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Restoring Rule of Law in US
American Values vs. US Middle East Policy
The year 2004
plumbed dark new depths of America's foreign
policies in the Middle East. American citizens, usually willing to support
official rationales for foreign policy, including military intervention, on trust in the
office of the President, now overwhelmingly oppose the US invasion of Iraq. 56 percent of respondents to a Washington Post-ABC
News poll released on December 21, 2004 conclude that the
conflict "was not worth the fight" given mounting costs and new information that
fundamental justifications for the invasion were incorrect.
This new distrust is the backlash to a continuing series of legally
and morally questionable actions which have stripped away America's former
reputation as a country operating under the rule of law. (See Exhibit 1)
1: US Departures from Rule of Law in Middle
(Source: IRmep, Lexis-Nexis)
UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan declares US invasion of Iraq illegal.
stated that the invasion went against international law, an observation now supported even
by neoconservative ideologues such as Richard Perle.
UN legitimacy is now
under attack by war proponents for this statement. Scandals
such as the oil for food program are generating non-proportional calls for UN
leadership resignations and institutional defunding.
Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Torture Scandals
Authorized use of
stress positions, attack dogs, and environment for sexual humiliation provide
a new and startling image of the modus operandi of American military and intelligence
forces in the region.
of US operatives in the Middle East will face populations who equate US armed
forces with torture and sexual perversion, a vast departure from their reputation in other
US Torture Memo 1
The public release
of a 2003 Pentagon policy paper outlining legalisms to sidestep Geneva
Conventions and authorize US use of torture fosters a might makes right, anything
goes attitude in US special ops, intelligence, and contractor communities.
The release of this
memo ignites global perceptions that the US no longer abides by the Geneva Conventions and
that the military believes the President has virtually unlimited powers to approve
practices outlawed by international treaties.
Deputy US Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz made a
public admission that WMD was merely one factor to overcome bureaucratic
objections to war, and that WMD had never been the most compelling justification for
Allies and opponents
alike understand that the US is willing to employ false rationales to
present the case for the most important decision a nation ever makes: whether or not to
initiate a military conflict.
Iraqi Debt Influence
Carlyle Group and
Albright Group, headed by luminaries James Baker and Madeline Albright, offer to shelter Kuwait's sovereign debt from official US efforts to renegotiate/eliminate outstanding
Iraqi sovereign debt.
A January 2004
proposal to Kuwait made by Carlyle and Albright offers to protect
Kuwaiti debt from US calls for debt forgiveness. Places
special debt envoy Baker and former Sec. of State Albright in the position of lobbying
against US interests on behalf of a foreign government in exchange for a $1 billion
investment and potential management fees.
Observers in the United States and abroad are
coming to see the US as a force
oblivious to truth, justice, and transparency, unfettered by the rule of law. In the Middle East, actors are
forced by the evidence to conclude that the rule of law takes second place to the
principle that might makes right.
of Law Linchpin of Future US Success
Analysts in the United States, as well as
President Bush, have long trumpeted that Arabs, particularly Muslims, hate us for
our freedoms. Statistically relevant
surveys in the region quickly dispense with this theory.
According to the Zogby International Poll results released in June 2004, the
Arab and Muslim population's favorable opinion of the US declines as a
direct result of America's regional
2: Favorable Opinion of the United
April 2002, June 2004
about the US is deteriorating because of facts on the ground transmitted via
non-stop satellite coverage of the US military operations in Iraq and US-supported Israeli
military actions in Palestine. The loss of
moral high ground comes at the worst possible moment for US policymakers. American objectives to reverse nuclear proliferation
and terrorism emanating from the region will fail if abidance by the rule of law is
relegated to the dustbin. America can only succeed in
it abides by the rule of law, particularly international law and treaties to which it is
signatory. There is one key opportunity to
reverse a precipitous decline in moral authority: facilitating a just settlement of the
Israel-Palestine conflict while abiding by international law and applicable UN
Dispelled in 2004 - Israel
Preempts Peace in 1967
The US needs to signal to
and the world a renewed American respect for international law by tackling the core
regional conflict between Israel and Palestine. Key Israeli pundits have already stepped up a
two-pronged disinformation campaign regarding Palestinian territories and their ongoing
occupation. The first position is that
returning an extremely limited control of Gaza to Palestinians
represents major progress and land for peace.
The second position is that portions of the West Bank, rebranded the new
Judea and Samaria by former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold and
US-based Israeli lobbies, are non-negotiable in any future deal with Palestinians.
refutes the idea that an Israeli Gaza withdrawal is progress. An isolated and densely populated Gaza with limited
sovereignty is not a solution to the Palestinian refugees ousted during the creation of
Israel in 1948. As Palestinian legislator
Hanan Ashrawi clarified on Capitol Hill in February of 2004:
it is very important
that any removal of settlements from the Gaza Strip would not be seen as a license for
Israel to consolidate its hold on the West Bank, to augment its settlements in the West
Bank, to remove settlers from Gaza and add them to the West Bank settlements, or to claim
that now that it has removed settlements, it can move the wall even further east and take
more land and annex most of the West Bank. And the danger is precisely because the West Bank is the land of ideology for the settlers, not Gaza. They don't want Gaza. Remember, Rabin said he would like nothing
better than to wake up one day and see that Gaza has sunk into the sea. Obviously, we should
have told them, and at one time during negotiations, one of my colleagues said, "If
we accept Gaza, what will you give us in return? 3"
Pre-empts Peace in 1967
maneuvers leading up to the Israeli occupation were unavailable until the release of
information one year ago. Until January of
2004, it was common historical perception that the 1967 six-day war and subsequent Israeli
seizure of the West Bank and Jerusalem were an unavoidable
response to imminent Arab aggression. Yet
previously classified data released in January 2004 by the Office of the Historian of the
US State Department reveals desperate Egyptian diplomatic attempts to wind down the
confrontation and repeated guarantees by Nasser to leaders in Washington that it would not
strike first. The US estimated that
these private Egyptian entreaties were intercepted and ultimately thwarted by Israel's pre-emptive
air attacks on June 6 of 1967. 4 Palestinian refugees never judged Israel the justified new
owner of the West Bank and entirety of Jerusalem. Official histories in the US no longer do
Return to the concept of rule of
law in the Middle East will begin with America's firm commitment to returning
lands expropriated by Israel in 1967 to Palestinians and aiding in negotiating the Right
of Return and/or Israeli reparations to populations displaced in 1948.
will not lead toward continued financial support or partnership in the ethnic cleansing of
Palestinians. Imposing a settlement to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2005 is a necessary moral precursor to any larger attempt
to reform and develop the region. The US will continue to
suffer a crisis of confidence, domestically and abroad, if US policies subvert
international treaties, laws, and American values.
- Working Group Report on Detainee
Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy,
and Operational Considerations US Department of Defense, http://www.IRmep.org/PDF/military_0604.pdf
- The James Baker Documents, The Nation http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041101&s=bakerdocs
- The U.S. Role in the Middle East Peace Process, Rayburn House Office Building, February 12, 2004 http://www.cnionline.org/hearings/ashrawi/transcript.htm
- Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XIX, Arab-Israeli
Crisis and War, 1967, Released by the Office of the Historian, Documents 129-148 US State
Department in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XIX, Arab-Israeli Crisis and War, 1967 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xix/28057.htm View a discussion of this information release at: rtsp://cspanrm.fplive.net/cspan/archive/iraq/iraq011204_statedept.rm