I have no doubt that Assad’s regime is a rogue state and that the world community needs to address his war crimes, but the US is in particularly bad position to intervene. Allow me to give a little background.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations. In 1984 the ICJ ruled that the US had violated international law in its covert war against Nicaragua by mining harbors and intervening in the affairs of a sovereign state. In 1986 the US renounced the jurisdiction of the World Court and, thereby, international law. In other words, we declared ourselves to be a rogue state.
The International Criminal Court is a world tribunal founded to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The US has signed the declaration but never submitted it for ratification. So, whereas recognizing that court would give the US the power to try Assad for his alleged murder of 100,000 people, it would also expose American politicians like Bill Clinton who is accused by some of killing at least five times that many during the embargo of Iraq. It is said some of our former leaders like Henry Kissinger do not travel to nations they know might charge them with war crimes. How can a nation that views itself as above the law, bring another nation to justice?
Few would argue against the proposition that, if Assad used chemical weapons, he should be brought to justice, but why would we not wait for the UN to finish its investigation to know for sure who did the crime? Is it not strange to punish an infraction of international law with a vigilante action?
Chemical weapons are an abomination, but how can we know that the US will not bomb that nation with the same immoral weapons, like depleted uranium, that is still causing birth defects in Iraq? One study showed that Fallujah in Iraq has “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.” Or will we use our cluster bombs that are still blowing of the limbs of children decades after wars end? Our leadership assures us that only weapons will be destroyed, but will they also promise not to use the kinds of immoral weapons we have used elsewhere that injure people after the fact?
I am not arguing that Assad should not be brought to justice, I’m just suggesting that it be done by nations who know what the word means. One rogue state is in no position to bring another to international standards. When our nation, itself, submits to international law, then we can preach to other nations. Until then, we should leave the matter of enforcing international law to those who obey it.
The background you present on the history with the UN is interesting.
I notice that you often refer to depleted uranium, as you did once again in this post, as though the US uses it as a chemical weapon. DU simply does not have properties conducive to that use, and even its effects as a contaminant are not well documented. The cause of the surge in genetic defects in Iraq is still not known. Evidence for a link to DU is circumstantial, and it could be quite misleading. I think the way you are using “depleted uranium” in your arguments is inappropriate and lacks adequate factual substantiation. I provide here a link to a Wikipedia article that discusses this and other aspects of DU in some detail, including a bit of the history of investigations and reports of potential DU effects in Iraq and other places. It corroborates you in your reference to the reports and news, but it does not, in my opinion, support the innuendo/insinuations your audience gets from the way you use it here and in other cases where I’ve heard you make the allusions to DU use by the US:
9/7/13, 10:16 CDT
These were some of the articles I based the post on:
I believe there is enough evidence that DU causes birth defects for a moral nation not to use it. My primary point is that it is hypocritical for the US to claim moral authority to bomb a nation for having or using weapons when we have weapons that are even dirtier and deadlier. I don’t see how that is even a question. How can anyone with a straight face claim sarin is immoral but napalm and white phosphorus are not?
Thanks for the links. I can certainly see from these how you arrive at your opinion, and I still believe that the articles are misleading journalism from sources with an agenda to sway public opinion, which is why I cited the Wikipedia article which tries to be evenhanded. If you review the Wikipedia article you will find the information which can be used as the basis of propaganda on both sides of the issue. DU is a contaminant present in a weapon not intended to be a chemical weapon. It simply does NOT have the properties needed to be an effective chemical weapon, and it has not been used by anyone with that intent in mind. Its properties as a contaminant are not well known and further studies certainly should be done and results of such should be published and peer reviewed so that the real problem, whatever it may be can be identified and addressed. I noticed in an article you cited a long discussion of nanoparticles. I’m not sure how relevant that may be, but, perhaps, if the DU is in that form, though I don’t know why it would be, maybe that’s the problem. This would have been an unintentional, unpredicted effect of the weapons used.
I think there is a major moral difference between intentionally “gassing” a large population and discovering that a material used in a weapon intended to penetrate heavy armor is causing health problems in the population years later. I, therefore, find the way you are using DU in your argument here and in other places to be inapplicable–the proverbial red herring fallacy.
I agree with your general proposition. If it’s wrong for the goose, it’s wrong for the gander. The USA should not be above international rules. It has used weapons that should be and have been banned. Of course, I think all weapons should be banned, along with all warfare, but that’s so idealistic. When I was a kid, we used to say, “It takes one to know one,” when someone called us a judgmental name. Who, better than the USA could know how bad these things are? 9/913, 12:47 CDT
I appreciate your responding and your thoughtful arguments. We’ll just have to disagree on this one. If America uses a weapon that human rights groups can show may be causing birth defects, and we justify that usage saying that we’re only responsible for the initial explosion, I think we’re playing with words, and weighing our own claims on a different scale than we weigh our enemies. To say that gasoline raining from the sky in the form of napalm is not a chemical weapon seems to me to be splitting hairs that might not matter much to our victims.
I understand your believing that I am not being fair to the evidence concerning DU, but explosions in birth defects where it has been used are enough for me. My primary point is about the hypocrisy of the US lecturing Syria on the issue of chemical weapons. Even if we take DU’s completely out of the conversation, the US still has many immoral weapons that disqualify us from preaching to others.
Thanks for writing. Respectful disagreement is an important part of this blog.
Because you can take DU out of the argument, and the argument you are making still works is part of why I think you should take it out. That it’s a red herring at this point in time, is the main reason, however. It does not strengthen your argument for those who are knowledgeable in matters related to nuclear physics. It just gives it emotional appeal to many who have been brought up with a fear of anything that seems related to “nuclear” physics.
I don’t think I disagreed with you on napalm and other weapons you mentioned. In fact, if you read my last paragraph in my previous comment as I intended it to be read, I hope you’ll notice that I supported you regarding the US preaching to others. 9/9/13, 21:26 CDT