Goodbye to International Law

Though the World War II victors promised that the Nuremberg principles would apply not just to the Nazis but to everyone, today’s reality is that international law follows two standards: a lenient one for the West and its friends and a stringent variant for adversaries. This hypocrisy is now being institutionalized, Lawrence Davidson notes.

By Lawrence Davidson

Back in February, I wrote an analysis on the subject of Universal Jurisdiction, which began:

“One of the really progressive acts that followed the end of World War II was the establishment of the principle of universal jurisdiction (UJ). UJ is a legal process that allows states that are signatories to various international treaties and conventions (such as the Geneva conventions) to prosecute alleged violators of these treaties, even when these violations are committed outside the country’s borders.

“This is particularly so if it can be demonstrated that the home government of the accused has no intention of bringing them to trial for the alleged offense. The assumption behind this principle is that the crime committed is so egregious as to be seen as a crime against humanity at large.

“In the wake of the Nazi Holocaust and other such crimes against humanity, UJ was accepted as a necessary and positive legal step by almost all Western nations.”
It has been 66 years since the end of World War II and the memory of the concentration camps has faded (except when invoked as a political tool by Zionists). Nor has the subsequent holocausts such as those in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia been sufficient to keep the issue of crimes against humanity front and center in the governmental minds of the great powers.

The historical fact is that such truly horrible crimes committed at the edges of the European world or beyond have never been seen as symbolically important in the same way the Nazi holocaust was. And so we cease to pay attention. That allows for the erosion of the safeguards against these crimes such as UJ.

Now we have proof of this process of erosion. On Sept. 15, Great Britain changed its UJ law to allow the government, in the person of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to veto any arrest warrant referencing universal jurisdiction issued by a British judge.

What that means is that when crimes against humanity are committed by representatives of a power friendly to Britain, the government can negate any risk of arrest for those persons while visiting British soil. This happens to be the British government’s response to warrants issued for the arrest of Israeli personages such as former foreign minister Lzipi Livni in 2009.

The British UJ law exists by virtue of Great Britain being a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention but that does not seem to matter. For the sake of friendly relations with Israel, the British government is willing to render its obligations under international law moot.
Of course, the British government does not explain its actions that way. Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke insists that the government is “clear about our international obligations.” This change in the law is simply designed to “ensure … that universal jurisdiction cases are only proceeded with on the basis of solid evidence that is likely to lead to successful prosecution.”

The fact that Israeli crimes against the Palestinians are among the best documented seems not to be part of Clarke’s judicial world. Indeed, according to Matthew Gould, Britain’s ambassador to Israel, warrants issued against Israelis for war crimes and crimes against humanity are only “abuses” of Britain’s judicial system carried out “for political reasons.”
Double Standards
In truth, what the British government has done is institutionalize double standards.

Just imagine what would happen if the head of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassem Brigades (Hamas’s military wing) flew into Heathrow to see some sick friend. The British Zionists would have a judge issue a warrant within the hour and the British government would enforce it without question.

Now imagine that at about the same time Israeli Major General Yoav Galant arrived. Galant was Israel’s Chief of Staff during Operation Cast Lead and publicly stated that the operation turned Gaza into an “ideal training zone” to test new weapons that were often themselves banned under international law.

With this new qualification of the UJ law, nothing at all would happen to Galant. And that double standard is absolutely in place “for political reasons.”
This is a disastrous precedent because other countries will almost certainly follow the British example. However, it is not the only case of erosion of international law.

The international law referencing behavior on the high seas has recently been called into question and guess who forced that issue. Israel again. This is function of the fact that all the major powers, and the UN as well, proved willing to let the Israelis off the hook for attacking an unarmed Turkish vessel in international waters and killing nine passengers.

Only Turkey has taken a stand for international law.

Then there is the U.S. corruption of the International Criminal Court (see my analysis “International Law and the Problem of Enforcement” posted on June 4) and finally the repeated use of a U.S. veto at the Security Council to protect its ally again Israel when that country violates international law by moving its own population into occupied territory and commits daily crimes against the Palestinians.
Generally speaking, if it is a great power or allied to one, a state can do just about any horrible thing it wants as long as it does it to its own citizens and within its own borders. Thus, if Hitler, as chancellor of a great power, had just stuck to killing every last German Jew, communist, retarded person, etc. he almost certainly would have gotten away with it.

That is the power of sovereignty.

If Saddam Hussein, as a U.S. ally, had confined himself to killing Iraqi Kurds and Shiites by the tens of thousands, no one would have intervened. But in both of these cases the dictators made the mistake of incurring the wrath of great powers by crossing a border for reasons other than blatant self-defense.

Now the Israelis have shown that this criterion (sticking to your own territory when you do your killing) to be an arbitrary one. They cross borders all the time (as does their great power patron). My guess is that, unlike Iraq, the Israelis could have invaded Kuwait and gotten away with it!

That is because they are more than just protected by the United States. Washington does not control its ally, its ally controls Washington.

Israeli front organizations such as AIPAC control the information flow and dictate relevant Middle East foreign policy to the government of the “greatest power on earth.” That is why joint resolutions, standing ovations for the likes of Netanyahu, and such stupid proclamations as “Israel has the right to annex the West Bank” flow uninterrupted from the halls of Congress.
It is odd. The only thing that stands between all of us and the next holocaust is international law and treaty provisions such as universal jurisdiction.

But who cares? Not the U.S. or British governments and not the Zionists. No. Memory fades and double standards are, after all, a universal human failing.

So it is just a matter of time before it happens all over again. Not in some faraway place like the Balkans or Africa or the Far East, but once more right here in the West. Just as if the primary civilian disaster of World War II never happened.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism

11 comments for “Goodbye to International Law

  1. Ronald Haak
    September 27, 2011 at 12:59

    Your full account foreshadows our doom as a species. Humans can’t see beyond short term advantages. When Russia mobilized in 1914, the Czar’s ministers chortled it would catch Germany unawares and give Russia increased diplomatic maneuvering in the discussions ahead. They were hypnotized by this momentary advantage. Germany responded by declaring war immediately and all the landmarks were swept away in the following catastrophe. As you point out, short term thinking dominates us now once again. Thank you for this update on developments.

  2. delia ruhe
    September 24, 2011 at 03:36

    Well, Professor Davidson, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. After watching those appalling performances at the UN today — both Obama’s and Bibi’s — I was made to understand yet again that the West is on its way out. And good riddance! There are rising powers in other parts of the world who are just not going to put up with us for much longer. Institutions are man-made things, and what is institutionalized by one alliance of dominators can be de-institutionalized by their successors.

  3. IZ fan
    September 23, 2011 at 22:10

    Perhaps we can best celebrate the “Neuremberg” principles by listening to Israel…”IZ” KamakawiwoÊ»ole -who asked only that we look for that promised land, “Somewhere, Over the Rainbow”. A beautiful person, a soul we can never replace, and a Native American whose passing will remain a scar on the soul of America. IZ, I miss you. You are:”Somewhere over the Rainbow”, along with Louie, “Moms”, Abraham, Martin, Bobby, and John.


    • Rababa Gorzono
      September 26, 2011 at 13:00

      Absolutely incoherent. What were you smoking in the Great Tipi?

      • IZ fan
        September 28, 2011 at 18:02

        Thanks for a real good belly laugh! My point exactly: Our recent interpretations of “International Law” are absolutely incoherent.

        “International law follows two standards: a lenient one for the West and its friends and a stringent variant for adversaries. This hypocrisy is now being institutionalized, Lawrence Davidson notes.”

        In answer to your question, I was smoking Marlboros.

        • IZ fan
          September 28, 2011 at 18:22

          Sweet Jesus! Rababa, I’m still laughing so hard I can hardly type. You made my day!

          “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Robert H. Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Neuremberg

          Drive on brother, we’re neither of us incoherent. They are.

          • IZ fan
            September 29, 2011 at 00:57

            Rababa, may God bless you; I’m still laughing my ass off. Mahalo.

  4. flat5
    September 23, 2011 at 20:05

    Davidson is just a shill for Hamas, who has sworn the destruction of Israel, and an apologist for the theocratic “governments” such as Iran.

    Whose View Of Islam Do You Trust: Pa. Professors Or Pa. Police?

    Thursday, February 26, 2009 Which Pennsylvania institution do you think is doing the better job educating its students about Islam, West Chester University or the Municipal Police Officer Education & Training Commission?

    The answer lies in a comparison between a conference West Chester University hosted recently called “Islam In America: Understanding Intercultural Differences” and a course the Commission is mandating for its law enforcement personnel, “Radical Islam: A Law Enforcement Primer.”

    The panelists chosen for the West Chester University program appear to have been plucked from a who’s who of apologists for Islam.

    There was Iftekhar Hussain, chairman of the Council on America Islamic Relations (CAIR) for Pennsylvania. The U.S. Department of Justice, labeled CAIR as part of a Hamas-affiliated conspiracy in the United States. “Since its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” says Justice, “CAIR has conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists.”

    At the conference, Mr. Hussain portrayed CAIR and other like-minded groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Freedom Foundation, Islamic Society of North America and Muslim Students Association as merely civil-rights or benign social organizations. When he was asked whether the terrorist-front group, the Holy Land Foundation, helped finance CAIR, Mr. Hussain dismissed the allegation as the amount was only $5,000. When he made the unsubstantiated claim that hate crimes against Muslims were increasing, but then told that the FBI found hate crimes against Muslims were actually decreasing, he called the FBI findings “lies.”

    Then there was Imam Hassan Qazwini. In the 1980s, just after the onset of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Qazwini immigrated to Iran with his family. In 1998, he founded the Young Muslim Association, aimed at educating Muslim American youth. He also heads a mosque that hosted avowed anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. When Minister Farrakhan called Jewish Americans “forces of evil” with a “Satanic mentality,” Imam Qazwini and his congregants gave Minister Farrakhan a standing ovation. At the WCU conference, he described “jihad” as “the inner struggle one has to go through to be a better person … not to gossip, not to steal, not to lie.” He made no mention that radical Muslims understand “jihad” to mean Islamic revolution, and the motivating force behind Muslim terrorism. He claimed: “Over 99 percent of Muslims are peace-loving and law-abiding” when most experts say 10 percent are radical Islamists. At 120 million people, this is equal to about one-third of the population of the United States. Imam Qazwini is also reportedly a close associate of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, spiritual leader of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which has murdered scores of Americans.

    But if these special guests of West Chester University, ( and its numerous co-sponsoring university groups) didn’t show up, WCU could have relied on their in-house propagandists.

    Dr. Lawrence Davidson, professor of history, teaches courses in modern Middle Eastern history and is the author of America’s Palestine: Official and Popular Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood. In a January 2009 article in Counterpunch, Dr. Davidson defends the terrorist group Hamas, (a group that openly calls for the murder of Jews), and makes the patently false and hysterical claim that Israel (not Hamas) “has slowly turned the Gaza territory into a besieged ghetto “and accuses Israel of “committing crimes against humanity” without any evidence to support his scurrilous accusation. He offers not a word about Hamas stealing U.N. aid meant for the people of Gaza.

    In the same article, Dr. Davidson puts forward other delusional ranting that causes not a stir among university officials, probably because it fits neatly into their agenda of teaching falsehoods about Israel. Dr. Davidson writes that the United Nations Security Council, which includes Libya, China and Russia “follow[s] the lead of their basically pro-Zionist governments,” and that “resistance groups of Gaza had only their home made missiles to fight back offensively.” The fact that the U.N. confirmed Gazans fired at Israeli civilians using Iranian supplied and Chinese-made Grad and Katyusha rockets (smuggled through Egypt) is immaterial. He, like the debunked Jimmy Carter, accuses Israel of being an apartheid society, despite the fact that 10 Arab Israelis serve in the Knesset, one Arab Israeli serves on its Supreme Court and several other Arab Israelis serve as diplomats and cabinet ministers. Not to mention Israeli Arabs and other minorities enjoy equal rights and have a higher standard of living than Arabs in other Middle Eastern lands.

    At the conference, he asked and answered his own question: “Why were we attacked on 9/11? According to Bush, because Muslims hate our values.” Of course, President Bush differentiated between the Muslim faith and radical Islam. But Dr. Davidson kept Mr. Bush’s distinction a secret. Dr. Davidson openly admitted coercing his students to attend this one sided conference, saying “some of the students have been dragooned here – it’s for your own good.” Some faculty members dangled the carrot of extra credit in front of their students, making it difficult to choose not to attend.

    • Rababa Gorzono
      September 26, 2011 at 13:07

      So 120 million Muslims are terrorists? When we read this in your paragraph above, we know how temperate and truthful you are throughout.

  5. Grant Jones
    September 23, 2011 at 02:25

    You write well, and honestly, but [short of a massive change in public opinion] you will probably never influence those in power to change, even with a bull-horn. Truth and fairness is what the US gives “lip-service” to . . . whereas duplicity and taking advantage are concepts the US “pragmatically” embraces with enthusiasm.

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