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07 September 2014


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"Being on the side of the angels, means never having to say your sorry !" - a better summary of the Western interventionist mindset I have never heard.

William R. Cumminh

CP thanks for another great post! Some wit once observed [perhaps Oliver Wendell Holmes] that foolish consistency was the hobgoblin of small minds.

Yet selective application of the law clearly undermines it. And to parallel the aphorism that no man should be his own judge clearly no nation-state should be its own judge.

IMO the USA should long ago joined the ICC if nothing else to deter the USA from continuing to conduct its FP in an unthinking and perhaps unlawful manner.


WRC, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-Reliance
The full quote is, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."

For my part, I believe a principled consistency is better than a foolish inconsistency, the latter is in evidence by the several inconsistencies in our US foreign policy over the past 30 years as Confused Ponderer points out.



You need a name change. You are not confused. Another insightful article from you.

I mentioned an old book in another thread some time ago tilted Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East by Wilbur Crane Eveland.

To quote him: By defining our national interests so closely with Israel we have risked the hostility of 80 million Muslims and one false step could lead us into a collision with the Soviet Union.

And to Nicaragua...
Members of the Kissinger Commission on Central America indicated that Nicaragua under the Sandinistas was as bad or worse than Nicaragua under Somoza. Henry Kissinger believed it to be as bad as or worse than Nazi Germany.


Deliberate destabilization!



"The [Aramco] pipeline was originally planned to run from Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil fields to the port of Haifa in Palestine where there already was a modest terminal facility for a pipeline from the Kirkuk oil fields in Iraq. The conflict between the British Mandate and the Israeli independence movement had the Tapline company serveying alternate routes already in 1946. These routes were all aimed at circumventing Palestine. "Trans-Jordan" appeared also at the time to be a country to be avoided. The final route went through Jordan, over the Golan Heights in Syria - and not without some political consequences - to end at Sidon in Lebanon.

Syrian parliamentary objections ****necessitated**** the CIA-aided 1949 coup in order to secure "right of way" over the Golan Heights. The end of pipeline operations were also instigated by sabotage and related problems with the portion passing over the Heights in the climate of political turmoil after the 1967 occupation by Israel. . . ."



the CIA-aided 1949 coup in order to secure "right of way

I'm bringing up the book mentioned above again. I'm glad I was able to purchase another copy.

Eveland wrote of a coup in 1956 that he smuggled cash across the border into Syria to make that happen...Operation Straggle.


I don't actually expect countries to act morally (or in an justifiable manner regarding foreign policy) when it comes to matters of national interests. Usually powerful countries meddle with other countries whether others like it or not.

However, i still don't see a long term benefit to the US national interest by either provoking Russia or toppling Assad. US may have problems with them but they (putin and assad) are at least rational actors and can be negotiated with (with acceptable agreements. US may dislike them.) unlike the ISIS or similar organization.

I'm not saying ISIS does not have a rational but ISIS's rational may be outside the "scope" of US way of thinking and the ISIS's objectives may be actually nonnegotiable for US.

Oscar Romero

"Russia has been accused to have intentionally destabilised the East of Ukraine by supporting and training separatist forces and allowing in Russian volunteers."
Shouldn't US support for years to opposition groups in Ukraine (i.e., funding and training and CIA operations) be considered as comparable to Russia's destabilization efforts?


Oscar Romero,

I think CP's point is that Western interventionists don't think of that in the end because "we are right and they are wrong."



I think you are right to point out that the West, and the US more than the others, has by their selective approach to international law willfully corroded the Westphalian order.

Inconsistent actions create legal precedents in international law. These precedents persist beyond today's expedience. Moscow essentially invoking R2P arguments is a case in point.

The idiot crew in DC doesn't get that and blathers about Moscow's "cynicism". They don't get that the precedent they create (for example: support this group or that group, drone-strike the globe at will, sovereignty be damned) today will be invoked tomorrow by somebody else in a way or place they don't like and come to bite them in the ass. Surprise!

To create such precedent is irresponsible and reckless because it is destabilizing. There only is the here and now, actionism and nothing remotely resembling prudent self-restraint. But then, hegemons are per se unrestrained.

Today the West routinely violates international law in is interventions, despite all invocations of exceptional exceptions like R2P. The breach of international law is something inherent in intervening in a foreign country against its will.

Calling that country a rogue state in order to change the rules and claim that it is no longer truly sovereign because its leader is another Hitler, Saddam or whatever is simply a rhetorical sleight of hand.

Sovereignty is absolute. Either you are sovereign, or you are not. It is not up to third parties to approve.

That is the problem with the lawlessness itself.

But there is another, more practical dimension:

The political bickering over culpability in scenarios where all sides by varying degrees try to cheat each other and break international law distracts from the big WHY, which is the 'lay of the land' as far as the parties conflicting interest are concerned.

Unless the interest of the stakeholders (and Russia is a stakeholder in Ukraine, like it or not) are taken into account, the legality or illegality is a mere distraction.

A rational policy requires sober assessment of the conflicting interests. If the idea is just that is the US vs. them and that the US must win, the default policy mode is escalation. We have seen that at work often enough to have learned that it doesn't work, but since it pays dividends domestically in US politics (one can be 'tough on something'), a change to a rational approach in foreign policy is an unlikely outcome.


Pretty much, yes.


Thank you for your excellent post CP. I think we are now in a new world order where "International Law" is what America says it is. I don't believe there is any other simple explanation for President Obama saying:

" "no other nation can do what we do." "The United States is and will remain the one indispensible nation in the world...""

This destroys the concept of "primus inter pares" that underlies the entire international security structure that was built on the foundations of Nuremberg and the United Nations charter since 1945. No more "first among equals", it's now "my way or the highway".

To put that another way; "it isn't murder or genocide if the President does it".


"My country right or wrong," as a slogan comes to mind, but I think the origin is much misunderstood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Schurz. It seems to be: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."

I am always amazed at what this site reminds me of and educates me about. Be well all.

FB Ali

CP, thank you for another excellent post. I second Cee's motion for a name change!

As Walrus points out, the US is still pursuing its belief that, being the most powerful country in the world, it can do what it wants or likes in the world. The danger arises because the rest of the world doesn't see it that way.

The Middle East (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states) has decided to pursue policies independent of the US. The Muslim world generally sees the US as an enemy. Latin America has shrugged off its dependence on the US. Apart from its acolytes in Western Europe and the Far East, the rest of the world does not accept the US as the world's hegemon.

Ignoring this reality, the US resorts to the use of its unrivalled military power whenever it runs into opposition or resistance. But the Taliban and the IS have shown that it is possible to counter this power. Russia and China are showing that they are now prepared to challenge the US, in spite of its military power, whenever it intrudes into their spheres of interest.

Unless the US accepts a realistic view of the limitations of its military (and financial) power, and thus its real place in the world vis-a-vis other countries, we can foresee increasing turmoil and war. A grim prospect!



"To put that another way; "it isn't murder or genocide if the President does it"."

If it wasn't indecent, I'd wager that the total death toll US interventions inflicted on targeted nations probably surpasses that of the regimes the US wanted to topple because of a 'responsibility to protect' of some kind.

Saddam, had he remained in power, probably would have killed far less people than the civil war the US unleashed when they destroyed the nationstate of Iraq that Saddam, among others, had built. And so forth.

The odds are that, without the US egging on the Euro-Maidan protesters to not compromise with the toppled Kiev government, and without the US pushing Ukraine into NATO, no civil war would have taken place at alll.

Go figure.

It appears that the US cure of choice, 'regime change', as the standard solution to policy problems with unsubmitting nations is worse than the disease.



I'd like to add that this tendency is increasingly reflected in the US domestic politics too, i.e. X is not wrong if "our" president does it. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are especially principled on their positions--many people who attacked GWB for his actions as the president are eager to cover up for Obama, and the defenders of GWB are happily crucifying Obama for continuing the same trends. We, in the US, look at the world the way we look at our own domestic politics.

Babak Makkinejad

India so wishes to be a US acolyte that it is embarrassing.

Babak Makkinejad

Germany is not sovereign.


Walrus (and CP),

I agree 100% regarding the hypocrisy in invoking international law. It is the same with "terrorism", "aggression", "democracy", "self-determination", and probably many more magical words, that mean one thing for "us" and another thing for "them". I suppose this isn't new.

If we let go of the concept that our system stands for universal principles, we can save ourselves a lot of headache from all the contradictions. (But it would be a sad day when that ideal is abandoned)

The other interesting thing, I think, is that people who grew up with more obviously unfair systems of government have no trouble seeing this at all. People who grew up here, in the US, where there was a pretty decent justice system, stability, security, and so forth... could it be here that the element of denial is now the strongest?

FB Ali

I think you are misreading the policies of the new Indian government.



so no country can have any kind of relationship with the US without being enslaved? pl



Sooner or later the incoherence of US foreign policy would become apparent to all. Russia is now demonstrating the limits of US power on its border. China is beginning to assert itself in its sphere of influence. The debacle in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria demonstrate that US policies lead to destabilization. The obsequious relationship with Israel is so obvious. The reckless behavior with which US and its western allies use the global financial system as a political weapon lowers the value and long run effectiveness of the post-war financial architecture.

What kind of shock do you think would be necessary for the imperial fantasists in DC to be knocked off their perch?

As a long term observer of the global financial system & markets, I am most intrigued by the fact that the fantasy theories and policies enacted by the academics that run US economic & financial policy have been so widely embraced across the globe. When reality strikes as it inevitably will, what happens? We wuz robbed???


In reply to confusedponderer 07 September 2014 at 03:24 PM

"The idiot crew in DC doesn't get that and blathers about Moscow's "cynicism". They don't get that the precedent they create (for example: support this group or that group, drone-strike the globe at will, sovereignty be damned) today will be invoked tomorrow by somebody else in a way or place they don't like and come to bite them in the ass. Surprise!"

A few years ago a very wise man gave me the following definition of surprise:

Surprise: A debilitating event that you cause to take place in the mind of an enemy commander by doing something he does not expect.


William R. Cumminh

Thanks H! And I agree with you!

William R. Cumminh

CP! Recommend you change your byline to "THE THINKER"!

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