Saturday, February 11, 2006

Fun With Gutting the Notion of International Law!

Good to have you back, officer -- a fine point as well (and nice Colbert reference).

I'm at work today and I'm scanning through my morning news. Now, I'm a professional reporter and so my shock-level is pretty high. It takes a good deal of malfeasance and dubious behavior to cause my eyebrows to jump. Honestly, coming of age under the Bush administration over the years has set my standards so low of what's appropriate in the political game that only small animals have a shot at limboing underneath. And then I read this L.A. times piece about a just-published book:

It was the end of January 2003. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was five days away from giving a critical speech at the U.N. Security Council, laying out the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction and posed a danger to world peace.

But huddled with aides at the White House, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were not sure there was enough evidence to convince the Security Council. Without the council's explicit authorization, their plans for an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein could be difficult to defend under international law.

Bush proposed an alternative: paint a U.S. spy plane in United Nations colors and see if that didn't tempt Hussein's forces to shoot at it. In any case, he said, the war was "penciled in" for March 10 and the United States would go ahead with or without a second U.N. resolution.

Can this possibly be true? Are we really living in an age where foreign policy is conducted in the same vein as a Marx Brothers comedy? The article later notes that British news have read on-air excerpts from the memos used by the book, lending it a fairly substantial air of legitimacy. Of course, I can already hear those on the right pooh-poohing this, in part, by saying this plot never happened outside of a brainstorming session and thus cannot be considered bad form. But the underlying point remains: If the Bush administration was so sure that this war was necessary, why even consider faking the rationale?

(The book is apparently not solely about the Iraq war but, instead, how Bush & Blair "undermined the 'rules-based' international system built largely by the United States and Britain after World War II." Yeah, I have no idea what that means exactly, beyond what seems obvious, or what the repercussions might be for that undermining. Seems like the sort of thing a Princeton grad could explain...)


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