Human Law vs. War "for Dummies"
The below thoughts was originally formulated as a recipe on how to make a subject (that is you, gentle reader :-)) aware of his or her own misconceptions regarding the legality of recent U.S. actions in Iraq and elsewhere, that has had the support of the American people -- at least as it has been presented to the people.
Reading the below, you'll get a crash course in Human Law relating to War.
You are also recommended to study the documents at http://legal.lege.net/ for more thorough analysis of human law and justice in this regard.
The below thoughts were originally formulated by Ulf Erlingsson in a September 13, 2003 post to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailinglist:
September 19, 2003
Some thoughts on dealing with people who have bought into the media myth,
and who have not learned to think independently.
Perhaps an early question could be a surprised:
-Don't you think we ought to follow the American constitution???
Of course they have to answer yes. Then you can ask:
-Do you think USA should respect United Nations' "Universal Declaration of Human Rights", and other multilateral treaties that USA has ratified?
If they say "No", then point out that not following them would be equivalent to violating the constitution of the United States.
If they say "Yes", then you can point out the ways in which this presidency is violating the Human Rights, the most basic document. How? Look at the document on-line on http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html and give it some thought... These are some of my thoughts:
* In US operated prisons abroad, Article 5 may well be violated
* In Guantanamo, Article 6 has obviously been violated, and perhaps 7 too
* Article 9 is contradictory to the Patriot Act and Ashcroft's stated policy of exiling US citizens
* The court set up for Guantanamo apparently violates Article 10
* The same probably goes for Article 11. Actually, paragraphs 6 through 11 describe basic legal fundamentals that were codified already by Hammurapi of Babylonia, present Iraq, about 3760 years ago. Every civilized nation since then has followed them (including the Vikings, it appears). USA is now breaking with that tradition.
* One could also argue that Article 12 is being violated.
One may also note that the right to join trade unions is protected in Article 23(4). If an employer tries to prevent it, the workers could invoke Article 8 for getting legal remedy.
Of course, according to the US constitution, ratified treaties are the supreme law of the land, on par with the constitution itself. In case somebody claims that USA does not have to obey them, go on by trying to find out if your subject thinks that the law is something that one must follow, or that it is only a recommendation for those who wish to follow it. You can ask like this:
-Do you yourself follow the law?
If answer YES, then -Why do you follow the law?
A. Because otherwise the police may take me and I'll get executed / jailed / have to pay fines; or,
B. I obey it because I want to, not because I am forced to. (Reason: 'The law is a voluntary agreement that makes it possible for us to move around unarmed and without bodyguards.')
If the answer is (A), then point out that the subject either thinks he is living in a police state, or he is a criminal.
If the answer is (B), then you can go on to ask:
-Should USA follow International Law?
If the answer to this question is "Yes", then you can start debating how USA is acting on the international arena (but you shouldn't have gotten here with a subject who answers yes!)
Supposedly the answer you will get is "No". May I suggest that you point out the judicial principle of quid pro quo, or in plain English tit for tat. An example:
Bush says "USA has the right to preemptively bomb any country that has weapons of mass destruction." Then according to the tit for tat rule, you can replace "USA" with the name of any other sovereign state in the world, such as... let's see... why not North Korea? Okay, here we go: "North Korea has the right to preemptively bomb any country that has weapons of mass destruction." The same goes for Pakistan, Russia, China, Libya, Cuba, you name it. Of course, one of the countries that actually has weapons of mass destruction is USA. Nobody has more than USA. If anybody should be selected as a first target by one of those countries, according to the principles formulated by George W. Bush (were they to become part of International Common Law), it would be USA. Is that the new world order that the subject wants, a world in which any terrorist state has a legal right to bomb the United States at any time they choose??? That is in effect the inevitable, logical result of the Bush policy.
* Of course, it is not for the United States to determine if it should follow international law or not. Since international law is comparable to a gentleman's agreement, the effect if USA does not follow it, is that USA becomes an outlaw. And so does all its citizens who follow orders from the regime. We all know what went down in Nuremburg. This is no different. If that is the future the subject wants, then he must be prepared to live as an outlaw for the rest of his life, everywhere but in USA itself. If he doesn't understand what I mean, probably the US soldiers in Iraq do. They are the outlaws, those who are not protected by the law. "But", maybe he objects, "foreign governments do not dare disobey USA". That may be true, with some exceptions, but foreign people are less well behaved. And that, Mr Subject, is what terrorists are made of -- dissenting people. Bush's policy creates terrorists.
Then the subject may say that you defend terrorism. Challenge them! Ask the subject:
-Can you be so good and explain to me exactly how I just 'defended terrorism', when I pointed out that Bush's criminal politics gave rise to terrorism?
(What probably happened is that the subject bought into the fascist propaganda that confuses attempts to explain casual relationships, with finding excuses. Casual relationships are studied by any thinking politician in order to deal with the 'real' problem, rather than with the symptoms. Fascists and Bill O'Reilly want us to believe that the reason liberals are analyzing causal relationships is in order to find an excuse for the terrorists / criminals / gays / lesbians / anything else he doesn't like that evening. You know, "it's not his fault that he flew into the WTC, he dad beat his mom" kind of thing.)
Of course, all of the above is not realistic, because most probably you'll never get any other reply to your questions than "your head is so full of shit, man!"
Copyright © Ulf Erlingsson 2003. The above may be reproduced in full -- even commercially -- free of charge, as long as this copyright message is also cited in full. However, please drop Ulf a line at email@example.com when you use his text, citing the way it's being used. Thanks!
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http://legal.lege.net/ Legality of War
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Copyleft © 2003 Leif Erlingsson or author.
Updated 9 November 2003