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How Many Should Die To Send Qaddafi to the Hague?

11:52 am in Uncategorized by Robert Naiman

Here is a question I would like pollsters to ask American voters about the Libya War:

Is sending Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court a military objective worth having American troops “fight and possibly die” for?

I haven’t seen any pollster ask this question. Indeed, the fact that sending Qaddafi to the Hague is a de facto military goal of the United States in Libya isn’t even being clearly acknowledged yet in the U.S. media.

However, we can make an educated guess what he response might be, because a Quinnipiac University poll recently asked some questions that are closely related.

Voters say 61 – 30 percent that removing Qaddafi from power is not worth having American troops “fight and possibly die” for, the poll reports. They say 48 – 41 percent that the U.S. should not use military force to remove Qaddafi from power. Furthermore, 74 percent of voters are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that the U.S. will get embroiled in a long-term military conflict in Libya.

This strongly suggests that if American voters were asked, is sending Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court a military objective worth having American troops “fight and possibly die” for, more than 61% would say no and fewer than 30 percent would say yes. Because sending Qaddafi to the Hague is a military objective that includes removing Qaddafi and more.

Yet, with a super-majority of Americans opposed and without Congressional authorization, that is what we are doing: fighting a war to remove Qaddafi from power and send him to the Hague.

It’s very likely that you wouldn’t know this if your only source of information were the U.S. press, which hasn’t been reporting on the divisions among US allies on what an acceptable agreement to end the war would be. But the British press is reporting it.
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“No Fly Zone”? Senator Kerry, the UN Charter is Supreme Law

12:47 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Naiman

United Nations Headquarters

United Nations Headquarters by United Nations Photo, on Flickr

Surely no-one has been surprised to see Senator McCain engaged in what Defense Secretary Gates has rightly called “loose talk” about the use of U.S. military force in Libya.

But to see Senator John Kerry, the Democratic head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – the man who as a Vietnam veteran joined other anti-war veterans in asking who would be the last American to be asked to die in Vietnam – engage in such “loose talk” – that is a more painful cut.

Of course, this is the same Senator Kerry who voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq in October 2002, even though such action was never authorized by the UN Security Council, and was therefore a major war crime in international law – the crime of aggression. And this is the same Senator Kerry who, as a presidential candidate in August 2004, stood by his vote for the war.

Here is a basic fact about the world that mainstream U.S. media – and politicians like John Kerry – generally find distasteful to acknowledge. The Charter of the United Nations rules out the use of military force by one UN member state against another except in two cases: self-defense against armed attack, and actions approved by the UN Security Council.

Obviously, Libya has not attacked the United States, and there is no realistic prospect that it will do so.

Therefore, because it is an act of war, in order to be legal under international law, the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya must be approved by the UN Security Council. There is no way around it.

The United Nations Charter is not an obscure document that can be safely ignored when it is convenient to do so. It is the founding document of the United Nations. It is the Constitution of the world.

And it is legally binding on the United States, because it is a treaty obligation. According to the U.S. Constitution, treaty obligations are “the supreme law of the land.”

So a no-fly zone over Libya must be approved by the UN Security Council. For anyone to claim otherwise is to use the same argument that the Bush Administration used when it ignored the UN to invade Iraq. If it was illegal for the U.S. to invade Iraq – and it was – then it is illegal for the U.S. or NATO to unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

If a no-fly zone must be approved by the UN Security Council, then it must be approved by Russia and China. This is not a mistake. It is not an accident of history. The Framers of the UN Charter gave the power to approve military action to the Security Council, and gave five countries a permanent veto, because approving military action was supposed to be hard. The Soviet Union and the United States each held one of the five vetoes. In this sense, the world isn’t different than it was in 1945. Getting UN approval for military action is supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to require a broad consensus.
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