Here they come!
Blog No. 136.
It is odd how things all seem to come together at the same time. As readers of my blog will know, my current, personal preoccupation is with the NZ government’s on-going and unabashed abuse of the human rights of my friends, Harmon and Carolyn Wilfred. http://www.khakispecs.com/?tag=harmon-wilfred The failure of the government to answer my, or the Wilfreds’ lawyer’s questions on the subject and its blatant attempts to conceal the extent of its breaches of the law and what those, who elected it, would regard as good conduct, have brought home to me many home truths about the current practice of democracy in neo-liberal political systems. In short, I have become increasingly sensitised to the need for open and transparent government.
Regular readers of my blogs will also know that I have long been an advocate of improved global governance (e.g. see my blog on Syria http://www.khakispecs.com/?p=1759 and my recent Blogs Nos. 131 & 132.) With that interest in mind, I have just taken up the recently published “World Peace through Law” by Harvard’s Prof. James T. Ranney. http://worldbeyondwar.org/world-peace-law/ Ranney is an articulate advocate of the development and rule of international law as a practical substitute for the still current, endemic resort to war. (His book will be the subject of a future blog.)
James Ranney with another renowned advocate of arms reduction and the rule of international law.
The third strand to go into this blog is my long-standing interest in Middle Eastern affairs and particularly events in Syria and the future of the Kurds.
So where do the strands come together? Firstly we have the egregious breaches of international law that are being committed by the USA in Syria (and elsewhere) as a superpower that considers the waging of war to be its right. Powerful elements within the US government (as in Israel, the USA’s close ally in its Syrian interventions) regard the existence of international law as an unacceptable interference in their nation’s sovereign rights. It follows that its on-going development should be actively discouraged and its rules, whenever inconvenient, ignored.
Secondly, when you come to look at concepts of open and transparent democracy, you soon come to Abdullah Ocalan’s idea of democratic confederalism and the Kurds of Rojava (the Kurdish inhabited province of north eastern Syria) who are putting it into practice. http://www.khakispecs.com/?p=1844 The Syrian Kurds are embroiled, with the support of Israel and the USA in, what is, on their part, a heroic struggle for autonomy under an open democracy, and, from Israel’s and the USA’s viewpoint, a convenient tool to be used to break up the legitimate government of Syria.
This would become an inordinately, long blog (even my Khakispecs’ standards) if I pursued each of the above themes at length. If a reader wants further insight into open government from an NZ viewpoint they could do little better by way of introduction than read these two Scoop articles by Joe Cederwall. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1709/S00001/open-government-inoculating-against-fascism.htm and http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1709/S00045/how-to-vote-to-ensure-a-more-open-government.htm
For the Wilfreds there are a series of new developments that will shortly be the subject of a press release. This won’t happen until the outcome of the recent NZ election is announced and the final shape of the next government emerges from the fog. It could be that a change of government will result in a positive change of attitude to human rights and openness. Perhaps too, there will be a reassessment of the extent of the ‘national interest’ in playing footy- footy with the CIA over an affair that should be of increasing concern to NZ and of diminishing concern to the CIA. After all, the extent of the CIA’s criminality is now generally recognised throughout most of the western world and Harmon’s testimony can hardly add to it. (Here is an URL, recently given to a film-maker who is considering Harmon’s story as a possible sequel to Tom Cruise’s newly released ‘Mena.”) http://www.suzanmazur.com/?p=35 It was Harmon’s Guatemalan note that was to replace the CIA’s loss of its Mena trafficking business.
Tom Cruise on set.
So we now come to the question of the USA’s attitude to international law. Historically, the USA has never been overly concerned with the obligation to respect other nations’ rights that the concept of international law embodies. Given the current hoo-ha about the alleged (and completely unproven) Russian interference in Hillary’s lost election, this summary of US illegal interventions in other nations’ government proceedings helps develop an appropriate perspective. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47701.htm
In Syria, despite bland statements issued by the State Department (or what remains after Trump’s gutting of it) that “The United States opposes violence and unilateral moves by any party to alter boundaries” other elements within the US military and intelligence agencies would appear to have other ideas. American intervention on the ground continues to be promoting the break-up of the Syrian state. It should be stressed that such action is completely against all the norms of international law, the fundamental basis of which, the recognition of the sovereignty of states over their own territory, was encoded as long ago as 1648. Tell that to the Israelis in the Golan Heights, or the American Special Forces trying to seize Syria’s oil and gas fields, using paid Arab tribal mercenaries as their front-men. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47899.htm
The US appears to be encouraging the Kurds to break away from Syria, by armed force rather than by negotiation. Whereas, properly encouraged, the Rojavan Kurds, as followers of Ocalan’s teachings, could negotiate a satisfactory degree of autonomy within the reunified Syrian state. (The same, however, might not apply to the Iraqi Kurds, who are still governed under a traditional, conservative, corrupt, nepotistic, power-structure.) Stop press: today I have read that Assad has been persuaded to accept in principle the concept of an autonomous Kurdish province within Syrian boundaries. The end of this US sponsored war is now clearly in sight. This will be a great victory for Russia’s diplomacy and a cause of anguish to the American/Israeli factions eager to continue the civil war that they created, seemingly, until the last drop of Syrian blood has been shed. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds/damascus-says-syrian-kurdish-autonomy-negotiable-report-idUSKCN1C10TJ
The Syrian campaign is just one theatre of the USA versus Russia and China conflict. Other flagrant breaches of international rule of law are occurring in other theatres. The most toxic and recent of these has been Donald Trump’s threat to annihilate North Korea. Uttering such threats is definitively contrary to international law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Court_of_Justice_advisory_opinion_on_the_Legality_of_the_Threat_or_Use_of_Nuclear_Weapons
But who is to complain? This is the USA, the exceptional and most powerful nation the Earth has ever seen. However, the way things are going, that predominance may not last for that much longer. The danger is that during te impending period of uncertainty as to the outcome of the fast developing challenge to its power, it could be led into ill-considered decisions that have disastrous consequences all round.
The American Empire was established in the post WWII re-construction era on the soft power of the USA’s being the root of all money and the favourable contrast its society made with the harsh conditions of the two primitive communist alternatives then on offer. Since then the threat of primitive communism has disappeared and the USA now sees its soft-power facing increasingly effective competition from other powers, most notably the Russia/China bloc, with even western nations within the Washington consensus becoming less committed to US suzerainty. As the USA’s soft-powers of persuasion diminish, it seems to be becoming increasingly reliant on its military prowess. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176311/tomgram%3A_william_hartung%2C_the_trillion-dollar_national_security_budget/#more and for nuclear weaponry https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/USNuclearModernization
The soft-power that established the global economy based on the reserve currency of the US dollar kept undreamed of wealth flowing into the coffers of the elite 1% of US citizens. That wealthy elite is now clearly unhappy at the thought of ceding such privilege. A convincing argument for the reasons for the recent and on-going squandering of American wealth on its runaway defence budgets is that the one percent is embarked on an effort to maintain by hard-power the position of privilege that is no longer guaranteed by soft-power.
In effect, a future is envisaged in which the new, super-armed, USA becomes a pirate ship, equipped to plunder the wealth of other nations through its military capability. What was once a mutually beneficial fair-trade partner, seems set on a path that will ultimately exhaust its economy and with it, the patience of its population, in a race to ensure it retains a preponderance of military power sufficient to force an alliance of all other nations into its economic orbit (or, as with Iraq, Libya and Syria, destroy them.)
As its military, hard-power waxes, its soft-power wanes and the sun sets on its empire, the USA’s willingness to conform to the rule of international law looks set to decline yet further. In an increasingly destabilised and nuclear armed world, this ambition to retain a position of dominance could involve all humanity in the game of fire and the fury that the mentally deranged dotard has promised little Rocket Man.
With nothing to lose but the chains of international law!
One lives in hope that for a few more years at least, humanity will continue to avoid burial under the tonnes of guano being produced by the bats in Washington’s belfry. I am looking forward to finishing Professor Ranney’s book!