As Jack Straw endorses the Russians’ right to carry out pre-emptive strikes against terrorist bases, Norm wonders why we’re not willing to extend Israel the protection of these, err, norms.
At least, I assume that’s where his post is going. Although a problem with accepting pre-emption in international law is that if it applies to the US, Russia and Israel, then it would seem to apply to Iran and North Korea as well: the USA is substantially more of a threat to Iran than Saddam’s Iraq was to the USA, for example.
I don’t begrudge the USA, Russia or the Israelis the right to strike against imminent terror threats, assuming that they don’t abuse the right by making up lies and bombing whoever they like (this is something to which the Israelis are rather less prone than the other two actors).
One might claim some kind of ‘democratic force’ argument – that becuse Iran and North Korea are run by mad dictators, they don’t have pre-emption rights. This is also dubious: Russian democracy, never strong, seems to be petering out altogether; and US democracy also has certain flaws (did Fidel Castro really offer to send electoral observers to Florida this year, or did I imagine it?). Israel, once again, is fairly clean here.
Unless there’s another good theory I’ve missed, all we’re left with as a basis for world order is the ‘do what you like as long as America approves it’ club. And as any Latin American will happily tell you, “The USA is great. Also, I confess to being a communist. Please can you stop beating the soles of my feet now? Thank you, Mr CIA man.”