Wednesday, November 21, 2007

“We are the upholders, not the violators, of international law”

The decade-long dissolution of Yugoslavia is one of the most widely misunderstood cluster of events in recent history. The cynical manipulation of local political problems by the United States under Clinton, and Western Europe, through the UN and NATO, helped set the stage for the wars under the Bush Administration. Liberals and erstwhile leftist intellectuals have a lot to answer for when it comes to misinformation about these years, as well as the general acceptance of the idea of "humanitarian interventions", which can only be seen as a grotesque comedy. I've previously recommended Diana Johnstone's excellent book Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusion. Let me now urge you to read "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study in Inhumanitarian Intervention (and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse", at the Monthly Review, by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson. The article is very long, but I think it's absolutely crucial reading. (And, hey, it's shorter than Johnstone's book.) (The quotation in the title to this post is attributed to NATO spokesman Jamie Shea, commenting on the relationship between NATO and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) --the former having "established" and being "'amongst the majority financiers' of the tribunal".) (Thanks to Stan Goff at Feral Scholar for the link.)

Speaking of deluded Liberals and confused Leftists, let me also point you to CounterPunch, where Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair recently posted a three-part series on Hillary Clinton (one, two, three). Sometimes Cockburn can seem contrarian just for the hell of it (cf. his views on global warming) and here he and St. Clair occasionally overstate the credibility of certain sources, but these pieces are worth reading, especially for those who still cling to the idea that Clinton would be any kind of "progressive" leader, or even better than other candidates on issues specifically affecting women, as many otherwise sane commentators still argue.

Finally, I am happy to link, as many others have, to Ronan Bennett's article in the Guardian, "Shame on Us", about Martin Amis' recent idiotic comments (but there are so many!) about Muslims and Islamism, and the shameful lack of outrage they elicited. And I note, as does Steve Mitchelmore, that Ellis Sharp takes issue with Bennett's contrasting praise of Ian McEwan in the same piece.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous David Peterson said...

To The Existence Machine:

As NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea made comments to this effect on two consecutive days during NATO's aggression back in May 1999, my hunch is that he made them more often elsewhere, too. Though the two dates that I distinctly recall were:


* "Press Conference given by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and SHAPE Spokesman, Major General Walter Jertz," Daily Press Briefings, May 16, 2005, < http://www.nato.int/kosovo/press/p990516b.htm >.

* "Press Conference given by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and SHAPE Spokesman, Major General Walter Jertz," Daily Press Briefings, NATO, May 17, 1999, < http://www.nato.int/kosovo/press/p990517b.htm >.


(1) Excerpted from May 16, 1999:

Question : Jamie, I wonder if you could comment on a speech made by Justice Arbour of the International Criminal Tribunal last week, a copy of which I left with your very fine secretary so that you would have reference to it. Judge Arbour in her speech said that as a result of the NATO initiatives being initiated on 24 March the countries of NATO have "voluntarily submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of her court whose mandate applies to the theatre of the chosen military operation and whose reach is unqualified by nationality and whose investigations are triggered at the sole discretion of the prosecutor who has primacy over national courts." Does NATO recognise Judge Arbour's jurisdiction over their activities?
Jamie Shea : First of all, my understanding of the UN resolution that established the Court is that it applies to the former Yugoslavia, it is for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
Secondly, I think we have to distinguish between the theoretical and the practical. I believe that when Justice Arbour starts her investigation, she will because we will allow her to. It's not Milosevic that has allowed Justice Arbour her visa to go to Kosovo to carry out her investigations. If her court, as we want, is to be allowed access, it will be because of NATO so NATO is the friend of the Tribunal, NATO are the people who have been detaining indicted war criminals for the Tribunal in Bosnia. We have done it, 14 arrests so far by SFOR, and we will continue to do it. NATO countries are those that have provided the finance to set up the Tribunal, we are amongst the majority financiers, and of course to build a second chamber so that prosecutions can be speeded up so let me assure that we and the Tribunal are all one on this, we want to see war criminals brought to justice and I am certain that when Justice Arbour goes to Kosovo and looks at the facts she will be indicting people of Yugoslav nationality and I don't anticipate any others at this stage. [#####]

(2) Excerpted from May 17, 1999:

Question : In The Hague last week the NATO governments have argued that the International Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction. I want to know if NATO is afraid of being judged by the International Court of Justice, and also what will happen if NATO is brought before the International Criminal Tribunal, will they also argue that there is no jurisdiction? Is NATO not prepared to recognise the authority of the International Court of Justice?
Jamie Shea : As you know, without NATO countries there would be no International Court of Justice, nor would there be any International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia because NATO countries are in the forefront of those who have established these two tribunals, who fund these tribunals and who support on a daily basis their activities. We are the upholders, not the violators, of international law.
Question : Shouldn't you recognise the jurisdiction then?
Jamie Shea : We obviously recognise the jurisdiction of these tribunals, but I can assure you, when these tribunals look at Yugoslavia I think they will find themselves fully occupied with the far more obvious breaches of international law that have been committed by Belgrade than any hypothetical breaches that may have occurred by the NATO countries, and I expect that to apply to both. So that is our position on that, we recognise international law, in fact we recognise international law so much that when we see a massive violation of it, with thousands of people driven from their homes, thousands of people killed, thousands of young men unaccounted for, others being herded around like cattle within their own country, we don't just shout about it, we do something to stop it because we uphold international law.
Question : Well why don't you recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice?
Jamie Shea : I said we do recognise the jurisdiction.
Question : No, because you were only arguing that it every NATO country was arguing that there was no jurisdiction and you did not deal with the substantive issue. If you believe that international law is so important, why would you not allow the court to judge on these substantive issues.
Jamie Shea : The charge by Yugoslavia was brought under the genocide convention. That does not apply to NATO countries. As to whom it does apply, I think we know the answer there. [#####]


Here, the fraudulence of Jamie Shea's very last remarks deserves to be pointed out.-- When the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia brought its case challenging the legality under the UN Charter (etc.) of the ten different members of the NATO bloc then attacking Yugoslavia before the International Court of Justice in the spring of 1999 (see, e.g., "Legality of Use of Force," http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&code=yus&case=114&k=25 ), the plaintiffs argued that since they REJECTED the World Court's jurisdiction in this case, the World Court therefore LACKED JURISDICTION either to hear the case or to issue an emergency injunction against the NATO states to halt their attack on Yugoslavia. (For the World Court's June 2, 1999 Judgment in the case as it applied to the United States, see http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/114/8036.pdf .)

This is rigging the international system to a degree perhaps unprecedented in world history. But the culture of impunity follows from the power of the states in question. And from the fact that there is nothing at the current juncture -- their own populations or democratic forms of governance in particular -- capable of constraining their lawlessness.

David Peterson
Chicago, USA

November 25, 2007 12:22 PM  
Anonymous David Peterson said...

To The Existence Machine:

To clarify (i.e., to correct a mistatement above -- were there an editing function available, I would have made this correction above):

When the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia went before the International Court of Justice to challenge the legality under the UN Charter (etc.) of the ten different members of the NATO bloc then attacking Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, the NATO-bloc DEFENDANTS countered that since they REJECTED the World Court's jurisdiction in this case, the World Court LACKED JURISDICTION either to hear the case or to issue an emergency injunction against the NATO states to halt their attack on Yugoslavia. (For the World Court's June 2, 1999 Judgment in the case as it applied to the United States, see http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/114/8036.pdf .)

David Peterson
Chicago, USA

(Also see, e.g., "Legality of Use of Force," http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&code=yus&case=114&k=25 .)

November 25, 2007 2:23 PM  

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