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IPFS News Link • WAR: About that War

Like So Much Else, The Fuss Over 'International Law' Is Really About Narrative Control


This comes days after the International Criminal Court announced its intention to seek warrants for the arrest of Israeli officials for war crimes in Gaza, which will also be dismissed by Israel and its hegemonic ally to the west.

The other day ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said that when preparing to apply for the Israeli arrest warrants he was told by "a senior leader" that "This court is built for Africa and for thugs like Putin." You don't typically hear empire managers voice this kind of frank view when addressing the public, but it's not surprising that they hold this view behind the scenes. And in practice it's not even technically false — a casual glance at the list of prisoners detained at The Hague turns up individuals from small, weak, mostly African countries.

It's just a cold, hard fact that "international law" is never enforced against powerful nations or their protected allies, because there'd be no way for the international community to enforce those laws upon them without waging a massive world war involving nuclear-armed states. The US notoriously put in place its "Hague Invasion Act" between its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq to ensure that it can use military force to free any military personnel of the US or its allies (this would include Israel) who wind up detained by the ICC. There is currently no force in the world that would be both willing and able to stop the US war machine from doing such a thing.

A law isn't really a law if it can't be enforced. If I kill someone in a modern city, a bunch of law enforcement officials will come and arrest me and I'll be sent to prison. If I killed someone in the western United States during the nineteenth century, it wouldn't matter what the laws of the town happen to say if the sheriff and his posse are too afraid of me to bring me to justice. That's kind of what's happening on an international level?—?there's a big band of lawless thugs who do as they please, because there's no one else around with enough firepower to enforce any laws on them.

In reality, "international law" is a lie in two significant ways. It's a lie in the sense that western powers falsely purport to value and uphold it, and it's a lie in the sense that it has no meaningful existence since it's only ever enforced on small, weak powers.