Thursday, December 20, 2012



Argentina Wins Round One, Likely to Wind Round Two. The World Wins.


 The United Nations Tribunal hearing the cases of Argentina against Ghana for the seizure of two of Argentina's naval vessels has delivered a judgement for Argentina in the case of the tall ship and naval training vessel LIBERTAD. A U.S. District court had issued a writ providing for the seizure of Argentine government property in satisfaction of a debt supposedly owed an American Investment group that had purchased bonds from Argentina that the nation defaulted on. We do not know at this time why Ghana interpreted the writ so as to include the seizure of naval vessels, an unprecedented action that ran counter to more than 500 years of well documented and very logical precedent. We do know that the American Judge did not distance himself from the decision of Ghana now thoroughly and rightly rejected. If the seizure had been upheld no Navy of any debtor nation and that includes the world's biggest debtor, the United States could ever visit a foreign port with confidence. Investment bankers could trump national sovereignty at will.

 The particular investment "professionals"behind this attempt at subverting international law were a particularly undeserving lot. Argentina settled out of court with all of the other bond holders who basically received their principle back. Insisting on full recovery plus all promised interest the plaintiff investors stayed away from the bargaining table. For refusing to bargain in good faith, frankly they should recover nothing. That they really thought that they could seize a nation's warships over a bond payment dispute was the all time high of corporate cheek. These masters of the Universe Wanna Be types need to face their investors. They made a bad investment decision and then compounded the error by getting greedy and acting unlawfully , though aided by some really poor judicial scholarship and decisions. As late as last week the U.S. judge in the case was threatening Argentina from the bench with unspecified dire consequences if they continued to ignore his pronouncements. Here is a news flash for federal district Judges, you  also are not Masters of the Universe. You are a local though federal judge, not a sovereign nation, nor the spokesman for a sovereign nation. The planet is ruled by the Law of Nations as determined in tribunals that collections of sovereign nations agree to. Federal judges have a great deal of power, probably too much for the good of American society but their reach starts to run into complications beyond the sound of their gavel pounding. One has to wonder about the suitability for the federal bench of a judge who ignores the basics of the law of nations. War ships are not assets that ordinary magistrates may seize at will for plaintiffs they are inclined to favor.

 Yet it's still not quite over. The court still has a decision to hand down on a second ship or the reporting on the issue was inaccurate and the focus was simply on the more camera worthy tall sailing ship. . We do not know for certain if or  why both cases weren't decided today. We hope the UN is not about to drop a second shoe with a really ugly surprise. We are reasonably confident that The United Nations Tribunal will follow the ample and historic precedent and instruct Ghana to return the second ship as well, if it has not already done so. Ghana for its part has decided to follow the ruling of the United Nations Tribunal and immediately return the ship vice waiting on a parallel decision for the Supreme Court of Ghana. This is to Ghana's credit. Their magistrate made a mistake, admits to it and corrects his error. Our arrogant U.S. judiciary taunts a sovereign nation from the bench. Why would we think the world would look up to the quality of U.S. Justice?

 We can't wait to see this issue packed away for all time. We found ourselves in an odd position defending Argentina who is also abusing the international tribunals with their bogus claims on the Falkland Islands. We are used to not being cheerleaders for Argentina. We will be glad when they get their ships back and we can resume our critical analysis of their trouble making in the Falklands. 

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