Thursday, May 16, 2013

Paul R. Pillar: Unleashing Dogs of Aggressive War

After World War II, U.S. prosecutors at the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed aggressive war the “supreme international crime” because it unpacked all the other evils of war. But Official Washington now treats U.S. invasions of “enemy” states as a topic for casual political discourse, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

By Paul R. Pillar, consortiumnews.com, May 13, 2013

Amid much talk lately about “red lines” — to the point that the term would be a strong candidate for cliché of the year — we should reflect on the relative inattention, as Richard Falk points out in a recent commentary, to what used to be one of the most fundamental and important red lines of all.

The line in question, which Falk notes the United States once played a leading role in formulating, is “the prohibition of the use of international force by states other than in cases of self-defense against a prior armed attack.”

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

Falk has been around long enough to rile adversaries on many issues about which he has been outspoken (and I have disagreed with some of his past positions). It was nearly 40 years ago that I took a graduate course in international law from him, and he is now in his 80s. But he does speak some uncomfortable truths.

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