Tuesday, March 29, 2005

International Law: the Lilliputian ties that bind

I tried posting this before, but Blogger honked, as usual (one of the main reasons we've been so light today).

Anyway, the always-sharp Mark Steyn turned his eye toward the after effects of the Iraq liberation on Tony Blair: to wit, questions by the Labourites and even the schizophrenic British Right, about whether deposing Saddam violated international law. Ask the Iraqis if they want that decision rescinded.

Some excerpts:

If I were to make a general observation about the differences between the American and British executives, it would be this: a British Prime Minister with a majority in the House of Commons can do what he wants at home - abolish the Upper House of the national legislature and ancient offices of state that predate his; install toytown parliaments of arbitrarily varying powers in his Celtic realms and divide England into meaningless invented "regions" - but overseas he's far more circumscribed; conversely, a US President can't abolish the Senate or merge New Hampshire and Vermont into the Metropolitan County of Clwyd, but if he decides to stick it to some genocidal nutter halfway around the world he doesn't have to worry he'll be tied up in the UN dictators' small-claims court for the next decade. On the whole, I prefer a system which gives the head of government limited powers over Mrs Scroggins at 37 Acacia Gardens but a wide degree of latitude when it comes to President Sy Kottik of Hoogivsadam.

* * *
Two years ago - March 15, 2003 - I wrote in this space that Bush had been prevailed upon to "go the UN route" to give his closest ally some (pseudo-legal) cover and "the end result is that we'll be going to war with exactly the same participants as we would have done last August, and the one person weakened by going the UN route is the very one it was designed to protect: Mr Blair. The best way to help Blair would have been to get the war over six months ago."

* * *
. . . in the coalition of the winning's inner counsels - America, Britain, Australia - Mr Blair is the odd one out. Bush and John Howard are soul mates not just on Iraq but in their general contempt for old-school poseur multilateralism. Indeed, the Aussies are far more open about their views on the UN and "international law" than even the Bushies. By contrast, Blair thought he could somehow square the activist liberationist Bush doctrine with the whole tired Security Council/ICC/Hague/EU circus. You can't. They're mutually incompatible. The problem with the entire concept of "international law" is that it can ensnare a Tony Blair while never laying a finger on a Saddam Hussein. A "legalistic" regime of global relations confers an inviolable sovereignty not on countries or peoples but on every tinpot thug holding down the presidential palace.

Read it all.

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