Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Right of Aggression...As Convenient

The recent U.S. attack into Pakistan was described in the New York Times as follows:

Helicopter-borne American Special Operations forces attacked Qaeda
militants in a Pakistani village near the border with Afghanistan early
Wednesday in the first publicly acknowledged case of United States forces conducting a ground raid on Pakistani soil, American officials said.

Curious wording that avoids the key issue. Either the Pakistani government gave permission or it was U.S. aggression, just like the Russian aggression against Georgia over which Washington took such umbrage. The implication is clearly that the Pakistani government did NOT know, but we need to know which it really was. Others can comment on what actually happened; I wasn't there and don't know anything except what I read. My point is to draw attention to the long-term implications, of which there are many.

One critical implication for the future of world politics and, therefore, the security of us all, concerns the precedent being set. Washington is currently expending a considerable amount of capital (both moral and financial) to establish the precedent (in the Georgian case) that sending military forces across the border of another state is wrong and will be punished by the world community.

The Pakistani protest against the U.S. attack on Pakistan this week suggests that it did not give permission and, therefore, that Washington has now established precisely the opposite precedent. Making matters even worse, the bungled U.S. attack reportedly killed women and children. Moscow now has a clear defense against Washington's criticism. Beyond that, any other state with concerns about another state (e.g., China vis-a-vis Taiwan, India vis-a-vis Pakistan, Iran vis-a-vis Israel) can cite the Pakistan precedent. Note clearly that the discussion does not concern self-defense; the circumstances are neither those of war or imminent war. We are, with the U.S. attack on Waziristan, in a much grayer (read "more dangerous") area where a potential, future, perceived threat exists. This precedent comes very close to allowing anyone to commit aggression whenever aggression may be deemed to be convenient.

The task of the next U.S. president just got significantly more difficult.


Sonia said...

The fixing of war criminality and pursuit of war criminals via tribunals has reached grotesque levels of biased selectivity. Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic were U. S. and British targets, hence are eminently eligible for tribunal jurisdiction and trials, but Pinochet, Suharto, and Ariel Sharon - the butcher of Qibya, Sabra and Shatila, and manager of the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Palestine - are exempt, with Sharon an honored statesperson, a "man of peace" according to George Bush.

William deB. Mills said...

Many thanks, Sonia, for your important comment. The double standards in world affairs are truly shocking. I suspect that these double standards are a major reason for anti-Western feeling in the rest of the world. I would welcome further comments on this topic.