To Save Israel, US Destroys International System it Built

The coming years shall prove that the crisis in international legitimacy, resulting from the abuse of power, will hardly be rectified with superficial changes and reforms, writes Ramzy Baroud.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield voting against Algeria’s ceasefire in Gaza resolution on Feb. 20, 2024. (UN Photo/Manuel Elías)

By Ramzy Baroud
Common Dreams

In a conversation in 2020, Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk told me that historically, colonized nations that have won the battle for legitimacy have always won their freedom.

Palestine is unlikely to be the exception. The Gaza war, however, is confronting the world with an unprecedented challenge, specifically to governments’ relationship with international law and their obligations to international institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and others. 

“The government is not legitimate unless it is carried on with the consent of the governed,” English philosopher John Locke said in the 17th century. This is not a mere theory, and it will always be applicable. 

Consent, however, does not always reflect itself in the form of transparent and democratic elections. Legitimacy and loyalty to governments can be expressed in other ways as well. Those who do not respect this maxim could easily find themselves embroiled in political upheavals and violent rebellions resulting from popular dissent.

To maintain a degree of international consensus, the United Nations was founded in 1945. It was obvious, from the very start, that the U.N. did not truly reflect the universal desires of all people. To the contrary, it was structured on a hierarchical power paradigm, where the victors of World War II emerged as the masters, assigning themselves veto rights and permanent membership at the U.N. Security Council (UNSC). As for the serfs, they were assigned with far less consequential seats in the General Assembly.

The U.N. provided the absolute minimum platform of international legitimacy, but its unequal structure spurred yet another conflict, expressed in the words of British scholar Adam Groves, who described the “privileged status of the permanent five” in the U.N. Security Council not only “as a Western-centric relic of the past, but worse, a means for the status-quo powers to limit the influence and development of other states.”

To survive the inequality of the new international system, smaller countries worked together to create alternative, albeit smaller, political bodies within the larger institutions. They used their large numbers to overcome the concentrated power in the hands of the few. They exploited every margin to represent the rights of the world’s poorest and most oppressed nations.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), founded in 1961, was one of several examples that served as, though in relative terms, a success story. 

Molding a Version of Legitimacy

U.N. event at New York headquarters on July 17, 2023, celebrating 25th anniversary of the adoption of the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Throughout the years, the U.S. and its Western allies molded their own version of “legitimacy” in the way they interpreted international law, in the way they vetoed U.N. resolutions whenever they did not serve their interests, and in the way they isolated defiant members.

During the Soviet era, the U.N. and its relevant institutions seemed nominally balanced, as the world was, indeed, divided between East and West, which gave the Nonaligned Movement and other mostly Global South-based organizations and alliances greater political value.

Back then, China’s economic power did not allow it to impose its version of legitimacy on the rest of the world. 

Things have changed. The Soviet front crashed in the early 1990s, breaking down a power paradigm that allowed Moscow to maintain a balancing act. On the other hand, China rose in power, slowly acquiring greater influence, thus legitimacy, from countries that grew reliant on the Chinese economic engine. 

Another Shift 

Richard Falk, former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, in 2017. (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Another shift is underway. When one listens to the impassioned speeches of Russian, Chinese, Brazilian, South African, Irish, Egyptian, Saudi, and UAE representatives, one can see that international consensus is strongly coalescing around the legitimacy of international and humanitarian laws, not only regarding the ongoing war on Gaza, but in other matters of international peace and justice.

Yet, when U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield raised her hand for the fourth time, on Feb. 20, casting yet another veto, thus rejecting the Algerian call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, another pillar of international legitimacy broke down. 

Even at the ICJ, when the whole world made a case for Palestinian freedom, the U.S. opposed. “The Court should not find that Israel is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory,” the acting legal adviser for the U.S. State Department, Richard Visek, said on Feb. 21. 

Ironically, the U.S. has resorted to these various institutions, including the ICC, of which the U.S. is not even a member, to rationalize its actions in Iraq, in Serbia, in Libya, in Ukraine, and many other areas of conflict. 

There will be consequences to all of this, and the coming years shall prove that the crisis in international legitimacy, resulting from the abuse of power, will hardly be rectified with superficial changes and reforms. The problem is now much more profound and destructive, and the price is simply too high to bear. 

Military might alone is hardly enough for any country to acquire and sustain its legitimacy. Neither does economic influence or clever diplomacy. For legitimacy to be maintained, it requires much more than this, starting with the very basic premise that the spirit of international law was not meant to prolong war, but to end it.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books including: These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (2019), My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (2010) and The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (2006). Dr. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is

This article is from Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

27 comments for “To Save Israel, US Destroys International System it Built

  1. wildthange
    March 9, 2024 at 21:04

    Yes and there is a long history toe western empires for dominance. We might say monotheism is at the root. Perhaps Rome stole a god and crafted it into a son to defame a religious group they were occupying. Then that religion stole the Roman empire for a transnational empire defaming barbarians as well as the imaginary son killer too. Defamation has long been weapon of war as bitter fruit of genocidal acts
    The God gets drafted to serve the wars as man made appeasement for military profiteering.
    In this age the military/religious profit/prophet motives must be reigned as was considered after WWI which scared the protection racket into full bore permanent war propagation. Western civilization has always been at permanent war. The tensions of civilization are used to build a psychological charge pf stress until something sparks a release of another war as a new economic profit speculation bubble.
    A world wide network no longer can function this way goosing for golden eggs without killing the goose.

  2. Curmudgeon
    March 9, 2024 at 12:19

    “Throughout the years, the U.S. and its Western allies …”
    The US has no allies. It has vassals.

  3. Paula
    March 9, 2024 at 12:00

    Gaddafi made all the same criticisms about the UN to the UN in a famous or not speech he gave holding sway for over an hour in 2009. Some newspapers paid little attention to his speech and what was in it, and rather analyze with those accusations, instead noted Gaddafi’s breaking protocol of a 15 minute presentation. No wonder I don’t read MSM. And why not an hour or more since he hadn’t made an appearance at the UN in 40 years, but was obviously studiously following its actions.

    Let’s get on with these changes. We’ve a world to save.

  4. Paul Citro
    March 9, 2024 at 07:04

    What will this crises in legitimacy mean in actual relations among nations in the future? What consequences can we expect?

    March 9, 2024 at 06:10

    Just a detail: Greenfield-Thomas is not the US “ambassador” to the UN.
    Each national delegate to the UN carries the title: “Representative of … to the United Nations”.
    The self-aggrandizing individuals at the State Department insist on calling the American representatives to the UN ‘ambassadors’, as if they were representing the US in a foreign country. This silliness is ignored in all proceedings at the UN, where the US representative is only ever referred to as such.

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    March 9, 2024 at 05:58

    And anti Semitism will continue to rise for as long as the massacre in Gaza continues.

    • Curmudgeon
      March 9, 2024 at 12:17

      In order to be “anti” something, you have to know to what you are opposed. hxxps://
      Anti-Semitism, like “bigot” and “gay” are words that have been hi-jacked for political purposes.
      My standard reply to being accused of being anti-Semitic is I have nothing against any language group.

    • Unconflatingdifferentiation
      March 10, 2024 at 05:01

      “And anti Semitism will continue to rise for as long as the massacre in Gaza continues.”

      The half-life will be longer as a function of hxxps://

    • March 10, 2024 at 12:15

      Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism

      • Unconflatingdifferentiation
        March 11, 2024 at 10:56

        “Anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism”

        Correct and why the Zionists have conflated “Jews” with Zionism from the “crowd-funding Jewish Fund” from 1901 onwards in facilitation of “zion”, and “Israel” as a facilitator of a Jewish state/home since the activities of Mr. Hertzl and his associates in matters of settler colonialism, a “strategy” implemented in hope by “zionists” world-wide not restricted to A.I.P.A.C.

        An increasing number of non-zionists are becoming aware of the conflations outlined above and their utilities, hence the development of strategies by those who oppose “Zionism” and colonialism, whilst the “Zionists” double down on “their strategies” in hope that violence will retain its potency in a context where many are actively involved in transcending social relations based on coercion self-misrepresented as “The United States of America, Israel, and “friends”.


        ““And anti Semitism will continue to rise for as long as the massacre in Gaza continues.”

        The half-life will be longer as a function of hxxps://”

  7. Pcamus
    March 8, 2024 at 19:45

    A new mindset toward Israel has been sown by Israel itself and by the U.S. A generation of global dislike and contempt towards Israel is on its way. The good of the world has seen what true deep evil lurks within Israel and the U.S. Sadly, what could have been a tiny nation of Godly beliefs leading towards world peace and consciousness is now at the precipice of evil beyond what Satan himself would place on mankind. God help expel the evil heart and mind that lies within the depths of the Israeli nation and the U.S.

    • Horatio
      March 9, 2024 at 10:53

      The new mindset is the same as the old mindset, Pcamus. People were simply not listening. This had been going on since 1948.

  8. Joy
    March 8, 2024 at 18:16

    There must be a permanent ceasefire in Gaza in order to comply with the ICJ ruling. Not with Palestinians suffering under oppressive conditions, but as a place where all live with peace and equality. It is time for Pope Francis to do more than talk. He must go to Gaza and make a stand for peace and freedom.

    Please sign the petition and share widely.


    Let us also support UNRWA. If our governments won’t act in accordance with humanity, then we will. Donate to UNRWA. Let us do it to honor Aaron Bushnell, or in memory of Hind Rajab.

    Let us call for a No Fly-Zone over Gaza!
    Let’s arrest the Biden Administration under 18 U.S. Code § 1091, the US version of the Genocide Convention. Make getting this done a priority for protests all over the US. Consider citizens’ arrests, Writs of Mandamus.

    These are a few small things we can do. If we can do more, let us do more.

  9. Judith Dyer
    March 8, 2024 at 17:30

    It’s a very complicated problem…see Masha Gessen on youtube. Israel has established a propaganda machine that allows them to “get away with anything”.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      March 9, 2024 at 05:56

      A slight correction to “get away with anything”. We, the outsiders, are the ones allowing israel to get away with murder and our deafening silence proves it.

  10. Randal Marlin
    March 8, 2024 at 15:16

    Locke should have said “properly informed consent.”

  11. Em
    March 8, 2024 at 14:21

    “To Save Israel, US Destroys International System it Built” is a false premise.
    That headline is giving the US credit where it is definitely not due!!!
    It is the so-called ‘third-world’ that is arising and beginning to see the light, that is due all the credit, with the BRICS+ countries now way out in the lead.
    By and through its active contributions to Israels genocidal behavior, the US is not saving Israel. It is adding fuel to the fire of oblivious Israel, in its self-destruction and perhaps to that of the entire world.

    Amen and women.

    • John
      March 9, 2024 at 09:11

      FWIW: you are not wrong but concentrating on the reaction to what the US built. The UN, SWIFT, NATO, the largest economy in the world, etc.

      Through the PNAC/neocon-lib over-confidence in “USA, USA, USA”, and resorting solely to military might to steal the wealth of the “rest of the world” (not to mention the utterly STUPID sanctions on Russia) the USA has exposed itself as the tyrant nation it is directly leading to the rise of the BRICS and unification of the “global south”.

      It is an old story, the greed of the tyrant eventually leads to his downfall.

      • Em
        March 9, 2024 at 14:29

        And the moral of the story is………. there is no morality (the extent to which an action is right or wrong).
        Us, fallible humanity, are our own worst enemy!
        We seem not to know what we do, yet we are all Judges.
        It seems that the modus operandi is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” wherein the rules of laws are definitely NOT universally objective.

  12. Valerie
    March 8, 2024 at 12:48

    “humanitarian laws”

    Until we humans understand that we are all one and all connected with our fauna and flora to this finite planet, then “humanitarian laws” are worthless.

    • Michael G
      March 9, 2024 at 10:20

      Well said. Unless we understand that:
      “Philosophy, is the talk on a cereal box, Religion is the smile on a dog”
      – Edie Brickell

  13. Andy Old
    March 8, 2024 at 12:26

    From looking at that picture ….

    Turns out, Dr. King was right. “Content of Character” does matter a lot more than skin color. After all, skin color (nor gender) does not stop any of the people in the picture, including the career climbing subordinates behind the Vote of Genocide, from backing this Genocide and (more) Ethnic Clensing. But instead, it is clearly the content of the character that is missing in these people.

    Which after all, was always the definition of a fascist …. people who love power and will do anything, cross any line, to get power. In other words, the opposite of what the world traditionally refers to as ‘good character’. Look at that picture, and see the people willing to accept Genocide if it furthers their climb up the ladder and gets them a top job in a future administration.

    Hey Democrats … you might try voting for ‘character’, not skin color or gender. But then again ,the last ‘good character’ in the Democratic Party died with Rep John Lewis. Good Character in the Democratic Party would stand out like George Galloway does in Nasty Ol’ England.

  14. Jack Straw
    March 8, 2024 at 11:52

    Some of Genocide Joe’s Symbolic Aid Bombs landed on a group of hungry people, and killed five (more) of them.

    The Aid Bombs are symbolic because they pretend to ‘care’ about the people of Gaza, while at the same time the Axis of Genocide blocks aid to UNRWA and the countries involved (Jordan, Egypt) also collaborate in keeping the borders of Palestine closed from their side. So, while enough aid to feed Gaza stays stacked up on the border behind the prison guards, Genocide Joe and the Axis of Genocide pretend to care by dropping tiny amounts of aid onto Gaza.

    In this case, the parachutes, undoubtedly obtained from the ‘low-cost-bidder’, failed to open, leading to pallets of heavy bags of grain plummeting down onto the heads of starving people. It is of course highly unlikely that the military contractor that provided the parachutes will face any penalty. After all, like the TV show ‘Succession’ said, “no real people involved.” Its not like Israelis died, or anyone important like that. Only Arabs, and we all know what thooooose people are like.

    Of course, instead of symbolic actions to try to avoid the stain of Genocide, America could just end the genocide. But noooooo…

    Way to go, Genocide America.

  15. Francis Lee
    March 8, 2024 at 11:46

    It would appear that the Western powers (particularly the US) have decided that global war is on their agenda. No Ifs and buts. The wretched Europeans have been given their marching orders taking their cue from Uncle Sam. Has their ever been a more wretched gaggle of fools in European capitals. Of course the European ‘war’ is little more than a re-run of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea by the noble 600 (British Cavalry) they got wiped out. So what happens now when the Americans throw their hat into the ring?

    Having talked themselves into this the Americans might well have a real problem with Russia. Rest assured: Submarines, Long-range bombers, Long range RS Szarmat-28. But hey listen to this.

    ”Why Russia’s missiles on Ukraine have limited impact.”

    Oct 12, 2022 · LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters)

    Who exactly do they are kidding!

  16. Drew Hunkins
    March 8, 2024 at 11:32

    The UN was always pretty ineffectual anyways.

    The Washington-Zionist empire basically did whatever the heck it wanted regardless of UN resolutions, votes or General Assembly opinion.

    Over 30K Palestinians have been murdered by the Zionist psychos over the past five mos. Nader thinks that 30K figure is a serious undercount. This carnage, mayhem and sadism inflicted by the Zionist supremacists has taken place all while an impotent UN has sat back and done little to nothing.

    • anon
      March 9, 2024 at 15:37

      And hundreds of thousands more have been burned and maimed, raped, sexually abused, tortured, beaten, starved and humiliated. Like Nazi troops in Eastern Europe before them, the Zionist kiddie killers have been given complete impunity to commit war crimes and atrocities of a Nazi character and on a Nazi scale as official policy. They gleefully post videos of themselves gunning down starving people, smashing up Palestinian homes and children’s toys, defecating over the furniture (a particular Zionist favourite), harassing women, torturing and mutilating prisoners, stealing anaesthetics from aid trucks, stealing valuables and women’s underwear, and vying with each other to find new depths to plumb. They are even stealing corpses from cemeteries on a large scale. All cheered on by the bought and paid for whores of western regimes. We can only hope that one day soon similar treatment is meted out to this Zionist filth

      • Drew Hunkins
        March 10, 2024 at 02:27

        Fantastic comment anon.

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