Sunday, November 25, 2007
The U.S. Aggression
Process and Its Collaborators:
From Guatemala (1950-1954) to Iran (2002-)
by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
We are living in a very dangerous period in which a predatory superpower has embarked on a series of aggressive wars in rapid succession—three on two different continents during the past decade alone. Not only have these wars violated the UN Charter, and constituted what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson declared at Nuremberg to be “the supreme international crime;” not only has it gotten away with its wars, despite their increasingly destructive and murderous nature; but in waging them, the United States has been able to enlist leaders of the “international community” and United Nations in support of its assaults on distant lands. As the world's preeminent multilateral organization, the central purpose of which was purportedly to save humankind from the scourge of war, and to ensure that armed force not be used except for the common defense, we find the UN’s role here to be troubling indeed.
This superpower's wars are opposed by a majority of the world's population, and often even by a majority of the heavily propagandized citizens of its own country. But popular opinion and voter preferences, even when manifested in national elections, as in November 2006, do not determine policy in the United States. Freed at last from any deterrent of the kind the Soviet Union exercised until its demise, and the kind posed for a more abbreviated period by the civil protests that confronted it on its own streets between 1965 and 1974, the U.S. program of "power projection" proceeds apace. Now it sets its sights on Iran, likely to produce a much wider war and one that quite possibly could involve the use of nuclear weapons.
U.S. wars of aggression are certainly not new, nor is its leaders' brazen disregard for international law. Greece, Guatemala, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Panama—these do not exhaust the list of U.S. victims since World War II. What is more, the assumption that international law does not apply to the United States is longstanding. The "propriety of the Cuba quarantine is not a legal issue," former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson explained in reference to Kennedy's naval blockade of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis. "The power, position and prestige of the United States had been challenged by another state; and law simply does not deal with such questions of ultimate power.” For Acheson, any U.S. action to counter alleged threats trumps international law, and law cannot be allowed to interfere with the exercise of the "pre-eminent power" of this country. The belief that although law should apply to others, it never applies to the United States, was internalized long before Acheson's day; and it reaches straight through to the present, widely accepted abroad because the scale of U.S. power permits its leaders to ignore the law with complete impunity.
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