12 May 2004 - Wednesday

The only answer

Early Arab media reaction to the videotaped execution of Nick Berg is intriguing.

Mustafa Bakri, editor of the weekly Al-Osboa newspaper in Egypt, said Berg's execution will only harm efforts to expose US offences against Iraqis.

"Such revenge is rejected," Mr Bakri said of the execution. "The American administration will make use of such crimes just to cover their real crimes against Iraqis."

Ladies and gentlemen, you see the solution before you.

The trouble is that it works the other way around, too.

How do we prevent a revenge-fest like the one in Israel and the Occupied Territories? An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, as Fiddler on the Roof says, will make the whole world blind and toothless.

The answer is law. Everything within the rule of law. Even if our enemies refuse to observe the law, we will. In other words, the United States of America -- the most powerful organization on earth -- will subject its own might to a framework of international justice.

| Posted by Wilson at 21:44 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Power Desk

I can't say I'm convinced that Law is the answer to all of our international problems. Who is going to get tried? Rumsfeld? Bush? A couple generals? There is only one acceptable answer: the men and women committing the crimes. Anything else is evidence that the system of Law in our world is broken and worthless.

I, however, don't need that evidence to be convinced of it. The judgement is already passed. America is guilty. Rumsfeld is guilty. Bush is guilty. The Media, the great god of our world, has spoken.

Toad - Media Atheist

The thoughts of Toad on 13 May 2004 - 11:38 Central
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When I refer to the necessity for law, I refer to a need that goes beyond this particular set of abuses. Obviously, American military justice applies to most of the problems we have seen in the prisons of Iraq and Afghanistan (although there are questions about what law applies to the private contractors who were allegedly involved). I speak of a somewhat larger need; when America deals with other nations, there must be definite limits to our power. There must be a higher standard by which any warrior is judged; we must not allow force to become the arbiter of right and wrong.

To clarify a bit, I do not think "national interest" is a legitimate legal principle.

The thoughts of Wilson on 13 May 2004 - 14:29 Central
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See, I'm just not quite convinced of the usefulness of law in international politics. Of course, I'm also not convinced of the usefulness of international politics. Laws in American society work for a reason. They are imposed upon a people by a body more powerful than them. It's the idiom "might makes right." The United States Government is more powerful than an individual, and thus the individual must subject or the more powerful entity will subdue him.

In international affairs, things aren't so clear cut. "International law," written to govern the interaction of a set of nations, is not imposed by a higher authority. Nor is it written by one. The government of a particular nation can write "impartial" laws because it is not one of the people. It is the governing body, which might be made up of people, but is not itself a people. The world community has no governing body. There is no entity higher than a nation. Thus, all laws to govern nations are written by nations, and will thusly be written with a bias towards the nation writing the laws.

Similarly, they cannot be imposed, because there is no higher power to impose them. The UN, as Bush has proved, is not a higher power than the United States. They cannot make a rule that we must follow. The reason rules work in society is because they can be enforced. International Law cannot be enforced on the most powerful nation on the planet.

If we were to make an alleged governing body for the nations, it would be absolutely necessary for such a body to have the power to impose its laws. This would involve its own economic system, which would have to be strides more powerful than its most powerful subject, its own military, which would have to be capable of matching any of all of its subjects. You see the pattern.

The only entity truly capable of governing a set of nations is God. He has both the economy (being able to create worlds in a word makes for a pretty nice GNP), and the military (heck, even just controlling the weather is enough to defeat the worlds' armies) to pull it off. However, the nations of this world choose to defy him... ALL of them... and so he punishes them for it. I think, really, that one of the ways He punishes us is with our international anarchy.

In practicality, who does govern the nations on this world? From a strictly governmental point of view, it would be the US Government. Arguably, the US is the Zeus of the international pantheon, able to take on all the other nations at once, and still prevail. Really, though, it's more likely to be the media. Intercontinental corporations that control the public of all nations at once by exploiting human stupidity and controlling the flow of information.

Why is the Bush administration in trouble? Because of the media. If we were to invade another country, why would there be such strong opposition? Because of the media. Why do people elect one person over another? Because of the media. Who makes the REAL international laws? The media.

Subjecting ourselves to an alleged international law and an international court system is futile. The media judges our every action as a nation the moment we take it. An international court could find a ruler innocent, but if the media says he is guilty, he will never rule again. A president commands his own military into battle, but if the media naysays the war, it will be doomed to an eventual failure (see Vietnam).

The thoughts of Toad on 13 May 2004 - 15:07 Central
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Vietnam was a failure before the media ever found out about it; it had been raging for years before a certain crop of reporters (including people who had supported the war) saw what was happening for themselves. American military doctrine, you will recall, had proscribed a land war in Asia for decades. Vietnam was a land war in Asia.

In any case, your view of law is flawed. It utterly fails to explain constitutional government. Britain, for example, has run for centuries with a Parliament that has absolute power to amend its own constitution by mere majority vote; no one forces Parliament to maintain a free government except the people and the various balancing forces in the government itself. In the United States, to take another example, the Supreme Court has practically no enforcement power of its own, yet every government official in the nation recognizes its authority to define constitutional interpretation.

The thoughts of Wilson on 13 May 2004 - 20:42 Central
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My question is, how much of what you say is true for political reasons? Also, the Supreme Court does have power... it has the power to say no. The British parliament maintains a free government out of self preservation... if they didn't, the people would rebel. Granted, I'm sure there is SOME measure of just wanting to do the right thing, but given human nature I find it very hard to believe that faction to be a majority.

Really, at this point I can't argue a lot more without resorting to "I hate politics, politicians, and everything related to the two." I also hate the media. As a result, my view of things is probably a bit skewed... but given human nature, the old idiom "might makes right" /is/ correct. It isn't just an idiom. When God is not in the picture, the man in charge is the one with the most money, military prowess, and powerful allies. The same, really, must be true on a national level, because nations are led by men, and sometimes lots of men.

(Notice for the politically correct: any use of "man" or "men" or a masculine pronoun in my writing is likely to apply to both genders)

The thoughts of Toad on 13 May 2004 - 23:42 Central
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