FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Criminal Bombing

by Carl Estabrook

The Bush administration has answered the crimes of September 11 with crimes of its own, potentially greater in scale. Launching a war on Afghanistan and killing poor people whom we do not know, because people we do know have been killed, is not only cowardly and vicious, it will also ramify in human misery. It’s not only a crime, it’s a colossal blunder.

It’s important to note that Mr. Bush’s war is entirely illegal. As Canadian lawyer Michael Mandel writes, “It violates international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter.” The administration in fact seems to have a bad conscience on the point, nervously repeating that it is exerting its “right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.” It’s the same transparent justification that the Clinton administration offered for its attack on Serbia, also not sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

Article 51 of the UN Charter (as a treaty, binding on the US government) says, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” But no candid observer could see the US-directed attack on Yugoslavia as “self-defense” to “an armed attack … against a member of the United Nations”; and, although the US was surely attacked in the present instance, killing Afghan peasants is hardly self-defense against that attack, or even an effective way to prevent future such attacks. In fact, it will have the opposite effect: Bush’s war is the answer to Bin Laden’s prayer, sending new recruits to resist this further insult to the Muslim world.

The US government’s contempt for the United Nations and the rule of international law was illustrated once again the day after the bombing of Afghanistan began. The new UN ambassador, John Negroponte, who participated in the Reagan administration’s terrorist war against Nicaragua as ambassador to Honduras, delivered a brief letter to the Security Council that managed to refer twice to “the inherent right of self-defense,” and included a top-lofty line that would be comical, were it not murderous: “We may find that our self-defense [third mention] requires further actions with respect to other organizations and other States.” Even the diplomatic Secretary-General admitted that that was “disturbing.”

Some have argued that the atrocities of September 11 justify an armed response by the US against those who might bear some responsibility for the attacks or who supported them. Such a war would be a “just war,” it is argued, with reference to a long legal and philosophical tradition. It is in fact a tradition worth examining, because it represents accumulated wisdom on when you might kill someone. (The first president Bush called his invasion of Panama “Operation Just Cause,” and the original name for the current assault was “Operation Infinite Justice.”)

But one of the requirements for a just war is that it be a last resort, that all attempts to settle the matter short of force be exhausted. That is manifestly not the case in the present instance. Not only has the Bush administration brushed aside the UN, it has also refused the offer from the effective government of Afghanistan to discuss the terrorist networks purportedly based in their country — just as, it must be said, the US refused offers to negotiate from the other side before both the Gulf War and the Serbian War.

It has become clear in the last decade that military force — killing people — is the area in which the US has its greatest comparative advantage in competition with the rest of the world. The US government intends to make sure that attempts, however brutal and horrific, to equal its readiness to kill, will be met with even more killing. The US has simply refused to use the mechanisms of international law — the UN Security Council, authorized to take “measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”; the World Court, which has rendered judgements about international terrorism (admittedly, against the US); and perhaps a special court constructed for the purpose, as in the cases of Lockerbie and the former Republic of Yugoslavia — to pursue the perpetrators of the September 11 crimes and their accessories.

That would of course be easier, had the US not spent a generation undermining the UN. In that period the US constantly ham-strung the Security Council with vetoes, far more than any other country, and subverted the specialized agencies, as in Iraq. The US, the state that advertises itself as founded on reason and the rule of law, has transformed itself into an international outlaw, the greatest rogue state. Much of humanity may suffer from this crime for years to come. CP Carl Estabrook teaches at the University of Illinois. He also hosts The News from Neptune, a weekly talk show on politics and the media. His column appears weekly on CounterPunch’s website.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail