Accuracy in Media

Experts on Middle Eastern nuclear affairs met July 14 at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) to discuss the September 2007 Israeli airstrike against Syria. Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, described the event as “troubling”; David Albright and Avner Cohen discussed the “strange” and “bizarre” issues surrounding the event. Albright is the President of the Institute for Science and International Security and Dr. Cohen is a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Dr. Cohen encapsulated the chief concern among the panelists: the “loud silence” from the international community. “What is the meaning of the silence?” Does it typify a vote of “no confidence” in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?

According to Leonard Spector, Deputy Director of the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, international silence is neither a “green light” nor an “endorsement” of Israel’s military strike. Rather, a “recalibration” is required from global leaders regarding the role of IAEA and UN. Spector commented that the nuclear facility began construction in 2001, but was not bombed until 2007, perhaps one of the reasons the UN and IAEA were not viewed as viable “alternatives” for Israel. Instead, the Israeli government adopted the “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive strikes.

Syria’s relative silence—they claimed Israel violated their “air space”—led Robin Wright, an international journalist who has reported in over 140 countries and six continents, to conclude that Syria was “caught red-handed” in the affair. To complicate matters, intelligence has determined that North Korea aided Syria during the Six Party Talks, and neither Russia nor China made any “noise.”

Further complexities stem from the United States’ connection with Israel. Both governments were aware of the strike, yet kept it “secret.” Dr. Cohen contrasted Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak reactor with the September strike. Iraq was bombed in broad daylight (5:30 PM), while Syria was bombed during morning blackness (2-3:00 AM). According to Cohen, Israel’s strategy demonstrated they “learned” from the 1981 attack. Israel did not “justify [the] evidence” before the world; neither did they act alone.

Thomas Graham, a senior U.S. diplomat who has been involved in the negotiation of every major international arms control and non-proliferation agreement for the past 30 years, concluded the panel discussion. Graham insisted that Israel’s military action was a violation of “international law.” If the “rule of law” is to prevail, the world must interpret Israel’s action as an “aberration.” The world community should hope, argued Graham, that Israel has not created a “precedent.”

 

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Israel’s preventative strike against Syria is being discussed 10 months later for a very simple reason: international law. Israel’s military decision in September echoes Ireland’s recent political and economic decision to reject the Lisbon Treaty. Both events exemplify a fundamental debate every nation must have—globalism vs. nationalism.

Concerning Ireland’s vote, Marian L. Tupy, policy analyst for the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperitywrote,

The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty is welcome news. It shows that further centralization of power in Brussels has limited support among the people of Europe. Over the years, Brussels has grown increasingly powerful, but also more corrupt and unaccountable. The European political elites, which have almost succeeded in getting the Lisbon Treaty adopted without national referenda, are openly contemptuous of the democratic process and preferences of the people of Europe. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Irish, like the Dutch and French before them, said “No.”

Tupy connects the French and Dutch rejection (55% and 61.6%) of the European Constitution in 2005 with Ireland’s 2008 rejection of the Lisbon Treaty for good reason. According to Libertas, an Ireland-based “European movement” dedicated to creating “greater democratic accountability and transparency in institutions of the EU,” 90% of the Lisbon Treaty was identical to the European Constitution that both France and Holland rejected.

Declan Ganley, chairman of Libertas, presented Ireland’s case against the EU “elites” in Brussels. According to Ganley, 80% of new statutes in European countries originate from Brussels. Ireland added 407 new statutes from Brussels in 2006 alone. The problem, Ganley noted, is that European parliaments are elected by the people; yet, they give the people’s power away to unelected officials who sit on the EU Council. These officials have no “accountability.” Therefore, adopting the Lisbon Treaty would create a “democratic deficit” in Europe.

So does a nation have a right to defend itself? Should a state adhere to “international law” when its real, or perceived, safety is at stake? The so-called “experts” answered “No” and “Yes,” respectively. I, however, hope Israel has created a precedent. Nations know their self-interest. I only wish other nations follow Ireland’s and Israel’s lead. For, as Herbert Spencer prophesied in The Man Versus the State,

“The function of Liberalism in the past was that of putting a limit to the power of kings. The function of true Liberalism in the future will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments.”




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