Friday, May 16, 2003

Kant and Mill in Baghdad. John B. Judis.
'The rise of modern imperialism, and of rivalries between the imperial powers, led to violent nationalist rebellions and two world wars in which millions perished. These sad events prompted a fundamental reappraisal of international morality. After World War II -- in the Nuremberg trials and the formation of the United Nations -- the world's countries embraced a Kantian approach to international relations based upon the recognition of nations as equal sovereign persons (regardless of their size or stage of economic development) with inalienable rights. The UN Charter forbade the "threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state" except if "an armed attack occurs." Similarly, the Nuremberg tribunal stated that "to initiate a war of aggression … is the supreme international crime." Utilitarianism was present, too, but in a supporting role: the UN charter assumed that by granting them inalienable rights, the world's nations would help remove a major cause of war... By Kantian standards, the [Iraq] war was aggression without justifiable cause.'

The Bush doctrine of full spectrum dominance and preventative war opens up a fundamental topic of world debate: is the UN Charter and response to the Second World War the right response or not? Its amazing how powers like the US, UK and Australia have simply dispensed with the core convictions of the post war era with so little debate or opposition.

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