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"Humanitarian intervention" is no gift

9/4/2013, 1:53 p.m.

By Ajamu Baraka

“That there are two mutually exclusive moral standards: one for the vast majority of nations and another for those comprising the dying but dangerous collection of European colonial capitalist nations.”

With the announcement by the Obama administration that it intends to launch an attack on Syria in response to the chemical attack alleged to have been carried out by the Syrian government, the U.S. Administration has again assumed for itself the role of global “gendarme,” policing, punishing, and as its drone warfare program demonstrates, even executing the natives of the global village at will. In its single-minded dedication to this global role, the Obama administration has also freed itself from the constraints of international law as the President shamelessly declared that he was “comfortable” operating outside of the global legal frameworks that the U.S. itself helped craft.

How is it that the administration can announce to the world its intentions to circumvent, and by doing so, subvert international prohibitions on war? By wrapping itself in the false flag of humanitarian concerns for the suffering masses in Syria. President Barack Obama, the corporate and financial elite’s most effective propaganda weapon since Ronald Reagan, explains to the world that it is only the plight of people in Syria that drives the U.S. decision to attack the country.

No one asks the president to explain to the innocent human beings who are walking around today alive, but who will be the dead and maimed “collateral damage” of this pending attack, why their sacrifice is for the greater good of humanity.

This justification for this latest breech of international law is yet another example of the sham that is “humanitarian intervention.” If “mass killings of its own people” constitutes a “crime against humanity” and “mass” in Syria means over a thousand people killed, surely the killing of over a thousand in Egypt must also constitute a serious crime against humanity! But that kind of rational calculation could only occur if there were one ethical standard for all states and an equal value placed on human life.

“The Geneva accords and the law of war, human rights and the Charter of the United Nations are now constraints on the ability of the U.S. to pursue its interests.”

The reality, however, is that there are two mutually exclusive moral standards: one for the vast majority of nations and another for those comprising the dying but dangerous collection of European colonial capitalist nations.

It is the naked pursuit of U.S. geo-political interests like the gas off the coast of Syria, oil and the desire to isolate Iran that drive policy and not some concern for the people in Syria. That is the context that shapes and informs U.S. foreign policies globally. In the current context of relative U.S. decline, international law related to non-economic functions and relationships – the Geneva accords and the law of war, human rights and the Charter of the United Nations are now constraints on the ability of the U.S. to pursue its interests. And with no domestic checks on Executive power with the capitulation and collaboration of Congress (despite this “feint” toward democratic accountability represented in seeking congressional approval from Congress before attacking Syria), a corporate media that serves as cheerleaders for the administration and peace and anti-imperialist movements that are marginal and in political disarray, U.S. criminality is completely out of control with the result that the U.S. has become the quintessential Rogue State.