Habermas's warmongering pieties

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Nov 30 15:15:59 MST 2002

There's a "Letter to America" in the latest Nation Magazine by Jürgen
Habermas, which is the first in a series of contributions by "foreign
intellectuals" on US foreign policy. Although I have never had any reason
to read Habermas, this crapola suggests to me that I haven't been missing


Q: What is your position on the imminent war with Iraq?

A: The United States should not go to war without unequivocal backing from
the United Nations.

Q: What conditions would have to be met in order for you to support
military action against Baghdad?

A: The immediate conditions are those specified by the last resolution of
the Security Council. And it should be up to the Council to interpret the
findings. In any case, there should be no military action without a
long-term commitment--and a realistic perspective--for coping with the
uniquely explosive concentration of problems in the Near East. Just bombing
Saddam Hussein out of his palace and leaving the "cleanup" to others won't do.

Previous humanitarian interventions by NATO showed a shocking insensitivity
to "collateral damage"--the term reveals what it's supposed to conceal. In
the future, military strategy should convincingly meet the condition of
"proportionality" in every single strike.

Q: You supported the Persian Gulf War in 1991...

Yes, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was a violation of international law, and
Saddam Hussein moreover threatened Israel with gas warfare.

Q: ...and NATO's Kosovo intervention in 1999.

A: Because of the stalemate within the Security Council, there was a
greater burden of justification in this case. The massacre of Srebrenica
changed my mind. Confronted with crimes against humanity, the international
community must be able to act even with military force, if all other
options are exhausted.

At that time, one could already see characteristic national differences in
the modes of justification. In Continental Europe, proponents of
intervention took pains to shore up rather weak arguments from
international law by pointing out that the action was intended to promote
what they saw as the transition from a soft international law toward a
fully implemented human rights regime, whereas both US and British
advocates remained in their tradition of liberal nationalism. They did not
appeal to "principles" of a future cosmopolitan order but were satisfied to
enforce their demand for international recognition of what they perceived
to be the universalistic force of their own national "values."

full: http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021216&c=1&s=habermas

Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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