Lawless World

And if our failure is a failure of absorption as a social process above all else, then many diplomatic, political, military and legal issues can be better understood if we can comprehend and internalize this one particular issue of the failure of absorption as a social process or the reluctance to engage in absorption as a social process predicated upon international law. Failure to master this social process of absorption on an international level can lead to wars such as the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq and Ukraine and so forth, and in essence, these wars amount to a “crime against peace of the sort for which surviving German leaders were indicted, prosecuted, and punished at the Nuremberg trials” as Richard Falk, an international law expert and scholar, has contended. 

In a sense, the status quo whole-of-government policy out of Washington for a number of decades now has been blatant “contempt” and “riding roughshod” over international law to borrow from Noam Chomsky. But paradoxically, it is the contempt and riding roughshod over international law in recent decades that has brought international law into the conscience and rhetoric of Pentagon spokespersons in recent days and weeks. As the international law expert and scholar Philippe Sands wrote: “Although international law has a long history, it is only in recent years that it has emerged as a more regular feature of modern political life. Diplomatic immunities, genocide and other international crimes, trade wars, global warming, the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, the war in Iraq, the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, have brought the politics of international law into everyday life.” 

One expert and scholar echoed what we mentioned in a recent post about the two main challenges of what is essentially a “social process” on an international level that is predicated upon international law, when he wrote: “For international lawyers, devising and enforcing universal rules of conduct for states means overcoming two cardinal challenges: how to make such precepts legitimate in a diverse community of nations; and how to make them stick in the absence of any one sovereign authority or supranational enforcement mechanism.”

The “mission” of international law, as one expert and scholar has argued, is aimed “to enhancing the stability of international peace, to the protection of the rights of man, and to reducing the evils and abuses of national power.” And if this mission amounts essentially to a social process, then much of the mission involves bringing people together and in essence forging a ‘social contract’ which amounts largely to consensus-building amongst a wide range of players and stakeholders in international society. Moreover, to have contempt for international law and to ride roughshod over international law so that one’s national power is left unconstrained and free to be employed unilaterally for obscure and questionable goals and objectives is now reflected in the position of a very powerful adversary. If we do not like such a position and stance for other states, then we should not want such a position and stance reflected in ourselves. To see such a position and stance reflected in another state in this day and age is essentially a mirror held up to us which shows how the international community has perceived us over the last few decades. Hence, in order to compensate for the transference of such a position and stance to a powerful adversary, a lot needs to be done. In short, everyone has their work cut out for them. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s