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After Senate Trial and Presidential Acquittal: Overlooked Foundations of U.S. Constitutional Law

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Lawyers on both sides of the recent Senate trial chose to ignore certain philosophic and jurisprudential foundations of the United States Constitution.[i] These “peremptory”  foundations lie recognizably in Natural Law,[ii] immutable rules that apply, by definition, to all peoples and for all time. Though it is plainly too late to remind the pertinent political parties about the salient relevance of  Higher Law principles to the Trump impeachment trial, the American public ought still learn about such original precepts for future jurisprudential reference. Ironically, these core precepts were already well-known and respected by the Founders, especially Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, Hamilton and Jay.

 Most assuredly, when the Irish poet William Butler Yeats penned “The Second Coming,”[iii] he did not have United States Constitutional law issues in mind. Nonetheless, Yeats’ famously-crafted warnings about “passionate intensity” and  “blood-dimmed tide” should have a palpable resonance in American politics. How could they not?

The just-completed Senate trial concerned US President Donald Trump and purposeful legal remedies for allegedly impeachable derogations. Though disregarded at trial,  these prospective remedies lay latent  in the American nation’s most rudimentary legal principles. For future reference, these core principles will need to be taken more seriously by anyone who might still value a justice-based United States.[iv]

Though little known, there exist several “peremptory”[v] principles of jurisprudence that could have proved applicable to seriously conceived impeachment motions. These relatively esoteric but still valid principles concern the Higher Law underpinnings of the United States. For the future, at least in principle, such basic expectations represent vital national security principles that could help protect Americans from presidentially-inflicted harms. 

Recalling the expanding nuclear weapons context of world politics, such harms could at some point display fully existential qualities.

The pertinent issues are primarily legal in both nature and codified form. In relevant jurisprudential terms, we must begin at the beginning. Remembering the celebrated jurist A.P. d’ Entrevesclassic text on Natural Law (Oxford University Press, 1951): “The Natural Law (Higher Law) is absolutely binding, and overrules all other laws.”  From the standpoint of any still-to-be considered impeachment strategies, this recollection could point the way to much more usefully broad bases for any future US presidential removal effort.

“In the beginning….”  For the United States, the principle of a Higher Law has always been more than just “any principle.”  Unmistakably, it is  one of the most enduring and canonic principles of the country’s acknowledged legal foundation.[vi] Revealed, inter alia, in both the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution,[vii] it rests solidly and incontrovertibly upon the willing acceptance of  right and justice for their own sake. 

For the United States, considerations of right and justice have never been narrowly instrumental. On the contrary, at least until the recent impeachment trial acquittal, they have remained unwavering and meaningfully determinative.

Americans should take heed,  even “after the fact” of the recent jurisprudential failure. Such  foundational principles, as famed 18th century jurist William Blackstone once declared,[viii] represent nothing less than “the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions.”[ix]

Plainly, Thomas Jefferson was a learned US president, even at a time when laborious study was vastly more complicated and difficult than it is today. When Jefferson – without any benefit of electric light, air conditioning, central heating, computers or even a manual typewriter – set to work on the Declaration, he drew productively upon Aristotle, Cicero, Grotius, Vattel, Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, and  most prominently – John Locke (Second Treatise of Government).[x] Asserting the right of revolution whenever government becomes destructive of “certain unalienable rights,”[xi] the Declaration of Independence posits a discernible natural order in the world, one whose irreducible laws are external to human will and remain eternally discoverable through staunchly determined applications of human reason.[xii] 

Although, by the eighteenth century, God had been “withdrawn” from any immediate philosophical contact with humankind , and had been transformed into the Final Cause or Prime Mover of the universe, “nature” still remained available as a convenient and altogether capable substitute.[xiii]  

There is more. Reflecting the unique influence of Isaac Newton, whose Principia was first published in 1686, all of creation could now be taken as a recognizable expression of divine will.[xiv]   Reciprocally, however, the only true way to ever truly “know” this original will of God was to first discover the underlying and eternal Law of Nature.

In essence, Locke and Jefferson had deified nature and “denatured” God.[xv]

But what exactly was this purported “Law of Nature,” a basic law that is accepted in the Declaration and Constitution as a continuously binding set of obligatory norms, and which could still pertain  to a present-day American president? Above all, Jefferson learned from Locke, such law was a necessary source of Reason:  Still more exactly, according to Locke’s Second Treatise:

The state of nature has a law to govern it, which obliges every one:  and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions….

In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men….

A criminal, who having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed on one, declared war against all mankind.[xvi]

As reason is the only sure guide to what God has given to humankind, it must inevitably become the only reliable foundation of true law.  This Lockean and Jeffersonian idea of a transcendent or Higher Law is made manifest not only in the Declaration of Independence, but also in the Constitution.[xvii] Inter alia, the Ninth Amendment, in stipulating that “the enumeration of certain rights in this Constitution shall not prejudice other rights not so enumerated,”[xviii] reflects codified belief in a perpetual law that is justly superior to any expressed will of human governance.

 This vital conviction runs continuously from ancient times, especially traditional Jewish Law,[xix] up to the present intellectually detached “Trumpian moment.” The evident roots of such a prospectively lethal detachment lie in a broadly cast indifference to anything based upon Reason and a more person-specific indifference to history. What ought we ever really expect from a president who unambiguously prefers “attitude” to “preparation?”

There is still more. The Fragments of Heraclitus attest to the venerable antiquity of a Higher Law: “For all human laws are nourished by one, which is divine.  For it governs as far as it will, and is sufficient for all, and more than enough.”[xx]   Such Heraclitean dicta, offered somewhere around 500 B.C.E., entered easily into later Stoic philosophy and described a universal and expectedly rational body of human law. Hard as it may be to imagine amid American politics in 2020, this intellectual corpus  was familiar to many of the Founding Fathers.

Those people actually read books, serious and challenging books.

In 442 B.C.E., Sophocles clarified the idea of true law as an act of discovery, thus challenging the superiority of human rule-making in Antigone.[xxi] Already exploring inevitable conflict between claims of the state and those of an individual conscience, this classic challenge has since been taken to represent the incontestable supremacy of proper Higher Law overall man-made law. Later, in the nineteenth century, American Transcendentalist philosopher Henry David Thoreau, noting that men live with “too passive a regard for the moral laws,”[xxii]  cited directly to Antigone as a stirring example of “civil disobedience.” Still later, in these United States, the derivative legal and ethical conclusions of Antigone were learned and embraced by Martin Luther King.

The authority of Natural Law has a well-defined history in American society and politics. Ipso facto, it is not “merely” a pompous invention of interested philosophers and university professors. Or understood in more lay-person parlance, Natural Law already “has legs.”

But back to the philosophers. Building upon Plato’s theory of Ideas,[xxiii] which sought to elevate “nature” from the distressingly transient sphere of contingent facts to the “higher” realm of immutable archetypes or Forms,[xxiv]  Aristotle advanced in Ethics the derivative concept of “natural justice.”[xxv] Quoting the Antigone, he argued (in a juridical posture of perpetual significance)  “an unjust law is not a law.”[xxvi]  This irreducible position stands in markedly stark contrast to the more instrumental opinion of the Sophists –  i.e., that justice is never more than an expression of supremacy, that it is only what Thrasymachus cynically calls, in Plato’s Republic, “the interest of the stronger.”[xxvii]

Were he somehow made aware of such scholarly origins and underpinnings, US President Donald Trump would assuredly judge himself to be among the contemporary “Sophists.” This clarifying acknowledgment, to be sure, would be uttered openly by Mr. Trump, and perhaps even with an unmitigated pride.

Still more precisely apropos of  President Donald Trump’s jurisprudentialy disjointed presidency, this pernicious brand of Realpolitik has now become the openly acknowledged philosophic foundation of U.S. foreign policy. Left unmodified by timeless and universal principles of a Higher Law, the deleterious consequences for America and for the wider world are not difficult to predict or decipher.[xxviii]

These effects include very tangible US declensions into catastrophic war, potentially even  a nuclear war. Notable, in this regard, is the ongoing expansion of what might best be termed “Cold War II” with Russia; simultaneously, the undiminished nuclearization of North Korea and the ongoing recombination of ISIS Jihadist terrorists under the banner of al Qaeda should come to mind. Along all of these cited dimensions of decline, the “acquitted” American president is plainly complicit.

Again and again, history can be instructive. The Stoics, whose legal philosophies arose on the threshold of the Greek and Roman worlds, regarded Nature itself as humankind’s supreme legislator.[xxix] Applying Platonic and Aristotelian thought to a then-hopefully emerging cosmopolis, they defined this nascent order as one wherein humankind, by means of its seemingly well-established capacity to reason, can commune directly with the gods.[xxx]  As this definition required further expansion of Plato’s and Aristotle’s developing notions of universalism, the Stoics consciously articulated a further division between lex aeterna, ius natural and ius humanum.[xxxi]

Lex aeterna is the law of reason of the cosmos, the logos which rules the universe.  As an emanation of cosmic reason, human reason, it is assumed, rules the lives of men.  It follows that natural law partakes of eternal law, though it has a more limited range of application.  Unlike the more elitist conception of Plato (and, to a certain extent, even Aristotle), the Stoic idea of an innate “right reason” presumed no meaningful divisions between peoples.[xxxii]  

Instead, in linking all persons with the cosmic order, it established the essential foundations of an authentic and immutable universality.

Cicero, in De Republica, had defined the state as a “coming together of a considerable number of men who are united by a common agreement about law and rights and by the desire to participate in mutual advantages.”[xxxiii]  This definition shed a useful light on the problems surrounding positivist jurisprudence, a legal philosophy that values any state’s edicts as intrinsically just and therefore obligatory.[xxxiv] In a suitably famous passage of De Republica, one well known to Jefferson and other Founders, Cicero sets forth the still classic articulation of Natural Law:

True law is right reason, harmonious with nature, diffused among all, constant, eternal; a law which calls to duty by its commands and restrains from evil by its prohibitions….It is a sacred obligation not to attempt to legislate in contradiction to this law; nor may it be derogated from nor abrogated.  Indeed, by neither the Senate nor the people can we be released from this law; nor does it require any but oneself to be its expositor or interpreter.  Nor is it one law at Rome and another at Athens; one now and another at a late time; but one eternal and unchangeable law binding all nations through all time….[xxxv]

It goes without saying that US President Donald Trump has no acquaintance with any such still-binding or “peremptory” ideas.

But what is to be done when positive law (which now includes US Constitutional and statutory law) is at variance with “true law”?  The Romans had a remedy in all such challenging matters. They simply incorporated into their various statutes a contingency clause that man-made law could never abrogate those obligations that are inherently right or presumptively sacred.[xxxvi]  On several occasions, Cicero and others meaningfully invoked this clause, or jus, against one particular statute or another.[xxxvii] 

In this way, the written law of the moment, never more than an artifact of the extant civic community, remained correctly subject to “right reason.”

Later, St. Augustine reaffirmed that temporal law must always conform to the unchangeable eternal law,[xxxviii]  which he had earlier defined as “the reason or will of God (ratio divina vel voluntas Dei).”[xxxix]  Aquinas continued this tradition of denying the status of law to prescriptions that are inherently unjust (lex iniusta non est lex).[xl]  “Human law,” he wrote in the Summae,[xli]  “has the quality of law only insofar as it proceeds according to right reason; and in this respect it is clear that it derives from the eternal law.  Insofar as it deviates from reason it is called an unjust law, and has the quality not of law, but of violence.”[xlii]

The concept of a Higher Law, later to figure so importantly in the legal development of the United States of America, was widely integrated into medieval jurisprudential thought.[xliii] In John of Salisbury’s Policraticus, “There are certain precepts of the law which have perpetual necessity, having the force of law among all nations and which absolutely cannot be broken.”[xliv]  Recognizing the idea that all political authority must be intrinsically limited, John noted that the prince “may not lawfully have any will of his own apart from that which the law or equity enjoins, or the calculation of the common interest requires.”[xlv]  

“….or the calculation of the common interest requires.” Viewed against the backdrop of the current US president – now, correctly analogous to the medieval “prince” discussed by John of Salisbury – such “perpetual law” must of necessity prohibit any presidential placement of personal interest over the discernibly “common interest” of the United States. Natural Law, inter alia, still exists to frustrate political injustice, a vital function that failed to become materially relevant to Trump’s recent impeachment trial in the Senate.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Natural Law doctrine was reaffirmed and secularized by Grotius,[xlvi]  the “father” of all modern international law. Reviving the Ciceronian idea of Natural Law and its underlying optimism about human nature, Grotius is credited with liberating this idea from any once-remaining dependence on ecclesiastical or Papal interpretation.[xlvii] Building upon the prior speculations of the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria, who had proclaimed a natural community of humankind and the universal validity of human rights,[xlviii]  Grotius fashioned a conceptual “bridge” from the Christian Commonwealth of the Middle Ages to a brand new interstate society.[xlix] 

In this connection, he strengthened the idea of a universally valid Natural Law, one transcending in obligation all human law, including the cumulative positive law of any single sovereign state.[l] This is an idea, of course, that lies at the conceptual heart of US law, but it also entirely alien to the understanding or vision of current US President Trump.

Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes,[li] Grotius did not consciously reduce law to any presumed will of a prince or a separate state.[lii] Rather, while recognizing such will as a properly constitutive element within the much wider international legal order, he also understood that the binding quality of human edicts must be derived from a more overriding totality of “natural” imperatives.[liii]   Accordingly, he proceeded to reject raison d’etat as a “just cause” for war,[liv] a purposeful rejection that may sometime cease to resonate in US President Donald Trump’s personal ideas of governance.

This brings us directly to the conveyance of Natural Law ideas into American political theory, a transmittal that was preeminently the work of Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government (1690).[lv] The specified American “duty” to revolt whenever governments commit “a long train of abuses and usurpations”[lvi] flows largely from Locke’s seminal notion that civil authority can never extend beyond the securing of humankind’s natural rights.[lvii] Regarding  the recent US presidential impeachment and trial, the motto that Jefferson chose for his own seal was: “Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God.”[lviii] 

As for the right to pursue happiness, which Jefferson drew largely from Burlamaqui’s incorporation into natural law,[lix] it had nothing to do with today’s shallow presidential celebrations of raw commerce and exaggerated materialism. Not at all.

 Nor could this right have had any bearing any US presidential impeachment proceedings. Though happiness was viewed by Jefferson (in plausible deference to Pufendorf and Locke) as a welcome condition to be achieved as the direct result of humankind’s overriding commitment to reason,[lx] never specified were any corresponding or corollary presidential obligations.

Above all, the Declaration of Independence implemented a fundamental social contract that sets limits on the power of any government.[lxi] Its central purpose, therefore, was to better articulate a set of universally valid constraints upon all secular political authority. Moreover, as justice, which is necessarily based on natural law, binds all human society, the rights described by the Declaration of Independence can never be reserved only to Americans. Derivatively, when current US foreign policies violate elements of international human rights law, including the authoritative law of war or law of armed conflict, there are simultaneously created various pertinent issues of US “command responsibility.”[lxii]

 By ready and verifiable deduction, natural rights must extend to all human societies, and can never be rendered subject to abrogation by positive law. Today, this general applicability of an immutable imperative to “do justice” is ignored by an American president who remains openly disinterested in human rights, especially on matters regarding immigration to the United States and the granting of refugee or asylum status. Notably, such matters of international law are ipso facto binding upon the United States, both by virtue of the ubiquitous and universal natural law, but also in consequence of the US Constitution (especially Art. VI, the “Supremacy Clause”) and various leading US Supreme Court decisions (especially the Pacquete Habana, 1900).

The compelling theory of a Higher Law, which should have had a designated place in the Senate trial of President Trump, is based on clarity, self-evidence and coherence.  Its express legal validity can never be shaken by any presumed presidential imperatives of geopolitics or “America First,.” As noted by the Swiss scholar Emmerich de Vattel in the 1758 edition of The Law of Nations (a work in which several American fathers of independence discovered important and usable maxims of political liberty):  “No agreement can bind, or even authorize, a man to violate the natural law.”[lxiii] 

 Prudently, Vattel had  cautioned that only a strict obedience to higher legal obligations can produce a virtuous and thereby safe and prosperous state: “One would have to be very ignorant of political affairs not to perceive how much more capable a virtuous Nation is of forming a happy, peaceful, flourishing and secure state, respected by its neighbors and formidable to its enemies.”[lxiv] Earlier, going forward with impeachment proceedings, Vattel’s wisdom could have had a proper and utilitarian place. At a minimum, it could have stood as an unchallengeable corrective to the manifestly unjust imperatives of Trump’s” America First.”

                *********

In the end, as the recent Trump impeachment trial ought to have revealed, Higher Law expectations of the American political tradition can never be self-enforcing.  Instead, defied again and again by transient political elites, these expectations can only be sustained where individual citizens would first prepare to act (as does Antigone before Creon[lxv] ) according to conscience.  “Why has every man a conscience,”[lxvi]  asks Thoreau in his foundational American essay on Civil Disobedience.

I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterwards.  It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.  The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.  It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.[lxvii]

Where are such “conscientious men” (and of course women) to be found? Certainly not, says Thoreau insightfully, among the “commonly esteemed good citizens.”[lxviii]  These mass men and women serve the state “not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.”[lxix]  

Placing themselves “on a level with wood and earth and stones,”[lxx] these creations of the “mass” (the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard would have preferred the term “crowd”) are incapable of making essential moral or legal distinctions. This incapacity is easily enough recognized today, where so many  United States Senators remained unwilling to acknowledge the brutally stark differences between prima facie presidential wrongdoing and legally correct presidential behavior.

Could the United States still create the conditions for a conscientious “corporation” though the enhanced education of an informed citizenry?  From Rousseau to the present, this has been the preferred path of virtually all democratic theory.  Rousseau believed that law and liberty could best exist in a city-state of properly educated voters like Geneva:

He stipulates in Book III of the Social Contract:

First, a very small state where the people can be readily got together and where each citizen can with ease know all the rest; secondly, great simplicity of manners, to prevent business from multiplying and raising thorny problems; next, a large measure of equality in rank and fortune, without which equality of rights and authority cannot long subsist; lastly, little or no luxury – for luxury either comes of riches or makes them necessary.

But the contemporary United States is not at all like Geneva; Rousseau’s cherished idea that a majority (even under very specified conditions) can be trusted with what is best for “The People” is too-often mistaken. Now, the dangers of the “general will” have been made manifest not only in the exploits of Robespierre and Napoleon, but also in the dissembling presidency of Donald Trump.

There is more. Rousseau’s deification of The People actually points toward the very opposite of our own Higher Law tradition. The Genevan made “The People” sovereign; for us, ultimately, sovereignty must come to reside in The Citizen.  Earlier, as Thoreau had understood, apathy, complacency, passivity and moral cowardice are the inevitable qualities found in the “mass” of men and women. True hope, therefore, can lie only in those residually still-thoughtful individuals whose primary allegiance is directed toward properly overriding and universal laws; that is, not in the presumptive “good citizen,” but rather in the indispensable “wise minority.”

It is time to finally inquire: What is the real task of this body of enlightened persons, one which could in fact represent a true and distinct majority in formation? Thoreau speaks truthfully of civil disobedience, one still possible act of “counter-friction.” Now, confronted with an American president who could bring unparalleled harms to the United States, suddenly or in unanticipated increments – as we have seen, such harms could soon include even the onset of a catastrophic nuclear war[lxxi] –  Thoreau would urge, as he once did about still-earlier policy deformations (see Civil Disobedience),: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.  What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

To this point, most visibly at partisan political levels, Thoreau’s earlier wisdom has fallen on variously deaf Congressional ears.

*********

This essay has explored certain now-lost jurisprudential remedies to the increasingly injurious Trump Presidency, most obviously “ordinary” impeachment options rooted in the US Constitution. For future reference, any Members of Congress directly involved with drafting and refining Articles of Impeachment could also avail themselves of  related Higher Law arguments. This potentially augmented path is suggested here because:  (1) the Constitution of the United States is indisputably and perpetually constructed upon core principles of Natural Law; and  (2) these antecedent and overriding legal principles are ultimately binding upon all citizens and all government officials.

To fashion such prospectively important Articles, careful attention ought to be paid not only to applicable statutory and Constitutional expectations, but also to the everlasting Higher Law traditions of the United States. While less explicit and thereby much harder to identify and operationalize, these core traditions and legal norms are in no way inferior to what had previously been codified. Accordingly, they should never be minimized or once again disregarded.

Though utterly ignored in the recently-completed Trump Senate trial, certain basic and immutable elements of the Western Higher Law tradition should figure importantly in efforts to protect the United States from a similarly catastrophic American presidency in the future. Such jurisprudence-based efforts at citizen protection would be not only justifiable, but indispensable. As Roman statesman Cicero already understood more than 2000 years ago, “The safety of the people shall be the highest law.”

It follows that the Natural Law/Higher Law  background of the American Constitution could sometime still figure usefully and importantly in rescuing the United States from another lawless American president. Technically, of course, the recent Senate acquittal of Donald Trump must be duly respected by Americans as law-enforcing. But the “safety of the people” must always take acknowledged precedence over narrowly technical judgments by the United States Senate.

Always.


[i] As the U.S. Constitution does not spell-out the precise content of any such crimes, it would have been reasonable to maintain that presidential violations of  Natural Law were at least equally representative of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” as anything locatable in tangible statute. Also worth noting is that at the time of the Constitution’s ratification, determinations of authentic criminality had much less to do with codified norms than with the common law or judicial precedent. In other words, when Professor Alan Dershowitz argued before the US Senate that an impeachable offense by Donald Trump must be linked to a “codified” crime, he fundamentally misrepresented the core legal origins of the United States.

[ii] Under international law, the idea of a Higher Law – drawn originally from the ancient Greeks and ancient Hebrews – is contained (inter alia) within the principle of jus cogens or “peremptory” norms.

[iii] Turning and turning in the widening gyre;

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

[iv] This presumes, of course, a far greater attention to serious education in the United States. In this connection, contrast the “classical” American opinion of Thomas Jefferson with that of Donald Trump. Said Jefferson:  “To penetrate and dissipate the clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education.” Said Trump: “I love the poorly educated.”

[v]     According to Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties: “…a peremptory norm of general international law is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole as a norm from which no derogation is permitted and which can be modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.” See: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, May 23, 1969. Entered into force, Jan. 27, 1980. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 39/27 at 289 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 8 I.L.M.  679 (1969).

  [vi]  See Edward S. Corwin, THE “HIGHER LAW” BACKGROUND OF AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (1955);  Alexander P. D’Entreves, NATURAL LAW: AN INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL PHILOSOPHY (1951).

    [vii]      See:  U.S. Constitution, Art. IX.  According to Clinton Rossiter, there exists a “deep-seated conviction” among Americans “that the Constitution is an expression of the Higher Law, that it is, in fact, imperfect man’s most perfect rendering” of eternal law.  See Rossiter, preface to Corwin, supra, at vi.

[viii]         Blackstone’s Commentaries, of course, provided certain basic foundations of America’s current legal system. It is unlikely, of course, that even a tiny handful of US representatives or senators were even aware of this juridical primacy.

    [ix]                   Blackstone’s COMMENTARIES expressly recognize that all law  “results from those principles of natural justice, in which all the learned of every nation agree….”  See William Blackstone,  COMMENTARIES ON THE LAWS OF ENGLAND,  adapted by Robert Malcolm Kerr  (Boston; Beacon Press,  1962),  Book IV,  “Of Public Wrongs,”  p. 62  (Chapter V.,  “Of Offenses Against the Law of Nations.”)

    [x]             See John Locke, TWO TREATISES OF GOVERNMENT 123 (T.I. Cook, ed., 1947).

    [xi]                   See THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

    [xii]                  See Julius Stone, THE PROVINCE AND FUNCTION OF LAW (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1950), Chapter VIII, “Natural Law.”

    [xiii]      Here, in the Deist view, Nature had “replaced” God as the source for lawful behavior.

    [xiv]      Newton says famously in his Principia:  “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”  Cited by Abraham Kaplan, IN PURSUIT OF WISDOM: THE SCOPE OF PHILOSOPHY (Beverly Hills CA: Glencoe Press, 1977), p. 550.

    [xv]       See Stone, supra, Ch. VIII.

    [xvi]      See Locke, supra, 123.

    [xvii]     See The Bill of Rights, as detailed in the following discussion.

    [xviii]    See U.S. Constitution, Ninth Amendment.

    [xix]                  The most fundamental principle of ancient Hebrew law, of course, is that the revealed will of God is the only proper source of Jewish justice.  In the Talmudic position, “Whatever a competent scholar will yet derive from the Law, that was already given to Moses on Mount Sinai.” (See Jerusalem Megillah IV,  74d.)

    [xx]       See Sec. 81, Fragment No. DK 22B114 of THE PRESOCRATICS 75 (Philip Wheelwright ed.,  Bobbs-Merrill  1960).  The authoritative text for the fragments of Heraclitus is Hermann Diels & Walther Kranz, DIE FRAGMENTE DER VORSOKRATIKER (6th ed., Weidmann  1966).

    [xxi]      A century before Demosthenes, Antigone’s appeal against Creon’s order to the “unwritten and steadfast customs of the Gods” had evidenced the inferiority of human rule-making to a Higher Law.  Here, in the drama by Sophocles, Creon represents the Greek tyrant who disturbs the ancient harmony of the city state.  Aristotle, in his RHETORIC, quotes from Sophocles’ ANTIGONE when he argues that “an unjust law is not a law.”  See RHETORIC 1, 15,  1375, a 27 et seq.

    [xxii]     See Henry David Thoreau, ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, in WALDEN, OR LIFE IN THE WOODS AND ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (Signet 1960). 

    [xxiii]    Plato’s theory, offered in the fourth century B.C.E, seeks to explain politics as an unstable realm of sense and matter, an arena formed and sustained by half-truths and distorted perceptions.  In contrast to the stable realm of immaterial Forms, from which all genuine knowledge must be derived, the political realm is dominated by the uncertainties of the sensible world.  At the basis of this political theory is a physical-mental analogy that establishes a correlation between the head, the heart and the abdomen, and the virtues of intelligence, courage and moderation. 

    [xxiv]     Supra. 

    [xxv]     See Corwin, supra, at 7.

    [xxvi]     Id.

    [xxvii]    “Right is the interest of the stronger,” says Thrasymachus in Bk. I, Sec. 338 of Plato, THE REPUBLIC (B. Jowett tr.,  1875).  “Justice is a contract neither to do nor to suffer wrong,” says Glaucon, id.,  Bk. II, Sec. 359.  See also, Philus in Bk III, Sec. 5 of Cicero, DE REPUBLICA.

[xxviii]      In this connection, however, noted Sigmund Freud: “Wars will only be prevented with certainty if mankind unites in setting up a central authority to which the right of giving judgment upon all shall be handed over. There are clearly two separate requirements involved in this: the creation of a supreme agency and its endowment with the necessary power. One without the other would be useless.” (See: Sigmund Freud, Collected Papers, cited in Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power: A Theoretical Analysis, University of Denver, Monograph Series in World Affairs, Vol. 10 (1973-73), p, 27.)

    [xxix]     See Corwin, supra, at 9:  “The Stoics…thought of Nature or the Universe as a living organism, of which the material world was the body, and of which the Deity or the Universal Reason was the pervading, animating and governing soul; and natural law was the rule of conduct laid down by this Universal Reason for the direction of mankind.”  Salmond, JURISPRUDENCE 27 (7th ed., 1924), cited in Corwin, supra, at 9.

    [xxx]     Id.

    [xxxi]     These terms are defined and discussed below.

    [xxxii]    See Corwin, supra, at 9.

    [xxxiii]   Spoken by Scipio in Bk. I of DE REPUBLICA; cited in Alexander P. D’Entreves, THE NOTION OF THE STATE  24 (1967).

    [xxxiv]   See Stone, THE PROVINCE AND FUNCTION OF LAW, supra, 224-230.  Stone calls positive law “…the law actually enforced by organized society in a particular place at a particular time.” (p. 225)  Understood in terms of natural law, positive law is merely a necessary evil, tolerable and valid only to the extent that it coincides with natural law.  In this theory, says Julius Stone, “Not only does natural law provide the criterion for judgment whether positive law is just.  It goes further and provides the criterion for deciding whether positive law is valid law at all.” (Id., at 226)

    [xxxv]    See Cicero, I DE LEGIBUS, cited in Corwin, supra, at 10; D’Entreves, supra., at 20 – 21.  Similarly, in his DE OFFICIIS, Cicero wrote:  “There is in fact a true law namely right reason, which is in accordance with nature, applies to all men and is unchangeable and eternal….It will not lay down one rule at Rome and another at Athens, nor will it be one rule today and another tomorrow.  But there will be one law eternal and unchangeable binding at all times and upon all peoples.” (cited by Stone, supra, at 216.)  See also DE LEGIBUS, Bk. i, c, vii; cited by Stone, supra, at 216.

    [xxxvi]   See Corwin, supra, at 12.

    [xxxvii]   Id, at 13.

    [xxxviii]  See D’Entreves, supra, 36 – 37.  In early Christendom, Augustine offered a system of thought that identified the locus of all global problems in the human potentiality for evil.  Combining a philosophy of Neo-Platonism with a view of the universe as a struggle between good and evil, he attributed the trials of humankind to the taint of original sin.  This view, transformed into a secular political philosophy, is now reflected by exponents of the school of realism or realpolitik.  Augustine, writing at the beginning of the fifth century C.E., sets out, in the CITY OF GOD, to describe human history as a contest of two societies, the intrinsically debased City of Man and the eternally peaceful City of God.  In this contest, the state, the product of humankind’s most base tendencies, is devoid of justice and destructive of salvation.  A mirror image of human wickedness, the state is little more than a “large gang of robbers.”  In an oft-quoted passage, Augustine recalls the answer offered by a pirate who had been captured by Alexander the Great.  When asked by Alexander what right he had to infest the seas, the pirate replied:  “The same right that you have to infest the world.  But because I do it in a small boat I am called a robber, while because you do it with a large fleet you are called an emperor.”

    [xxxix]   See Julius Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE (Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1965), p. 44.  For Augustine, this reason or will of God “commands us to preserve the natural order and prohibits us to disturb it.” (See Contra Faustum, XXII, 27; cited by Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE, supra, p. 44.

    [xl]       Thomas Aquinas recalls Augustine as follows:  “St. Augustine says: `There is no law unless it be just.’ So the validity of law depends upon its justice.  But in human affairs a thing is said to be just when it accords aright with the rule of reason: and as we have already seen, the first rule of reason is the Natural Law.  Thus all humanly enacted laws are in accord with reason to the extent that they derive from the Natural law.  And if a human law is at variance in any particular with the Natural law, it is no longer legal, but rather a corruption of law.” See SUMMA THEOLOGICA, 1a 2ae,  95, 2; cited by D’Entreves, supra, pp. 42 – 43.

    [xli]      See D’Entreves, supra, at 42 – 43.

    [xlii]                  The importance of reason to legal judgment was prefigured in ancient Israel, which accommodated reason within its system of revealed law.  Jewish theory of law, insofar as it displays the marks of natural law, offers a transcending order revealed by the divine word as interpreted by human reason.  In the striking words of Ecclesiasticus 32.23,  37.16,  13-14:  “Let reason go before every enterprise and counsel before any action…And let the counsel of thine own heart stand…For a man’s mind is sometimes wont to tell him more than seven watchmen that sit above in an high tower….”

    [xliii]     See Stone, THE PROVINCE AND FUNCTION OF LAW, supra, Chapter VIII.

    [xliv]     See Corwin, supra, at 17 – 18.

    [xlv]      Id., at 19.

    [xlvi]     See Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE, supra, pp. 64 – 68.

    [xlvii]    Id.

    [xlviii]    See Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE, supra, pp. 61 – 63.

    [xlix]     Id, pp. 65 – 68.

    [l]  Id.

    [li] The sixteenth-century Florentine philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, joined Aristotle’s foundations for a scientific study of politics with assumptions of realpolitik to reach certain conclusions about politics.  His most important conclusion underscores the dilemma of practicing goodness in an essentially evil world:  “A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good.” (See THE PRINCE, Chapter XV).  Recognizing this tragic state of affairs, Machiavelli proceeds to advance the arguments for expediency that have become synonymous with his name.  With the placing of the idea of force at the center of his political theory, the author of THE PRINCE stands in sharp contrast to the Platonic and early Christian concepts of the “good.”  Rejecting both Plato’s argument that there is a knowable objective “good” that leads to virtue, and Augustine’s otherworldly idea of absolute goodness, Machiavelli constructs his political theory on the assumption that “all men are potential criminals, and always ready to realize their evil intentions whenever they are free to do so.” In his instructions to the statesman on how to rule in a world dominated by force, he advises “to learn how not to be good.”  The seventeenth-century materialist and social philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, elaborated a complex system of thought in which man was reduced to a state of nature and then reconstructed.  Seeking a science of human nature that would have the rigor of physics, Hobbes looked to introspection as the source of genuine understanding:  “Whosoever looketh into himself and considereth what he doth when he does think, opine, reason, hope, fear, etc., and upon what grounds, he shall thereby read and know, what are the thoughts and passions of all other men, upon the like occasions.” (See Introduction to LEVIATHAN).  The results of such an analysis of one’s own thought processes led Hobbes to his celebrated theory of the social contract:  the natural egoism of man produces a “war of all against all” in the absence of civil government and must be tempered by absolute monarchy.  Moreover, the condition of nature, which is also called a condition of war marked by “continual fear, and danger of violent death,” has always been the characteristic condition of international relations and international law:  “But though there had never been any time, wherein particular men were in a condition of war one against another; yet, in all times, kings, and persons of sovereign-authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealousies, and in the state and posture of gladiators; having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another; that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns upon the frontiers of their kingdoms, and continual spies upon their neighbors, which is a posture of war.”  (See LEVIATHAN, Chapter XIII).

    [lii]       This is because the principal Grotian effort was to “translate” natural law from pure philosophical speculation into a pragmatic legal ordering.  See Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE, supra, p. 65.

    [liii]      Id.  

    [liv]      The Swiss scholar, Emmerich de Vattel, notes – in his 1758 classic THE LAW OF NATIONS:  “No agreement can bind, or even authorize a man to violate the natural law.”  See Albert de LaPradelle, Introduction to Emmerich de Vattel, LE DROIT DES GENS (THE LAW OF NATIONS)(Charles G. Fenwick, tr., 1916).

    [lv]       See Corwin, supra, at 61.

    [lvi]      Id. 

    [lvii]      Id. 

    [lviii]     See Thomas Jefferson, IV WORKS 362 (New York, P.L. Ford, ed., 1892-99).

    [lix]      J.J. Burlamaqui, author of PRINCIPES DU DROIT DE LA NATURE ET DES GENS (1774) was a Swiss scholar who held a Chair at the University of Geneva.  His work has been described by J. Stone and others as “rational utilitarianism.”  See Stone, HUMAN LAW AND HUMAN JUSTICE, supra, p. 71.

    [lx]       See Corwin, supra, p. 81.

    [lxi]      Id. 

[lxii] Criminal responsibility of leaders under international law is not limited to direct personal action or limited by official position. On this peremptory principle of “command responsibility,” or respondeat superior, see: In re Yamashita, 327 U.S. 1 (1945); The High Command Case (The Trial of Wilhelm von Leeb), 12 Law Reports of Trials Of War Criminals 1 (United Nations War Crimes Commission Comp., 1949); see Parks, Command Responsibility For War Crimes, 62 MIL.L. REV. 1 (1973); O’Brien, The Law Of War, Command Responsibility And Vietnam, 60 GEO. L.J. 605 (1972); U.S. Dept. Of The Army, Army Subject Schedule No. 27 – 1 (Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Hague Convention No. IV of 1907), 10 (1970). The direct individual responsibility of leaders is also unambiguous in view of the London Agreement, which denies defendants the protection of the act of state defense. See AGREEMENT FOR THE PROSECUTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS OF THE EUROPEAN AXIS, Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1544, E.A.S. No. 472, 82 U.N.T.S. 279, art. 7.

    [lxiii]     See Vattel, THE LAW OF NATIONS (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1916), C.G. Fenwick tr., p. 4.

    [lxiv]     Id. 

    [lxv]      See Sophocles, ANTIGONE, supra. 

    [lxvi]     See H D Thoreau, ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (New York: New American Library, 1959).

    [lxvii]    Id. 

    [lxviii]    Id. 

    [lxix]     Id. 

    [lxx]      Id. 

[lxxi]            “The obligation of subjects to the sovereign,” says Thomas Hobbes in Chapter XXI of LEVIATHAN,  “is understood to last as long, and no longer, than the power lasteth by which he is able to protect them.”

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. His twelfth and most recent book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (2016) (2nd ed., 2018) https://paw.princeton.edu/new-books/surviving-amid-chaos-israel%E2%80%99s-nuclear-strategy Some of his principal strategic writings have appeared in Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard University); Yale Global Online (Yale University); Oxford University Press (Oxford University); Oxford Yearbook of International Law (Oxford University Press); Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Modern War Institute (Pentagon); The War Room (Pentagon); World Politics (Princeton); INSS (The Institute for National Security Studies)(Tel Aviv); Israel Defense (Tel Aviv); BESA Perspectives (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Atlantic; The New York Times and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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How Trump can beat Kamala Harris in 2024

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The hopes for Vice President Kamala Harris were big, but as the months of her first year in office progressed, they evaporated quickly.

As Vice President, Mike Pence negotiated ceasefire agreements with Turkey in Syria and did a lot of diplomatic work. So the VP’s role is not exactly about sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be President. But this seems to be Kamala’s game at the moment. She does videos with girls who should dream big but when it comes to her actual responsibilities she is nowhere to be seen. It’s not enough to be the first black woman VP. That doesn’t guarantee your “historic legacy”. It’s what you do that counts.

Biden tasked Kamala with the southern border, that horny issue that Trump wanted to take up and which Democrats are not interested in.

The truth here is a geographical one: simply in geographic terms, the US southern border is so vast that it can’t be secured unless something changes in US policy. Not everyone that wants to enter a country should be able to do that. The same goes for Americans who would be stopped at the border if they tried to enter illegally Bulgaria, just to name an example. The rules of legal entry still apply across the world, and for people escaping dire circumstances such as refugees we have a separate set of rules where they can apply for asylum. That doesn’t include anyone from any country that wants to enter any country, but surely a guiding principle should be humane treatment even for those that are not allowed to enter or that have to leave. The situation on the southern border were children were separated from their parents and were kept in cages was absolutely horrific, so one hoped that with her legal experience, child of immigrants-origin, and black, Indian, female leadership, Kamala would be better suited at finding humane solutions than Trump.

But Kamala did not even wish to visit the border, and nothing changed when the Haitian immigrants’ crisis hit either. She is just not interested; she just wants to be President. Kamala was expected to deliver a more sensitive approach because this is why she was elected – for issues such as these. Leaders of diversity are not elected just to be there, because it’s great to look at all kinds of people, but because the political system and decision-making supposedly becomes more representative and better.

People elect leaders on platforms to help workers, such as veteran Senator Sherrod Brown, exactly for that – to help workers. That’s why he is on the right committees such as agriculture, forestry, nutrition. You won’t see him all of a sudden interested in big tech and the finance industry, not willing to touch his original issues. That would be strange, right?

Women leaders whose platform is being a woman and breaking glass ceilings to lead the way, are expected to deliver on that. Not all women leaders have that line and this line should not be expected from all women, but the ones that do run on being black women leaders for the community should deliver on that. That’s their thing, that’s what they ran on.

Black Lives Matter congressmen who run on that platform are expected to be like that once they get elected, too. Similarly, if a politician runs on being rich, successful and someone who understand big corporate America and will drive big business forward, you expect them to be exactly that way.

If you run for office as the migrants’ Congresswoman you better be doing that. I remember Congressman Grijalva of Arizona whom I met previously. His had was a Mexican immigrant and the Congressman was someone feeling and supporting Mexican immigrants; that was his thing, his selling point and his driving issue. You wouldn’t see him go: “Oh yeah, the migrants. No thanks!” The Congressman was well-aware that he was elected in that identity out of all the identities he could have decided to bring to the fore.

My point is that if you’re selected for specific views and characteristic and you are putting that as your headline motto which defines you, that means that people will be expecting that from you because that’s why you got elected to begin with. So there are very clear and reasonable expectations that Kamala has to be better towards refugees if she ran on being a child of immigrants.  She has to be more sensitive towards the pains of what she was elected to represent. If you are running for office as a mother, wife and a child of immigrants, then family issues and gentle, humane treatment towards immigrant children should be a priority.  It’s only fair in the political contract of being an elected official.

Politicians choose very carefully what identities they flash and show to the whole world to see. That’s a very conscious choice. The story would be different if Kamala ran on being a top legal mind that will fix many issues in the justice system, while not wanting to bring her origin, female-ness and race as selling points. That would have been an equally valid political approach. Then people would have expected that identity to come to the fore, once she stepped in office. My hopes and prescriptions for Kamala, for example, was that she could reform the FBI and the way the FBI treats progressive protests. I wrote about it right at the start of the Biden-Harris administration all over the left media in Salon, Raw Story and AlterNet, urging VP Harris to take a look at the FBI. This would have included indiscriminate surveillance, for example, and the legal standards and thresholds to open investigations for serious crimes like terrorism. What we are witnessing now is that the same way the FBI and the repressive apparatus treated reasonable voices on the left clumping them together with violent groups on the far left, is happening to the right, where Trump supporters and regular people on the right are spied on and put in the same group as armed, violent men. This is what the FBI generally does to the new big enemy. Who that is changes with the fashion trends. My hope was that Kamala could stop the FBI from running wild, using her extensive legal experience. That was a long shot. She is not interested even in top-of-the-line emergency issues such as the border that Biden assigned to her.

This is why I think that Trump can beat Kamala in 2024, if she becomes the Democratic nominee. I won’t be surprised if she runs on a platform of becoming the first woman president and first woman black president. But for that you need to have demonstrated that you are for women and have supported women, and you are for black people and have supported the black issues.

I think it’s only fair. I am asking people to actually start holding politicians accountable to the identities that politicians themselves have chosen to flash out. If you’re neither for women, nor for people of color’s problems, then the identity presented is fake and we are better off with someone whose identity matches their actions.

It’s not enough to stage videos with little girls who should “dream big” because “everything is possible” in a world where “women can be anything they want to be”. The role of the chief political executive is not to be an “inspirational” celebrity, someone that people look up to for philosophical and motivational inspiration like the Dalai Lama. The role of a President or VP is to solve problems. I know it doesn’t sound very glamorous because it’s not.

I think Trump can win 2024 if he drops the far-right movements. The rights to protest and free speech are no longer protected, as soon as there is violence involved. Trump can also drop some of the offensive language and still be Trump. If he keeps what was good from his policies, such as the economy pre-Covid, he can convince a lot of Americans who are already chanting against Joe Biden. America already hates Biden and Kamala – if I can hear it all the way here in Bulgaria.

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The international disorder after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the causes of the Taliban victory

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image source: Tehran Times

What does the defeat of the US system in Afghanistan show? Can war-torn Afghanistan achieve peace and independence? Where is the way out for Afghanistan?

This unfortunate country has become a battleground for the great powers and the hegemonic policy has led to unrest, war and devastation in Afghanistan for 42 years.

Let us look at the world map. Afghanistan is located in the hinterland of the Eurasian continent. It is the point of convergence of West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia. It also borders on China through a long, narrow piece of land. From the viewpoint of geopolitical theory, Afghanistan is known as the “crossroads of the Asian continent” because it holds the key points between the hinterland of Asia and the Middle East, besides being the plateau overlooking the Middle East and looking towards East Asia, and has always been at the centre of the great powers’ appetites.

All powers are convinced of the validity of the geocentric theory of British geopolitician Halford Mackinder (1861-1947), who believed that whoever controlled those areas would be able to dominate Asia and the Eurasian continent: indeed, Afghanistan is precisely there.

Historically, from the United Kingdom to the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the countries with hegemonic ambitions came to that land and brought endless wars.

Since the late 1970s, the game of great powers and internal State conflicts have caused forty years of bloodshed.

In October 2001, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban regime in the name of fighting al-Qaeda. In the last twenty years, the United States has invested a lot of resources in Afghanistan. It has supported the Afghan government established by the White House and has trained a local army in the country. It has also tried to make Afghanistan – outside of any historical, social and religious logic – a “model democratic country” according to their wasp style: in short, it has tried to impose a Lutheran model on an Islamic country.

Over the past two decades, nearly 2,500 US soldiers have been killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan and tens of thousands of people, including military service providers, have been wounded. The total cost of the war has exceeded two trillion US dollars. Under the banner of “counter-terrorism”, the long war has not only plunged the United States into a quagmire of lack of international credibility and doubts about its methods of conducting war, civilisation and democracy, but – even more severely – it has caused great disasters to a people far removed from it in every sense.

According to the ‘War Cost Accounting’ project at Brown University in the USA, at least 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed in that war from 2001 to mid-April 2020. According to the figures released by the United Nations, the war in Afghanistan has forced 2.7 million Afghans to flee abroad and has resulted in the internal displacement of four million Afghans, with a total population of 39 million.

Besides leading to humanitarian disasters, increased poverty caused by the war afflicts the population. Figures show that since the fiscal year 2019-2020, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product has been about 18.89 billion US dollars and GDP per capita only 586.6 US dollars. The finances of the former Afghan government had not managed to balance the books for many years and 60% of the fiscal budget came from international aid.

In the continuing war bloodshed, the United States of America tried in vain to remedy the situation and lost its white man’s burden to stop the bleeding.

On the day the Taliban entered Kabul, a number of US politicians spoke out and publicly criticised the government’s decision to hastily withdraw troops from Afghanistan and said that the United States should be held responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan. The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, stated in an interview with RAI on September 10, 2001 that the United States of America should stay and rule the country directly. We can also add: just like a colony.

On August 15, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said in an interview with ABC that the White House bore an inescapable responsibility for the Taliban’s fast conquest of Afghanistan. She said that the impact of the current situation was not limited to Afghanistan and her country, but would also affect international relations. Liz Cheney also stated that the US withdrawal did not actually end the war in Afghanistan, but would make it continue in other ways.

Indeed, the current turbulent situation in Afghanistan is closely related to the US hasty withdrawal from the country.

On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that he would withdraw 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. On the evening of the same day, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also announced that some seven thousand NATO coalition troops would be withdrawn at the same time.

When US and NATO troops officially started their withdrawal on May 1, the security situation in Afghanistan worsened by the day. According to The New York Times, from April 30 to May 6, forty-four civilians had been killed in the attack in Afghanistan in a single week, the highest number of people in a week since October 2020.

This proves once again that the US practice of bringing “democracy” to other countries with the use of weapons, harms the others and the USA itself and can only bring disorder and unrest.

The United States of America has continuously created chaos and with “friendly fire” and “by mistake” has killed civilians in Afghanistan for 25 years. The minimum positive impression the Afghan people had has been completely wiped out. It existed only in a few Hollywood movies at the beginning of the 2000s, with the classic child and wise old man saved by the US good soldier.

For any sovereign country, such behaviour can only be hegemonic and ruthless.

The twenty-year US war in Afghanistan has not achieved its goals: the United States has only tried to save face through an irresponsible withdrawal. This is tantamount to saying: “I would prefer a 3-0 defeat by default than a 7-0 defeat on the pitch”.

The war was costly, in view of vainly conquering the strategic position towards Mackinder’s heartland that holds the last raw materials on the planet.

The tragedy in Afghanistan is just another great failure of the Western attempt of imposing democracy through violence.

It is difficult for a country with great historical traditions to be transformed and assimilated by the West; it develops antibodies of resistance and rejection. The efforts to “democratize” Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. have turned these countries into guinea pigs of the US liberal utopia. These guinea pigs, however, have not died, but have somehow managed to escape vivisection and laboratory tests.

The Taliban won in Kabul with a ten-day blitz: the “US democracy” was the Maoist “paper tiger”, which had already been driven out by China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam etc.

After the Taliban entered the capital Kabul and controlled almost the entire territory of Afghanistan, many media expressed their surprise at the speed of the Afghan fighters. On August 6, the Taliban occupied Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz Province in south-western Afghanistan, the first major city conquered by the Taliban since US and allied troops had begun withdrawing. On August 7, the Taliban conquered Sheberghān, the capital of Jowzjan Province. In the following days, they seized over twenty provincial capitals, including Konduz, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan; Herat, the third largest city; Kandahar, the second largest city, and Mazar-i-Sharif, the fourth largest city; and finally occupied the capital city.

Such a speed of advance makes the previous military organisation and US bases seem completely useless and disastrous. According to reports, on August 15 President Biden and senior US officials were shocked.

Not long before, President Biden had claimed that the Afghan government had 300,000 well-equipped soldiers, while the Taliban had only 75,000. While recalling Vietnam, President Biden said: “Under no circumstances will we see people evacuated from the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan”.  

President Biden’s declarations, however, were the “famous last words”. When the US military helicopter landed on the roof of the US embassy in Afghanistan to pick up besieged fellow citizens, people thought of the Saigon tragedy. Indeed, Afghanistan is only the most recent Saigon-style tragedy, but it will certainly not be the last.

The Taliban’s quick offensive regards their strategy. It is very appropriate and they know how to use negotiation skills in battle simultaneously to struggle with the opponents while fighting them. A very strong traditional strategy inherited from the legacies of the wars of liberation against the Brits in the 19th and 20th centuries, which saved them from ending up like India, or at least the western Muslim part later called Pakistan. As you can see, it all adds up.

The US-backed Afghan government and army were made up of generally corrupt, incompetent and opportunistic personnel. They gradually surrendered to their compatriots, preferring past enemies to the US promises to escape to the paradise on earth of democracy.

High officials and star-spangled Afghan military officers left their posts without authorisation and had no thought at all of maintaining a regime which, on its cessation, would be saved only at the highest ranks, so as not to be treated like Mohammad Najibullah, captured by the Taliban in the UN headquarters in Kabul and shot on September 27, 1996.

Corruption is one of the causes of the US defeat. Brainiacs, eggheads and the US think tanks at Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale, or in other places, have not yet understood that when you go to a country that is distant in every sense from your own – a country and a people that you despise so much that you want to change them “for their own good” – only corrupt, delinquent, ignorant and opportunistic people will come with you as occupier. The same people who were already largely despised by the local people. The Taliban speed of advancement has demonstrated to what extent the above is true.

The political-administrative concept – with which a military umbrella Afghanistan-Eden was designed – was based on liberal and “democratic” assumptions that were incompatible with the Afghan society.

Not only could that government not represent the Afghan people, but it further fuelled corruption and inefficiency because it relied on a large amount of international aid.

The “design” of the former Afghan government system could neither draw sufficient human resources (i.e. credibility from its people), nor gain effective control of the country (people enlisting only for a clean uniform and a few dollars to support their poor families).

On the contrary, after twenty years of armed struggle, the Taliban have made many reshuffles at the top leadership, as well as reorganisations. They have limited their radicalism and learned some lessons and positive practices during the war.

Today, an Afghanistan that stops wars and achieves peace is the common expectation of the international community and the countries of the region and the planet.

Respecting Afghanistan’s independence means not interfering in its internal affairs and not exporting the so-called democracy. Only in this way can peace and development be achieved in this war-torn country.

Afghanistan belongs to the Afghan people alone. Imposed “democracy” is always overthrown because it does not suit the wishes of the people it seeks to subjugate.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan will remove the obstacles to regional security, stability and development cooperation and create favourable conditions for seeking cooperation with other countries and achieving a win-win situation.

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Hunter Biden Shows How to Become a Leading Artist in America

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Artwork, Hunter Biden, source: Georges Berges Gallery

U.S. President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, is one of America’s top artists. That means he has become able to sell his paintings to the largest number of America’s richest people at the highest prices: his artistic patrons are millionaires, centi-millionaires, and billionaires, who know that the Biden Family operation splits its money among all of its members, including the “Big Guy”, U.S. President Joe Biden, who could benefit when such a buyer pays money to Hunter for a painting. They operate as a family business (or, actually, businesses), and everybody (including “the ‘Big Guy’,”  and including “H” or Hunter, and also James Biden, Joe’s brother) gets a cut in it. This fact was reported by the Wall Street Journal, on 23 October 2020, whose sources were the corporation’s CEO (Bobulinski), who owned half, and “corporate documents reviewed by the Journal.” However, the American “true”/“false” news-rating firm PolitiFact dismissed that report, by alleging “there is no smoking gun” because “Credible news organizations have found no evidence to corroborate Bobulinski’s claims about a role in the proposed venture for Joe Biden. Joe Biden’s financial documents show no indication of any income related to the venture.” PolitiFact implicitly didn’t consider the WSJ a “credible news organization.” (They didn’t explain why.) However, the WSJ had not made any claim that Joe Biden — or anyone else — had profited, at all, from this particular corporation, SinoHawk Holdings, which was only one of a number of such ventures (such as Rosemont Seneca, which was involved with Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings) in which enterprise Hunter Biden partnered with his father, and father’s brother Jim, as well as with Biden friends. There was no follow-up by the press on the matter of Hunter Biden’s apparent influence-peddling (such as about Britain’s Daily Mail having reported, on 17 December 2020, that “Bobulinski revealed an email sent from Hunter Biden to Ye in June of 2017 in which he sends Ye his ‘best wishes from the entire Biden family’” — including, of course, the U.S. President). But federal authorities have copied the contents of at least one of Hunter Biden’s laptops, and know all the email and documents that were on it, and yet the press (other than Britain’s Daily Mail) shunned any evidence, anywhere, that might go beyond what Bobulinski and “corporate documents” had disclosed to the WSJ. All liberal ‘news’-media (and most conservative ones) shunned any such investigations. (There are no mainstream progressive U.S. news-media; and, therefore, liberal and conservative ones are pretty much the entire media-spectrum in the U.S./UK empire.)

Other such similar matters have likewise been ignored by most of the billionaires-controlled U.S. and UK press; but a few conservative, pro-Republican-Party, billionaires have had their media look further into Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling. And, now, influence-peddling is being carried out in — and corrupting — the high-end contemporary art market, as will soon be described here.

Influence-peddling has been prominent among aristocracies for thousands of years. There’s nothing unusual about the Bidens regarding this. But, before describing the way it’s being carried out now in the high-end art market, a few more examples about the Bidens’ doing it in the fields of finance will show more of the basic pattern that’s now being applied in art-sales: 

To start with, as published by the Republican billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper N.Y. Post on 15 October 2020 under the headline “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm”, a 2 August 2017 email on Hunter Biden’s computer, emailed from him to Gongwen Dong and copied to Mervyn Yan Yan stated: 

My Understanding is that the original agreement with the Director was for consulting fees based on introductions alone a rate of $10M per year for a three year guarantee total of $30M. The chairman changed that deal after we me[t] in MIAMI TO A MUCH MORE LASTING AND LUCRATIVE ARRANGEMENT to create a holding company 50% owned by ME and 50% by him. Consulting fees is one piece of our income stream but the reason this proposal by the chairman was so much more interesting to me and my family is that we would also be partners in the equity and profits of the JV [Joint Venture]’s investments. Hence I assumed the reason for our discussion today in which you made clear that the Chairman would first get his investment capital returned in the profits would be split 50/50. If you [are] saying this is not the case then please return us to the original deal $10M per year a guaranteed 3 years plus bonus payments for any successful deal we introduce. let’s discuss thank you

That is clearly influence-peddling.

Then, as published in the UK Conservative Party’s billionaire Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere’s newspaper Daily Mail, on 10 December 2020, under the headline “Revealed: Hunter Biden raked in $6M in just nine months from Chinese business dealings – and that doesn’t include the 2.8 carat-diamond he got as a gift”, it opened with a summary:

               • Hunter Biden raked in $6m over nine months from his Chinese business dealings according to a timeline of his affairs which goes into unprecedented detail

               • Joe Biden’s son was involved with a series of transactions which were flagged for ‘potential financial criminal activity’, a Senate report has revealed

               • The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’

               •  The money included a $5m payment from a Chinese energy company with ties to the Communist party 

               • He also made $1m for work with an associate who was later jailed for bribery

               • The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’ 

               • The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects

               • CEFC’s founder and former chairman Ye Jianming gave Hunter a 2.8-carat diamond after a business meeting in Miami, CNN has reported

Their article continued:

The payments began days after Hunter sent his infamous email to one associate in 2017 talking about money for ‘the big guy’ and deals for ‘me and my family’.

The report concludes that Hunter’s business associates were ‘linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army’.

It states: ‘Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow’.

The report prepared by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, which was first reported by Fox News, comes as Hunter revealed that authorities in Delaware are investigating his tax affairs. …

According to Politico, [in an excellent article covering many different apparently corrupt business deals that Hunter and his family have participated in and that the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ought to have launched investigations into] federal prosecutors in Washington and New York are also looking into possible securities fraud and money laundering by the troubled 50-year-old, who has battled drug and alcohol addiction.

The Senate report focuses on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects.

These matters are highly relevant to Hunter’s high art prices, because buying a painting from an influence-peddler is one possible way to buy influence.

For example: let’s say that a particular painting by Hunter Biden is worth, to be generous about it, $5,000, but that a billionaire who wants some decision from the White House to go in a certain way is paying $500,000 for it. This would be a $495,000 advance-payment for the decision to go that way; and, if the President then decides to go a different way on that decision, then the President might lose $5,000,000 in campaign-donations from that buyer during the next campaign-cycle. And, maybe, on the opposite side of the gamble, if the President’s decision instead goes the way that the purchaser has been wanting, that buyer will end up tens-of-millions dollars richer as a result of this $495,000 advance-payment to the President’s son. So: a President, in retirement, can become a very wealthy person, by having sold-out the American public, to the highest bidders. This has become ‘democracy’, in today’s America. It’s aristocracy instead.

On 8 July 2021, Britain’s Telegraph, which is owned by the Conservative twin aristocratic brothers, the Barclays, bannered “The Art of the Deal: Is a painting by Hunter Biden really worth $500,000?” and opened “White House ethics experts have expressed alarm at plans to sell paintings by Hunter Biden for up to half a million dollars each. The US president’s son has reinvented himself as an artist after a turbulent struggle with addiction.”

Then, on 22 September 2021, The Atlantic, which the neoliberal (libertarian) neoconservative (imperialist) (or now otherwise called simply “liberal”) Democratic Party billionheiress, Laurene Powell Jobs, owns, bannered “The Emerging Artistry of Hunter Biden: His upcoming solo show is a headache for the White House — and a window into the murky finances of the international art market”, and described the seedy arrangements that Hunter and the White House have made with the New York City art gallery that will be opening Hunter’s exhibition this month. Ms. Jobs takes advice from and highly respects David G. Bradley, the prior neoconservative owner of that and several other prominent American magazines.  

Then, on October 5th, another Laureen-Powell-Jobs-backed magazine, Mother Jones headlined “Check Out These Exclusive Pics From Hunter Biden’s Big LA Art Opening”, and reported:

On Friday night, at a pop-up event in Hollywood, Hunter Biden shared his artwork with the LA glitterati. In a big white room at Milk Studios, usually the site of photo or video shoots, 200 or so people gathered to experience the art of President Joe Biden’s son.

As has been previously reported, his gallerist, George Bergès, is looking to fetch between $75,000 and $500,000 a piece for Biden’s paintings.

Ms. Jobs is also a strong backer of current V.P. Kamala Harris, who is even more intensely neoconservative (pro-imperialist, pro-military-industrial complex) than is Joe Biden, and therefore Harris received backing from even more billionaires during the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential primaries than Joe Biden did. Neoconservative Democratic-Party billionaires generally want Harris to be the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in 2024. They therefore want Biden not to run again. Ms. Jobs is now perhaps the top kingmaker in the Democratic Party, and maybe she wants Kamala Harris to be the Party’s nominee in 2024.

Then, On October 6th, Britain’s Daily Mail (which had been the only mainstream news-medium to have published, on 11 August 2021, lots of photos and other information from Hunter’s own computers, showing him naked with prostitutes and using cusswords while conversing with them) headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Biden is seen hanging out with star-studded potential buyers of his half-million-dollar art at LA’s Milk Studios debut show, despite White House claims he will have no idea who is buying his pieces”. It opened by reporting:

Hunter Biden made his professional debut on Friday at his first art exhibition in Hollywood, California, DailyMail.com can reveal 

His paintings were showcased at Milk Studios to 200 guests including Sugar Ray Leonard, Moby, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the artist behind the Obama ‘hope’ poster 

Other notable artist guests were British performer Millie Brown and  LA-born Gary Baseman – famed for his ABC/Disney animated series Teachers Pet

A writer who attended the exhibition told DailyMail.com the crowd appeared ‘conservatively wealthy and would look to be buying the work’ 

The event had raised ethics concerns after the president’s son’s paintings were priced at $75,000 to half a million dollars 

The White House claims they are avoiding any ethical conflict by ensuring neither the president nor Hunter will know the identity of the buyers   

The LA exhibition – hosted by gallerist Georges Bergès – was one of two art shows Hunter’s work will be featured in this fall 

Rupert Murdoch’s N.Y. Post bannered, on October 9th, “Art gallery repping Hunter Biden received $500K federal COVID loan, records show” and reported that,

A federal COVID loan to the art gallery repping Hunter Biden more than doubled after his father took office, records show.

The Georges Berges Gallery initially received a $150,000 COVID “disaster assistance loan” from the Small Business Administration last year, according to public records. 

But the loan was recently “revised,” with the SBA approving a further $350,000 to the SoHo gallery this summer, records show. …

All tolled, $580,000 in taxpayer-funded COVID relief aid was doled out to a gallery with only two employees, according to SBA records. …

While there is no evidence President Biden helped secure the additional $350,000 loan, a watchdog group found that of the more than 100 galleries in New York City’s 10th congressional district, which includes SoHo, TriBeCa and Chelsea, the Georges Berges Gallery received “by far” the largest SBA disaster loan windfall.

It’s so easy to become rich in America if you’re in business with ‘the right people’. 

Joe Biden is, to the Democratic Party, what Donald Trump was to the Republican Party — not its billionaires’ #1 choice for the U.S. Presidency, but an acceptable choice to them. Whereas Republican billionaires’ #1 choice was Ted Cruz, and they settled on Donald Trump in order to beat Hillary Clinton, Democratic billionaires’ #1 choice was Pete Buttigieg, and they settled on their #5 choice Biden in order to stop Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign. Not even a single one of America’s approximately 700 billionaires donated to Sanders, who was the most progressive of the candidates.

And, of course, billionaires and centi-millionaires are also the most sought-after customers for works of art. Hunter Biden knows the ropes in America’s high-end art market because he’s one of America’s aristocrats (despite his family’s not having yet gotten into the billionaire-class, the top class in the aristocracy). The Biden family is working its way up, in today’s American ‘democracy’. This is called “capitalism,” isn’t it? Or, is it, instead, fascism — a capitalist dictatorship, instead of any longer being a capitalist democracy? After all, America now spends approximately half of the entire world’s military expenditures, and since 1945 has done more coups and foreign invasions and military occupations than any other nation in all of the world’s history has done. And the U.S. also has a higher percentage of its residents in prisons than does any other nation on the planet. How can a nation like that NOT be a fascist regime — a capitalist imperialistic regime? (Such regimes used to be called empires, or simply imperialistic aristocracies.) Has its propaganda been fooling people?

In a country like this, the billionaires control both of the major Parties; and, whereas most Democrats view Republican politicians as being corrupt, and most Republicans view Democratic politicians as being corrupt, the truth is, instead, that the likelihood of a successful politician of either Party being not corrupt is about as probable as would be to find snow in hell. This isn’t really about the Biden clan (nor about the Trump clan); it is, instead, about today’s America: it’s simply the way that an imperialist capitalistic regime works. When has an empire NOT been corrupt? Never. It can’t function without being corrupt.

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