Even if Assad Used Chemical Weapons, The West Has No Mandate to Act as a Global Policeman
By ordering air strikes against Syria without UN security council support, Obama will be doing the same as Bush in 2003
George Bush, the then US president, waves to US navy personnel at Mayport Naval Station, in Jacksonville, Florida, 13 February 2003, after urging the United Nations to uphold its relevance by enforcing demands that the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, disarm. (Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters)It is true that the UN security council is not a reliable global policeman. It may be slow to take action, or paralysed because of disagreement between members. But do we want the US or Nato or “alliances of willing states” as global policemen either? Unlike George Bush in 2003, the Obama administration is not trigger-happy and contemptuous of the United Nations and the rules of its charter, which allow the use of armed force only in self-defence or with an authorisation from the security council. Yet Obama, like Bush and Blair, seems ready to ignore the council and order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France and some others.
Such action could not be “in self-defence” or “retaliation”, as the US, the UK and France have not been attacked. To punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons would be the action of self-appointed global policemen – action that, in my view, would be very unwise.
While much evidence points to the guilt of the Assad regime, would not due process require that judgment and consideration of action take place in the UN security council and await the report of the inspectors that the UN has sent to Syria – at the demand of the UK and many other UN members?
The Three Heroines of Guatemala: The Judge, the Attorney General and the Nobel Peace Laureate
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan; May 23, 2013 | Filed under Columns & Articles, Veterans
Former Guatemalan President Efraín Ríos Montt was hauled off to prison last Friday. It was a historic moment, the first time in history that a former leader of a country was tried for genocide in a national court. More than three decades after he seized power in a coup in Guatemala, unleashing a U.S.-backed campaign of slaughter against his own people, the 86-year-old stood trial, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. He was given an 80-year prison sentence. The case was inspired and pursued by three brave Guatemalan women: the judge, the attorney general and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.