Thursday, July 21, 2005

Why Do We Bother With the Legal Niceties?

Brian Tamanaha

The World Tribunal on Iraq, after holding 20 hearings in various cities around the world, with appearances from numerous witnesses and advocates, issued its findings a few weeks ago: the US has committed egregious violations of international law, including crimes against humanity. The United States has engaged in an illegal war, and is illegally occupying Iraq. The stated justifications for the war were false, based upon manufactured intelligence (no weapons of mass destruction, no connection with 9/11, no imminent threat to U.S.). A hundred thousand Iraqis have died since the war began. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been held in prisons, many subjected to torture, and a number killed. US corporations are engaged in profiteering of Iraqi resources.

This so-called “World Tribunal” was a Kangaroo Court, of course, an elaborate public relations campaign put together by a bunch of leftist groups from around the world. They disregarded the fact that we had authorization from the UN for the war to enforce the UN resolutions (indeed the “Tribunal” had the temerity to castigate the UN Security Counsel for going along with the US), and they dismissed our international coalition of the willing as a farce. And while we might have been wrong about the weapons of mass destruction—perhaps the WMDs were just hidden really well—the “Tribunal” failed to recognize that our faulty intelligence was Sadaam Hussein’s fault, who acted as though he had WMDs (by inviting UN inspectors to look for them, and then being cagey as if he had something to hide). And of course the torture that occurred was by a few errant, poorly trained soldiers, who will be punished; and the deaths are being duly investigated. As for Guantanamo, well, our courts have already ruled on that, and internal investigations have shown that evidence of purported torture is lacking. Besides, the prisoners are terrorists (or might be terrorists, which is close enough), who are lucky they are being held by a civilized country like the U.S.

This is all more U.S. bashing. Good thing the U.S. press ignored completely the “Tribunal” and its findings. They are unfairly trying to make the U.S. look bad by pointing out stuff like how many Iraqis have died (and surely the number is much lower than 100,000—we don’t hear anything about Iraqi deaths). They forget that we’re there to save the Iraqi people!

It makes you wonder why we bother with all the legal niceties. The rest of the world doesn’t buy it, and Americans aren’t worried about it. We are the U.S. of A. We know we are the good guys, the white hats, the honorable sheriff in town. We do the right thing. We live by the rule of law, so whatever we do is legal.

Addendum: Please, no more e-mails asking about a change in my political views. To get my meaning, imagine that this essay was being delivered by Jon Stewart (I can dream). It is pure sarcasm--with a straight face, making absurd points in defense of US conduct in Iraq (like blaming Sadaam for our poor intelligence). I guess these points didn't appear obviously absurd because our own leaders have been repeating them so much, but the last line should have been a giveaway. I used irony in the hope that it would be a bit more provocative than the usual anti-war stuff--which gets little attention.

Let me be explicit: Not only is the war and occupation illegal, in my view, it is a moral, political, legal, economic, and security disaster. We are an outlaw nation that engages in torture, holds people indefinitely, and flouts international law, all the while claiming to abide by the rule of law (read Marty Lederman's postings please). The undertaking and conduct of this war has betrayed many of the most important ideals held dear by this country, and it will stand over time as one of the worst (that is, most evil, destructive, dumbest, and inexplicable) actions we have ever taken. It says a lot that we don't know (or seem to care) how many tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the war began.

I hope this clears up my position. Next time I will think twice about using irony in Blogdom.


Technically, wouldn't this be more accurately described as making a pretense of bothering with the legal niceties? And not even a very good pretense, at that...

You laid it on a bit thickly, Brian. Readers might think you really mean all that you said. Irony and satire generally don't have such a fine, sharp edge as your comments.

is this post a parody or a parody of itself?

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