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Old Friday, February 09, 2018
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Default US adventures and International Law

1. Will Trump Break International Law Over North Korea?

We are soon going to have a clash between President Donald Trump and international law. This is predicable when one examines the presidential discourse over what to do about North Korea and its possession of nuclear-tipped rockets.

He has threatened “fire and fury” which doesn’t sound like the opening words of the UN’s Charter:

“We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…..and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained……and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours.”

There should be no question that if the Charter is followed that Trump cannot legally make a pre-emptive strike, either one nuclear or conventional, unless war is imminent because of threatening moves by the antagonist.

He could only do it legally, as a self-defensive move, if North Korea was seen actually preparing for an attack – which can be judged from ultra-aggressive troop movements or the loading (which takes some time) of liquid fuel into rockets.

For Trump’s part he should stop doing things that provoke North Korea and make them feel that the US is practising for a preventive strike, such as holding military exercises close to its borders. That is not, as the Charter says, taking “effective measures for the prevention and removal of the threats to peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression.”

Up until the end of the nineteenth century politicians were convinced that every state had the customary right to embark upon war whenever it pleased. Statesman would recite a host of justifications for war: to retrieve unpaid debts, territorial incursion, dynastic disputes, regional destabilization, the pacification and “civilizing” of colonies-to-be, honour etc.

Wars in this period were given legitimacy in political not legal terms.

Few go along with this today. War can only be for ‘self-defence’.

The US managed to persuade the member nations of the UN Security Council to approve the going to war with Iraq when it seized Kuwait to grab its oil fields. Legality was important to President George H. W. Bush.

On the eve of the Second Gulf War his son, George W. Bush, brushed aside legality, refusing to accept calls to wait until the UN’s arms inspector, Hans Blix, had ascertained whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. After the US/UK invasion when it became certain that Bush and the UK’s prime minister, Tony Blair, had bent the evidence and Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction there was no effort by the UK/US to admit to wrongdoing.

With the UN’s Anti-Torture Convention – which two previous conservative leaders of the US and UK, Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher, decided to ratify – there was a legal dance by Bush and Blair to avoid its restrictions. Bush and Blair did not refute the Convention. They simply argued that torture was not torture as practised. Waterboarding and other forms of what most of us would describe as torture were no more than “enhanced interrogation”.

Later, Bush junior and President Barack Obama extended the ‘self-defence’ argument to the use of drones to pick off leaders of Al Qaeda. The Charter is clear: self-defence is only allowed in emergencies before the Security Council has had time to consider the crisis. Then, if the Security Council deems that a country has been attacked, it can use all the resources of itself and its allies to repel the invader.

North Korea is not creating such an emergency.

In an impressive and balanced new book, “How To Do Things With International Law” the American legal scholar, Ian Hurd, writes that the US and UK interpretation of ‘self-defence’ can “make the ban on war look more like an authorization of the use of force than a constraint upon it”.

This interpretation, writes Hurd, has evolved “under the influence of strong states”.

Nevertheless, the Charter’s power and standing is still acknowledged in principle by the big powers and thus it is “more difficult for states to engage in wars of aggression, profit, the ‘defence’ of democracy, and humanitarianism.” At least we can say that these days certain categories of war are not acceptable, even by the big powers.

Bush rode over the UN Charter on one of its central points. So did President Bill Clinton when he invaded ex-Yugoslavia and later Kosovo in an attempt to end the murderous civil war and to roll back Serbian influence. So did President Vladimir Putin with his invasion of Crimea.

Bush, Blair, Clinton, Obama and Putin were all in the wrong. They didn’t understand that international law is a necessary contribution to a stable and peaceful world.

Tragically, it is becoming obvious that Trump might well give it the hardest knock of all.


Comments from Jan Oberg

This is a very important argument – that international law is law and should be respected by every and each actor. Also that the UN Charter is absolutely essential in both letter and spirit. Also that war can only be conducted in self-defence and that the criteria for that are also precise and limited.

It’s a pity, therefore, that the author makes a couple of much too simplifying references to what is actually quite complex issues.

It can certainly be discussed why Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait but it can’t be explained by arguing that it was to “grab its oil fields”.

Clinton did not invade Yugoslavia (not ex-Yugoslavia) and Kosovo (Kosovo was part of Serbia which was a republic in Yugoslavia). He was the main responsible for bombing Bosnia-Herzegovina and the main supporter of the proportionately largest ethnic cleansing anywhere, namely of Serbs (who had lived there for 400 years) out of the Krajina-regions in Croatia. And as NATO’s leader, he bombed Serbia’s Kosovo province and Serbia itself, including Belgrade and Novi Sad. And saying that it was “to roll back Serbian influence” reveals a quite deficient understanding of these places and the overall Yugoslavia conflict formation.

Finally, the word “invasion” about Crimea is a bit of an exaggeration, particular given the history, the lease Russia had on the base complex there and the follow-up referendum. However, there is no doubt that Putin – and the other mentioned – were wrong. But we must know the right – precise – reasons why they were wrong. And they were certainly not equally wrong.

__________________________________________________ _____

2. The Illegality of Trump’s Threats Against North Korea

1. The US government threats of “preventive warfare” against DPRK are illegal and criminal. The Nuremberg Tribunal in their Judgment of 1946, which the US helped organize, condemned “preventive war” when the lawyers for the Nazis made the argument on their behalf. This is an illegal and criminal threat in violation of international law. According to the World Court in its Advisory Opinion (1996) on the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, the legality vel non of a threat stands or falls on the same legal grounds as if the threat were carried out.

2. The repeated US government threats to “destroy” or “annihilate” DPRK are an international crime under the 1948 Genocide Convention to which the United States is a party. These genocidal threats are also illegal and criminal under the rationale of the 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion mentioned above.

3. The United States has an absolute obligation under UN Charter article 2(3) and article 33 to open “negotiation” with DPRK in good faith in order to produce a peace resolution of this dispute. Instead, the US government has repeatedly rejected these obligations under the UN Charter.

4. The proposal by Russia and China for a “dual-freeze” is an excellent basis to produce good faith and direct negotiations between USA and DPRK as required by the UN Charter.

5. The United States is deliberately provoking DPRK, ratcheting up these provocations in the hope that they will provoke the DPRK to commit an act of aggression against the United States that the USA can then use as a pretext for war. Pursuant to the terms of their mutual self-defense treaty, China has stated that if the US attacks first it will defend DPRK, but that if DPRK strikes first, China will remain out of any war. So the United States is trying to provoke DPRK into striking first.

6. It is an extremely dangerous situation. It is really up to the United States to take the first step down the Ladder of Escalation that it has constructed here. Instead it appears that the Trump administration is going to escalate up the Ladder of Escalation in the hope and expectation that DPRK will capitulate. This is what International Political Scientists call a Game of Chicken– with cosmic consequences. Who will blink first? Anything can go wrong.
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Old Friday, February 09, 2018
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Default Political Insanity and the Nuclear Posture Review

Political Insanity and the Nuclear Posture Review: Washington Threatens America and the World

When I look at news reports from whichever country, I see no awareness of the two most ominous developments in US history. One is the conspiracy between US security agencies, the US Department of Justice, the Democratic Party and the American print and TV media to overthrow the democratically elected president of the United States. With “Russiagate” we have been experiencing a coup against President Trump and American democracy. Although the Democrats’ Identity Politics cannot conceive of it, it is possible to be opposed to President Trump without believing that a police state coup against him is desirable.

The other ominous development is the just released US Nuclear Posture Review, which calls nuclear weapons “usable,” legitimizes their first use, and sets the stage for spending trillions of dollars acquiring more nuclear weapons when massive public needs go unmet and 10 percent of the existing US arsenal is sufficient to destroy all life on earth.

I have written about these extraordinary developments. See this, for example, and this.

As for the effect it has had, I might as well not have bothered. No government and no news organization of which I am aware has sounded the alarm that the CIA, FBI, DOJ, Democratic Party, and the entirety of the American print and TV media have been caught red-handed in a coup to overthrow the President of the United States, and nothing is being done about it. The coup cannot even be exposed, because the security agencies, media, and Democrats shout down the hard evidence. Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were murdered on the basis of total lies, and now the President of the United States faces the same fate.

If the coup against Trump succeeds, the US will have made the full transition into a Gestapo Police State. America will have become the Fourth Reich.

As horrible as this prospect—courtesy of the CIA, FBI, Obama Department of Justice, Democratic Party, and presstitute media—is, the nuclear posture review is many times worse. During the long decades of the Cold War, no US government would have released a nuclear posture review that legitimized the first use of nuclear weapons against any opponent. The US did have some crazed generals, such as Lemnitzer and Curtis LeMay who were Dr. Strangelove figures, and there was a James Bond movie about an equally crazed, but fictional, Soviet general.

Even 55 years ago crazed generals such as Lemnitzer were too powerful to be fired. President John F. Kennedy was limited to reassigning Lemnitzer, who pressed JFK to adopt a 9/11-type false flag operation known as Operation Northwoods and to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. It unnerved President Kennedy when he realized that he had an insane Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but Kennedy stood up to him. President Trump failed to stand up to the neoconized Dr. Strangeloves of our time when Trump endorsed the Pentagon’s new nuclear posture review. Compared to JFK, Trump is milktoast.

The new American nuclear posture review is a neoconservative document that has within it the destruction of all life on earth. The insane people responsible for this document are those in the policy positions to implement it. It gives us the paradox that an American president elected in part by his professed intent to normalize relations with Russia has signed off on a posture review that tells Russia and China that Washington has a policy that permits a first strike against them. Clearly, this is not normalizing relations.

Already Russia has experienced a quarter century of American deceit and duplicity. President Gorbachev was promised in exchange for Soviet agreement to the unification of Germany that Washington would not move NATO one inch to the East. But the Clinton Regime moved NATO to Russia’s very border. The George W. Bush Regime withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty. The Obama Regime placed ABM missiles on Russia’s border. And now the Trump Regime tells Russia and China that they are subject to surprise nuclear attack.

Never in the history of mankind has a more reckless, irresponsible, destabilizing act, one that threatens the entirely of humanity, been committed. It is difficult to imagine a government, even one as criminally insane as the US government, telling nuclear powers such as Russia and China that they are subject to US surprise nuclear attack.

Yet the American media is cheering. USA Today declares: “Trump’s plan for nuclear weapons makes sense.”

The Hill, a Washington publication, thinks that threatening Russia and China with a first strike is a reasonable step:

Presstitute CNBC, completely ignoring Washington’s provocative nuclear posture and provocative pursuit of even more nuclear weapons and delivery capabilities, focuses attention on North Korea as the real threat.

When a country intent on world hegemony, as the US clearly is, has a media so compliant with its war intention, the rest of the world had better be on guard. There is no internal check whatsoever on Washington’s aggression toward the world.

Where are the protest voices of the Europeans, the Canadians, the British, the Australians, the Japanese, the South Americans, the Africans, India and Asia? Where are even the voices of Russia and China? If they exist at all they are hidden behind Russian pretensions of “our Western partners,” and Chinese greed for more profits.

The voices do not exist.

Truth is not good news. It doesn’t reassure people or make them feel good. People who don’t feel safe don’t go into debt in order to be able to spend money and make profits for the capitalists who own the news and the governments and the businesses.

Armageddon will bring debt forgiveness, thus reviving an economy that will no longer exist, as no one will be here to pay or to collect the debts.

*This article was originally published by Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.
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Old Friday, February 09, 2018
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Default The Fear Driving US Nuclear Strategy

The Fear Driving US Nuclear Strategy

Several authors have already thoughtfully exposed a phenomenal variety of obvious lies, invented threats, strategic misconceptions and flaws – such as the fallacious thinking behind ‘deterrence’ and significantly increased risk of nuclear war given the delusional ‘thinking’ in the document – as well as the political fear-mongering in the NPR. For example, eminent scholar Professor Paul Rogers has pointed out:

‘The risk now is that we are on a slippery slope towards “small nuclear wars in far-off places”, which themselves could either escalate or at the very least break the 70+ year taboo on treating nuclear weapons as usable.’

Stephen Lendman has reminded us that US ‘defense spending far exceeds what Russia, China, Iran and other independent countries spend combined’ and that the US ‘nuclear arsenal and delivery systems can destroy planet earth multiple times over’ with the document suggesting ‘preparation for nuclear war’. Moreover, the NPR ‘falsely claims the nation must address “an unprecedented range and mix of threats” posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other countries’ and this despite the incontrovertible fact that no nation has threatened US security since World War II and none threatens it now.

He further points out that the NPR’s claim that there is ‘an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors’ is ‘utter rubbish’ and that ‘America’s rage for endless wars of aggression, along with its rogue allies, poses the only serious threat to world peace and stability.’

Even Andrew C. Weber, an assistant defense secretary during the Obama administration, has warned that

‘Almost everything about this radical new policy will blur the line between nuclear and conventional’ and ‘will make nuclear war a lot more likely.’

Despite the obvious belligerence in the document, we are supposed to believe, according to words in the NPR, that ‘The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons’ despite the US denunciation of the ‘UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ negotiated by 122 countries just a few months ago in mid-2017.

Presumably, we are supposed to have shorter memories than members of the US administration or to be even more terrified and unintelligent than are they. This would be difficult.

Rather than further critique the document, which several authors have done admirably, I would like to explain my observation immediately above.

Let me start by explaining why those who formulated the current US nuclear strategy, wrote the Nuclear Posture Review, now promote it and are responsible for implementing it, are utterly terrified and quite delusional, and constitute a threat to human civilization.

The NPR is full of language such as this: ‘There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent nonstate actors. These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk.’

Are these individuals, notably including Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense General Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Chief of Staff Marine General John Kelly and National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster, really frightened of countries such as Iran (with its non-existent nuclear arsenal) or North Korea (with its handful of ‘primitive’ nuclear weapons and inadequate delivery systems)? Or are they really frightened of countries such as Russia and China, whose nuclear arsenals pale in comparison to that of the United States and whose strategic posture in any case is decidedly non-aggressive (particularly towards the United States) despite its ongoing provocations of them?

Are US government leaders really so terrified of possible conventional, chemical, biological, space and cyber attacks that they need to threaten nuclear annihilation should it occur?

Well, the answer to each of these questions is that Trump, Mattis, Kelly, McMaster and other US political and military leaders are, indeed, terrified.

However, they are projecting their obvious terroraway from its original source and onto a ‘safe’ and ‘approved’ target so that they can behave in accordance with their terror. They do this because the original cause of their terror – their parents and/or other significant adults in their childhood – never allowed them to feel their terror and to direct and express it safely and appropriately.

Unfortunately, and in this case potentially catastrophically, this dysfunctional behavioural response to deeply suppressed terror cannot ‘work’ either personally or politically for the individuals concerned. Let me explain why.

Evolution devised an extraordinarily powerful response to threats: it gave many organisms, including human beings, the emotion of fear to detect threats as well as other tools that can be used in conjunction with fear to respond powerfully to threats. Hence, in response to a threat, humans are meant to feel their fear and, while doing so, engage other feelings, conscience and intelligence so that the source of the threat can be accurately identified and the most powerful and effective behavioural response to that threat can be devised and implemented. In simple language: We need our fear to tell us we are under threat and to play a part in defending ourselves. In evolutionary terms, this was highly functional.

If, however, during childhood, the fear is suppressed because the individual is too frightened to feel it (usually because their parents deny them a safe opportunity to do so), then they will be unconsciously compelled to project their fear onto those who pose no threat (precisely because these people do not immobilize them with terror) and to endlessly seek to control these people (during childhood this usually means their younger siblings and/or friends, and during adulthood it usually means people of another sex, race, class, religion or nation) so that they can gain relief from experiencing their suppressed (childhood)fear.

The relief, of course, is delusionary. But once someone is terrified, it is not possible for them to behave functionally or powerfully. They will live in a world of delusion and projection, endlessly blaming those who they (unconsciously) project to be a threat precisely because these people are not frightening and not a threat and seem more likely to be able to be ‘controlled’.

This projection and behaviour happen all of the time, both in personal interactions and geopolitically, but it doesn’t usually threaten imminent annihilation, even if, to choose another example, it endlessly and perhaps disastrously impedes efforts to tackle the environmental and other assaults on our biosphere.

It is because parents are frightened to feel and experience their own fear that they also fear their child’s fear and they act (consciously or unconsciously, depending on the context) to prevent the child from feeling this fear, perhaps by doing something as simple as reassuring them.

However, parents also use a variety of methods to distract their child from feeling their feelings. They might offer the child a toy or food to distract them. But another important way in which fear is suppressed is by teaching children to use play as a distraction from having their feelings. This fear might then remanifest in the form of the child wanting others to play with them but particularly by doing so in a game of their choosing and over which they have control (so that they can ensure that their fear is not raised).

Once the child has learned to use gaining control over play to distract themselves from their terror, it might well become a lifetime addiction, subsequently manifesting as a dysfunctional desire for control within a family or perhaps even economically, politically or militarily.

Unfortunately, as some of these children grow up and the nature of their ‘game’ changes, the outcome can have deadly consequences. This is simply because there is never any guarantee that others will submit willingly to control by others. And, if they do not, this can trigger the original person’s (unconscious) terror ‘necessitating’ action – a higher-risk strategy in an attempt to secure this higher degree of control over others – to resuppress their terror.

However, for example, even if the terrified person ends up owning a major corporation and exercising a great degree of control over employees, markets and possibly countries, the terror driving their delusional need for control can never be satisfied. But the same principle applies in other domains as well, including the political and military.

And in the most dangerous collective manifestation of this major psychological disorder, the current US political/military leadership, which has been effectively merged by Trump’s appointment of military generals to his political staff, we now have the situation where a collection of individuals who are terrified and also project their dysfunctional desire for control onto other nations, are willing to threaten (and use) nuclear weapons in a delusionary attempt to feel (personally) ‘in control’.

It is little wonder that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight! See ‘It is now two minutes to midnight: 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.’

So what can we do?

Well, I would tackle the problem at several levels and I invite you to consider participating in one or more of these.

To help prevent this problem from emerging at its source, you are welcome to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’. This will play a vital role in ensuring that children do not grow up suppressing their fear.

Given the extraordinary emotional and other damage inflicted by school, you might consider educational opportunities for your child(ren) outside that framework. See ‘Do We Want School or Education?’

If you suspect that you are not as powerful as you would like, you might consider ‘Putting Feelings First’ so that you can learn to behave with awareness – a synthesis of all of the feedback that your various mental functions give you and the judgments that arise, in an integrated way, from this feedback. This will enable you to love yourself truly and always courageously act out your own self-will, whatever the consequences.

And if you wish to be part of efforts to end violence and war, including the threat of nuclear annihilation, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’and/or using sound nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle.

Our world is poised perilously on the brink of catastrophic nuclear war. This has happened because we have given responsibility for holding the nuclear trigger to a handful of men who, emotionally speaking, are terrified little boys cowering from the imaginary threat of the bogeyman under their bed.

There is no easy way back from this brink. But you can help, both now and in the future, by doing one or more of the suggestions above.
“What we need in this country today is more courage and more belief in the things that we have.”- Thomas J. Watson
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Old Friday, February 09, 2018
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1. No Time for Complacency Over Korea War Threat

2. US and Israel Escalate War on Syria

3. Outing the US Empire: Trump’s Military Parade

4. Pentagon to Allow Nuclear Response to Non-Nuclear Attacks
“What we need in this country today is more courage and more belief in the things that we have.”- Thomas J. Watson
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