April 11, 2018
By Stephen Gowans
Ideologues of US power, notably those ensconced in the editorial offices of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, believe that the United States has an imprescriptible right to exercise an absolutist tyranny over the world, to define the boundary between civilization and barbarism, and that Washington is unbound by international law, but free to wield it as a tool against the barbarians. In the ideology of US despotism, the compass of civilization includes states that submit to “US leadership”, a euphemized version of “US tyranny,” while states which favor an international order based on the UN Charter’s ideal of the sovereignty and equality of states (Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela are among the supporters of this alternative, democratic, order) are relegated to the category of barbarism. Once a state has been located outside of civilization, Western legal traditions—testing accusations against evidence and the assumption of innocence until culpability is credibly demonstrated— no longer apply. The “barbaric” state becomes guilty of all acts of which it is accused, regardless of whether there exists credible evidence to corroborate the accusation.
In a 9 April editorial “In Syria, Trump faces the limits of bluster” The New York Times attributes a global leadership role to the United States, which it urges the Trump administration to exercise by creating “an independent investigation that could lead to prosecution” of the Syrian leadership “in a tribunal like the International Criminal Court,” a court the United States itself rejects and refuses to be bound by.
The New York Times’ editors lay out steps Washington ought to take if “the Syrian regime’s guilt is determined,” but conclude all the same that the Syrian government is guilty on all charges, contrary to the reality that the US State Department, British Foreign Office, and its own reporters, have acknowledged that the chemical attack allegations against the Syrian government are unverified and unconfirmed. What’s more, the sources of the allegations are the White Helmets and Syrian American Medical Society, partisan outfits, funded by Western governments, and allied with anti-government insurgents, who have an interest in fabricating atrocities to defame their enemy and to justify continued and even elevated Western intervention in Syria.
Additionally, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, at a 2 February news conference, admitted that the Pentagon has no evidence that the Syrian military has ever used chemical weapons. This, however, didn’t stop the New York Times’ editors from declaring that Syria has failed to honor its agreement to destroy its chemical weapons under a 2013 pact or that it is responsible “for most of the 85 chemical attacks in the country over the past five years.” A newspaper which proclaims itself to live up to the highest standards of journalism, indeed, to set the gold standard, appears to have no trouble creating facts out of thin air.
The editors lay out steps the Trump administration should take once a legal imprimatur is conferred upon a pre-judgement of guilt. Inevitably, military action is called for. “If a Russian veto prevents Security Council action, then Mr. Trump needs to work with our allies, through NATO or otherwise,” the editors counsel—a call for the US administration to violate international law (again.)
“The use of poison gas,” the newspaper of record observes one paragraph later, “is a war crime under international law,” a curious observation given the editors’ dim view of international law as evidenced by their urging Washington to act without Security Council authorization in order to exercise “America’s traditional leadership role.” It should be recalled that the Third Reich, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan also claimed leadership roles, to say nothing of imperial Britain and imperial France, the latter of which is eager to rehabilitate its colonial tyranny over its former Syrian mandate under the guise of punishing the “barbarian” Assad for outrages against civilization.
The Pentagon has the world’s largest stockpile of weaponized poison gas. The point of having it is to possibly use it, despite its prohibition under the very same international law the New York Times condemns Syria (without evidence) of violating. Thus, the ideologues of US tyranny reveal that international law is a matter of significance only to countries the United States defines as its enemies (the barbarians), and not to the United States itself, which is free to act as it pleases against the barbarians, according to its own laws, as the guarantor of a global moral order. Needless to say, the idea that the United States, the principle source of disorder, suffering and decay in the world, has even a soupcon of moral authority, is risible, if not a sick joke—a truth of which most of the world’s population is only too aware.
In 1970, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 2625, which, inter alia, declared that “States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression,” a resolution of apparently no significance to the New York Times, which is only too happy to spread propaganda for wars of aggression in the service of a US tyranny which, far from exercising moral authority, continues to spread its dark wings over the whole world, led by a madman at the top of a system of global oppression and exploitation, from which has sprung a program of neo-colonial warfare and escalating confrontation with China and Russia.