The world is reeling in horror at the latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Much of the world is also shocked by the role of the in the crisis, as it keeps providing with weapons to kill Palestinians, including women and children, in violation of and international law. The repeatedly blocks action by the UN Security Council to demand ceasefires or hold accountable for its war crimes.
Biden Invests His Capital in Israel
In contrast to interview, Secretary of State keeps promising to uphold and defend the “rules-based order.” But he has never clarified whether he means the universal rules of the United Nations Charter and international law or some other set of rules he has yet to define. What rules could possibly legitimize the kind of destruction we just witnessed in Gaza, and who would want to live in a world ruled by them?actions, in nearly every speech or
Violating the UN Charter
We have both spent many years protesting the violence and chaos the prohibition against the threat or use of military force. We have always insisted that the government should comply with the rules-based order of international law.and its allies inflict on millions of people around the world by violating the UN Charter’s
The cities to rubble and left country after country mired in intractable violence and chaos. Yet American leaders have refused to even acknowledge that aggressive and destructive and allied military operations violate the rules-based order of the UN Charter and international law.’ illegal wars and support for allies like and Saudi Arabia have reduced
Donald Trump, the former , was clear that he was not interested in following any “global rules,” only supporting American national interests. His national security adviser, John Bolton, reportedly prohibited National Security Council staff attending the 2018 G20 summit in Argentina from even uttering the words “rules-based order.”
So, you might expect Biden administration has yet to take any decisive action to bring into compliance with the UN Charter or international law.to welcome Blinken’s stated commitment to the “rules-based order” as a long-overdue reversal in policy. But when it comes to a vital principle like this, it is actions that count. The
For Secretary Blinken, the concept of a “rules-based order” seems to serve mainly as a cudgel with which to attack China and Russia. At a UN Security Council meeting on May 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that instead of accepting the already existing rules of international law, the and its allies are trying to come up with “other rules developed in closed, non-inclusive formats, and then imposed on everyone else.”
From the Yalta Agreement to Today
The UN Charter and the rules of international law were developed in the 20th century precisely to codify the unwritten and endlessly contested rules of customary international law with explicit, written rules that would be binding on all nations. The legalist movement in international relations, from The Hague peace conferences at the turn of the 20th century to the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945 and the revised Geneva Conventions in 1949. This included the new to protect civilians, like the countless numbers killed by American weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza.played a leading role in this
In 1945, after returning from Yalta, joint session of Congress. The Yalta Agreement, he said, “ought to spell the end of the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balances of power, and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries — and have always failed.” Roosevelt went on to “propose to substitute for all these a universal organization in which all peace-loving nations will finally have a chance to join. I am confident that the Congress and the American people will accept the results of this conference as the beginning of a permanent structure of peace.”described the plan for the United Nations to a
But America’s post-Cold War triumphalism eroded Madeleine Albright, the secretary of state under the Clinton administration, and other Democratic leaders embraced new doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and a “responsibility to protect” to try to carve out politically persuasive exceptions to the explicit rules of the UN Charter.leaders’ already half-hearted commitment to those rules. The neocons argued that they were no longer relevant and that the must be ready to impose order on the world by the unilateral threat and use of military force — exactly what the UN Charter prohibits.
America’s “endless wars,” its revived Cold War on Russia and China, its blank check for the Israeli occupation of, and the political obstacles to crafting a more peaceful and sustainable future are some of the fruits of these bipartisan efforts to challenge and weaken the rules-based order.
Today, far from being a leader of the international rules-based system, theis an outlier. It has failed to sign or ratify about 50 important and widely accepted multilateral treaties on everything from children’s rights to arms control. Its unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and other countries are themselves violations of international law. The administration has shamefully failed to lift these illegal sanctions, ignoring UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ request to suspend such unilateral coercive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, is Secretary Blinken’s “rules-based order” a recommitment to Roosevelt’s “permanent structure of peace,” or is it in fact a renunciation of the UN Charter and its purpose, which is peace and security for all of humanity?
In light of President Joe Biden’s first few months in power, it appears to be the latter. Instead of designing a based on the principles and rules of the UN Charter and the goal of a peaceful world, Biden’s policy seems to start from the premises of a $753-billion military budget, 800 overseas military bases, endless and allied wars and massacres, and massive weapons sales to repressive regimes. Then it works backward to formulate a policy framework to somehow justify all that.
Once a “war on terror” that only fuels terrorism, violence and chaos was no longer politically viable, hawkish perpetuate America’s militarist and multi-trillion-dollar war machine. But that raised a new set of contradictions. For 40 years, the Cold War was justified by the ideological struggle between the capitalist and communist economic systems. But the Soviet Union disintegrated and Russia is now a capitalist country. China is still governed by its Communist Party, but it has a managed, mixed economy similar to that of Western Europe in the years after World War II — an efficient and dynamic economic system that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in both cases.leaders — both Republican and Democratic — seem to have concluded that a return to the Cold War was the only plausible way to
So, how can theseleaders justify their renewed Cold War? They have floated the notion of a struggle between “democracy and authoritarianism.” But the supports too many horrific dictatorships around the world, especially in the Middle East, to make that a convincing pretext for a Cold War against Russia and China. An American “global war on authoritarianism” would require confronting repressive allies like Egypt, , Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, not arming them to the teeth and shielding them from international accountability as the is doing.
Just as American and British leaders settled on non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) as the pretext they could all agree on to justify their war on Iraq in 2003, the and its allies have settled on defending a vague, undefined “rules-based order” as the justification for their revived Cold War on Russia and China. But like the emperor’s new clothes in the fable and the WMDs in Iraq, the ’ new rules don’t really exist. They are just its latest smokescreen for a based on illegal threats and uses of force and a doctrine of “might makes right.”
We challenge Presidentand Secretary Blinken to prove wrong by actually joining the rules-based order of the UN Charter and international law. That would require a genuine commitment to a very different and more peaceful future, with appropriate contrition and accountability for the ’ and its allies’ systematic violations of the UN Charter and international law, and the countless violent deaths, ruined societies and widespread chaos they have caused.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.
In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.
We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money. Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.