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The Subversion of International Law (William Pfaff on drone warfare)

It occurred to me that because of his age and theirs, many readers at FDL may not know one of the best commentators on international affairs in the English language: William Pfaff.

To correct this possible misfortune, I post some snippets from his latest piece and invite you to read the whole thing:

(…) Washington’s adamant hostility to the creation or recognition of international war crimes courts, widely supported in the international community, has amounted to acknowledgement that such American practices would be likely to expose troops and officials to international war crimes indictments, or civil actions similar to Italy’s indictment and recent trial in absentia of CIA officers charged with the illegal apprehension and rendition for torture of an Italian resident. Now we have the case of the president of the United States himself implicated in drone-conducted assassinations of persons in foreign countries who are adjudged by American military and civilian operators, under authority of the Defense Department, CIA, and the Executive office itself, to be unfit to live.(…) Since the late nineteenth century the United States has probably been the nation which has done most to promote international law. This effort went from American mediation in the Russo-Japanese war to the American proposal and decisive contribution to creating international parliamentary institutions – the League of Nations and the United Nations, as well as the Bretton Woods system of international economic agreements following world war two. It now has become the nation in the world which is doing the most to destroy the international law in matters of war, peace, UN authority and unilateral military intervention into the affairs of other countries. This usually is given an ideological justification that is a transparent rationale for American national interest. Behind this lies the American sentiment of national exception. The country considers itself unique in history by virtue of its constitutional origins, its Bill of Rights , its governing system of balanced executive, legislative, and judicial powers (a system currently displaying immense and conceivably fatal difficulties). (…) It is worth recalling that it has been less than a quarter century since the end of that terrible era in Western civilization when ideological governments in Germany and Russia claimed that an elite of leaders, possessing special knowledge about the meaning and evolution of history, or about the destiny of human races, had the right and responsibility to attack the accepted norms of Western civilization in order to execute their “exceptional” missions. That ended badly.

All I can add is, Guru Jai, Jai, Guru Maharaj!

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David Seaton

David Seaton