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The US supports illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco. Why the hypocrisy ?

International Law Becomes Meaningless When Applied Only to US Enemies

Wednesday 23 March 2022, by siawi3

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/10/america-ukraine-russia-international-law

The US supports illegal annexations by Israel and Morocco. Why the hypocrisy ?

jeudi 10 mars 2022

par Peter BEINART

America must be consistent. It cannot pick and choose when to follow international law.

Last December, as Russian forces encircled Ukraine, the Biden administration and its allies delivered a stark warning to Vladimir Putin : “Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law.” In January, as Russian troops massed even in even greater numbers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken added that “the inviolability of frontiers” was among the “guiding principles for international behavior.” Last month, after Russia’s parliament recognized the independence of two self-declared republics Moscow had cleaved from eastern Ukraine, Blinken called this infringement upon “Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” a “gross violation of international law.”

All this is indisputably true. Remaking borders by force violates a core principle of international law. Which is why the Biden administration must do more than resist Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. It must stop violating that principle itself.

In 2019, the Trump administration made the United States the only foreign country to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 War. Tel Aviv University Law Professor Eliav Lieblich noted that the decision – which contradicted a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution supported by the US itself – constituted a “significant departure from the bedrock legal prohibition of unilateral annexation.” Yale Law School’s Oona Hathaway called the move “outrageous and potentially destabilizing to the postwar international order.” The Russian government called it an “indication of the contempt that Washington shows for the norms of international law.”

After Trump’s move, Illinois Senator Richard Durbin asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to explain the legal difference between Israel’s annexation of the Golan and Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which had led the US to impose sanctions. Pompeo replied that “there’s international law doctrine on this very point. We don’t have time to begin to go through it today. But [I’m] happy to have a team go over and walk you through that.” When journalists followed up, the State Department cited no international law doctrine at all. To the contrary, a department spokeswoman declared, nonsensically, that “The US policy continues to be that no country can change the borders of another by force.”

Then, in 2020, the Trump administration followed up by making the United States the only foreign country to recognize Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara, a territory Morocco invaded in 1975 after the territory’s Spanish colonial rulers withdrew. Former Secretary of State James Baker III called the decision an “astounding retreat from the principles of international law.” Once again, the United States contradicted Security Council resolutions it had supported itself. Once again, Russia blasted the US for transgressing a “universally recognized international legal” principle.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has reversed neither of these Trump decisions. To the contrary, the US continues to provide Israel almost $4 billion in military aid per year absent any human rights conditions even as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International allege that it is practicing apartheid. The Biden administration has also boosted arms sales to Morocco even though the US-based democracy watchdog Freedom House reports that people in Western Sahara enjoy fewer freedoms than people in China or Iran.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine gives the Biden administration a chance to reconsider this dangerous path. It can harness the current global revulsion against Putin’s aggression to rebuild the principle that no country should redraw another’s borders by force. But only if it reverses Trump’s decisions and proves that the US is willing to live by the standards it demands of Moscow. Politically, that won’t be easy since Israel, which enjoys strong support in Washington, benefitted from both of Trump’s decisions—his decision on the Golan Heights and his decision on Western Sahara, which helped convince Morocco to normalize diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. But international norms only remain strong if countries abide by them when they’re inconvenient. And if the US chooses continued hypocrisy, it will make Ukraine, Taiwan and every other weaker nation bordered by a rapacious neighbor more vulnerable.

After Secretary of State Pompeo defended Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, Senator Durbin warned that, “I don’t think the administration is thinking clearly about how this ends well.” He was right. The continued erosion of the norm against international aggression will not end well. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is just the latest sign. The Biden administration can stem that erosion now. But in addition to the military battle it is assisting in Ukraine, it must wage a political battle at home.

Peter Beinart is professor of journalism and political science at The Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York. He is also editor-at-large of Jewish Currents and writes The Beinart Notebook, a weekly newsletter.

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Source: https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/03/17/international-law-is-a-meaningless-concept-when-it-only-applies-to-us-enemies/

Caitlin Johnstone: International Law Becomes Meaningless When Applied Only to US Enemies

March 17, 2022

You don’t get to make international law meaningless and then claim that an invasion is “illegal.”

U.S. Army Capt. James Hayes searches an Iraqi man during a patrol near the Syrian border on Aug. 10, 2005. (U.S. Army photo/ Staff Sgt. Kyle Davis) (Released)

By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

Australian whistleblower David McBride just made the following statement on Twitter:

“I’ve been asked if I think the invasion of Ukraine is illegal.

My answer is: If we don’t hold our own leaders to account, we can’t hold other leaders to account.

If the law is not applied consistently, it is not the law.

It is simply an excuse we use to target our enemies.

We will pay a heavy price for our hubris of 2003 in the future.

We didn’t just fail to punish Bush and Blair: we rewarded them. We re-elected them. We knighted them.

If you want to see Putin in his true light imagine him landing a jet and then saying ‘Mission Accomplished’.

As far as I can tell this point is logically unassailable. International law is a meaningless concept when it only applies to people the U.S. power alliance doesn’t like. This point is driven home by the life of McBride himself, whose own government responded to his publicizing suppressed information about war crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan by charging him as a criminal.

Neither George W. Bush nor Tony Blair are in prison cells at The Hague where international law says they ought to be. Bush is still painting away from the comfort of his home, issuing proclamations comparing Putin to Hitler and platforming arguments for more interventionism in Ukraine. Blair is still merrily warmongering his charred little heart out, saying NATO should not rule out directly attacking Russian forces in what amounts to a call for a thermonuclear world war.

They are free as birds, singing their same old demonic songs from the rooftops.

When you point out this obvious plot hole in discussions about the legality of Vladimir Putin’s invasion you’ll often get accused of “whataboutism”, which is a noise that empire loyalists like to make when you have just highlighted damning evidence that their government’s behaviors entirely invalidate their position on an issue. This is not a “whataboutism”; it’s a direct accusation that is completely devastating to the argument being made, because there really is no counter-argument.

The Iraq invasion bypassed the laws and protocols for military action laid out in the founding charter of the United Nations. The current U.S. military occupation of Syria violates international law. International law only exists to the extent to which the nations of the world are willing and able to enforce it, and because of the U.S. empire’s military power — and more importantly because of its narrative control power — this means international law is only ever enforced with the approval of that empire.

This is why the people indicted and detained by the International Criminal Court (ICC) are always from weaker nations — overwhelmingly African — while the USA can get away with actually sanctioning ICC personnel if they so much as talk about investigating American war crimes and suffer no consequences for it whatsoever. It is also why Noam Chomsky famously said that if the Nuremberg laws had continued to be applied with fairness and consistency, then every post-WWII U.S. president would have been hanged.

This is also why former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton once said that the U.S. war machine is “dealing in the anarchic environment internationally where different rules apply,” which “does require actions that in a normal business environment in the United States we would find unprofessional.”

Bolton would certainly know. In his bloodthirsty push to manufacture consent for the Iraq invasion he spearheaded the removal of the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a crucial institution for the enforcement of international law, using measures which included threatening the director-general’s children. The OPCW is now subject to the dictates of the U.S. government, as evidenced by the organisation’s coverup of a 2018 false flag incident in Syria which resulted in airstrikes by the U.S., UK and France during Bolton’s tenure as a senior Trump advisor.

The U.S. continually works to subvert international law enforcement institutions to advance its own interests. When the U.S. was seeking U.N. authorization for the Gulf War in 1991, Yemen dared to vote against it, after which a member of the U.S. delegation told Yemen’s ambassador, “That’s the most expensive vote you ever cast.” Yemen lost not just 70 million dollars in U.S. foreign aid but also a valuable labor contract with Saudi Arabia, and a million Yemeni immigrants were sent home by America’s Gulf state allies.

Simple observation of who is subject to international law enforcement and who is not makes it clear that the very concept of international law is now functionally nothing more than a narrative construct that’s used to bludgeon and undermine governments who disobey the U.S.-centralized empire. That’s why in the lead-up to this confrontation with Russia we saw a push among empire managers to swap out the term “international law” with “rules-based international order”, which can mean anything and is entirely up to the interpretation of the world’s dominant power structure.

It is entirely possible that we may see Putin ousted and brought before a war crimes tribunal one day, but that won’t make it valid. You can argue with logical consistency that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is wrong and will have disastrous consequences far beyond the bloodshed it has already inflicted, but what you can’t do with any logical consistency whatsoever is claim that it is illegal. Because there is no authentically enforced framework for such a concept to apply.

As U.S. law professor Dale Carpenter has said, “If citizens cannot trust that laws will be enforced in an evenhanded and honest fashion, they cannot be said to live under the rule of law. Instead, they live under the rule of men corrupted by the law.” This is all the more true of laws which would exist between nations.

You don’t get to make international law meaningless and then claim that an invasion is “illegal.” That’s not a legitimate thing to do. As long as we are living in a Wild West environment created by a murderous globe-spanning empire which benefits from it, claims about the legality of foreign invasions are just empty sounds.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix, Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.