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Chomsky on Iran and International Law

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International law you can forget about. The United States just violates international law with impunity. Nobody even notices it. Every time any political figure opens his mouth about Iran and they say “all options are on the table,” meaning “if we want to bomb you we will.” There happens to be something called the UN Charter which is the foundation of modern international law. The US was very proud to have helped implement it. Take a look at Article II; you don’t have to go very far. It bans the threat or use of force in international affairs. The threat!  So, if you say “We are going to bomb you,” that itself is a violation of international law, let alone sending around assassination teams all over the place to kill people. They happen to come from the sky, but they are still assassination teams. Just suppose that Iran was assassinating people at random in the United States because they are standing on street corners and they think “they can harm us some day,” so what would the reaction be?

In fact, the Iran case is extremely interesting, especially when you talk about nuclear war. Take a look at the presidential debates, or the press. [They say] the greatest threat to world peace is Iran’s nuclear capability, which maybe they don’t have, but nevertheless that is the greatest threat to world peace. “Capability,” notice, not bombs. That is uniform, across the board.

It does raise some questions for a person who can break out of the propaganda system for thirty seconds. First of all, who thinks so?  Well, it turns out to be a Western obsession. Most of the world doesn’t think so. The Arab world, which is sitting right there, they don’t like Iran, hostilities go back a long time, they don’t regard Iran as a threat. There are good polls of Arab public opinion. They don’t like Iran, but they don’t think of it as much of a threat. The threat they see is Israel and the United States. That is the threat and it is pretty realistic. Now that is not what is reported here. What is reported is that the Arabs support us in Iran. What that means is that the dictators support us. So, maybe the dictators support us. But, if the dictators support us, and the populations are all against us, that means “they support us,” because [U.S. power’s] hatred of democracy is so profound that it just doesn’t matter what people think. As long as the dictators support us and they can keep the populations under control we’re fine. That is deep and it is again elite opinion, and not, you know, so called “rednecks.”

So first, the non-aligned movement, which is most of the world, they don’t regard Iran as much of a threat. It is a US and to some extent a European obsession. OK, let’s say it is a real danger, let’s agree. How do you deal with it?  There happens to be a very simple way which could be implemented tomorrow, literally tomorrow. What you do is move towards a nuclear weapons free zone in the region. Just move towards it. That alone would begin to mitigate the threat. If you can implement it, that eliminates the threat such as it is. It happens to be supported by the whole world. It is not hard to implement.

At the last meeting of the non-aligned movement, they again called for it. The non-aligned countries are pressing for it very hard. Egypt has been in the lead for years in trying to move towards a nuclear weapons free zone. The support is so strong that Obama had to verbally say “Yea, it is a good idea,” although they added “not now, and it has to exclude Israel.”   OK, so no nuclear weapons free zone.

Can you implement it?  Sure. This month, December, there was supposed to be an international conference in Helsinki, Finland, to move toward establishing the framework for a nuclear weapons free zone. Well, Obama was quiet about it for awhile, until Iran said they would attend. As soon as Iran said they would attend, in early November, within days Obama canceled it. So, the meeting is canceled. We can’t allow Iran to attend a conference supported by virtually the whole world which would end the alleged Iran threat.

That didn’t end the story. The Arab states and the non-aligned movement continued to press for it, even after Obama cancelled it. Right after that the United States announced a nuclear weapons test, which much of the world regards as a violation of the non-proliferation treaty…we’re supposed to be getting rid of nuclear weapons.

Well, all of this happened just in the last couple of weeks and nobody is protesting and there is a very simple reason why nobody is protesting. Nobody knows!  Who knows about any of this? Unless you are a kind of fanatic who carries out your own private research projects, or unless you read some of the very-marginalized left press, I mean I’ve written about it, you can’t know. You can’t know because it hasn’t been reported.

It is kind of amazing, here is “the greatest threat to peace in the world,” and you cannot report the fact that there are ways to deal with it and the United States is blocking them. That is a degree of subordination to power that I don’t think could be achieved in a totalitarian state. And it is totally internalized. If you ask an editor they won’t know what you are talking about. There is no force; nobody’s got a gun to your head. There is no threat if you don’t report it.

You do find a couple of words here and there, maybe sometimes. The Washington Post reported a couple of lines from a Reuters wire service report. I think that is about it. Nothing happens to you. It is just internalized. You subordinate yourself to power, period. It doesn’t matter how significant the issues are. So, we’re moving on.

In fact, there was a meeting just a couple of days ago; it was organized by WINEP, “The Washington Institute for Near East Policy” which the press constantly turns to as a neutral source for analysis on the Middle East. It is an offshoot of AIPAC. They know it. But that is the “neutral” source. They just had a conference a couple of days ago in which Dennis Ross and a couple of these guys sounded off.  They say they know, I don’t know how they know, or whether they know, in the Obama Administration they are planning a few months of negotiations and if that doesn’t work then we bomb them.

OK, so you asked about international law?  Forget it. In fact, even technically the United States is self-immunized to international law. One of the things everybody ought to learn in elementary school is that when the United States agreed to join the World Court in 1946 (which the U.S. helped set up) it added a reservation — the U.S. cannot be charged under any international treaty. So it cannot be charged with any violations of the UN Charter, the Organization of American States, or any serious international treaty. So sure, we are immune to international law.

In fact, we are immune to trial under the “Genocide Convention.”  That was a reservation. Sure, we’ll sign it after forty years, but it doesn’t apply to the United States. All of this, incidentally, has come up in the “World Court,” in the international tribunals, and the U.S. position has been accepted. “Yes, you guys are free to violate laws as much as you want,” because the structure of the international tribunals is that both sides have to agree, unless you are trying some African, then you can do whatever you like, but among people who are considered human both sides have to agree, somebody has to agree to be subject to the jurisdiction. And so the U.S. is human, so therefore we are not subject to it. So even raising the question of international law is kind of beside the point in the United States.


[From ZCommunications | Hitting Society With A Sledgehammer by Noam Chomsky | ZNet Article]

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Written by Sean Bozkewycz

January 25, 2013 at 13:45

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

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