Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘UN Charter’

Clausewitz, the UN Charter, and a Libertarian View on War

Posted by M. C. on November 4, 2022

UN Security Council (UNSC) authorizations that since 1945 have allowed some member States to use force against other members often have had underlying interests other than the stated one of “restoring international peace.” Predictably, the results of many of these UN sanctioned military interventions have generally been disastrous; often exacerbating conflicts and leading to the dramatic suffering of the civilian populations.

Libertarianism is perfectly placed for this task, since it identifies the state as the cause of most of society’s artificially created ills. As a political philosophy based on natural right, libertarianism cannot morally accept a war waged by the state, even if an entirely defensive one (if there is such a thing). The state, by its very definition, violates the nonaggression principle by its monopoly of violence on a given territory.

The ongoing war in Ukraine has forced many Westerners to consider the realism of Carl von Clausewitz’s classic On War. The Prussian military theorist famously wrote that: “War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” Though this observation may seem strange or even shocking to modern Western ears, it is the role war has mostly had throughout history.

Clausewitz served in the Russian army in 1812 and his influence in Russia is felt to this day. Indeed, Russia’s approach to the war in Ukraine has the imprint of Clausewitz in the sense that it sees military action as a political instrument, along with other such instruments, such as diplomatic and economic ones.

This helps to explain why Russia has been somewhat misunderstood in Western political and intellectual circles as the current crisis has escalated. Since the end of the Cold War, Western elites have come to equate war with the particular military doctrine of the United States, for which war only starts where politics ends, or even worse: when war of aggression is the preferred means to reach political and commercial ends, often at the exclusion of any good faith diplomacy.

Washington’s wars in the Middle East are typical examples of this. The official objectives of these wars, such as “spreading democracy,” have never really been achieved. Instead, the Military-industrial complex has profited massively from these wars, which strongly suggests that the real military goals of the US government are not the official ones.

For Clausewitz, writing in a time when crony capitalism hardly existed, there is a fundamental interest in avoiding war, because war harms all parties directly involved. Thus, in this light, war should always be the last resort employed by states when trying to reach political goals, not only because of the loss of life and the destruction of property that war entails, but also because of the uncertainty of war for all involved. As the old saying goes, it is easy to start a war, but difficult to end it.

When war does erupt, it is thus often the result of one side’s error of judgment with regard to its own and its opponent’s capabilities and intentions. As the historian Carroll Quigley wrote in his magnum opus, Tragedy and Hope: “This is the chief function of war: to demonstrate as conclusively as possible to mistaken minds that they are mistaken in regard to power relationships.

The Lack of Relevance of the UN

Typically for a nineteenth-century thinker, Clausewitz accepted the possibility for war to solve political problems, in a way modern international law does not. However, his view of war seems more respectful of the United Nations Charter than the aggressive military doctrine practiced by some of its Western signatories. Indeed, the United Nation’s Security Council’s past decisions to allow military intervention have often not met even the Clausewitz rationale for war; namely, the exhaustion of all other means of issue resolution.

UN Security Council (UNSC) authorizations that since 1945 have allowed some member States to use force against other members often have had underlying interests other than the stated one of “restoring international peace.” Predictably, the results of many of these UN sanctioned military interventions have generally been disastrous; often exacerbating conflicts and leading to the dramatic suffering of the civilian populations. In North Korea 1950, in South Vietnam in 1966, in Kuwait in 1990, and in Libya in 2011, the US interventions made a mockery of the UN’s ideal of peace.

Even worse, the UN Charter and the legal legitimacy of the UNSC have simply been disregarded by the US government in Serbia in 1999 and Iraq in 2003, setting a dangerous precedent. Today, of the permanent five veto-wielding members of the UNSC, three of them are now adversaries of the other two, and this is preventing the UNSC from making any significant contribution toward restoring peace.

What kept the peace, at least in Europe, between the two geostrategic and ideological Cold War rivals was arguably more the nuclear deterrence than the existence of the UN Charter, even though the USA and the USSR did several times come close to using nuclear weapons.

The UN’s role in enforcing international law is therefore today almost nonexistent. The absence of the UN in helping solve the current conflict between Russia and NATO is glaring. The UN Charter is thus simply a legal framework that works—de facto, not de jure—only as long as all of its most powerful members adhere to it in both spirit and letter. In reality, international relations between nation-states are still to a large extent power relationship, as in the days of Clausewitz.

Realism in War Complemented by Libertarianism

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Russia wants to force the US to respect the UN Charter

Posted by M. C. on January 6, 2022

Russia and China have just written to the United States asking it to respect the United Nations Charter and the word it has given. This approach, devoid of any aggressiveness, calls into question not only the functioning of the UN, NATO and the European Union, but almost all the US advances since the dissolution of the USSR. It is obviously unacceptable to Washington. But the US hyper-power is not what it used to be. It will have to begin its withdrawal.

by Thierry Meyssan

The world today is ruled by the United States of America and NATO, which present themselves as the only global powers, while the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are more powerful than them, both economically and militarily.

On December 17, 2021, Moscow released a draft bilateral treaty with Washington providing guarantees for peace [1], as well as a draft agreement to implement it [2]. These documents are not directed against the United States, they are only aimed at enforcing the UN Charter and complying with its own commitments.

On December 23, at President Putin’s annual press conference, a question from Sky News journalist Diana Magnay led to a spat. Vladimir Putin curtly replied that Russia’s remarks on US behaviour dated back to 1990 and that Washington not only ignored them, but persisted in going ahead. Now Nato weapons were about to be deployed in Ukraine, which would be an unacceptable fact for Moscow [3]. Never before has a Russian leader expressed himself in this way. It is important to understand that placing missiles four minutes’ flight from Moscow poses an extreme threat and is a cause for war.

On 30 December, a telephone conversation was held between Presidents Biden and Putin. The US side put forward proposals for resolving the Ukrainian issue, while the Russian side brought the discussion back to the US violations of the UN Charter and of its word.

The US is considering showing its good faith by not welcoming Ukraine into Nato. This is an approach that only marginally answers the question posed and is only likely to prevent war if accompanied by withdrawal measures.

It is clear that we are entering a period of extreme confrontation that will last for several years and could degenerate into a World War at any moment.

In this article, we will examine this conflict, which is largely unknown in the West.

1- The extension of Nato to the borders of Russia

During the Second World War, the United States deliberately made the maximum effort weigh on the Soviet Union. Between 22 and 27 million Soviets died (13-16% of the population) compared to 418,000 Americans (0.32% of the population). When this butchery ended, the US formed a military alliance in Western Europe, Nato, to which the USSR responded by creating the Warsaw Pact. Nato soon proved to be a federation that violated the principle of state sovereignty laid down in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter [4], which Third World countries denounced in 1955 at the Bandung Conference [5]. Ultimately, the USSR also violated the UN Charter by adopting the Brezhnev Doctrine in 1968 and imposing it on the members of the Warsaw Pact. When the USSR was dissolved and some of its former members created a new military alliance, the Collective Security Treaty, they chose to turn it into a confederation in compliance with the UN Charter.

To be clear about the meaning of federation and confederation, let us take an example: during the Civil War, the Northerners formed a federation because the decisions of their government were binding on all its member states. In contrast, the Southerners formed a confederation because each member state remained sovereign.

When the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, the Germans wanted to reunite their nation into one country. However, this meant the extension of Nato into the territory of the German Democratic Republic. At first, the Soviets were opposed to this. A reunification with the neutralisation of GDR territory was envisaged. In the end, First Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to the expansion of Nato through the reunification of the two Germanies on the condition that the Alliance did not seek to expand to the East.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, his Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, and French President François Mitterrand jointly supported the Russian position: NATO had to commit itself to no further expansion to the East. US President George H. Bush Sr. and his Secretary of State, James Baker, made numerous public statements and commitments to this effect to all their interlocutors [6].

As soon as the USSR was dissolved, three neutral countries joined the European Union: Austria, Finland and Sweden. However, the EU and Nato are one and the same entity, one civilian and one military, both based in Brussels. According to the Treaty on European Union as amended by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 42, paragraph 7), it is NATO that ensures the defence of the European Union whether or not its members are also members of NATO. De facto, these countries are no longer neutral since their accession to the European Union.

In 1993, the Copenhagen European Council announced that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe could join the European Union. From then on, the process of NATO membership for the former members of the Soviet bloc went smoothly, apart from the traditional Russian remarks.

But by the 1990s, Russia was a shadow of its former self. Its wealth was plundered by 90 people, the so-called ’oligarchs’. The standard of living collapsed and the life expectancy of Russians dropped by 20 years. In this context, no one listened to what Moscow was saying.

In 1997, the Nato summit in Madrid called on the former Soviet bloc countries to join the North Atlantic Treaty. After East Germany (1990), but the next five times in violation of its word, it was the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999; then in 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia; in 2009 Albania and Croatia; in 2017 Montenegro; and again in 2020 Northern Macedonia.

Ukraine and Georgia may soon join Nato, while Sweden and Finland may abandon their theoretical neutrality and openly join the Atlantic Alliance.

See the rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »