Bush administration repudiates int'l law

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t8-2.mcbone.net ( on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 at 11:19AM :

The Bush administration repudiates international law

By the Editorial Board
18 March 2003

The 15-minute speech delivered Monday night by President Bush, which all
but declared war against Iraq, consisted entirely of distortions,
half-truths and outright lies.

A thorough refutation of this speech would require a line-by-line analysis,
because there was not a single sentence that was based on an honest
presentation of facts. Even his first sentence—“My fellow citizens, events
in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision”—was a lie. In fact,
the decision to which he referred—the invasion of Iraq—was taken months

Underlying Bush’s argument for war was a grotesquely false premise: that
Resolution 1441 passed by the United Nations last November provided the
United States with all the authorization it needed to go to war. In fact,
nowhere in the resolution is authorization given for unilateral military
action by any member of the Security Council.

At one point, referring to French President Chirac, Bush asserted that
“some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced
that they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq.”

This is a flagrant lie. What Chirac actually said was: “My position is that
whatever the circumstances, France will vote no because it considers, this
evening, that there is no reason to go to war to achieve the objective we
have set, that is, the disarmament of Iraq.”

Only hours after he had concluded that it was necessary to withdraw an
American resolution seeking authorization for war because it faced
overwhelming defeat in the United Nations, Bush brazenly declared that “a
broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world.”
In reality, the United States and Britain faced nearly total isolation in
the Security Council.

There should be no underestimation of the historical significance and
political implications of the decision of the United States to unilaterally
defy the Security Council, repudiate the entire framework of international
law as it has evolved since the end of World War II, and launch an illegal
war against Iraq.

Not since the 1930s, during the hey-day of the fascist regimes of Hitler
and Mussolini, has the government of any major power so openly embraced war
as an instrument of state policy as the Bush administration. In doing so,
it has embarked upon a path that will, unless stopped, lead the world into
a new epoch of imperialist barbarism and result in the deaths of hundreds
of millions of people throughout the planet.

In announcing that war is imminent, President Bush justified a military
onslaught against Iraq on the grounds that this country may present a
danger to the United States at some indeterminate point in the future. “We
are acting now because the risk of inaction would be far greater,” he
stated. “In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm to
free nations would be multiplied many times over.”

On the basis of this argument, almost any country in the world might be
declared by the Bush administration to be a legitimate target. Today it is
Iraq that is on the receiving end of American bombs. Tomorrow, it will be
another country that the warmongering clique in Washington determines to be
a potential threat to the United States—Iran, North Korea, China, Russia,
Japan and, judging from President Bush’s most recent outbursts, Germany and

In what was the most remarkable passage in his brief televised speech, Bush
flatly asserted that “The United States has the sovereign authority to use
force in assuring its own national security.” The precise meaning of this
statement is that the United States rejects any international restraints on
its use of military force to achieve its objectives.

In the 1930s the fascist regimes in Germany and Italy walked out of the
League of Nations because they would not accept the subordination of their
foreign policy objectives to any binding system of international law.
Mussolini would not be deterred from invading Ethiopia, and Hitler would
not allow the curtailment of his territorial ambitions. As one noted
historian has explained, the foreign policy of German imperialism as
practiced by Hitler “meant above all breaking all shackles of restraints,
formal bonds, pacts or alliances, and the attainment of complete freedom of
action, unrestricted by international law or treaty, in German
power-political considerations.”[1]

This characterization of Nazi foreign policy applies fully to that of the
United States today. With its decision to defy the Security Council and
attack Iraq, the Bush administration has made clear that the global
ambitions and appetites of American imperialism will no longer be contained
within the framework of the United Nations and other institutions
established at the conclusion of World War II.

In praising the Bush administration’s action, the Wall Street Journal has
acknowledged that this action signifies not only the death of the United
Nations, but also the end of whatever remained of the principles of a
liberal internationalist and democratic world order proclaimed by President
Woodrow Wilson nearly 85 years ago. “Wilson’s stubborn idealism has done
damage enough. When the current lesson is digested, no President of the
United States will ever again look for legitimacy to the likes of the UN or
the League,” declared the Journal on March 17.

It is hardly an accident that this repudiation of international law has
been carried out by an administration that came to power on the basis of an
unprecedented conspiracy against democratic rights. In the final analysis,
there exists a symbiotic relationship between domestic and foreign policy.
The plans for global conquest are a projection onto the world stage of the
same criminal and anti-democratic processes that characterize capitalist
rule in the United States.

1. Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of
Interpretation (London, 2000), p. 139. In this passage, Mr. Kershaw is
paraphrasing the analysis of the German historian Martin Broszat.

-- andreas
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