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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Alan Dershowitz's New Idea

Alan Dershowitz has in the past come up with many ideas, some of them highly controversial. One of them was advocating the use of torture as an interrogation technique to be used on terrorism suspects.

He has now come up with a new idea,- a modification to the international law that would allow US or Israel to preemptively strike Iran's nuclear facilities in order to stop that country from obtaining nuclear weapons. Says Dershowitz,
Israel, with the help of the United States, should try everything short of military action first: diplomacy, threats, bribery, sabotage, targeted killings of individuals essential to the Iranian nuclear program and other covert actions. But if all else fails, Israel, or the United States, must be allowed under international law to take out the Iranian nuclear threat before it is capable of the genocide for which it is being built.

And I am a little troubled by what he is saying. Firstly, it sounds like only Israel or the US are even part of the discussion. What about Turkey, for instance, which faces massive radioactive fallout lest a nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel take place? I think Turkey would have every right to consider the possibility of such an event a security threat to itself in its own right.

But that is a side point. While I am not against the idea of preemption in general, I think if such preemption were to be legal under the international law, it must be approved by the international community. And no, I don't necessarily mean the UN,- that organization likely has to be replaced by a more representative body. The UN as it is happens to be a largely disfunctional body, and most of its members do not have representative governments. However, I don't believe that any one party can decide when preemption is appropriate as that would open the door to highly biased interpretations of threats.

On top of that, it sounds like the international law as it exists may in fact be sufficient, contrary to what Dershowitz is saying, as a country is allowed preempt an imminent threat an imminent threat,- which was Israel's justification for starting the 1967 Six Day War. So, what Dershowitz appears to be saying is that preemption must be allowed when just the party about to conduct the preemptive strike in question feels that is necessary. I think that is not a way to go as that party can not possibly be unbiased.

I am also troubled by the fact that Dershowitz is only concerned with two countries when it comes to the threat of a nuclear strike,- Israel and the US. Like I said before, the radioactive fallout knows no geographical boundaries. The fate of a whole area around the site of a potential nuclear strike is bound to be severely affected. And it is hardly in anybody's interest to allow a regional nuclear war,- not to mention the fact that such a war is very likely to escalate into a global nuclear conflict and the end of the civilization.

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