[extropy-chat] Does international law exist and isitintheinterests of US citizens?

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Mon Aug 16 18:28:53 UTC 2004

> While at the time of founding, the 5 permanent members of
> the UN security council represented the major military powers
> of the war, now only the US is a major military superpower.

Yes, for now.

> As such, it's really the only country that really matters when it
> comes to international law (in that the US will  invade someone
> if they think they are "evil" enough).

Even in the US, the decision to invade vests in one person. The
commander in chief. The president. George W Bush is the person
responsible for the US invasion of Iraq.  It was his personal call.

There are a lot of international-law respecting folk within the US.

International law has a professional competent following because
it matters for trade as well as for peace and security.

I think that it is largely because there are many decent law-abiding
folk who do understand international law, even in its limited form,
such as it is within the US that there has been such a backlash
against Bush's decision to invade Iraq illegally.

When the President and an administration puts aside international
law which it has ratified that is every bit as real as if it put aside
domestic law in terms of the unease it creates in the minds of
citizens who get what has happened. An administration that sees
international law as a mere detail to be dispensed with can, especially
if the outrage is not great enough, also start to mess with laws at
home. The US has had one civil war in its history - another is not out
of the question.  If the rule of law is pushed aside too much you will
likely see domestic terrorism ala the Oklahoma bomber. US citizens
are nothing if not armed and technologically capable given appropriate
incentive.  Hitler provides crude but obvious object lessons in how
surprisingly easy it can be turn relatively modern societies inside out
with the use of propaganda and fear.

> The UN Security council has no power in and of itself because
> if it passed a resolution banning something, there is no one to
> enforce the resolution.

Here I think we do need to drill down a bit to stay accurate. The UN
General Assembly might vote to ban something like say human cloning
but that would not be legal binding it would only be politically
persuasive on member nations. China for instance could (if it wanted to
politically and that would depend on economics) say that therapeutic
or even reproductive cloning is a domestic matter and that the UN
Charter has no authority in domestic laws (unless China signs onto a
treaty and placed that treaties determination under the jurisdiction of
the International Court of Justice and so they'd say validly (lawfully)
that the UN General Assemblies suggestion was noted but declined.

If the 5 permanent security council members could agree on a
resolution then that means that the US, the UK, France, China and
Russia's heads of state have agreed. In that situation the heads of
states of any of those players could provide armed forces under
a UN flag. There is also a mechanism for them (if they agree) to
require other countries to provide armed forces. (That this doesn't
happen is because any one of the big 5 who didn't want it to
could stop it by vetoing the resolution needed to make something
happen that they didn't want to have to act on domestically because
they couldn't sell it domestically.

But make no mistake if the security council decided to word a
resolution say "banning" Saddam Hussein from continuing to occupy
Iraq (that's labouring the language but not excessively I don't think)
then they could do - and did they just didn't use the word ban.

> This doesn't even take into account what happens when the
> council disagrees  (like what happened in Iraq).

Resolution 1441 was agreed by all 15. But (keeping this simple)
it needed another resolution to authorise force that the US and
the UK couldn't get from France, China and Russia.

It was because the matter was in the hands of the security council
(it was because the US placed it there) that the US had legally
removed from itself the option of acting unilaterally against Iraq.

That was when international law got broken. Never before (to
my knowledge) had a security council resolution been broken
after the security council became seized of the matter. That was
the point at which Bush took the world into the shit and made
the UN a farce.  That was why the French and Russians and
Chinese objected so much afterwards. The US (Bush) essentially
thumbed their nose at the security council in a way that had
never been done before after placing the matter in the hands of
the security council.  They wanted another resolution authorising
force but were not able to get it on terms Bush would accept.

> So there is really no "international law", just some suggestions.

Its actually worse than that - there is international law - Bush would
never deny that - international  trade depends on it, its just that to
use an analogy their is a corrupt judge (or two if you include Blair)
on the five person panel that is the Supreme Court and there is
not way for the other judges to remove them. So the other judges
know that international law is conspicuous farce now and they
don't trust Bush because they see him as corrupt and diplomatically
reckless and unpredicable. They know Bush is a lawbreaker of
the worst possible kind because he can't be held to account
except by the US people who alone can remove him.

So long as Bush is President of the US the heads of state of
the other member countries know that international law is corrupt.
They choose to wait out Bush (who can't go more than 4 more
years anyway because the alternative dissolving the UN (which
logically they should do) would leave them without the illusion of
power they currently have. If this UN was wrapped up there would
have to be another at some stage and France knows it would not
likely get to be one of the big 5 again. Germany or Japan might
displace it. Similarly China and Russia don't want to lose the ability
to use the now corrupt UN as a tool of public relations

The UN is broke yes. The US broke it. It continues on only as
a farce whilst Bush is president. Whilst Bush is president other
countries may evy American military power but the model of the
super power they are looking at is just the old might is right one.

Their is nothing morally superior in the US over China whilst Bush
is president. Structurally the US can heal itself more easily though
because Bush can only stay president for another four years unless
the US constitution changes. That won't happen - Bush is too
dumb to be Hitler.

> In order for international law to exist, countries must defer to some
> authority (and I don't see the US doing this any time soon).
> As far as power, the UN is really just a forum for discussion, etc. It's
> most effective at fund raising and humanitarian efforts.

Everything the UN did was secondary to its chapter 1 Purposes and
Principles which were to maintain international peace and security.

The other stuff was merely icing on the cake so long as the security
council's integrity of structure held. Its integrity of structure is gone.
The rest is now logical bullshit quite frankly. Its like a house of
cards waiting to fall over. If Bush is replaced perhaps the key "card"
can be inserted into the logical house of cards before the whole house
of topples of its logical inconsistencies, but there is no guarantee of

> I think that transhumans will be better off gathering in specific
> sympathetic countries, or forming their own (a la Greg Egan's
> "Distress") rather than hoping that major powers will give up their
> hopes for hegemony (don't see the US or China or Brazil bowing
> to the UN any time soon).

Major powers don't have a consciousness of course. They have heads
of state, they have citizens but there is not such thing as a unitary single
desire in such a thing as a nation state.  Nation states (major powers)
no more have desires than say evolution has a desires.

I don't know about Egan's Distress but I suspect its science fiction.

I'd be interested in hearing good ideas about finding creative space
for new civilizations. I once posted on the principles of founding
a virtual country myself. So far as I know no more practical model
have ever been proposed - but I am biased.

> Plus, a lot of transhumanist issues can be resolved "off the radar"
> or within current rulesets and can be moved from country to country
> should laws become unfavorable.

We could be talking past each other here. I'm not sure what
transhumanist issues you have in mind.

Brett Paatsch

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