Jus ad bellum (the right to go to war) is concerned with Just War theory, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Treaty (outlawing war), the Nuremberg Principles (crimes against peace), and even, to some extent, the "Powell Doctrine" (evaluating reasons to go to war) -- but its main proposition has been forgotten or ignored, especially since 9/11.
Many Americans appear to have forgotten that, at a bare minimum, wars of aggression are the supreme crime because they give rise to blatant violations of the Geneva Convention and other international jus in bello crimes (committed while conducting war) such as spawning further wars, ethnic genocide, torture, human rights abuses, killing of prisoners, and targeting civilian populations.
U.S. violations of both types of international law of war, as well as violations of its own Constitution have, paradoxically, served to further erode whatever legitimate, pre-existing "Soft Power" it once possessed. America's "moral authority," its legitimate ability to educate, its leadership by example in pushing other countries to adhere to international law was quickly sacrificed by the deceitful means it used to launch the bombing of Iraq and Libya, as well as its institutionalizing an endless, ever-expansive "global war on terrorism."
If war is a lie generally, if institutional wars have historically been instigated, ratcheted up, waged, and later falsely ennobled through pretext and propaganda, if "Smart Power," "Responsibility to Protect" and "humanitarian intervention" serve as little but better rhetoric and therefore an effective guise to sell military force to American citizens as a "last resort," after having checked off diplomatic efforts (set up to fail) and harsh economic sanctions that starve civilians and kill children, doesn't it make sense for human rights and peace and justice groups to renounce instead of embrace attempts of powerful governments to use them as "tools" of such policies?
What would truly be smart and could reduce atrocities in the world would be for "nongovernmental" groups and organizations professing human rights and peace as their cause to regain their independence by disentangling themselves from U.S.-NATO governments' national interest agendas and reliance on military force. Once that's accomplished, it might be easier for civil society to reverse direction away from the use of war and might-makes-right to what is actually smarter: the power of ethical and legal norms.
reprinted from michaelmoore.com