Monday, February 21, 2011

Raymond Davis and Bad Allies Revisited

Before I comment on the Raymond Davis situation, let me call your attention to a post I wrote over two years ago called, "Bad Allies." Among others, I identified both Egypt and Pakistan as bad U.S. allies, with Pakistan at the head of the list. In light of the recent events in Egypt, here's what I had to say back then.
the Egyptians basically despise the U.S., take our money and weapons, and unlike the Saudis, provide us with nothing. Could we actually count on Egypt in any sort of crisis? Of course not. Egypt is a powder keg with strong radical Islamist elements, kept in check by a vicious dictatorship. Even more than Saudi Arabia, our alliance is with the government only. The people hate us. It could go from ally to enemy overnight, similar to what happened with Iran.
Well, the powder keg went off, now the only question is whether it will produce harmless fireworks or a nasty damaging explosion. As for Pakistan,
It's basically an ally in name only, and has only cooperated somewhat during the war on terror because the Bush administration put extreme pressure on it. Our relationship with Pakistan has prevented us from having closer ties with India, which, aside from being larger and more important, is actually a democratic state and should be a natural U.S. ally.
We now have a situation where Pakistan is holding an American consular employee, Raymond Davis, who apparently killed two men who were trying to rob him. A third man was also struck and killed by a consular vehicle responding to the incident. The LA Times has a brief synopsis of the incident,
At the time of the incident, Davis had been working out of the U.S. consulate in Lahore. He claims he fired in self-defense after the two men, Faizan Haider and Fahim Shamshad, pulled up on a motorcycle and one of them pulled out a gun. Davis fired several shots through his car's windshield, then got out of the car and continued to fire, witnesses said. A police report on the incident states Haider was shot three times in the front of his body and twice in the back. Shamshad also was shot five times, twice in the back. Pakistani police officials have said both Haider and Shamshad belonged to a local robbery gang and had stolen cellphones with them.
Despite the fact that even Pakistani police report that the men were known criminals, the anti-American populace, filled with conspiracy theories involving the CIA, wants vengeance on the evil American enemy. They want Davis tried for murder and executed. The weak Pakistani government is caught between the wishes of its population and its alliance with the U.S., a relationship that includes massive American aid. The Washington Post covers the complicated diplomatic issues in its "Fact Checker" column, and then gutlessly refuses to take a position. But it does offer the following statement.
If the State Department is correct and Davis was identified as a member of the embassy's administrative and technical staff when he arrived in Pakistan -- and he was accepted by Pakistan on that basis -- then he should be covered by the Vienna Convention and receive diplomatic immunity, no matter what his job was or how heinous his crimes. The United States has upheld that standard in the past, letting alleged criminals go free. It also does not matter what agency Davis works for back in the United States

From this U.S. perspective the situation is obvious. Davis has diplomatic immunity and Pakistan must respect it. So far the Obama administration has acted correctly to defend U.S. interests, insisting that Davis be released to U.S. custody and threatening to cut-off aid if he is not. There should be no compromise on this issue.

In my opinion, if news reports are correct, this case is clear. Davis was the subject of an attempted robbery. The robbers picked the wrong person and he responded with deadly force in self-defense. The number of shots fired, and where the criminals were struck is irrelevant. I have to laugh when I see read the ridiculous justification given by Pakistani police for charging Davis with murder. It sounds just like something you'd hear from some pro-criminal liberal in the West.

Police believe the shootings were unjustified because, although both men were armed with loaded guns, their pistols did not contain a bullet in the chamber. Also, both men had been shot in the back. "If the accused really acted in self-defense, he could have fired one or two shots to the lower limbs of the victims, particularly since he is an expert in using weapons,"
Yeah right. So Davis, alone in a foreign country and accosted by multiple armed men is supposed to know whether or not they have rounds chambered. Let's just ignore the rest of the situation entirely, such as the fact that he was driving and the attackers were on motorcycles. Let's pretend that he could selectively pick shot locations in that type of chaotic situation, and ignore the fact that bullets could strike any part of the body. Had Davis been a Pakistani businessman, police would probably have quickly released him after congratulating him on ridding the streets of a couple of criminal gang members. Davis was charged with murder only because he's an American who killed Pakistanis. The U.S. cannot and should not tolerate trumped up charges against any American, let alone someone with diplomatic immunity. That goes double for a country that is receiving massive amounts of both military and humanitarian aid from the U.S.

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