What is legal, and what is justice?

By | April 19, 2012
Why law and justice don't go hand in hand

+John Hardy has a great find here – a very insightful article on what we don't hear about international warfare. Any historian will tell you that historical accounts are always biased, because 'the victors are the ones who write the history books.' It turns out that they writee not only history books, but laws too. Basically, we all live under laws contrived by aggressors wanting to take over the world. No wonder our leaders are so corrupt – the system their predecessors worked to establish is working by design!

Reshared post from +John A Hardy

This is a really important article by Chase Madar which focuses on what so-called legal warfare licenses. We often assume that international humanitarian laws of warfare are designed to protect non-combatants and to constrain authorities from using excessive violence. The reality is that international laws permit a lot of violence and murder because they have been written largely by the perpetrators of that violence. International watchdogs can only monitor breaches in those laws but few people other than the occasional whistleblower like Bradley Manning actually focus on the ethics and justice of those laws.

Instead we get the usual "war is hell" argument and move on.

Actually war is more than hell. It is a psychosis of the state and focussing solely on the legality of those actions is giving license to far more than most of us would find acceptable if we took the time to look into it.

Even though the laws of war have usually been one more weapon of the strong against the weak, a great deal of their particular brand of legalism has seeped into antiwar discourse. One of the key talking points for many arguing against the invasion of Iraq was that it was illegal — and that was certainly true. But was the failure to procure a permission slip from the United Nations really the main problem with this calamitous act of violence? Would U.N. authorization really have redeemed any of it? There is also a growing faith that war can be domesticated under a relatively new rubric, “humanitarian intervention,” which purports to apply military violence in precise and therapeutic dosages, all strictly governed by international humanitarian law.

Here is where the WikiLeaks disclosures were so revealing. They remind us, once again, that the humanitarian dream of “clean warfare” — military violence that is smoothly regulated by laws that spare civilians — is usually a sick joke. We need to wean ourselves from the false comfort that the law is always on the side of civilians. We need to scrap our tendency to assume that international law is inherently virtuous, and that anything that shocks our conscience — that helicopter video or widespread torture in Iraq under the noses of U.S. soldiers — must be a violation of this system, rather than its logical and predictable consequence.

Let’s be clear: what killed the civilians walking the streets of Baghdad that day in 2007 was not “war crimes,” but war. And that holds for so many thousands of other Afghan and Iraqi civilians killed by drone strikes, air strikes, night raids, convoys, and nervous checkpoint guards as well.

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What the Laws of War Allow (Madar)
Juan | Uncategorized

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