FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Criminal Bombing

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:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail