Biden stated in his speech after the bombing at Kabul airport:
‘We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down. We will make you pay’… (Note 1)
You may have missed the hysterical absurdity of threatening to hunt down a suicide bomber and make him pay. Even the hypothetical threat of following them beyond the grave would not work as he/she will not believe the Americans and they are going to the same place.
Biden then expressed concern for those Afghanis whose children have suffered.
What are we to make of these statements? If seeking revenge is legitimate, then why is it not legitimate for ISIS? What does it mean to say this behaviour is good for me but not for you?
What does it mean to kill someone’s child and suppress the press publication of this information? If the perpetrator then declares that they are seeking to spread freedom, freedom of the press and respect for human rights, how does this read to those who have suffered?
What were the consequences of the ‘mother of all bombs’ and why were journalists forbidden to report it in person? According to The New Yorker:
‘The U.S. decision to drop the bomb was striking for several reasons. America’s biggest non-nuclear bomb–which costs sixteen million dollars, and three hundred million dollars to develop—was used on one of the smallest militias it faces anywhere in the world. Isis-k is estimated to have only about seven hundred fighters in Afghanistan, compared to the eighty-five hundred U.S. troops and the hundred and eighty thousand Afghan troops on the ground there.’
They commented that:
‘Afghan military officials said that at least three-dozen militants had been killed. Nicholson said on Friday that U.S. and Afghan forces were at the site of the bomb and found no civilian casualties.’
This is odd. There were no civilian casualties, but the Press was not allowed to enter the site? No independent corroboration was allowed?
On the Afghan side, even the enemies of ISIS-K thought the conduct was a war crime:
‘Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticised the mission. “This is not the war on terror, but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as [a] testing ground for new and dangerous weapons,” he tweeted. The Taliban, which has also been at war with rival ISIS militants, also condemned the U.S. attack. “Using this massive bomb cannot be justified and will leave a material and psychological impact on our people,” it said in a statement Friday.’ (note 2)
Perhaps ISIS-K members are seeking ‘revenge’ for their lost family members by their attack on Kabul airport that prompted Biden’s speech?
But let us parse this speech further. Biden addressed his remarks to ‘anyone who wishes America harm..’ This means that merely wishing America harm is sufficient to be a target. But what about those who wish China harm? Those who wish Iraq or Syria harm? Is the ‘harm’ objectively identified or is it in the eye of the beholder? An Afghani has had a child killed by a US bomb and wishes revenge. According to Biden that would be sufficient to make that person a legitimate target. How are the parents of the child to accept that a US senator or soldier can wish him ill and he is meant to applaud but if he wishes them ill he must accept that he is a legitimate target?
What has happened to the ‘rule of law’ when the US President says he will hunt down and bring to account those ‘who wish America ill’? What evidence will be sufficient, what protection from mistaken identity?
America and Europe claim to share certain high values.
The European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. (Note 3)
If American academics, particularly law scholars, are unwilling to criticise US President Biden strongly, then silence, in this case, is consent. What credibility is there to US academics and legal scholars when they espouse the ‘Rule of Law’ as a value in American society?
Stanford Encyclopaedia describes the ‘Rule of Law’ thus:
‘The most important demand of the Rule of Law is that people in positions of authority should exercise their power within a constraining framework of well-established public norms rather than in an arbitrary, ad hoc, or purely discretionary manner on the basis of their own preferences or ideology. It insists that the government should operate within a framework of law in everything it does, and that it should be accountable through law when there is a suggestion of unauthorised action by those in power.’ (Note 4)
What credibility remains of US academia if it will not or cannot criticise this lawless behaviour and wild illegal threats by the US President? European academia and legal scholars are equally complicit in remaining silent.
American legal scholars claim to adore the Magna Carta as a foundation of due process. (Many argue that the Magna Carta was primarily a tax treaty between the barons and the king.) Article 39 reads:
‘“The body of a free man is not to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way ruined, nor is the king to go against him or send forcibly against him, except by judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” (note 5)
However, the US legal system allows the President to authorise the killing of anyone he chooses. Some would seek to argue that this is only applied to foreigners and enemy combatants etc such as Suleimani. There are two objections to this. Firstly, who is to approve these exceptions? If another country makes an exception of ‘enemy combatants’ and declares a US citizen an ‘enemy combatant’ does this mean that the US should/must accept the consequences as a legal action? But more important is the second objection which is that President Trump encouraged a shoot to kill procedure on a white US citizen, Michael Forest Reinoehl, suspected of shooting at a Trump supporter during the BLM protests. (notes 6 & 7)
‘The mainstream “liberal” press and the Democratic Party have been largely silent on the police murder of Reinoehl, as well as the murder of two protesters in Kenosha by Rittenhouse. As of this writing, there have been no calls for an investigation into the killing of Reinoehl by any Democratic politician, major media outlet or the American Civil Liberties Union. (note 8)
An hour before Reinoehl died, the president called on Portland police to arrest the “cold blooded killer” of Jay Danielson. “Do your job, and do it fast,” he tweeted. (Note 9)
“In fact, according to Nate Dinguss, Reinoehl was clutching a cellphone and eating a gummy worm as he walked to his car outside an apartment complex in Lacey, Wash. That’s when officers opened fire without first announcing themselves or trying to arrest him, Dinguss, a 39-year-old who lives in the apartment complex, said in a statement shared with The Washington Post.” (Note 10)
What is important here is that the media and academia have turned these events into examples of racism and civil unrest. This is entirely incorrect. These are fundamental breaches of the Rule of Law and due process. It is not the case that these are unfortunate exceptions. If the Rule of Law does not apply to some citizens it does not apply at all. A regime of ‘Rule of Law’ is not an ‘on average’. ‘Due process’ that is at the discretion of the state or law enforcement is not a due process. From basic principles, it is well established that such discretion is capable of being extended to anyone and that a Rule of Law must most importantly be seen to apply to unpopular and disliked persons or is no such thing. Martin Neimoller clearly understood the moral dimension.
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me. (note 11)
This is the principle that US academia applies with all strictness to foreign countries. It uses breaches of the Rule of Law against unpopular minorities in China or Russia or Africa to prove the absence of the Rule of Law. But they refrain from applying the same logic to the US.
At a political level we can say that if America accuses another country of doing what it does, that does not make the other country innocent. But it makes the allegation worthless and the accuser to be in pari delecto. For academia and legal scholars who refuse to condemn such behavior by their own state and yet claim to be defenders of the Rule of Law renders them worthless and without integrity. When an academic is found to engage in fraud their entire body of work is called into question. This applies to a body of scholars as much as an individual practitioner. There is no basis for foreign scholars to look to American academia or legal scholars for leadership on such issues or on anything else.
- (https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/27/politics/joe-biden-kabul-airport-terrorist-attack-afghanistan/index.html )
- ( https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rule-of-law/ )
- ( https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/04/20/the-rule-of-history )
- (https://www.opb.org/article/2020/10/13/new-eyewitness-accounts-feds-didnt-identify-themselves-before-firing-on-portland-antifa-shooting-suspect/ )
- ( https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/07/rein-s07.html )
- (https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2020/10/new-eyewitness-accounts-feds-didnt-identify-themselves-before-opening-fire-on-portland-antifa-suspect/ )
- (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/09/10/reinoehl-portland-antifa-killing-police/ )