Attorney Jeff Tuomala, one of the experts we consulted about the legality of the Yugoslavia war, told us that he had seen relatively little in the press about this important aspect of the controversy. One of the commentaries, ironically, came from conservative columnist George Will, who didn?t seem to want to hold Clinton accountable. Regarding the arguments that the Yugoslavia bombing is illegal, George Will wrote that it is “unseemly” for those who advocate “maximum latitude for the United States to exercise its sovereignty, to suddenly make a fetish of international law.” But the “fetish” was on the part of an administration that seemed to worship the U.N. in the past. Conservatives who point to violations of international law in the war on Yugoslavia are exposing the globalists in the Clinton Administration as complete and utter hypocrites.
The issue is not that complicated. The U.N. Charter flatly prohibits the kind of war the U.S. and NATO are waging in Yugoslavia. Assuming there was a genuine threat to international peace and stability, Article 43 of the charter states that before such action is taken, members of the U.N. have to make a “special agreement or agreements” with the Security Council to provide “armed forces, assistance, and facilities, including rights of passage, necessary for the purpose of maintaining peace and security.” No such agreement has ever been signed between the U.S. and the U.N.
Chapter 8 of the U.N. Charter covers “regional arrangements,” such as NATO. However, it states that “…no enforcement action shall be taken under regional arrangements or by regional agencies without the authorization of the Security Council…” No such authorization was obtained by the U.S. or NATO before the bombing of Yugoslavia.
Former Vanderbilt Political Science Professor Alex Dragnich, author of the book, The Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Search for Truth, has commented that the bombing of Yugoslavia is “contrary to international law, contrary to the United Nations charter, and contrary to the NATO treaty itself.” In making these comments, he said he was paraphrasing Tony Benn, a well-known member of the British Parliament, who said last October in a letter to his foreign secretary, Robin Cook: QUOTE “Air strikes against Serbia would constitute a total breach of international law, of the Charter of the United Nations and of Article 1 of the NATO Treaty, which commits NATO to upholding the U.N.” UNQUOTE
Article 1 of the NATO treaty does commit NATO to upholding the U.N. It says the parties shall not conduct their operations “in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” Efforts to point out these violations of the U.N. Charter and the NATO treaty do not mean that conservatives are buying into the concept of international law. They only serve to expose the lawlessness of this administration in foreign affairs.
President Clinton could argue that his policy was justified by appealing to the national interest and going before Congress for a declaration of war. Perhaps Clinton will do this eventually, if American involvement and casualties start escalating. But his early failure to do so demonstrates the weakness of his case.