Who cannot be angered to hear the words of the American president, Donald Trump, and his spokesman, Sean Spicer, declaring that America ruled the world and anyone who challenged that rule will be dealt with.
Trump said, “It would be a wonderful dream that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack. We’re never going to fall behind any country. We’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.” It was a declaration of war on the world by a gang of mobsters who have taken control of the machinery of state and its armed forces.
The same day his press spokesman, Sean Spicer, stated, “The United States will not yield its supremacy in this area to anyone. Our goal is to make sure that we maintain dominance around the world and that if other countries flout it, we don’t sit back and allow them to grow theirs.”
Trump is quick with his lies and the first was the implication in his statement that the USA had nuclear weapons only in response to others having them when as the world knows the reverse is true. America first developed these weapons, maintains the largest quantity of them, and is the only country which has demonstrated it is willing to use them. It is the United States that stands in the way of nuclear disarmament for the very reason it has now openly stated, to dominate the world. This is no revelation to anyone but it is revealing that it is now openly expressed whereas until now this objective of dominating and tyrannizing the world had various guises; “spreading democracy”, “fighting communism”, “humanitarian intervention”, “responsibility to protect,” “Manifest Destiny” and other similarly nauseating euphemisms for blatant military aggression.
This has caused and is causing a defensive reaction in the world from countries trying to maintain their independence and we are seeing realignments of interests, hesitations, and confusion, even on the part of America’s allies, unsure what the American reaction to these currents will be and so unsure of their own security and future. This results in increasing distrust and the raising of tensions, already high, that were generated by the previous American administrations.
Talk of war is every day fare; the war against “terrorism,” war in Iraq, war in Syria, war in Ukraine, war in the South China Sea, war in Korea, war with Iran, we are poisoned by the talk of war, of these American wars, suffocated by the hypocrisy of it, ashamed to be part of it. We need no more talk of war. War is Over. Remember? Give peace a chance. Remember that? Brave slogans for our time. But they were trampled in the mud with the murder of the man who wrote them and the ruling cliques, factions, and ”interests,” all those interlocking threads in the web of capital, glorify instead slogans of war that are as vile as those that voice them.
Instead of peaceful and mutually respectful relations between nations, adherence to the fundamental principles of the peaceful resolution of conflicts and disagreements between nations set out in the UN Charter, of the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement, the world is faced with ultimatums, bribes, threats and assault. Their brutality would be unimaginable if it was not so routine. But its routine nature is true to the character of the economic and social system the people are told is their only option.
The most important question that arises from the discussion of how to establish a just world in which every nation has equal rights and status, in which national sovereignty is respected and the peaceful resolution of international issues is a matter of course is what type of legal mechanisms and structures need to be established in order to achieve and maintain this equilibrium.
It is not a simple matter since laws and legal structures reflect the socio-economic structure of a society. This necessarily creates a conflict between different socio-economic and legal systems that is difficult to resolve. The legal systems of socialist societies with their emphasis on socio-economic protection and support of the workers, are completely different from those of the capitalist societies, in which the central role of law is to protect private property and ease the flow of capital, in opposition to the interests of the workers. This creates conflict between nations with different socio-economic systems and creates class conflict within every society, a subject that seems to be too often ignored these days among economic elites, in fact is suppressed.
The world is now in a state of chaos. The decline of the dominant western empire, by which I mean its various expressions from the European and British empires which arose with industrialisation, and lately, the American empire, is creating terrible stresses on the world order. The American empire rose on the ruins of the British, French, German, and other European colonial empires that were destroyed by the First and Second World Wars. However, the rise of the American empire to its height at the end of the Second World War and its domination thereafter, was challenged by the large socialist countries such as the Soviet Union and China which created a tenuous balance of forces resulting in a flowering of international law and international legal structures, such as the United Nations and all its ancillary bodies, as democratically flawed as they are.
The balance was never stable as western financial, energy and capital interests competed with the socialist countries, and with themselves. Worse, the western powers used every trick in the book to undermine this balance and to subvert the international institutions and mechanisms for their own interests. The fall of the socialist government in the Soviet Union accelerated this corruption and resulted in an imbalance in the world order such that we are now at the point where international law and its structures are little more than empty shells, devoid of any real utility, except as desiderata for the hopeful or tools of propaganda used to justify war.
Attempts to establish a world order in which a dialogue of civilizations is the norm instead of conflict between civilizations are foundering on a crude return to a “might makes right” attitude against which any attempt to insist on adherence to international law and norms, even common morality, is viewed as a weakness to be exploited.
The question therefore arises as to how nations and peoples can establish the necessary legal mechanisms to survive and flourish when there exist those who oppose any such mechanisms being established and act to destroy the mechanisms that do exist.
My simple answer, too obvious to need stating, perhaps, is that the only way that this can be accomplished is not Trump’s “peace through strength,” his world dominance through American terror, but through worldwide disarmament. With worldwide disarmament force can never be an issue in international relations.
But we see no willingness on the part of the major powers or their dominant or even their intellectual classes to achieve this. One can understand this reluctance, while deploring it, when it is understood by everyone who is awake and has eyes and ears and a brain, that the dominant military power, the United States of America, is constantly threatening or attacking every other nation that does not obey its will.
Therefore the issue then becomes what to do about this dominant power. That of course brings to the foreground the question as to the causes of this power and dominance, the desire for more of it, and the rise of a political class in that country that expresses this-the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us of in 1959 – and the next question of how to transform or break the influence and power of this complex, this “military mentality,” as Einstein called it.
But it seems to me as Albert Einstein and others have said many times, that without worldwide disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, there can be no real international relations, just a dog-eat dog world of savagery and war.
I will end with a quote from Dr. Einstein as he expresses the heart of the matter better than anyone. In a radio interview on June 16, 1950 he said,
“…real peace cannot be reached without systematic disarmament on a supranational scale. I repeat, armament is no protection against war, but leads inevitably to war.”
With the nuclear disarmament nations would have to negotiate from a different perspective, not of one of power and subservience but of equality and respect. There will be no peace unless there is a will to peace and there can be no will to peace unless peace is the only way things can be done.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”