Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Marky Mark + Clooney + Spike Jonez + Ice Cube = IHL violations

...And people say I'm bad at math...

Three Kings is one of those movies that fits nicely with that "Some people and things can't be a good example, so they will just have to be a horrible warning" saying that my mother still says to me to this day (usually after I've been hysterical about a poorly executed attempt to date someone.) Clooney and his group of misfit soldiers surely are not a good example of military behavior. They do, however, very effectively serve as horrible warnings.

I really think that John Ridley and David O. Russell wanted their viewers to see The Three Kings as heroes, not as violators of IHL. If I were less aware of what the ICRC stood for or what the Geneva Conventions are about, I think I might have seen the US soldiers in this movie as heroes as well. Can anyone, cynical though we all are, honestly say they weren't a little moved at the end of the film by the Iraqi IDPs who were allowed to cross the border into Iran because of Teh Clooney, Marky Mark and Ice Cube?

That being said, there are obvious violations of IHL in this film, perpetrated both by the US soldiers and Iraqi soldiers/insurgents. Here are my top three (aka - most glaringly obvious/most offensive)

1. Marky Mark shoots an Iraqi with a gun who is in some sort of military garb. The Iraqi was waving a white cloth.

This is a violation of the Geneva Conventions that state that enemy combatants who are captured or who surrender must be treated humanely. Further, once the Iraqi soldier was shot, one of the US soldiers had his picture taken with the body - another violation of the humane treatment rule.

2. Marky Mark is taken as a hostage/prisoner of war and is tortured by the Iraqi insurgent.

This one is a pretty obvious violation of pretty much every IHL on the books. From the forced drinking of the crude oil to the electrocution, this example is pretty cut and dry and is codified in the 1984 Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

3. US Soldiers break the ceasefire agreement between Iraq and the US while in the town where the Kuwaiti booty is hidden.

I'm not sure what the deal actually was during the Gulf War for the ceasefire between Iraq and the US. Perhaps I should have researched that a little. Based on what I saw in the film, the ceasefire was treated as a simple armistice between hostile nations, which is codified by the Korean Armistice Agreement according to Crimes of War 2.0.

The more I sit and think about Three Kings, the more I realize how much war and the whole "war heroes" mentality is being glamorized in this film. But I tend to be one of those people who likes nearly every movie I see (because I'm just that easily entertained by loud noises, perfectly timed use of music and pretty faces) so I'm going to admit that I enjoyed watching Three Kings (when I wasn't covering my eyes or weeping.)

Entertainment factors aside, this film is actually a pretty useful and dramatic way of showing how hard it is for rank and file members of a state's military to both know IHL and remember to adhere to IHL in bello.


Poox2000 said...

Typo to be, but also v. amusing. You a good eye to have!


Mercedes said...

Yeah. You are teh r0x0rz!

(I think Dr. Carpenter is officially horrified by our generation.)

Poox2000 said...

On the issue of reparations owed by Iraq to Kuwait, the text of UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 1991 makes provisions for the return of looted goods, claims for unreturned goods, handling Iraq's international debt and the use of oil proceeds to pay for all of this. (Para. 16-20,

I do wonder what states without endless oil wealth are to do when forced to pay reparations... we all know the danger of excessive reparations (Versailles Treaty) but what happens in modern times?

Peace Turkey said...

Mercedes -- w00t!

Poox -- This is a really good point. I mean not only is it interesting to think how a non-oil rich country could afford to pay reparations, but also, because of the nature of warfare these days, how will reparations even be feasible? Sure the US is technically at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we're not really at war with the states themselves anymore are we? It's more like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and those unbiquitous "insurgents" we always hear about. How are we going to get Al-Qaeda to pay reparations to the states where they committed terrorism? Will the reparation culture eventually disappear simply because there is no way to practically apply such a norm anymore?

Pitt ROW Student said...

Your math couldn't be more spot on! I agree that the makers of the film were trying to go for that, "Look at America, isn't she great? She screwed people for personal gain, but hey, in the end she did the right thing." Sound familiar?

Mercedes said...

I am just thankful that it was vaguely more subtle than that scene in Independence Day when the British receive Morse code from the Americans. "It's a message from the Americans!" "It's about bloody time!" As if the rest of the world would be completely incapable of retaliating against an alien attack without our leadership. Pfft.

b2bomber said...

I do not think the Americans are portrayed as either the good or the bad guys. I think that the situation can be argued from both sides - if they had not gone to the village than the Iraqi refugees would not have been saved, however,are portrayed as thieves through out the film, which is not socially or legally acceptable in American society. I think the opening scene of the film does not necessarily demonstrate a violate IHL because the man did not put down his gun. If the man has put down his gun, then I would agree that it was a violation of IHL.