Some pundits were just wrong, not irrational

26 Mar

I agree with almost everything Kathleen Geier writes in her devastating takedown of the pundit class and their views on the Iraq War:

Pundits like to imagine that they take political positions only after a careful consideration of the merits — listening to arguments, studying position papers, weighing the pros and cons, and coming to a decision.

But politics is not necessarily so rational, and never was irrationality more plainly on display than in the months leading up to the Iraq War. Ten years later, it is worth exploring why so many opinion-makers – including those who were otherwise critical of the Bush administration — passionately advocated war.

For at least some leading pundits, their position seems to have been shaped less by “reason” or “ideas” than something more primal and even tribal, reflecting their fantasies about who they imagined themselves to be. What follows is a taxonomy of certain pundits on the center and the left who, to their eternal shame, beat the drums of war — hard.

Yet her argument fails to persuade me in two important respects. First, it seems predicated on the belief that there was no rational reason for someone on the left or right to support the war. Although the war’s aftermath has confirmed most of the author’s prior beliefs, this does not mean that a pundit who supported the war was a hack then and remains one now. Support for the war was and is a legitimate position, even if was as wrong then as it is now.
Second, she seems to equate a view that the war was necessary with warmongering. Time has proven that the war was not necessary, but in 2003 that was a legitmate question. Faced with a much larger and more vocal peace movement than the media seem to remember existed in 2003, it is not at all inconceivable that some pundits got a little defensive about being attacked for their views. Such defensiveness should not be equated with passion for war without clear evidence.

Daily Digest 09/26/2011

25 Sep

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The ICC and Libya: Contradictions in International Law Undermine ICC’s Credibility

25 Aug

Assuming the Gaddafi regime is finally toppled, the Libyan endgame has revealed a major contradiction in international law that undermines the credibility of the International Criminal Court. The U.N. Security Council’s Resolution (UNSC 1970) referring Libya’s case to the ICC seems to obligate a new Libyan government to hand Gaddafi over to the Court. However, the Court’s own statues (and UNSC 1970) make it very clear that states not party to the Rome Statute have no obligation under the Statute. This includes Libya. The Rome Statute also only grants the ICC jurisdiction when domestic courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute under a standard called complementarity.

International actors have tried to resolve this contradiction in several ways. The United States has taken the position that a new Libyan government can decide where and how to try Gaddafi. The ICC has resolved the contradiction differently, declaring that Libya must turn Gaddafi over to them per UNSC 1970, but then ICC judges will have to determine whether or not the Court has jurisdiction under complementarity. While this would have the advantage of giving the Court some much needed credibility, the ICC has no jurisdiction to resolve the contradiction because the source is a body of law outside its purview. As a result, this contradiction in international law threatens to undermine the Court’s credibility.

As Julian Ku has pointed out, Libya’s obligation to turn Gaddafi over to the ICC actually depends on how you interpret the UN Charter not the Rome Statue. Article 41 of the UN Charter says:

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

It is certainly not clear from Article 41 whether or not surrendering a war criminal to an international court is something the Security Council can order a sovereign state to do. If it can, then Libya is obligated as a UN member to hand Gaddafi over to the ICC as the ICC claims. If not, then Libya has no obligation to the ICC. Unfortunately, the UN Charter does not provide for one authoritative interpreting body to resolve questions of interpretation. Instead, it is subject to multiple levels of interpreters whose interpretations are not binding on each other. The most likely, and arguable most appropriate, venue for resolving the contradiction is the Security Council itself.

Daily Digest 07/08/2011

7 Jul

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Digest 07/02/2011

1 Jul

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Digest 07/01/2011

30 Jun

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Daily Digest 06/30/2011

29 Jun

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

%d bloggers like this: