A Just War? Hardly

KommieKat

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A Just War? Hardly


May, 20 2006
By Chomsky, Noam
Noam Chomsky's ZSpace Page
http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/2610


Spurred by these times of invasions and evasions, discussion of "just war" has had a renaissance among scholars and even among policy-makers.

Concepts aside, actions in the real world all too often reinforce the maxim of Thucydides that "The strong do as they can, while the weak suffer what they must" - which is not only indisputably unjust, but at the present stage of human civilization, a literal threat to the survival of the species.

In his highly praised reflections on just war, Michael Walzer describes the invasion of Afghanistan as "a triumph of just war theory," standing alongside Kosovo as a "just war." Unfortunately, in these two cases, as throughout, his arguments rely crucially on premises like "seems to me entirely justified," or "I believe" or "no doubt."

Facts are ignored, even the most obvious ones. Consider Afghanistan. As the bombing began in October 2001, President Bush warned Afghans that it would continue until they handed over people that the US suspected of terrorism.

The word "suspected" is important. Eight months later, FBI head Robert S. Mueller III told editors at The Washington Post that after what must have been the most intense manhunt in history, "We think the masterminds of (the Sept. 11 attacks) were in Afghanistan, high in the al-Qaida leadership. Plotters and others - the principals - came together in Germany and perhaps elsewhere."

What was still unclear in June 2002 could not have been known definitively the preceding October, though few doubted at once that it was true. Nor did I, for what it's worth, but surmise and evidence are two different things. At least it seems fair to say that the circumstances raise a question about whether bombing Afghans was a transparent example of "just war."

Walzer's arguments are directed to unnamed targets - for example, campus opponents who are "pacifists." He adds that their "pacifism" is a "bad argument," because he thinks violence is sometimes legitimate. We may well agree that violence is sometimes legitimate (I do), but "I think" is hardly an overwhelming argument in the real-world cases that he discusses.

By "just war," counterterrorism or some other rationale, the US exempts itself from the fundamental principles of world order that it played the primary role in formulating and enacting.

After World War II, a new regime of international law was instituted. Its provisions on laws of war are codified in the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg principles, adopted by the General Assembly. The Charter bars the threat or use of force unless authorized by the Security Council or, under Article 51, in self-defense against armed attack until the Security Council acts.

In 2004, a high level UN panel, including, among others, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, concluded that "Article 51 needs neither extension nor restriction of its long-understood scope ... In a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of nonintervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all."

The National Security Strategy of September 2002, just largely reiterated in March, grants the US the right to carry out what it calls "pre-emptive war," which means not pre-emptive, but "preventive war." That's the right to commit aggression, plain and simple.

In the wording of the Nuremberg Tribunal, aggression is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole" - all the evil in the tortured land of Iraq that flowed from the US-UK invasion, for example.

The concept of aggression was defined clearly enough by US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who was chief prosecutor for the United States at Nuremberg. The concept was restated in an authoritative General Assembly resolution. An "aggressor," Jackson proposed to the tribunal, is a state that is the first to commit such actions as "invasion of its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State."

That applies to the invasion of Iraq. Also relevant are Justice Jackson's eloquent words at Nuremberg: "If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us." And elsewhere: "We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well."

For the political leadership, the threat of adherence to these principles - and to the rule of law in general - is serious indeed. Or it would be, if anyone dared to defy "the single ruthless superpower whose leadership intends to shape the world according to its own forceful world view," as Reuven Pedatzur wrote in Haaretz last May.

Let me state a couple of simple truths. The first is that actions are evaluated in terms of the range of likely consequences. A second is the principle of universality; we apply to ourselves the same standards we apply to others, if not more stringent ones.

Apart from being the merest truisms, these principles are also the foundation of just war theory, at least any version of it that deserves to be taken seriously.


*End of the article


Can we clearly define the justifications of the Iraq invasions besides the cliche statements like "....but Hussein was a dictator...." and "...but they asked us to come...." bullshit line of reasoning?

I really cannot see anyone being able to argue against anything in this article, but would relish the chance to read it anyways.

Notice some of the things Chomsky mentions like "suspects". This is very important to consider. These were not proved criminals that Bush and Chaney had hunted for years. Were they ever found? No. Was it proved to be al-Qaida? Again NO.

Why is it that the codified laws of war that were created by the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg, that have been adopted by the General Assembly are completely counter to what the United States has done with a blatant full blown aggressive invasion on Iraq?

Why is it still called a "justified war" and not labeled truthfully as an aggressive act terrorism in it's own right.

What else other could it be?
The international community has already laid out the definitions of war, aggression, invasion and terrorism and it seems to me that the United States is indeed guilty of all these actions, which is completely counter to the international laws it helped create some 60 years ago.

I don't get it.
 

Scarlet

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The war in Afghanistan against apocalyptic terrorism qualifies in my understanding as the first truly just war since World War II. But the justice of the cause and of the limited ends is in danger of being negated by the injustice of improper means and excessive ends. Unlike World War II and prior just wars, this one can be won only if tactics adhere to legal and moral constraints on the means used to conduct it, and to limited ends.
The perpetrators of the September 11 attack cannot be reliably neutralized by nonviolent or diplomatic means; a response that includes military action is essential to diminish the threat of repetition, to inflict punishment and to restore a sense of security at home and abroad. The extremist political vision held by Osama bin Laden, which can usefully be labeled "apocalyptic terrorism," places this persisting threat well outside any framework of potential reconciliation or even negotiation for several reasons: Its genocidal intent is directed generically against Americans and Jews; its proclaimed goal is waging an unconditional civilizational war--Islam against the West--without drawing any distinction between civilian and military targets; it has demonstrated a capacity and willingness to inflict massive and traumatizing damage on the US and a tactical ingenuity and ability to carry out its missions of destruction by reliance on the suicidal devotion of its adherents.
 

KommieKat

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The war in Afghanistan against apocalyptic terrorism qualifies in my understanding as the first truly just war since World War II. But the justice of the cause and of the limited ends is in danger of being negated by the injustice of improper means and excessive ends. Unlike World War II and prior just wars, this one can be won only if tactics adhere to legal and moral constraints on the means used to conduct it, and to limited ends.
The perpetrators of the September 11 attack cannot be reliably neutralized by nonviolent or diplomatic means; a response that includes military action is essential to diminish the threat of repetition, to inflict punishment and to restore a sense of security at home and abroad. The extremist political vision held by Osama bin Laden, which can usefully be labeled "apocalyptic terrorism," places this persisting threat well outside any framework of potential reconciliation or even negotiation for several reasons: Its genocidal intent is directed generically against Americans and Jews; its proclaimed goal is waging an unconditional civilizational war--Islam against the West--without drawing any distinction between civilian and military targets; it has demonstrated a capacity and willingness to inflict massive and traumatizing damage on the US and a tactical ingenuity and ability to carry out its missions of destruction by reliance on the suicidal devotion of its adherents.
Hog wash.

The perpetrators of 9/11 are not even known and for that matter, the govs explanation of 9/11 has so many holes in it, I could use it to strain my pasta.

How in the hell can you secure the homeland if the enemy is not even known?

And your opinions keep bouncing back and forth.
First it was a favorable comment by you about America's Democratic assertions by force in an earlier thread made in the articles section and now it's "The war in Afghanistan against apocalyptic terrorism qualifies in my understanding as the first truly just war since World War II."

So, you're agreeing, by your statement above, that the Iraq invasion was unjust? Which is it?

You're also in complete contradiction, again. Let me show you:
"Unlike World War II and prior just wars, this one can be won only if tactics adhere to legal and moral constraints on the means used to conduct it, and to limited ends. "

And here:

"The perpetrators of the September 11 attack cannot be reliably neutralized by nonviolent or diplomatic means; a response that includes military action is essential to diminish the threat of repetition, to inflict punishment and to restore a sense of security at home and abroad."

This line of reasoning has led to a complete abuse of international codified laws by the United States. Inflicting punishment comes in many forms and one of them is torture that has been conducted at Guantanamo.
Those prisoners have been illegally abducted from around the world and denied the right of habeas corpus which they are entitled to.

How convenient of the United States to conduct such atrocities in a place that was taken illegally in the first place, by gunpoint, and to this day, that stretch of land is being used illegally by international law standards.

Are you even familiar with Senate Armed Services Committee? They have reports about the Cheney-Rumsfeld acts of desperation in finding links with al-Qaeda and Iraq and guess what? None were found or at least what was found were concoctions made to justify invasion.

Please tell me the truth. You did not write this.
You got it from some sort of regurgitating bot engine.
I will not be fooled by this nonsense. This is not you.

Next time, please use quotes and cite your sources. Thanks.
 

Scarlet

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Opinions are like turds, most are different.
Allow me to shit in peace without trying to wipe my ass every single time.
 

KommieKat

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Opinions are like turds, most are different.
Allow me to shit in peace without trying to wipe my ass every single time.
Oh I see.

People should let you shit all you want and not refute any of it?
Doesn't work like that.

You are entitled, by all means, to your opinions and you can back up your opinions by citing sources. This is called common sense.

Also, there is no fear in plagiarizing an author to back up your opinions just as long as you re-word the sentence or change the word order of the sentence. This is how to NOT plagiarize.

Let's face it. Others have a better way to express exactly what we wish to say but for some reason, we lack the vocabulary or nomenclature to do so ourselves.

Citing sources and using quotes makes you more intelligent as compared to slapping a lot of Smart looking words together without even using paragraphs.
 

Scarlet

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You are entitled, by all means, to your opinions and you can back up your opinions by citing sources. This is called common sense.
Thank you for YOUR opinion on my posting style.
I don't choose to back up my opinions by citing sources.
Call it lack of common sense or whatever you want, I really don't care.