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Uncle Sam: International Criminal
by J. Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor
19 March 2003

The question is not whether the US is violating the UN Charter, but whether the Charter still represents international law.

What a blow to Uncle Sam!

So now the US is international criminal, eh? Yep. The US is breaking international law. Slap that around a bit, will ya.

If Uncle Sam intrudes Iraq, it is in violation of international law.
But was it not fact that all 15 members of the UN Security Council voted in favor of Resolution 1441, which promised “serious consequences” if Iraq did not cough up its arms for mass wipeout? Sure thing.

Now United States President George W. Bush has concluded that time has run out for Saddam. He’s had years to meet the UN’s mandate. Time for “serious consequences.”

That also bumps up against possible reality failure at the next Security Council vote. Dare the US undergo further slapping around? Bush and Friends may decide to sit out that dance and go for “serious consequences” on the basis of moral grounds and a quick flashback to 1991 historic UN conclusions. Not too difficult to see that li’l number through, considering it's been a repeat for the past several months.

That means, states Ari Fleischer on Thursday, that the US has the right under international law to take care of Saddam.

Further, technically a conflict with Iraq would be in keeping with the UN charter on November 9. In fact, that includes any time frame following the initial period of disarmament after the 1991 ceasefire that closed out the Gulf War.

With all that French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin continues to up his ignorant hubris by asking: “What have the inspectors told us? That for a month, Iraq has been actively cooperating with them.”

Ah, does not the foreign minister read his daily papers? On what island has the fellow been holed up?

Then comes along UN chief Annan to state emphatically that the US could end up as the global criminal in cutting through international law. O me o my o when it comes to spreading the nuthouse stuff.

Of course, Saddam continues his slug and slash, but the US fails to line up with the principal’s rubric.

Sean Murphy, international law professor at George Washington University, said on Wednesday that “the UN charter prohibits the transnational use of force. Either you are acting in self defense or you are acting under authorization of the UN Security Council.”

Ruth Wedgwood, professor of International Law at Johns Hopkins University said on Wednesday, “Resolution 1441 muddied the waters. You don’t ask the question if you are not going to like the answer.”

Of course, Saddam has not played by the law game all along. Then, far from ending up to be the global criminal, the US might in fact be the defender of the UN should it press Saddam to come up to standard. Wedgwood states that the US has the right to wipe out Saddam in keeping with the original UN Resolution in 1990. That resolution authorized the use of might to get rid of Iraq’s militia from Kuwait and to enforce all other resolutions.

Michael Glennon, an international law professor at Tufts, says that “the real question is not whether the charter would be violated, but whether the charter still represents international law.”

With that, we can come back to the logic table.

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is the Pastor of New Hope Church in Windham, ME.  He is a a graduate of an accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.  Pastor Swank has been married for 41 years and he has 3 adult children.  He is the author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic magazines, journals and newspapers. He writes a weekly religion column for PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.  His columns have appeared on,,,,,, (USO Canteen Chapel link), (Insights link), among others.

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