Remember Anne-Marie Slaughter? In 2003, as the war on Iraq was getting geared up, she was dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton (maybe she still is). In a New York Times op-ed (scroll to the bottom) published March 18, 2003, Slaughter argued that since NATO’s bombing of Kosovo was justified even though it wasn’t authorized by the UN Security Council, maybe just maybe Bush’s invasion of Iraq could be justified too.:
So, how can United Nations approval come about? Soldiers would go into Iraq. They would find irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein’s regime possesses weapons of mass destruction. Even without such evidence, the United States and its allies can justify their intervention if the Iraqi people welcome their coming and if they turn immediately back to the United Nations to help rebuild the country.
The United Nations…cannot be a straitjacket, preventing nations from defending themselves or pursuing what they perceive to be their vital national security interests.
That is the lesson that the United Nations and all of us should draw from this crisis. Overall, everyone involved is still playing by the rules [because they all saw some reason (moral? prudential? whatever..) to involve the UN]. But depending on what we find in Iraq, the rules may have to evolve, so that what is legitimate is also legal.
So the rightness of bombing Kosovo is assumed without argument; Iraq’s posing a threat to the US’s “vital national security interests” is a reasonable possibility; and even if there was no reason before the war to fear Iraq, our finding something after the invasion can serve as a post hoc argument justifying the invasion itself. Remember, she was a dean at Princeton. Amazing.
But now I learn that Slaughter has acquired a seat at the table over at TPM CAFE. And when I saw that she had a post up about today’s London bombings, my curiosity got the better of me. Sadly, not much has changed:
After all the predictions of apocalyptic terrorism, the assurances that we are in a new era in which al Qaedaï¿½s chief goal must be to top its last attack in drama and number of deaths (hence the overriding likelihood that it will try to acquire and use a weapon of mass destruction), we seem to be back to fairly ordinary ï¿½ albeit horrible ï¿½ bombings of transport systems.
For many Europeans, however, the lesson of London will be to prove what they have been saying ever since 9/11: that all Americans overreacted to the 9/11 attacks and have forced fighting terrorism to the top of the global agenda as a result, when in fact, 9/11 was just another version of the kinds of attacks Europeans have been living with for decades ï¿½ bad, but not worth ï¿½a war on terrorï¿½ however prosecuted. For this group, the G-8 agenda of fighting poverty, disease, and climate change is the real global security agenda. I donï¿½t think Americans of either party are prepared to go quite that far.
In fact, however, the experience of being physically together during a terrorist attack in a major global capital is likely to remind the worldï¿½s leaders…of their common responsibilities to protect their people and of the values they share.
OK, admitted: this bombing was a “fairly ordinary” bombing. What does that say about how this war on terror is going? Slaughter seems to think it reflects success, however modest. I’m not so sure. And how many Europeans are you aware of who really think that the events of September 11 were “bad, but not worth ‘a war on terror’ however prosecuted“? The fact is that there are wars on terror and wars on terror. One way to fight a war on terror is to remove those features of the world that are both morally abhorrent and causes of terrorism. Unfortunately for Slaughter, such features include things like dropping bombs on Kosovo when dropping bombs will only make matters worse, and bombing, invading and brutally occupying an Arab country that posed no threat to any nation’s security.
Many of the demonstrators at the G8 certainly are demonstrating against real causes of terrorism. Is it really controversial that the United States’ foreign policy is part of a larger project to retain the US’s global dominance in every respect, militarily, politically, and economically? The reason why so many Europeans (and others) are not aboard on the US’s “war on terrorism” and so many Americans are is that Americans are the only ones who believe US political elites when they claim that “war is always our last resort.” Bullshit. War is the last resort for the US when all others prove too inefficient to secure continued US domination of natural resources, economic markets, and general global political compliance. If you want to know what I’m talking about and don’t already, spend some time reading around Znet and Counterpunch. And if the mention of those websites sends chills down your spine, then nothing I’ve got to say is going to sway you. I’m just too tired these days to start from the beginning.
So why does Anne-Marie Slaughter have a seat at the table over at TPM Cafe? I know Josh Marshall is a genuinely good guy and journalist, and that many other contributors to his new venture are too. But c’mon, Slaughter is a hack and an an apologist who ignores or deems irrelevant the most pertinent (and commonsensical) reasons to question US foreign policy. Perhaps, however, that’s just what we can come to expect from an eminently able, connected, and powerful journalist who has decided to expend considerable energy and attention on the dubious dealings of some second-rate congressman. Then again, I fear we’re all going to come to regret how little attention we paid to the real causes of the hopelessness that feeds the desperate resort to terrorism.
Yes, yes, I know: even if the US’s policies were as virtuous as I would like them to be, there might well still be people ready and willing to fly planes into buildings. But if you think that is a reason to refuse to make any changes that would significantly lower the chances that terrorism will be resorted to, then I wish you luck in your studies at the Donald Rumsfeld School of Tank Armament:
If you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and a tank can be blown up.
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