Can the U.S. Check Itself Before it Wrecks Itself?

The period of time that immediately followed September 11 was a contentious one for American media outlets. For many publications, it was too soon for critical outpourings—informative commentaries that might help Americans rationally understand how such a tragedy may have occurred. The aftermath of major catastrophes, after all, are rarely times when the faculties of reason are employed.

Rather, in the rare moment in a nation’s history, in which all eyes and ears are tuned in to the same crisis, emerges a special breed of frenzied nationalism; one which, it seems, has yet to subside in this country.

It speaks volumes about the fringe nature of this publication that in the issue immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Weekly’s editorial board chose to reprint an article by columnist and Middle East specialist, Robert Fisk from The Independent. Fisk was the journalist who interviewed Osama bin Laden several times, prior to the fateful attacks that made him a household name across America.

Seventeen years have passed since the September 11 terrorist attacks, and yet, a speech given by National Security Advisor John Bolton shows that little has changed in regards to United States’ policy of denialism, isolationism, and exceptionalism in the international realm.

Fisk’s commentary was prophetic. Even without the gift of hindsight, he already understood that the events that were to follow the attacks were not about the “war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe”; but instead, about United States aggression, proxy wars and neocolonialism, which are hidden in plain sight from the average American citizen. It was about “American missiles smashing into Palestinian homes,” he wrote, “US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996, American shells crashing into a village called Qana…” All of these, Fisk predicted, would be overshadowed by a reductive narrative pitting the virtues of American democracy against Islamic aggression and “mindless terror.”

Seventeen years have passed since the September 11 terrorist attacks, and yet, a speech given by National Security Advisor John Bolton shows that little has changed in regards to United States’ policy of denialism, isolationism, and exceptionalism in the international realm. There were many problems with Bolton’s speech, but perhaps the most worrying was this: that the U.S., its citizens and its allies (mainly Israel) answer to no one.

Bolton did this by laying siege to the International Constitutional Court (ICC), which he referred to as “a free-wheeling global organization claiming jurisdiction over individuals without their consent,” whose objective has always been to “constrain the United States” and limit leaders’ “relentless determination to keep our country secure.”

“We will let the ICC die on its own,” he announced, “After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead.”

The idea behind the ICC was formed in 1998 in Rome, when 120 countries voted to adopt an early version of it, colloquially referred to as “the Rome Statute,” which would for the first time in human history, establish a permanent and pan-national court in which perpetrators of the most serious crimes committed in their territories could be prosecuted. It was formally established in 2002, and from the start, an institution like this one has always made aggressive, neocolonial nations like the United States nervous.

Bolton isn’t the only one dissatisfied with the ICC. Many others have touted its inefficiencies in the past. But while Bolton’s unrest with the institution stems from a belief that its power is so great it verges on tyrannical, many experts are saying exactly the opposite; that the organization is failing because it lacks the very power Bolton has accused it of wielding so unjustly.

In general, there has been a trend of “shallow cooperation” when it comes to participation in the ICC, (i.e. “countries agree only to international legal rules by which they would have abided anyway”). In a 2017 article in the Washington Post, analysts Terrence Chapman and Stephen Chaudoin pointed out that Russia, a month after signing the initial treaty in 1998, withdrew its membership (for quite obvious reasons). However, new or unstable democracies in sub-Saharan Africa were among the earliest parties to join the effort, as they had much to gain by their membership, since many early cases prosecuted the very crimes devastating their regions.

The implication here is that there are acts outlawed by the international court that would not meet the criteria of criminality under U.S. law—mainly because crimes committed by authorized U.S. officials are not typically considered crimes under U.S. law. In fact, sometimes they’re considered U.S. law.

That the ICC has flaws is without question, but more than anything, it represents an ideal—the notion of an absolute moral justice to which all nations can be held accountable. The United States is a country built on ideals; just not, it seems, that one.

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18 Comments

  1. Excellent commentary. Anyone not brainwashed by corporate media could see what would unfold. September 11 is used by Washington to justify its imperialist foreign policy and its massive Pentagon budget. The War on Terror will continue indefinitely as the US refuses to pursue a just and pacific approach to global issues particularly in regard to the Middle East where Tel Aviv and AIPAC’s influence are enormous.

  2. I think that we all know that the leading Jewish American organizations (ADL, AJC, AIPAC, etc.) have done the following:

    1. Helped Turkey defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress, at the behest of Israel. Even the Jewish media acknowledge have always acknowledged this.

    2. Helped Azerbaijan and supported anti-Armenianism (the latter in the international media), at the behest of Israel.

    3. Gotten the US into numerous wars throughout the Middle East, at the behest of Israel.

    So as Armenians — as AMERICANS — what should we be doing about all this besides writing an editorial?

    The question hangs in the air, unanswered.

    • We should stop supporting any external political prodding into Armenia’s internal affairs. We should stop talking nonsense and daydreaming about this nonsense. We have been swayed as a people to believe in the myths that have been used time and time again to overthrow governments all over the world. We only now have started to open our eyes. A quick media story followed by their candidate of choice, next thing you know we have a new president in Armenia. How easy was this? Really?

      We should stop with the Armenian Genocide remembrance. Lets face it we are the only ones that care. We should spend the time instead to bring high tech to Armenia, we should spend time bringing business to Armenia. We will always remember and some day take our lands back. For now to cry in front of a guy who takes money and orders from corporate interests is a no use venture!

      And finally America cares about one thing….MONEY. So I suggest we make some MONEY. If you want a law passed you don’t beg the thief! You pay him! Learn the game. Your Genocide resolution can be bought for MONEY. I for one don’t agree on paying anyone, but for all of you lost in your pity, and sorrow who wish nothing but for someone else to stand in commemoration next to you, then I suggest you do what the Jews do and pay them! I suggest you go waste your money on finding someone to shed some crocodile tears. I would rather spend my time and money on figuring out how to make Hayastan Hayastan again!

  3. ” The question hangs in the air unanswered”
    This is not a totally accurate statement. Admittedly the challenges and tasks ahead are formidable, there has been solid accomplishments; we need to unite and be energized.
    So as Armenians- as Americans- what should we doing about this besides writing an editorial.

    1- Vote in the elections. Mid term elections are coming up. There are districts in the US particularly in CA, MA, MI that the Armenian communities have an influence.

    2- The ANCA has accomplished a lot. If you have not done so, visit the ANCA website. Become active, participate, donate.

    3- The Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights has started its work. Visit their web site, participate and donate- the ACL needs tremendous moral and financial support.

    There are geopolitical realities and strategies that we cannot control; this is due to the fact that we are a small nation with a relatively small population, fragmented and spread over the world. Moreover there is lack of unity of purpose in the Diaspora.

    In spite of all the obstacles, we should never give up. Do not despair. We should all do the best of our ability. GET INVOLVED.

    Vart Adjemian

    • What is the point of voting for people who are part of the system that is the problem? Do you actually imagine a still Clintonite Democrat Party will be any better regarding American foreign policy that a Trump Republican one. Don’t forget about the Israeli lobby’s pre-election threats to transfer support to the Democrats because it felt Clinton would be more amenable to Israeli interests. Surely the free-reign now given by Trump to imbeciles like Bolton and to ludicrous anti-Iran policies and tearing up of treaties is done in order to shore up support from those same lobby interests. All these ethnic or nation-state lobbying groups are a core problem.

  4. It’s high time Armenians stopped being intimidated by the all-purpose, boilerplate antisemitism accusation which some supporters of Israel level at anyone who criticizes Tel Aviv’s deplorable policies. Israel’s refusal to recognize the Genocide of Armenians is one such policy which deserves to be condemned by Armenians and all people. Israel has not just refused to acknowledge our genocide but, as a favor to Turkey, its US lobby has made sure the United States doesn’t recognize our genocide. Tel-Aviv’s refusal to acknowledge the truth about our genocide is more than an unfriendly act. Israel’s support of bellicose Azerbaijan is another reason why Armenians should feel free to condemn Tel Aviv. Armenians have also reason to conclude that the barrage of anti-Armenian opinion pieces (almost exclusively written by Israelis or American Jews) which have appeared in the last few years in the Israeli media is an orchestrated and centralized campaign to hurt Armenia and Armenians. When these denialist agents accuse Armenians of being Nazi, etc., tell them that Hitler hated the Armenians.
    Israel was created “to be a light among people”. But when it comes to the Genocide of Armenians Israel is “darkness among people”.
    Let’s not kid ourselves: Israel is hostile our our nation and our state.
    P.S. Israel also harasses the Armenians of Jerusalem, including the Patriarchate. Since it conquered the West Bank, Israel has illegally grabbed Armenian Church lands using various underhanded stratagems and naked force. It recently grabbed most of the Armenian Church-owned Fountain of St. Phillip (just outside Jerusalem) under the guise that the land grab was for environmental and archeological reasons. How can one win at court when the judge is your rival’s uncle?

  5. It is about time! Don’t expect any fair minded behavior from Israel or their leadership. They are all about themselves at any cost. It’s always one way street with them, while they crave the world’s support, recognition, affection and symphaty from rest of the world

  6. I would love to see the ICC issue a warrant for John Bolton’s arrest. His transgressions go way beyond criminality and are more in the realm of evil. He is the quintessential bully and as such exhibits the usual cowardice of such a person. His devotion to Israel is total and verges on the pathological, and while I can’t think of an anti-Armenian act committed by him I’m sure he’s completely supportive of any and all Azeri hostilities.

  7. Armenian terrorism and the support Armenian terrorists enjoyed among the Armenian community has still gone unpunished… And now the US is supporting YPG, Syrian extension of PKK terrorists. “My terrorist is better than your terrorist” is no way to fight global terrorism.

    • Written from Turkey? A country which invents a non-existent terrorist organisation (naming it “FETÖ”) as an excuse to enable internal oppression, invents a non-existent terrorist organisation in Syria (calling it YPG) in order to support an invasion of Syria, destroys confidence in the INTERPOL arrest warrant system and its anti-terrorism measures by making numerous spurious extradition requests that target politicians and journalists, and all the while continuing to support the real terrorists of Islamic State.

  8. American foreign policy is indistinguishable from Israeli foreign policy. The Israelis are working against the Armenians. Here are some facts for Israel’s defenders allege Armenian “antisemitism”:
    1) “Semite” is now a largely meaningless term- referring to a descendent of Noah through his son Shem. Also a speaker of so-called Semitic languages including Hebrew and Arabic. Jews, Arabs, and Assyrians are all technically semites. Therefore if one is pro-Palestinian, one by definition cannot be an antisemite. The ashkenazi “Jews” of today are clearly very mixed with European blood- whether they are truly descended from the ancient Hebrews is a matter of probably unresolvable debate. Whether that gives them the rights to a more than 2000 year old claim to the Holy Land is another question entirely.

    2) When they accuse Armenians of sympathing with the Nazis and mention General Dro and Nzhdeh: Both of these heros were fighting against Soviet interests which were hostile to Armenia at the time. They were nationalists and they made alliances of convenience. One can compare their actions to the actions that Jewish terrorist groups (like the Irgun and the Haganah- led by Menachem Begin) took against the British in the mid 1940s https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_insurgency_in_Mandatory_Palestine.

    3) There were far more Armenians fighting in the Soviet Red Army than were ever allied with the Nazis. Hitler did not trust Armenians and said, “I consider only the moslims [sic] to be reliable…All others I deem unreliable. For the time being I consider the formation of these battalions of purely Caucasian peoples very risky, while I don’t see any danger in the establishment of purely Moslim units…In spite of all declarations from Rosenberg and the military, I don’t trust the Armenians either.” Almost half a million Armenians fought against the Nazis on the side of the Soviets in WW2 and hundreds of thousands of them died. Armenians participated in the liberation of Berlin and danced Kochari on the steps of the Reichstag. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/89th_Rifle_Division_(Soviet_Union)

    4) There was an entire Azeri legion in Hitlers army. 70,000 soldiers strong. Tell that to the Jewish defenders of Azerbaijan. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aserbaidschanische_Legion

    How dare they accuse us of “antisemitism” when we have sacrificed so much in WW2 fighting against the Nazis? Shame on them, shame on their oppression of the Palestinians, and shame on their disgusting alliance with genocidal turks!

  9. It is amazing that neither the national media nor the majority of the US population stopped to ask WHY the attacks of 9/11 took place. It is refreshing to read a commentary that states the simple truth.

    • There is a fine line between explaining behavior and endorsing behavior. The above article strays eerily close to the latter.

      There is also a distinction between ends and means, which the above article seems to ignore. Even if you think the ends that terrorists are fighting for (ending U.S. imperialism, etc.) are correct, is terrorism ever a justifiable means of achieving them? No, it is not.

      The U.S. is a democratic country, and it is up to us to convince our government to change its foreign policy. We cannot outsource our responsibility to terrorists and then say, “But Israel!”

  10. What if … we stop bashing the US and Americans (when we’ve taken so much, gave so much back, and benefited so much from a system of government far superior to the rest) … we stopped being the lapdog of either political party (especially the Democrats) in return for our representatives being thrown a few treats for their benefit with the usual lies for our causes … exercised mature political engagement with both parties and stop looking for handouts? I love America its culture its people, I love Armenia its culture people perseverance and most of all its potential despite the damage done by decades of the evil called socialism/communism … recognize the fact that so many US Armenians are put off by the bashing of their conservative economic values (the silent majority) … work toward self sufficiency of Armenia rather than what others should do for her … what if?

  11. What a funny people you all are. You complain about the criminal deeds of imperial officials in Washington and Tel Aviv, yet when it comes to Armenia, you don’t think twice about doing what Washington and Tel Aviv wants you to do in Armenia. The recent “Velvet Revolution” was sponsored by the NED and George Soros and is fully inline with what Anglo-American-Jews want. What a funny bunch you all are…

    • Yes you are right, those are a funny bunch. But what’s an even a funnier bunch is the blind Russia-bots who think that “Russia can do no wrong and must not be questioned, challenged or criticized under any circumstances” – the same mentality of the American government, it’s mainstream media, and the “Israel is the greatest thing that ever happened” adherents in the USA. Pot, meet Kettle.

      PS: I actually think that Russia is even too good for the ridiculous Armenian “government”, who are all a bunch of self-serving incompetent clowns who don’t even know how to protect Armenian villages under their noses, yet are eager to play the “I am an international politician” game and claim “they want peace but are ready for war”. This includes every Armenian “government”, past, present and most likely future.

    • “Norserunt” wrote:

      “… you [Armenians] don’t think twice about doing what Washington and Tel Aviv wants you to do in Armenia.”

      Is that so, Mr. “Next Generation”?

      So Washington wants Armenia to ally itself with Russia?
      Washington wants Armenia to get lots of Russian weapons?
      Washington wants Armenia to beat back Azerbaijani aggression?
      Washington wants Armenia to take Artsakh and other lands away from Azerbaijan?
      Washington wants Armenia to resist a Turkey-Azerbaijan pan-Turkic hookup?
      Washington wants Armenia to repudiate the infamous Turkish – Armenian “Protocols”?
      Tel Aviv and Washington want Armenia to be close to and trade with “enemy/terrorist” Iran?
      Tel Aviv and Washington want Armenia to support Russian policy in Syria?
      Tel Aviv and Washington want Armenia to continue to support Armenian Genocide acknowledgment?
      Tel Aviv and Washington want Armenia to condemn the hypocrisy of Israel’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide?
      Tel Aviv and Washington want Armenia to help expose how the leading Jewish American organizations hypocritically help Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions?

  12. I think Robert Fisk’s supposed prophetic abilities regarding the “War on Terror” and suchlike are overrated. All he has ever done is written what the majority of the world already knows to be true. And maybe his specialization in doing this has just allowed the rest of the establishment media to not do it and thus make Fisk’s contributions appear as being that from an obsessive. These days “obsessive” is a dirty word, just one step away from being a fanatic mad gunman loner. He needs to start to appear to be “passionate about”, that’s the phrase to be these days!

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