Fittingly, I found this on the same night as I thought about Seal's "Crazy".
In a world full of people, only some want to fly - isn't that crazy?
But we're never gonna survive, unless...
My curiosity renewed when I had the opportunity via Wikistrat to pose a question directly to a well-versed international lawyer:
Jesse Parent: What are your thoughts on legal actions by foreign governments (or the ICC) against the United States? Do you foresee any room for actual prosecution along the lines of treatment of prisoners or fabrication of evidence leading to the Iraq War? Or do you see such concerns as ultimately untenable, if not trivial?
The response essentially boiled down to
The International Criminal Court (ICC) or International Court of Justice (ICJ): No chance because the United States has veto power in both
Other nations suing the USA: "under the principle of foreign state immunity, states bar civil actions against foreign states and their officials without their consent." - another no.
The potential exception? Hassling some lower level government officials:
A Spanish court once considered allowing the criminal prosecution of certain George W. Bush Administration officials under principles of universal jurisdiction (i.e., authority to prosecute “crimes against all people” regardless of connection to a specific state). Diplomatic considerations stopped the investigation, as they have prevented Italy from requesting the extradition of CIA officers convicted and sentenced to prison in absentia for an extraordinary rendition to Egypt taking place in Milan. However, I understand that these individuals have been advised to not travel abroad, even though it may seem unfair to have ordinary government functionaries prosecuted abroad for implementing policies set forth by high-ranking policymakers.
So, I'd say, yes - untenable and trivial.
In recent decades (not to dismiss a significant history), some of the greatest areas of potential liability appear to be the justification for the Iraq war, possible intervention in Syria, the expansive use of military drones under the Obama administration, and even the NSA's mass government-facilitated surveillance efforts.
So what is there to do?
As stacked as the deck may be, the best course of action would seem to be for the United States to take action against itself. In other words, the nature of the international political arena is that no one can legally touch the United States - provided you are a country or individual, and not a corporation, that is. With that in mind, grassroots efforts from within the United States itself.
There are some larger efforts, as well as some very small, personal ones:
Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother of three, has not forgotten. The violence and chaos that engulfed Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 had tragic consequences for her family and ultimately forced her to flee her homeland for an uncertain future. She has left Iraq, but she is determined to make sure the world hears her story and that someone is held accountable.
Saleh is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit targeting six key members of the Bush Administration: George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz. In Saleh v. Bush, she alleges that the Iraq War was not conducted in self-defense, did not have the appropriate authorization by the United Nations, and therefore constituted a “crime of aggression” under international law—a designation first set down in the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. The aim of the suit is simple: to achieve justice for Iraqis, and to show that no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.
For no one to be above the law in the United States, it's going to take the citizens of the United States to make that a reality. We love to reflect on our found days, how George Washington refused to be a King, how he stepped down after two terms, and how efforts were made to try to preserve and promote a "more perfect union". But we can't expect for other countries to make legal precedents against the USA - as if those would be palatable, anyway.
However, I'm sure that if enough concerned American citizens got the ball rolling, there would be a fair amount of support from the rest of the world to promote the idea of no one being above the law. Even those pulling the levers on United States policy.
Yet until enough concerned American citizens are organized and spending political and dollar votes with a purpose, well.... well, the status quo will maintain itself. Is it any wonder drone strikes get more attention in tabloid smirks than your nightly news?
It's up to us to pursue the level of fairness under law we want.
PS: The exception being, of course, if the United States in some lengthy amount of time ultimately loses its global role and influence - and, upon losing its various veto powers, actually has to face retroactive lawsuits of some nature. But I'm not sure what the greater tragedy or irony such would present - is it that the United States could never get its act together, and the general dysfunctionality of its own legal systems and society fell apart so greatly, or is it that only after such lengths would legitimate legal action seem tenable? Either way, hopefully that isn't how things go.
But it's an awkward bet to make: what happens first, the United States loses power, or the United States opens itself up to legitimate legal criticism from the rest of the world for its wartime or domestic activities?
"Study without desire spoils the memory and it retains nothing that it takes in"
Leonardo da Vinci
I will use this for motivation this semester.
But in a broader sense, it makes me think of how much more innovation we have to do. I found this quote actually on a post somewhere homeschooling; it claimed that Leonardo was comparatively not educated, in a formal sense.
Whether within a relationship (creating norms, empathy, shared understanding and even language), or in a situation or field of study, I'm realizing how imperative it is to personalize - and then expand. There are a great many experts in various fields, but when learning - particularly in a broader sense and utility of learning - it there has to be a sense of dynamic growth. Newton was able to work out his laws of motion, but that doesn't mean because he wrote something down, they are forever within humanity's grasp - no it's up to you to figure out how to verify them and test them and use them - and go beyond them.
So learning, or understanding, is very much about growth - it's not about obeying and regurgitating predetermined responses. There's much to say about that with current educational issues here in the United States, but there is also an eerie connection to how you approach your life in a general sense.
If when you stop growing you stop living, then what does it mean when you stop learning? Or when you stop expanding your comprehension?
Or, like in the da Vinci quote - where will the desire to learn come from, if one is sheltered from the importance (necessity) of integrating data into one's life?
PS: "Innovate the future" - I think part of the handicap of our individual human perspective is the idea that we are never not innovating. But its a lot easier for our brain to see things as static. Hm...
Found this great infographic today, which draws on various research and compiles some pretty good tips for nourishing relationships. I personally like "The Michelangelo Effect": Couples in the happiest relationships bring out the best in each other. They help each other get closer to their "ideal" selves.
infographic via happify.com
One of the things on my mind lately has been how you need both 'toughness & dedication' - to overcome challenges and obstacles together, to want to stick it out, and to put in work to get to know people... as well as that capacity for growth, individually and together; to evolve together, to support each other in happiness and in becoming, authentically and independently fulfilled. "Only once you are interdependent can you become interdependent", as Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective people.
There's also a health focus on empathy in that infographic, and we certainly need more emotional literacy in this world.
Best of luck with building positive relations and community.
It's most controversial provision would allow private corporations to sue foreign governments for adopting policies that adversely affect their expected profits - no less being detrimental for intellectual property and workers' rights.
This article is by Jagdish Bhagwati - from 2011; it's surprising how little has changed...
As if undermining the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of global free-trade talks was not bad enough (the last ministerial meeting in Geneva produced barely a squeak), the United States has compounded its folly by actively promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Barack Obama announced this with nine Asian countries during his recent trip to the region.For more about the TTP, see what i'm working on at Learnist
The TPP is being sold in the US to a compliant media and unsuspecting public as evidence of American leadership on trade. But the opposite is true, and it is important that those who care about the global trading system know what is happening. One hopes that this knowledge will trigger what I call the “Dracula effect”: expose that which would prefer to remain hidden to sunlight and it will shrivel up and die.
If you keep your eyes open in this world, and your heart as well - sometimes what you see and feel isn't pleasant. But that's ok. Sometimes we have to tune it out for a while - but that doesn't mean the tuning out is forever. It doesn't mean that there aren't people or environments where it's going to be safe and enjoyable to be out in the open.