate. But a few weeks later, he reconsidered, and said he would look more carefully at whether the PA might have enough earmarks of a state to bring an ICC claim.
Following an almost bizarre process, the prosecutor has now been thinking about this question for more than 2 1/2 years. He invited briefs and memoranda on the question, many of which he posted online; he held a forum in which the matter was debated (what prosecutor hosts in-house salons to decide whether to bring a case?); and still no decision. What does that tell us? It may tell us this presents complex policy questions but as a legal matter, his first impression that there is no jurisdiction seems obviously right. More likely it tells us this is a political can of worms that he would like to kick down the road until his term ends next year.
Criminal courts are not proper venues to sort out thorny political, diplomatic, military and strategic questions that characterize the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza and other conflict zones. Criminal judges simply do not have the background and expertise to handle such questions, and empowering an independent prosecutor to run around the world turning conflicts into criminal charges does not serve anyone.
Meanwhile, back at the U.N., it appears the United States is prepared to veto actual statehood for the Palestinians at the Security Council, so that “observer statehood” from the General Assembly is the most likely outcome. Can an “observer state” of the U.N. accede to the Treaty of Rome, which created the ICC, and therefore bring a matter before the prosecutor for investigation? And who decides that? These questions are more difficult than they may seem.
It appears that U.N. officials are already running for cover when such questions are asked. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has declined to state his position on the matter, though there are unconfirmed reports that he has sought a legal opinion that he would not need to make that decision. Another U.N. official has reportedly said that the secretary-general should accept a request from an “observer state” to join a treaty on file with the U.N., assuming the Palestinians will surely make one. If it takes a prosecutor two or three years to decide whether a nonstate might have jurisdiction to bring a complaint to the ICC, imagine how long this U.N. dance might go on.
Further, the Treaty of Rome is clear that the court does not have retroactive jurisdiction, so a new state party could not bring a matter from the past (Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09) before the court. So even joining the ICC would not enable the Palestinians to bring a matter to the court immediately. And then there are still very difficult territorial questions that would should be resolved – for example, who actually “controls” Gaza? Further complicating matters, the U.N. Security Council has the power both to initiate and to halt an ICC case. Would the United States try to protect Israel from ICC prosecution through the Security Council? Could it get a majority of council votes to accomplish that? As a new party to the court, would the Palestinians investigate their own alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity?
All this underscores the importance of settling statehood through a diplomatic process, not through appeals to U.N. bureaucrats and criminal courts, where the end result is unanswered questions and unintended consequences.
To view the article please click: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/22/palestinians-eye-a-can-of-courtroom-worms/
One Cent Solution (Townhall.com) September 19, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Radio Commentaries.
When federal deficits get into the trillions of dollars, it’s difficult to get our minds around numbers with 12 zeroes. So some smart people have broken it down to the level of the average family.
Imagine a family with an annual income of $50,000 that is actually spending $80,000 per year and has a credit card debt of $200,000. Then you begin to get the idea.
And let’s be honest, despite all the hue and cry from Washington, the recent actions of Congress really only slowed the rate of increase and, by raising the debt ceiling, gave the family a new credit card to borrow more.
I like the commonsense approach of a bill introduced by Congressman Connie Mack and Senior Mike Enzi – the one percent solution. Let’s cut every dollar the federal government spends by one penny every year for six years, and we’ll balance the budget by 2019.
One way or another, we desperately need a serious commitment to responsible federal spending. And we need it now.
To listen to the audio please click on this link: http://townhall.com/talkradio/dailycommentary/617921
The Reagan Library Debate: Round One of the Two-Man Race (Advancing a Free Society) September 12, 2011Posted by daviddavenport in Policy Articles & Papers.
Political debates rarely live up to their name, much less their hype. It is especially difficult to have any sort of debate when the stage is crowded with multiple candidates, each trying to get in a memorable sound bite or talking point.
But the Republican candidates almost had a debate Wednesday night, as most of them shrank into the background and the two leading contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, squared off. Rick Perry was surprisingly good in his first debate and, even more surprising, he seemed to make Mitt Romney better.
The entire Republican race to date has been an audition to see who would emerge as the second semi-finalist alongside Mitt Romney. Although Michele Bachmann had a brief try-out in that role following her strong finish in the Iowa straw poll, no one really thought she had the staying power to end up there. But Rick Perry, whose appeal appears to be broad and strong, seems likely from day one to make it to the final round with Romney.
As a front-runner in his first debate, it was clear Perry would be a target of the moderators and the other candidates, and he seemed ready for it. The key is that he kept his composure and his smile, shrugged off multiple attacks, and held his ground. He responded to the gang attack with humor, noting he was the “piñata,” and quickly got into a jab and punch with Romney over who had created more jobs as governor. He stood by his rhetoric that Social Security was a “ponzi scheme”—questionable on the substance, but strong on style—and gave as well as he took.
Romney, finally facing a formidable opponent, really seemed to rise to the occasion. Rather than steer the middle of the road with bland responses as he has done most of the year, Romney attacked Perry’s record as governor and was spirited in the defense of his own. You don’t understand Massachusetts, he said. We don’t have oil wells and no state income tax. And he was a gentleman when Perry acknowledged he might have handled a matter better with the Texas legislature, noting that we had all made mistakes, had done things we might do differently.
This is rapidly becoming a two-man race, and a potentially interesting one at that. Romney has the experience of running before and a huge head start in fundraising. His strength—the economy—matches what voters say is their biggest concern. I have a friend who says Romney’s best campaign speech would simply mention jobs and his ability to understand and create them about every third sentence. But his conservative credentials are subject to attack and somehow he seems to impress voters as running for chief operating officer more than president.
Perry is the candidate with, as they say these days, strong positives but also strong negatives. In a political party with so many different kinds of conservatives (social, fiscal, constitutional, religious), Perry seems to be conservative across the board. And though it will be attacked, still his record in Texas speaks well to the big issue of the day: the economy. His problem—which was not helped in this debate—is he doesn’t yet seem to get the difference between running for office in Texas and nationally. His rhetoric and ideas (social security as a ponzi scheme, should Texas secede from the Union, a governor leading a huge Christian prayer rally) often fit Texas more than they do the greater diversity of the country. He clearly needs some help outgrowing his parochialism, without seeming to be reinventing himself or flip-flopping (as Romney is often accused of doing).
So, they’re off, these two interesting, contrasting candidates, Perry and Romney. Soon enough, the other candidates will fall to the wayside, and we may end up with a compelling two-man race to the Republican nomination next summer.
Read the entire piece on Advancing a Free Society here: http://www.advancingafreesociety.org/2011/09/12/round-one/