“We must either love each other, or…”: “Daisy,” LBJ’s antinuke ad, turns 50

Today’s the 50th anniversary of “Daisy.” That’s the 60-minute TV advertisement in which a toddler‘s miscount to 10 morphs into a military backcount to 1; simultaneously, her right eye shapeshifts into a mushroom cloud whose explosion wreaks devastation. (Video above.)

“Daisy” helped propel President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had taken office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy less than a year earlier, to a landslide November 1964 win against GOP challenger Barry Goldwater. It’s worth noting for more than that, though. One wonders, for instance, whether the powerful symbolism inspired later Flower Power protests (protests against the escalation of Vietnam, undertaken by post-election President Johnson), not to mention masthead_posterLorraine Schneider’s iconic sunflower poster (right).

Even filtered through the lens of campaign bluster, moreover, the core sentence in “Daisy” has contemporary relevance:

‘We must either love each other, or we must die.’

Schabas outlines Gaza Commission work

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Readers no doubt are well aware that in July the U.N. Human Rights Council resolved to set up

an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Soon after, the Council’s President, Ambassador Baudelaire Ndong Ella of Gabon, announced appointments to the Gaza Commission: as finally constituted, the commission comprises a chair, Professor William A. Schabas of Canada, who holds academic posts at inter alia London’s Middlesex Law and the Netherlands’ Leiden Law, along with 2 members: Dr. Doudou Diène of Senegal, who has served in the past as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and also as its Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire; and Mary McGowan Davis of the United States, formerly a state trial judge and federal prosecutor in New York.

The appointment of Schabas, my longtime colleague, was met with astounding commentary from some sectors. In the 9-minute video pictured above and available here – an interview broadcast yesterday on CNN – Schabas responds to that critique. He further outlines the work of the commission going forward, as well as its potential interrelation with the work of the International Criminal Court.

Munch’s magic Oslo “Scream”

blackOSLO –  Remember the famous Edvard Munch image of The Scream? Well, that’s it at left. At least, that’s how it looked to me on first glimpse at the Munchmuseet, a highlight of this Norwegian capital.

A while back, thieves stole The Scream and another painting, Madonna, from this museum. Both eventually were recovered and again placed on display. But The Scream suffered damage. And so when I entered the small room where it hangs, I found nothing but darkness, so much that I began to leave. Suddenly, an unseen guard said:

‘No, wait. Magic will happen.’

As I inched again into the room, a motion-sensor was triggered, and The Scream emerged from the blackness. The 1893 oil painting’s bright colored swirls madonnawere more brilliant, more moving in person than in any reproduction –  so much more expressive than Munch’s black and white lithograph of the same image. True magic.

A ban on photography in that room precludes showing any but the “before” picture. But the photo at right of the other formerly stolen painting, Madonna, serves to remind of Munch’s eerie genius.

(Thanks to Cecilia Marcela Bailliet and her colleagues at the University of Oslo PluriCourts project for the opportunity to visit and take part in a brilliant conference.)

International Review of the Red Cross review of Jess Bravin’s “Terror Courts”

bravin3As I’ve indicated in prior posts, among the more significant recent writings on international humanitarian law is The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay. This account of the military commissions established in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, appeared in hardback in 2013 and in paperback earlier this year. The author is Jess Bravin, the Wall Street Journal‘s Supreme Court reporter, whom I met while observing commissions proceedings at Gitmo in December 2008 (prior post). I’m pleased to have just published a review of his book in the International Review of the Red Cross. Available here, my book review summarizes the content of Terror Courts and places it in its context, as a must-read on international humanitarian law in this post-9/11 world.

“Ferguson”: Caitlyn Clark’s poem to America, at John Legend concert

Stunned to listen to this poem by Caitlyn Clark, recited on stage at a John Legend’s Hollywood Bowl concert 2 days ago. It’s moving, heartfelt, raw, and real. She wants to make revolution not with the children who have been felled but with those who still live and can bring change to our troubled times. And, I am most proud to say, she is my cousin, daughter of my favorite first cousin, who, as she tells the world in this amazing video, did 6 months’ active duty at Bagram Prison, Afghanistan. ¡Brava, Caitlyn!

“Rules of War” & 1882 US joinder of 1864 Geneva Convention, 150 years old today

In honor of the 150th anniversary today of the very first Geneva Convention on the laws of war, the International Committee of the Red Cross issued the brilliant video above: Rules of War in 4 very informative minutes. Through simple yet compelling drawings, it covers founding principles of international humanitarian law, such as humanity, distinction, necessity, and proportionality.

As an international story, it focuses on the men who were delegates to the 1863 Geneva Conference and their handiwork, the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field adopted on August 22, 1864.

It thus omits the vc007053U.S. after-story of this treaty; that is, the 1882 U.S. ratification that was the handiwork of a remarkable woman: Massachusetts-born Clara Barton (left), a pioneer nurse during America’s Civil War and, at age 60, a founder of the American Red Cross. (photo credit) For that after-story, see the 2012 IntLawGrrls post entitled Clara Barton, ICRC & crimes v. humanity, peace, by Washington University-St. Louis Law Professor Leila Nadya Sadat.

Nominations sought for American Journal of International Law editorial board

AJIL_COVERThe American Journal of International Law, the quarterly journal published by the American Society of International Law since 1907, welcomes applications and nominations for new members of its Board of Editors, to be elected by the existing board in Spring 2015. AJIL‘s leadership writes:

Nominations are based primarily on scholarship and creativity, as demonstrated in books, articles, and other written work appearing over a period of years.

Suggestions, along with supporting statements and information, such as a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and, if possible, copies of significant publications, should be sent to the journal’s co-editors-in-chief, New York University Law Professors José Alvarez and Benedict Kingsbury, at law.ajil.admin@nyu.edu by December 1, 2014.