Sunday, March 23, 2003

Random thought on international law
One of the things that most bothers me about this war is the problem of explaining means and ends. That is, so many of my fellow citizens accept the ends of the administrations actions as justifying the means while I hold out for pure means. To whit: the war itself. When the administration points out that Saddam is bad, I agree. That he wants to possess weapons that will destabilize the region and should be stopped, I agree. He is a murderous thug, I agree. He must go, I agree. Saddam should be dragged before an international tribunal in boxer shorts and a tiara, I agree. We should castrate the UN and NATO to do it whenever and however we damn well feel like it, I do not agree. The means matter. The context matters. Thus, while I agree with the goal, I hate the means.

This brings me our good friend Secretary Rumsfeld. Today he announced that we wil hold the Iraqis to a strict enforcement of the Geneva Convention with regard to the treatment of US POWs. How can I disagree with that? I’m a big fan of the Geneva Convention and international law in general. And yet it makes my teeth hurt to hear a serial violator of that same convention piously demand its application. As Professor Joan Fitzpatrick pointed out, this administration is in serious violation of that same convention for mistreatment of prisoners. Rumsfeld is a war criminal demanding that his enemies not violate the same laws he and his boss have been violating. Is it any wonder I can't watch the news at night without damaging my TV?

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