Sunday, July 02, 2006

The funny thing about human rights...

The recent Supreme Court ruling, which has come under fire from some members of the GOP and brought on cries for "broader" interpretation by some Democrats, deals with a decidedly tactical issue. Quick question: how are the persons upholding the law in a state's executive able to thwart legality and practice illegality? This is, specifically, the issue of tactics. I have in mind, blatently, Georg Lukacs, and his extensive notes on Legality and Illegality, and Tactics and Ethics.

Rather than reading into this court case as a huge overriding victory for those that situate themselves against the administration, I am taking this court case as it is: one small aspect of the Administration's War on Terror is now labelled "illegal," which should not surprise anyone that is familar with the use of tactics outside of the realm of politics--namely, ethics (which is, in fact, where this War resides--it is not a political issue. It is a moral issue which many politicians have confused as a political issue).

Any given legislative regime is limited--be it the American state beneath the Constitution, the body of states beneath statutes of International Law, etc. Thus, in certain situations, the realm of morality must exist as "broader" than the realm of politics. Which is why legality is not a necessary qualification for action---illegal actions can be equally as advantageous as legal actions, and a sound ideological agenda can in fact be built without constant regard for that which is "legal;" and, that which is "illegal" is not necessarily always worth curbing.

Countless revolutionaries, Marxist theorists, heads of state, heads of government, and coalition leaders have made this point. There is not necessarily anything new about this point. But, there is something incredibly unique about the disposition of the Bush Administration, regarding legality and illegality, and this particular Court ruling: that is, the Administration, which upholds the rule of law and human rights, has in fact broken their pact with the law and worked beyond it. Their position is one of stark contradiction: on the one hand, obvious praise and worship of the institutions of law ("democracy," "a judiciary without activist judges," etc.), and, on the other hand, obvious dismissal of outlets of law (see, for instance, the most recent Supreme Court ruling regarding War Tribunals).

This is where the GOP comes in. The most frightening occurence following this court ruling has not been the weakening of possible tactical advantages that may be gained in order to win the War on Terror; rather, what is most frightening is the responses of GOP lawmakers that laud the court's decision as a "victory" for the Bush administration, as an election talking point which suggests that the administration is "too tough on terrorists," and, further, lawmakers that show continuous disregard for the constraints of international law (the most recent response deals with possible implications of the court ruling which suggest that American militants might actually be tried for crimes of war).

Furthermore, these GOP lawmakers point out what seems to be an "obvious" point to most Americans (a point that is actually presumed as a basis for many other opinions regarding the War on terror): a United States military officer should not be held on equal ground as a terror suspect.

Which is bizarre. Here the lawmakers reveal their mistakes: they are, in fact, confusing a moral issue with a political issue. The legality of their tactics means nothing; the War on Terror is a war that must be won, and the demands of legality are one tiny aspect that are merely eligible to be cleaned up later, after the history books are allowed to offer their initial judgments on the war. (Although, it is quite obvious from many perspectives that history has already shown that He is on our side--the "end" of history is in fact liberal-democratic government).

All the while, there exist these underlying arguments that have been severely overlooked; arguments that were meant to pave the way for the War. It was proclaimed, for instance, on many occasions (most notably the 2003 State of the Union address) that freedom is a human right, and it is manifest in liberal democratic government. President Bush memorably stated, ironically signalling is growing engagement with the demands of "human" rights, "freedom is not our gift to the world, but God's gift to mankind."

A war cannot be lost when the laws of God stand behind it, ultimately justifying any tactical needs that stand without the jurisdiction of mere "national" legislation. And, yet, now the GOP lawmakers, who most likely would agree that "freedom is God's gift to mankind," are actually calling for the juxtaposition of American law and International law to be disengaged: this signals a return to national law from international law, a step back towards "national' right from "human" right.

What these contradictions reveal, of course, is a tactical effort that is confused, and not actually worthy of the moniker, 'tactics.' The level of shifting between "human" and "national" right, from "American" to "International" law, from "illegality" to "legality" reveals not a strong, ethical engagement pushing towards an emancipatory project, but a rather disorganized and desperate power surge that wishes to hind behind the bounds of "the Law" while simultaneously exhibiting a merely romantic draw to illegality. Hiding behind 'the Law,' these politicians, and our own executive, display, again and again, their confusion about this issue: their promotion of freedom to Arabic persons serves a limited, misguided regime (politics), giving the administration nothing more than a mere momentary advantage, as opposed to the ultimate objective that must be obtained in the truthful regime of tactics (ethics).