By Mohammed Adamu
After the arrest of Finance-House-dupe, Umana-Umana in 1993, some journalists asked the amphibious IBB’s Second-in-Command, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu -known sometimes for comely, imitative terrestrial calmness of his Army boss and most other times for a tempestuous aquatic anger that was uniquely his- “what ‘ll government do with Umana Umana?”
And, for a man to whom every journalistic question was an act of war, this was an easy fodder of battle: “We will jail him!” he thundered.
His smart spokesperson, Nduka Irabor, whose human-rights inklings knew just better, quickly whispered to his boss, “He’ll be tried, sir.”
And, Aikhomu, with a tinge of ireful disgust for the time-wasting formalities of law, angrily ‘corrected’: “Yes, we will try him.” And, in fairness to the Admiral, he did remain law-abiding for about two painful seconds, before he eventually succumbed -to the ‘lawless soldier’ within, by adding: “and jail him!”
Yet, in all the warped legal or moral logic so far advanced about ‘justification’ for the killing of unarmed, non-resistant bin Laden, neither Obama’s, nor all of America’s army of ‘pro-kill’ legal experts and diplomatic interlopers have advanced any better reason than Aikhomu’s ‘try-and-jail’ logic.
And, in truth Aikhomu’s was even more humane. At least it allowed a grudging room for ‘trial’. No matter how kangaroo!
I read Jed Rubenfeld’s piece ‘US justified in Killing Osama Bin Laden’, culled from The Los Angeles Times by Nigeria’s ‘The Nation newspaper of May 17, 2011. I have not read, in a long time, any piece riddled with so much illogic; or any filled with such murderous defence of illegality or the shameless attempt at redefining the rules of international law! And, to think that this was written not just by a diplomat and a Professor of Law, but one from as prestigious an institution as the American Yale Law School!
First, to suggest that the U.S. is ‘justified’ in killing, just anybody for that matter, is to presuppose, ab-initio, that the pursuit of ‘justice’ has ever been a raison d’être or stimuli for any American act of aggression, especially abroad. America does not require raison d’êtres to act tyrannically or with impunity anywhere outside of America. America makes up her own casus belli as grounds to aggress the world. She alone is self-licensed to stage-manage her own ‘acts’ that ‘justify’ her own wars!
In fact, for a Super Power like America that has long arrogated to herself the ‘righteous might’ to kill, maim or to indefinitely detain, especially Muslims (outside of the due judicial process) and on the flimsiest terrorism allegations, what more justification could U.S. have needed to kill terrorism’s most notorious, most wanted Muslim ‘suspect’, Bin Laden? Who in the wide Muslim world will America not be ‘justified’ to kill any way? And, what so-called universal codes of war or rules of international engagement have not been perverted by America -and backed always in the ‘justification’ of, by her usually gullible, nose-led European and other allies particularly in the many unnecessary wars she has declared and is endlessly waging against Muslim countries?
Rubenfeld’s piece would’ve been worth its fraudulent outing if the writer had simply opted to be strictly legalistic so he could tell his law lies without the pretence to suasion in the pool of morality; or, again -having been himself once a diplomat of the United States school-, if he had opted strictly to be unblushingly diplomatese without the crooked pretence to faith in the Grotian rules of international diplomacy. Nothing could be more hypocritical than Rubenfeld’s selective scratching of the outward forms of the cannons of international law as originally conceived by Hugo Grotius while pretentiously dipping his murderous views in the pool of subjective morality.
He wrote: “As far back as Grotius in the 17th century, the great international law jurists have declared that enemy leaders may be targeted in war time”. But have these “great international law jurists” also set ‘just’ and universally acceptable criteria for defining the ‘enemy’? Or is the ‘enemy’ simply always ‘that other guy’ at the receiving end of America and her allies? In Iraq, for example, where America and her allies had invaded illegally and without any moral justification levied war on a sovereign nation, who was the enemy? The invading and occupying forces or the Iraqis who were fighting to liberate their country?
Hugo Grotius, a Dutch lawyer regarded as founder of international law and of ‘theoretical work’ as it is known today in international relations, -and whose theories are still cited in international tribunals-, did not conceive such injustice as jus cogens. In the search for the correct solution to an international conflict, his theories, lawyers and political scientists all agree appeals as much to “enlightened self-interest” as to “essential altruism”. His most famous work ‘On the law of War and Peace’ expounds the doctrine of inter-state relations in the absence of a world authority or international government and made the first serious effort to create a theory of the ‘just war’ arguing that “only defensive wars can ever be justified”.
Therein lies ground for ‘justification’ in the very “law of war” hackneyed by Rubenfeld without citing any authority: ‘self defence’.
And, in that also lies the criterion for defining the ‘enemy’ -the aggressor!