"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gay Ministers and Recognition of Gay Unions May Force Schism in Anglican Communion

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that schism is imminent unless US and Canadian churches stop ordaining homosexual bishops and solemnizing same-sex unions.

Leaders of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion are meeting at a retreat this week in Northern Ireland, to discuss and try to resolve the issue.

“Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart,” the Archbishop said Tuesday, as reported by the Washington Times.

“There will be no cost-free outcome from this,” he said. “To put it as bluntly as I can, there are no clean breaks in the Body of Christ.”

The controversy began when a US congregation ordained the openly homosexual Gene Robinson as bishop for a New Hampshire diocese.

The Anglican Communion called on the US and Canadian churches to express regret for their positions on gay clergy and recognition of same-sex unions, and to promise it will discontinue ordaining homosexual bishops and blessing same-sex unions.

Bishop Frank T. Griswold, who presided over the ordination of Robinson, is prelate of the US Episcopal Church. He said the US was sorry for causing the problem, but that their position is unlikely to change.

LONDON, February 24, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) –
See Washington Times coverage: http://www.washtimes.com/world/20050224-122353-5917r.htm

Even Cowboys Need Friends

Bush and Blair's illegal war in Iraq has not made the world a safer place - only respect for international law can do that

In its effort to remake the global rules America has not acted alone. The legacy of Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill's visionary Atlantic charter, which led to the establishment of the United Nations, is now in the hands of the Atlantic cowboys, George Bush and Tony Blair. When Roosevelt and Churchill sprang their charter on the world in the summer of 1941, the threat to the two countries was of a wholly different order. And yet, 60 years on, an American president can show contempt for international obligations, in actions and in words: "I don't care what the international lawyers say."

His British counterpart pays lip service to international law, and then proceeds to override the views of those government advisers who know something about the subject. He feels able to proclaim, as he did in his speech in March 2004, the need for global rules as though the achievements of the past 60 years count for nought. What is left of the transatlantic commitment to international law?

The attacks of 9/11 brought Blair and Bush together to give rise to one of the great enigmas of modern British political life: why did Blair lend British support to the war on Iraq? His support for that war and the "war on terror", as well as the implicit support for the regime put in place at Guantánamo, provided oxygen and international legitimacy to acts of dubious legality and effectiveness, which had virtually no international support.

Why has Britain associated itself so closely with an administration that has such scant regard for the international rule of law? That is a difficult question that only Blair himself can answer. If an illegal war in Iraq had made the world a safer place, then arguably it might be justified. But there is little evidence that the world is a safer place, and a great deal more evidence that the Iraq war has provided a major distraction to the challenge posed by global terrorism and al-Qaida. Neither can it be said that the Middle East is more stable or peaceful, nor that the existence of the detention camp at Guantánamo and the failure to apply human rights and humanitarian law are the best way to win hearts and minds, or persuade the occupied of your humanitarian intentions.

The only plausible answer is that the prime minister believed that solidarity and self-interest required him to place Britain alongside the US, more or less whatever it chose to do. History will tell whether that was the right choice. In the meantime, Britain's stock as a law-abiding global citizen has taken a beating. Its authority and leadership role are degraded. Many British and American diplomats have expressed disquiet, recognising that their job has been made that much more difficult by the events of the past three years. It could be argued, I suppose, that Britain is following the US because it has taken a considered decision that the wholesale reconstruction of the international legal order is justified. But so far I have seen no hint that that is in fact the case, with the exception of a somewhat emotive speech by the prime minister, which suggested he was out of his depth on what the law required or permitted.

But the insurmountable difficulty with this argument is that it is based on a false premise. The US cannot go it alone, much as its behaviour might suggest it wishes it were otherwise. American unilateralism is not isolationism: the US's exposure to the world is premised on economic objectives, among others, not military objectives. The use of military power is a means to an end, not the end itself. The business community will be the first to say that commerce cannot be dictated by brute force. You cannot intimidate consumers into buying US goods, or supplying oil and other strategically significant products. Military and economic considerations cannot be separated, any more than free trade and environmental objectives can be disconnected. Once that is recognised, and you accept that some of your foreign policy objectives are premised on the application of global rules, the marginalisation of international law becomes more difficult to justify. Moreover, if Iraq and the war on terrorism have shown anything, it is that the US is dependent on alliances and coalitions whose members require something in return. Whichever way you look at it, the US needs international agreements.

The present effort by the US and Britain to remake the global rules will not succeed. It does not mean that new circumstances - failed states, terrorism and the emergence of non-state actors in particular - do not require the existing rules to be continually assessed, and to be modified where necessary. Nor does it mean that some of the global rules are not in need of a thorough overhaul, to make them more efficient and accountable to parliaments and to the people. But change is a process which inevitably requires cooperation and a broad degree of support. It cannot be imposed at gunpoint.

In this interdependent world it is hopeless to conceive of a return to nature, to a pre-regulatory environment in which each state is free to act as it wishes, unfettered by international obligations. Nor is it realistic to give effect to any sort of à la carte multilateralism, in which states are able to pick and choose those areas of international law they like and those they don't. The lessons from the World Trade Organisation and elsewhere make it clear that different social objectives are interdependent.

Imperfect as some of the international rules may be, they reflect minimum standards of acceptable behaviour and, to the extent they can be ascertained, common values. They provide an independent standard for judging the legitimacy of international actions. I do not think recent events have changed these basic assumptions or created a new paradigm.

The rules of international law will turn out to be more robust than the policies of the Bush administration. Tough guys are not enough in international relations. In the 21st century you need rules, and proper lawyers too.

Philippe Sands
Thursday February 24, 2005
The Guardian

· Extracted from Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, by Philippe Sands, Penguin, £12.99. To order a copy for £12.34 (inc UK p&p), call the Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop

Plan Behind Orchestrated Campaign Against Syria

Indulging in speculation regarding the identity of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassins is of little value now. What demands urgent scrutiny is how his murder was intended to play a large part in the remolding of Lebanon’s role in the overall Arab-Israeli conflict and the balance of power in the region.

So while the Feb. 14 blast was reported in Beirut, its tremors were felt in Damascus.

The tide is turning against Syria and it is turning fast. Both Israel and the United States are up in arms to bring an end to Syria’s hegemony over Lebanese affairs. But one must not be too hasty to believe that the American-Israeli action is motivated by their earnest concern for Lebanese sovereignty. Look a few miles to the east, to Iraq, and be affirmed that meaningful national sovereignty is the least of Washington’s concerns at this point. And every one knows how Israel respects Lebanon’s sovereignty.

However, Syria must be ousted from Lebanon because, first, its presence there is beefing up Damascus’ standing as a regional power capable of dictating the terms of any future agreement between itself and Israel on the one hand, and Lebanon and Israel on the other.

Despite its military primacy, Israel is still a very small country. It is incapable of dealing with a cluster of other countries all at once. The mission, therefore, has always been to separate individual Arab countries from the pact, to pressure, to induce or to beat senseless (like in the cases of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian leadership respectively) until a peace deal, according to Israeli terms, is finally reached.

But Syria and Lebanon have thus far maintained a different dynamic in their dealings with Israel.

To begin with, Lebanese resistance demonstrated that Israel would only honor international law if it is forced to do so. To Israel, the partial implementation of UN Resolution 425 and its forced withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 was a very dangerous and alarming precedent.

Israel left Lebanon with undeniable humiliation. A major source of embarrassment, aside from the military defeat, was leaving Lebanon an empty stage to political reconfiguration that was not of Israel’s creation.

But what is in it for the United States? The Bush administration has no business in Lebanon whatsoever. There are no natural resources to exploit, no empire — domains — to be protected and no mock battles against terrorism to be fought. Lebanon has been a stable country (despite all the political and sectarian skirmishes), which enjoyed a commendable democratic experience and by far the freest press in the Arab world.

However, thanks to the pro-Israeli neoconservative elements in Washington, the Bush administration is working with the false assumption that Syria is the source of regional tension and must be “stabilized” or taken out.

The neoconservatives found many willing allies among Lebanese dissidents who agreed to play along. Together they helped forge the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. Also with the help of those allies, Washington has been sending all kinds of signals, warning that Iraq’s fate could very well visit Syria.

Hariri’s assassination is the kind of provocation that precedes major military undertakings or major political reshuffling. The latter is the most likely prospect for now, and the US move to recall its ambassador from Syria “for urgent consultations”, coupled with the organized anti-Syrian campaign are ominous signs.

The Lebanese people have the right to demand and expect full sovereignty. Yet it would be a tragedy if Lebanon found itself free from an Arab neighbor only to fall under the grip of an alien foe, who has killed tens of thousands of Lebanese in recent years.

We might never know who is responsible for Rafik Hariri’s death, but it’s almost sure that his death will give rise to political turmoil of which Israel is the only beneficiary.

— Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Arab-American journalist and editor in chief of PalestineChronicle.com.