Saturday, February 10

Joe Sets the Record Crooked

When Vladimir Putin articulated in a restrained and unprovocative way a view that is both held on a majority basis throughout the world by populations and leadership alike and supported by legal scholarship, it was the trusty warmonger, Senator Joe Lieberman, who denounced the Russian leader and denied that the US government of George Bush has increased global insecurity through its illegal use of international violence (full article, quoted below). Having removed himself from the Democratic Party, Lieberman now pursues a course of unimpeded US lawlessness across the planet while deriding anyone who seems to notice it.

The AP Writer, David Rising, reports that, in Munich,

Putin told a security forum attracting top officials that "we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations" and that "one state, the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. "This is very dangerous, nobody feels secure anymore because nobody can hide behind international law."

And here, from the same piece, is the delusional response of ol' Joe:

"Even our involvement in Iraq, certainly Afghanistan, is pursuant to United Nations resolutions."

The hesitant phrasing suggests that ol' Joe smells deception in the very words he speaks. "..., certainly Afghanistan.." This should give us pause. Hesitation over the invasion of Iraq is found in the speech of never-saw-a-military-expenditure,-corporate-lobbyist, -or-US-invasion-I-didn't-like Lieberman. And with reason.

Joe knows that he is bullshitting. The head of the United Nations at the time of the invasion proclaimed it illegal. To cite one respected legal opinion among the vast majority that concur on the matter (as Lieberman surely knows), Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and president of the American Society of International Law, puts the matter plainly:
"the invasion was both illegal and illegitimate."
(American Society of International Law Newsletter, March-April 2004)

The use of both "illegal" and "illegitimate" suggests that the two have different meanings. However, the words should not be twisted in such a way. Slaughter, who had once herself given the pseudo-distinction credibility, puts the matter this way to shut the door on the potential ambiguity. (The ambiguity was first created to excuse the US-led 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, which was deemed "illegal but legitimate." That is, its illegality was determined by the Head of International Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Kosovo war, who then called it nonetheless "legitimate" because "all diplomatic avenues had been exhausted" -- a claim that ignores two concrete diplomatic options on the table at that time, one by Serbia and one by NATO. The expression is now commonly used to patch over criminal actions of the US government with the appearance of necessity.) Nonetheless, putting strictly legal questions aside, the fact that the invasion of Iraq was perceived widely and accurately to be illegitimate (i.e., self-serving, based on falsehoods) is in some sense more significant, because it is this recognition that fuels and in some cases legitimates politics of violence and desperation across the world (assuming that others are allowed to use the same rationales for violence as the US government does). It is this that does the greatest damage to efforts on all sides to resolve disputes by non-violent and non-catastrophic means. The voices that refuse to recognize this increased insecurity, which are curiously grouped together within the US government and its client state Israel, believe perhaps that their actions enhance their nations' security. It is nonetheless worth remembering that the beliefs of the mad should not be held up as beacons of guidance for the world at large.

Indeed, the predictable deception on the part of one of the invasion's biggest supporters needs to be kept in the context of issues of global security. The opening lines of the Preface to Noam Chomsky's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, a book that richly documents the trashing by consecutive US administrations of the international security consensus that emerged after World War II, serve that purpose well, and so it is with the opening lines that I close today's post:
"The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes {and as Chomsky explains, not the American people, who as a whole do not support the illegal government initiatives and its trashing of international treaties}."

On the US government's violation of international law, see also Howard N. Meyer

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