June 17, 2005

More On The Memo, Please!

As a new survey finds that US newspaper coverage of the Downing Street Memo has been woefully inadequate (and TV even worse, once would assume), one of the USA's top 5 papers, the LA Times, has finally provided some reasonable coverage. The only other top-5 paper to properly cover the story was the Washington Post, which took a dismissive line.

John Conyers is holding a public hearing into the Downing Street Minutes and Pre-War Intelligence today (available on CSPAN2 in 30 minutes, but who's counting? ... :-)). In a recent Democracy Now interview, Conyers blasted the "deafening sounds of silence" which had greeted the Memo in the USA. Today's media event should provide the perfect excuse for editors to up their coverage of the whole sorry story. Then maybe the push for impeachment can begin in earnest!

Thanks to Exadios for this link to an ABC LAteline interview with Philippe Sands QC, an eminent international lawyer and author of the book, "Lawless World - America and the making and breaking of international rules". Sands closely examines the illegal nature of the US, UK and Australian government's decisions to go to war, and looks at the chances that Bush, Blair and Howard could one day face imprisonment for their crimes. Sands has another SMH interview here, in which he takes a more general look at the Bush administration's ruinous international politicies:
Today nation states have given up aspects of their sovereignty and embedded themselves in a set of international obligations - mainly they have accepted that in an increasingly borderless world states can do more by acting together than acting alone.

Sands calls it a "silent revolution" that affects everyone, even the most powerful state in the world. But when George Bush was elected president in 2000 the United States was the world's unchallenged power, with diminishing time for the encumbrances of international law. Bush declared his intention not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court.

On September 12, 2001, the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, outlined the limits international law placed on a military response to the atrocity at the World Trade Centre. Bush reportedly replied: "I don't care what the international lawyer says. We are going to kick some ass."

Sands says a line runs straight from there to Guantanamo Bay, the US military and Bush Administration memos justifying forms of torture, Abu Ghraib and, of course, what he sees as the illegal Iraq war. He doesn't accept that events of September 11 made the old world order obsolete.

"I think the Americans have got [September 11] totally out of proportion," he says. "It was an appalling event. But it doesn't threaten their existence or dominant position as a state, or justify pulling down the whole 1945 apparatus."

He is consistent in his support for the international system. If the UN Security Council had supported the Iraq war he would also have done so, though with qualms. "We have rules for a reason," he says.

"I am not starry-eyed about the way the world is. Bad things are going to happen. At least rules provide a means of saying this is wrong and it must not happen. That must have some mitigating effect over time. There has to be something to the argument that greater interdependence minimises conflict."

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