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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/16/20

International Law Vs. Eternal Recurrence

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From To The Point Analyses

US and Israel Joint Exercise
US and Israel Joint Exercise
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Part I -- Short-Term Memories

The 21st century may prove decisive for both the human race and the planet. The environment needs the enforcement of regulations reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The human race needs the reenergizing and enforcement of international law.

Chances are good that the environment will get more attention now that the egocentric and nearsighted U.S. de-regulators (aka the Trump administrators) are being kicked out of office. The Paris Climate Agreement signed by 195 countries is already in place, and the incoming Biden administration has pledged that the U.S. will rejoin the pact.

Things look much dimmer for the future of international law. The events that spurred on the present manifestations of such law were the wars and genocides of the first half of the 20th century, particularly the Nazi Holocaust, which was directed primarily against Europe's Jews. That catastrophic event ended in 1945. What followed was a heightened concern for human rights reflected by treaty prohibitions on, among other things, crimes against humanity.

Meaningful memories of these wars and genocides, and the progressive regulatory impulses they engendered, have lasted less than two generations. They are now ebbing, and in their place we have a resurgence of the aggressive nationalism, ethnic exclusivity, and state-sponsored criminality -- all of which promoted much of the 20th century's horror in the first place. Is this the result of humanity's chronic short-term memory leading, in the long-term, to a disregard for lessons of history? Or are we caught in what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called "eternal recurrence," repeating the same damn thing, over and over again?

Part II -- Recent Disregard for International Law

However you want to explain it, recent disregard for international law has once more shown just how precarious human decency is at the state level. Take the rise in state-sponsored terrorism in the form of assassination and sabotage. You might have thought this sort of criminal behavior was the province of al Qaeda or the infamous ISIL (Islamic state.) Not so. Among others, the United States now behaves this way, and so does Israel.

For example, take the treatment rendered by Western countries and their Middle East surrogate, Israel, on the Shiite nation of Iran. Whatever one might think of Iran's present religious government (which certainly could improve its own human rights record), and despite endless allegations of Iranian aggression coming from Western and Zionist sources, contemporary Iran's military policies have long reflected a basically defensive posture. Thus, its invited intercession in Syria and Iraq was aimed at the defeat of ISIL. Unlike the U.S. and Israel and some other countries like Russia, Iran has never attacked its neighbors, invaded another country, or conspired to overthrow another legitimate government. Yet this has not stopped Zionists and Western conservatives from portraying Iran as an existential danger and from engineering punitive policies against Tehran.

A recent instance of this occurred on 27 November 2020. On that day, Israeli agents, or those in the pay of the Zionist regime, assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh was a senior nuclear scientist retired from active research ever since Iran shut down its military nuclear program in 2003. His death, one in a long line of such assassinations, will have no impact on the nation's nuclear program. Then why murder him? There are perhaps two reasons: (1) his violent death was a message to other Iranian researchers to avoid government nuclear programs, lest they too be killed, and (2) it was also an attempt to bait Iran into an equally violent response that would, in turn, complicate any effort by the incoming Biden administration to resurrect the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal.

Upon his election as president of the United States in 2016, Donald Trump, urged on by both Israel and Saudi Arabia, sabotaged that agreement. None of those involved in this subversion appeared to care for the fact that the JCPOA was a model treaty that made the world a safer place.

Part III -- The Source of Much Suffering

At least in terms of recent history, the entire Middle East has suffered due to the strength of the Israeli lobby and the aggressive behavior of the U.S. in the region. Back in 2003, the George W. Bush administration decided to invade Iraq based on fabricated "evidence" that it sought nuclear weapons. Bush had initially been urged on by deceitful Iraqis in exile, but Israel also saw an opportunity to have Washington do damage to a regime it saw as hostile.

The average American had no way of judging the "evidence" the Bush administration was touting, and most of them just accepted the president's word -- despite the fact that George W. was someone who could not tell the difference between his own opinions and facts. Surrounded by sycophants and war-mongers, Bush went ahead and killed or injured and, in some cases tortured, over a million Iraqis while simultaneously opening that country to civil war. Under international law, George W. Bush would certainly warrant criminal charges. This, of course, did not happen.

In the minds of the leaders of Israel, and perhaps those of Saudi Arabia as well, Iraq's fate became a precedent for what they want done to Iran -- and using the same methodology: starvation sanctions followed by U.S. invasion. Here is how the Middle East scholar Juan Cole puts it: "Israel and Saudi Arabia do not believe that Iran has no military nuclear ambitions, and they see it as a geopolitical enemy whom they would like the US to crush for them and keep weak, as the Bush administration broke the legs of Iraq."

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Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign
Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest
; America's
Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli
; and Islamic Fundamentalism. His academic work is focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He also teaches courses in the history of science and modern European intellectual history.

His blog To The Point Analyses now has its own Facebook page. Along with the analyses, the Facebook page will also have reviews, pictures, and other analogous material.

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