Obama’s Speech to the UN and His Challenge to the Fundamental Principle of International Law
By Dennis Loo (9/25/13)
“Sovereignty cannot be a shield for tyrants to commit wanton murder, or an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye to slaughter.”
Obama said this in his address before the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013.
Another, more transparent way of saying what Obama said is this: “The foundational principle of the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Tribunal is wrong: wars launched upon a country that has not attacked you first is not the supreme international crime.”
The ban against aggressive war is international law’s linchpin principle because without it all of the rest of international law falls apart.
Without the ban on aggressive war any government can always declare that either a) the other side shot first or is going to use its WMD on it and thus we had to attack, or b) crimes committed within another nation require that we intervene and launch a war upon that other nation.
If you don’t have a ban on aggressive war then A) and B) cannot be challenged and must always prevail. In that case, then there is no longer a reason for international law in the first place because there are no binding international rules and it’s every nation for itself.
Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland provides an instructive example of why the ban on aggressive war was the founding principle for the UN. His actions in precipitating WW II are chiefly what led to the UN being founded.
As described by Wikipedia:
For months before the 1939 invasion, German newspapers and politicians like Adolf Hitler accused Polish authorities of organizing or tolerating violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland.
The precipitating incident for the German invasion of Poland was a faux Polish attack (Germans dressed up like Poles) on a German radio station in Gleiwitz, Poland known as the Gleiwitz incident.
Much of what is known about the Gleiwitz incident comes from the sworn affidavit of Alfred Naujocks at the Nuremberg Trials. In his testimony, he states that he organized the incident under orders from Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Müller, chief of the Gestapo.
On the night of 31 August 1939, a small group of German operatives, dressed in Polish uniforms and led by Naujocks, seized the Gleiwitz station and broadcast a short anti-German message in Polish (sources vary on the content of the message). The Germans' goal was to make the attack and the broadcast look like the work of anti-German Polish saboteurs.
To make the attack seem more convincing, the Germans brought in Franciszek Honiok, a German Silesian known for sympathizing with the Poles, who had been arrested the previous day by the Gestapo. Honiok was dressed to look like a saboteur; then killed by lethal injection, given gunshot wounds, and left dead at the scene, so that he appeared to have been killed while attacking the station. His corpse was subsequently presented as proof of the attack to the police and press.
This campaign justifying the Nazis’ invasion of Poland was known to the Nazi high command as “Operation Himmler.”
Himmler is no longer with us, but the logic behind Operation Himmler continues today.
In every nation on earth today outrages are committed upon some elements within their nation and any other country that wishes to control that other country could use those outrages, real or fabricated, as grounds for launching an attack upon it.
Iran, for example, (or Ecuador, Cuba, Russia, France, et al) could legitimately argue that the greatest source of war in the world today originates from a country that is at this very moment engaged in multiple wars and occupations. This same nation wantonly killed hundreds of thousands in WWII by dropping the dreaded atomic bomb on two cities in Japan (the only country to ever do so), used chemical weapons such as Agent Orange in Vietnam that is still producing terrible birth defects today, uses degraded radioactive warheads in its wars upon Afghanistan and Iraq, also producing cancer and grotesque birth defects, has the largest WMD stockpile in the world, sells more WMD - including chemical weapons - to other countries than any other, including selling anthrax and bubonic plague to Saddam Hussein to use against his rivals, refuses to participate in international agreements to eliminate WMD, tortures and tortures to death people, and this rogue nation’s current president has killed thousands of people, including hundreds of children, with drones. Stopping this renegade nation from continuing to destroy the innocent is arguably before the world as the most important single thing that could be done on behalf of peace.
That is a speech that could be delivered before the UN and it would be in its every particular as stated above as well as in its overall point, absolutely true and documentable voluminously without need for an iota of exaggeration.
Somehow, however, I suspect that Barack Obama would recoil in horror at such an argument that took his logic and applied it to the biggest offender against world peace in the world today.