[extropy-chat] urban sprawl as defense

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Wed Aug 25 23:33:41 UTC 2004

Stephen J. Van Sickle write:

>...  What I do think is that it
> is dangerous to consider international law as highly evolved
> and well developed as, say, US commercial law.  Therefore,
> splitting hairs the way that a contract lawyer might is
> counterproductive, *at this time*, to the purpose of international
> law, which is (or should be), peace, freedom, and prosperity.

Security is the first thing that has to be gotten right in international
law. That is why the UN Charter matters. Without security "trade"
is used like an Orwellian term for exploit or plunder.

> Furthermore, what use is law without enforcement?

No use.

> There *are* no international police.

Nations that are signatories to the UN charter like the US have given
their word of honour. If the strong don't keep their word the weak see
it and will only pretend to keep theirs.

At present only US citizens can hold a US President to account for
breaking an agreement or a treaty.

> ... The current situation with international law is
> similar to the situation prior to the development of police forces, i.e.
> enforcement was primarily a private matter, with the law picking up the
> pieces and deciding who is right after the fact.

Well it is now after the fact, Iraq was invaded, no weapons of mass
destruction were found, if I show you that it was illegal, what would
you do?

> I am more concerned with the way things are, rather than the way they
> ought to be.  If international law is to have any meaning, Saddam should
> have been in prison 20 years ago, and Pol Pot would not have died in bed
> of old age.

On the one hand your arguing that international law had (or has) to evolve
- that makes sense - there could not be international law without nations
recognized a need for it, but then about you mix present and past tenses as
though time doesn't matter.  If international law IS to have meaning you say
... Saddam should have .. Pol Pot would have..

The fact is that for most of its history the UN was blocked from taking
effective action against anything that any one of the 5 permanent security
council members could veto.

It is only now that the US has become the sole military superpower that
any country really has a chance to reform and improve the UN. If the US
doesn't do it - then the US will be an impossible blocker to it happening
because of the US's power.  It simply comes down to what US citizens

There was a window of opportunity, after 1441 was signed and before
Iraq was invaded when President Bush (or a better person in his role)
could have made the UN work by threatening (without bluffing) to revoke
the UN Charter and to withdraw the US from the United Nations. Bush
blinked in the critical diplomatic game of brinksmanship with Chirac of
France. (All of which assumes of course that Bush was genuine in wanting
to get a UN resolution and genuine in being concerned about Iraq having
weapons of mass destruction - at the time I was giving him the benefit of
the doubt on both those things). I wrote quite a lot on this at the time.
It is hard (not impossible but time consuming) to recreate the historical
details that constituted the window of opportunity now because the world's
attention has moved on to more current events.

 > How do we get from here to there?

Progress in the short term depends on US citizens. They can sanction or
accept illegal or legal actions of their President. In the long term what
around comes around... but in the long term most of here are dead.

> I don't know, but I'm pretty sure
> that it's not by giving murderous dictators a pass while hamstringing
> liberal democracies.

> Still, I *am* interested in the way international law is, and how it is
> developing, and would be interested in what parts of international law,
> UN resolutions, and the laws and customs of warfare you think the
> US has violated.  If you don't wish to play, though, I understand.

The UN Charter is not a long document, and the structure of the UN
Security Council is pretty simple and logical. Being signed in 1945, it
would be older than most of the posters to this list. I do not think that
people will come up with a simpler or more logical template for
managing international peace and security. I don't think that there is

I do wish to play but am tired. I have looked through the Exi archives
in 2003. I wrote ad nauseum on this topic and what I wrote seems to
have affected nothing. I have to draw my own conclusions on that.

Brett Paatsch

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