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[casi] FW: The Bush administration repudiates international law

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 ago.

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 France.

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

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

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.

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