CRIMES AGAINST PEACE CARRIES SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
NAZI FOREIGN SECRETARY HANGED FOR PREEMPTIVE WAR. ATHENS SWITCH FROM DEMOCRACY TO FASCISM ABROAD, AND IT'S SERIOUS CONSEQUENCE. NO DEMOCRACY IS ABOVE INTERNATIONAL LAW.
Healthy democracies do not engage in preemptive war. Democracies becoming fascist do, and always have.
Athens at her democratic apogee, the super power of her times, exerted fascism against other nations. Out of sheer hubris. Athens was destroyed within two decades, because democracies and other regimes turned against her unilateral ways of going out and massacring people in her very self satisfied glory of democratic super power on a course of setting the world right through Athenian might.
2,400 years later, the Nuremberg tribunal found several Nazi leaders culprit of war of aggression as described below. The Nazi legal defense was that their involvement in the war was preemptive. That defense was found unacceptable, and the foreign minister of the Nazi regime was condemned to death for having engaged in unjustified preemptive war. Rudolf Hess (who had fled to England in 1941) was condemned to life in prison on the charges of crime against peace, and preemptive war.
What was true 2400 years ago, or in 1946 CE, is still true today. It does not matter what the super power of the moment is, or however hysterical the whole population of the errant super power is in a frenzy of unidimensional resentment and blind arrogance. The Athenian superpower at the time of her fall was democratic aplenty, and plenty hysterical, and so was Nazi Germany. It did not make them right. Might is not right. Crime is crime, fascism is fascism. Butchering children in aerial bombardment is butchering children in aerial bombardment, and only butchers do this. It does not matter how many dollars they have, or how good they feel about themselves, or how little they know. No one is above international law, and international decency. Athens certainly found that the hard way.
The prosecution of the International Military Tribunal ("Nuremberg" trial) entered indictments against 24 major war criminals and six "criminal organizations" - the leadership of the Nazi party, the SS and SD, the Gestapo, the SA and the High Command of the army. The indictments were for:
- 1) CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT CRIMES AGAINST PEACE.
- 2) PLANNING, INITIATING AND WAGING WARS OF AGGRESSION.
- 3) WAR CRIMES
- 4) CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.
Notice the first two charges have to do with warmongering: making war when other venues were available. Rudolf Hess was indicted and condemned on the first two charges only. That is Rudolf Hess spent the rest of his life in jail for having been a warmonger.
Preemption was avoided even by the Romans. Rome always looked CAREFULLY for a GOOD CASUS BELLI. Even as republican Rome became fascist, she contrived, in a vast conspiracy, to make Carthage violate the terms of the peace treaty of the second Punic war, so that a good casus belli would appear. Rome did not forsake diplomacy for war. Never. Rome knew how important the high moral ground was.
Self defense is accepted only if "NECESSITY OF THAT SELF DEFENSE IS INSTANT, OVERWHELMING, AND LEAVING NO CHOICE OF MEANS AND NO MOMENT FOR DELIBERATION" (Daniel Webster, lawyer, congressman, senator and US Secretary of State). Webster was rejecting the British government claim at the time that it acted in self defense when it invaded the USA in 1837. Webster's guidelines were followed at Nuremberg. In other words, whereas an Iraqi strike on US forces would be justified on these grounds after the US ultimatum, a US strike on Iraq is not, because deliberations were clearly still possible.
US government officials have claimed we are in special times, and the future potential development in several years of nuclear weapons by the Iraqi regime justifies preemption. This is neither a question of the moment and the instant. So self defense is not justified according to old American criterions and the Nuremberg trial criterions. Of course, it has also been argued that the US forces had been deployed, so they had to be used. The preliminary deployment of huge forces is precisely the reason why the Nazi regime was accused of war of aggression against Poland: the Nazi army had already been deployed over a period of months, which showed premeditation on the Nazis' part, in spite of their claims at on going diplomacy.
It has been argued by that the USA is a special country, and above international law as a result. That EXACT argument was used by the elected democrats turning fascist in Athens 2400 years ago. The rest of the world knew better. When finally Athens lost her huge fleet in a weird battle that surprised everybody, the Athenian soldiers were viewed as simple criminal brutes because they had caused the death of many who should not have died. So the whole Athenian army was executed, thousands of them, except for one general who had explicitly warned his compatriots and colleagues about their brutal ways. Murderous outlaws should expect no mercy.
Democracy is not just something which happens inside, in dealing with one's population, but also something which happens outside, in dealing with other nations. A country which butchers another nation's children is engraving itself in history. History will come, and judge. Just like no man is above the law, no country is above the law. Nor is any people above the law. The American people will have to learn to be judged by the world community, especially those who trust in the special status of the USA, as an entity above international law. "Dura lex, sed lex", the Romans used to say: the law is hard, BUT it is the law. That Saddam Hussein does not respect the law makes him an outlaw. It is not because his name is Saddam. It is because he does not respect the law. Same for his regime, or any regime which does not respect the law. Fighting Saddam does not make an outlaw law abidding.It may just make him sound hypocritical, to boot.
Violation of international law by the USA will have very serious PRACTICAL consequences. It will rob the USA of moral justification in the future. It creates a precedent of claiming that preemptive war is legal. It is going to give more ideas, and more feelings, to all those who want to kill, and hate. The USA may find itself the main victim of preemptive war in the future. The use of preemptive war by the USA may expose the USA to a similar fear and hatred from the rest of the world population that hollier than thou Athens experienced. Athens ended up losing more than 50% of its population in that war she conducted with such arrogance and disregard for the lives and dignities of others, under democratic pretense. One of the main charges against democratic imperial Athens is that she picked up on small countries, and used "shock and awe" against them. The arguments of the Athenian national assembly were word for word, the same as those used by the Bush administration. It's eerie.
In the end Athens, what was left of her, was saved by fascist Sparta. The other Greek democracies had been so violated that they wanted very much to exterminate the entire Athenian population, but Sparta, the new super power, prevented that.
Many Americans will scoff at all this. Too many pride themselves in not knowing much, and claiming they can make their own rules, and that America always had, and that America stands above the rest. The Nazis used to say just this, with a few words changed. And they tried to stand above international law too. They ended finding history a tough teacher. Yes, it took a while. But history is in no hurry.
NO COUNTRY IS ABOVE THE LAW, ALL COUNTRIES ARE UNDER HISTORY. OUTLAW REGIMES NEVER LIVED WELL, AND NEVER VERY LONG.
Patrice Ayme', March 2003.