Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A plea for less bullshit


Bush has been talking about Iran breaking their obligations by enriching uranium. Except there is no such obligation. So, says a David Sanger NYT article Tuesday, “Mr. Bush now argues that there is a new class of nations that simply cannot be trusted with the technology to produce nuclear material even if the treaty itself makes no such distinction.”

No country on earth is going to accept such a designation voluntarily. Still less will any nation accept that it is a “failed state,” another term that’s been bandied about lately. Nor will they accept that it is the United States which has the authority to award states passing or failing grades.

And looked at from the ground, it hardly matters. You can use the language of international legality, talk about making Iran (or Iraq) live up to its obligations or bringing Saddam, Osama, et al to “justice,” but the people on whom the bombs drop will always recognize it for the naked assertion of power that it is. The United States is not the armed wing of the IAEA, it simply wants Iran incapable of defending itself. Iranians know that and will not be fooled by the language Americans use among themselves to cloak their actions, any more than Iraqis believe that the US invaded their country for the purpose of “liberating” them or the Cambodians believed in the “secret bombing of Cambodia.” At ground zero, those things are always much clearer.

A case can be made for Iran not being a state you’d like to see with nukes, not only because of its current rulers, but because of who its rulers might be five, ten, or fifteen years from now. And we can debate the validity of that case, but let’s stop doing violence to the language and to the concept of the rule of law by pretending to be acting under any other rule than the one which states that the country with the most expensive military hardware makes the rules, including what military hardware other nations are allowed. Really, I’m just sick of the bullshit, which only Americans and maybe Tony Blair actually believe.

At the same time as Bush tries to impose obligations on “nations that simply cannot be trusted,” the number restrictions he is willing to accept on America’s freedom of action grows smaller by the day. This week alone, it repudiated its obligation to allow consular services to foreign nationals accused of crimes in the US, and made clear it intends to torpedo an international agreement to reduce illegal logging in rainforests.

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