The age of diplomacy is over. After half a century of the nations of the world participating in a political apparatus designed to never let rouge nations and cowboy states push others around, the United States has had enough. We are taking this matter into our own hands.

Charles Paradis

Though some say it’s for oil, for revenge or to distract us from Bush’s failures as president, the hawks claim that the United Nations has shown itself ineffective and irrelevant. Therefore it is the duty of the United States to defy international law and go it alone, using extreme force.

Let’s put this logic into another arena. Jamal Al-Amin, formerly H. Rap Brown, is serving a life sentence for the murder of two Atlanta police officers. He was under investigation because of rumors that his black Muslim followers had participated in vigilante killings of drug dealers, pimps and other malcontents that had been plaguing Atlanta’s West End.

Say it was true that his followers took the law into their own hands. Was it morally wrong? The West End, before the ascendancy of Al-Amin’s movement, was one of the most dangerous places in the city. Even during the day, I had to run every stoplight because crack pushers and the like would surround my car. Prostitution and destitution were out of control. Those who could afford the rent were living in slums. It was hell, and the police and city government couldn’t stop the suffering, just like the United Nations with Iraq.

But amazingly, Al-Amin’s movement has cleaned up the West End. I can walk around and feel safe, the standard of living is higher, crime is down, and there is even real estate development. “But they killed people and broke the law,” some point out. But the United States has decided that its policy is to attack a country unilaterally, waving its middle finger at the United Nations, because it feels that it is a just cause to end suffering and protect the world.

Al-Amin’s actions were to end suffering and protect the people of the West End? Wouldn’t that make him an American patriot?

Amid the likes of Ruben Duran and the other “you just hate America” nationalist nudniks, philosophy graduate student and articulate advocate of war Justin Shubow responds, “Al-Amin and his followers weren’t justified in using violence to enforce the law because the law-breaking they were concerned with wasn’t of the utmost severity. But even if the lawbreaking was of the utmost severity, they should have tried every other tactic before resorting to lethal force.”

If that is so, why is the war in Iraq justified? This isn’t even really a war; a war is when two militaries fight each other, not when one flexes its might and attacks the other like shooting fish in a barrel. A country with a feeble military, no proven connection to terrorism or development of weapons of mass destruction and cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors is not of the utmost severity.

But let’s use Shubow’s logic and say that Iraq is of the utmost severity. He believes in that case, the United States should try “every other tactic before resorting to lethal force.” Now all you so-called patriots can say that we did dabble in diplomacy before we blitzkrieged Iraq, but we have been engaging in violent tactics for the past 12 years. Before the war, we bombed their water treatment plants, and then placed sanctions on them so they couldn’t rebuild or get proper medical supplies. And this came after the first Gulf War.

The problem with the new American political philosophy is that it is riddled with double standards. To say that elite white men can wield excessive force and ignore international law because they see a “possible threat,” while poor blacks are condemned for engaging in a battle of survival is, well, I hate to play the race card but that’s just how it is.

That’s just one of the double standards. Why is it our duty to depose one tyrannical and murderous regime but make friends with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel?

If you support the war in Iraq, then you must support the war in the West End. Unfortunately, many war advocates oppose minorities’ peaceful battles like affirmative action, let alone Al-Amin’s militant tactics. If you believe that fighting Iraq is a just cause but feel that minorities need to turn the other cheek and stay neatly in their place, then that’s, well, I hate to throw the word racist around but that’s just how it is.

Ari Paul can be reached at aspaul@umich.edu.

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