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By K. Greenfield

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Extra info for American Strategy in WWII - A Reconsideration

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The commitment of the West to spreading ‘democracy’ is apparently not inconsistent with toppling inconvenient regimes. What we do has effects in the world, whether we speak of the acts of persons or states. Terrorists do not emerge out of a pure fog of ‘hatred of freedom and democracy’: there are reasons; there are contexts for understanding that can co-exist with condemnation of acts of terror. 69 This suggests that the ‘justice’ required by events is not simple defence or retribution or deterrence; it is not exhausted by bringing to trial and meting out punishments.

But a large-scale terrorist attack like the 11 September incident is of a different kind of conflict not envisaged by the UN Charter. Nonetheless, the United States, while claiming that this was a ‘new type of war’, invoked the ‘old’ conventional provision of ‘individual self-defense’, as did its NATO allies citing the traditional concept of ‘collective defense’ in order to legalize and legitimize their actions. Thus, neither the indictment nor defense was well founded. But when the Security Council resolved on 12 September that, ‘it expresses its readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001’, and when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, immediately following the commencement of US bombing in Afghanistan, indicated general approval of the US strikes in the light of the Security Council resolution and stated that there was no need for a new resolution, the debate on the legality of US actions was de facto brought to a close.

64 The process continues, and minds will not be set at rest by the present course of events. Changes promoted by a single state or group of states do not meet the test of consensus that is a necessary condition for a change of international principle. 65 Some international norms should in any case be resistant to changes in state practice: many including the present author would now reject the notion that changes in inter-state practice can ‘legitimate’ violations of fundamental human rights. On the other hand, it is clear that the growth of international terrorism challenges some of the fundamental categories of international law—armed conflict; territory; responsibility; self-determination.

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American Strategy in WWII - A Reconsideration by K. Greenfield


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