September 11, 2014

Obama Continues the Bush Doctrine

By In TRL's Picks from Around the Web

By Michael S. Rozeff: Original Source

Obama’s bombings in many countries have been implementing the Bush Doctrine. Obama’s remarks on ISIL renew his adherence to the Bush Doctrine: “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.” Under the Bush Doctrine, the U.S. military goes anywhere in the world, regardless of the permission of any state or political body.

Syria’s government does not at this time officially permit U.S. bombing in Syria. Its foreign minister has said “Everyone is welcome, including Britain and the United States, to take action against ISIS and Nusra with a prior full coordination with the Syrian government.” Such coordination has not been obtained and, under the Bush Doctrine, the U.S. ignores Syria’s government. Besides, Obama is on record as wanting Assad to be removed from his position so that cooperating with him on an anti-ISIS and anti-Nusra campaign will be extremely difficult. Are they together going to select targets and sites to bomb? Hardly likely. The U.S. already is making manned and unmanned air flights over Syria without Syria’s permission.

When the U.S. crosses borders to attack without permission, it does so in violation of international law because there are no direct threats against America from the people or governments (as in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan) it is attacking. At the same time, these unilateral interventions go in the opposite direction of the libertarian approach. Rothbard writes

“In relations between States, then, the libertarian goal is to keep each of these States from extending their violence to other countries, so that each State’s tyranny is at least
confined to its own bailiwick. For the libertarian is interested in reducing as much as possible the area of State aggression against all private individuals. The only way to do this, in international affairs, is for the people of each country to pressure their own State to confine its activities to the area it monopolizes and not to attack other States or aggress against their subjects.”

The case of attacking a body of people (like ISIL) inside another country (like Syria) is a direct attack on that country and its people via collateral damage that’s bound to occur. Plus it is an indirect attack on that nation’s state, by weakening that state’s sovereignty. It does that by violating its borders and territorial integrity. Such an action is the opposite of the isolationist and neutralist policy sought by libertarians. Instead, it expands the dominance of the attacking state. It creates a precedent for one state to attack another under various shadowy pretexts. Precedents become the new law of nations.

If every country has its own Bush Doctrine, the opportunities for aggressions multiply exponentially. Any country faces threats that are as remote as the ones claimed by the U.S. and any country can attribute them to some foreign group or some foreign state in some foreign land or lands, as the U.S. has been doing. In that kind of a world with that kind of international law, any country claims the right to violate another country’s borders under pretexts that can be far from concrete or represent nothing but vague threats or threats of threats subjectively perceived. Aggressions multiply and become the default option; peace no longer is the default option.

Iraq asked the U.S. to bomb ISIL within Iraq. That’s legal under international law. When General Dempsey said “It is in our national security interest to counter ISIL wherever we find them,” that was the Bush Doctrine. To bomb ISIL “wherever” is not legal. The authorization of Congress for the use of military force (AUMF) also does not extend to bombing ISIL, and bombing within Iraq is illegal from that standpoint too. Obama is expanding executive power and setting a very bad precedent in that respect too.

A U.S. attack on ISIL, even if authorized by Congress and even if invited by Iraq, goes in the opposite direction from the libertarian objective of attaining a neutral and isolationist America. The U.S. as world policeman or world mercenary or world destroyer of evil or world maintainer of existing state boundaries is not a neutral U.S. It is a U.S. constantly at war and constantly intervening across the planet. Its reasons for choosing the battles it does get entirely entangled with politics, economics, ideologies, subconscious drives to dominate and attain security, irrationalities, greed for resources, cultural biases, lobbies, psychopathologies and imperial interests. In other words, high-mindedness does not and cannot possibly guide all those interventionist roles played by the U.S. The quests have deeper roots. National security is an excuse used to hide the many underlying motives.

Lacking infinite resources, the U.S. always has to choose some battles and avoid others. What factors determine its choices and what factors determine how much of its resources it will expend on the battles chosen? Close examination will reveal that the U.S. makes many mistakes, often very big mistakes, in selecting its interventions and deciding upon their scale. The governing system is very far from being efficient and effective, what with its divisions and multiplicity of motivations. But no matter the results and the various motivations, one tendency does emerge. The U.S. government chooses its spots and makes its commitments as if it had the general expectation of improving its dominance in the world and controlling some region. The U.S. wants to plant its flag everywhere or have another friendly flag planted as its proxy, and then American business can find friendly soil for its products and services, for its resource requirements, for its labor forces, for its financing and for its distribution networks. U.S. politicians can be re-elected, foreign satraps can collect their goodies, bankers can extend their loan portfolios, and the payments system can be denominated in dollars. The American system of law can go worldwide.