As one of the signers of the NYT's ad (and also someone who more or less majored in international law, via Richard Falk's international law textbooks also spending the summer of 1979 listening to lectures at the international court in The Hague) this is excellent, very well said/explained, by Oliver Boyd-Barrett!  As I too previously tried to convey--not nearly as well as either Tarak or Boyd, these horribly fraught decisions of whether to attempt fighting back to defend oneself and/or others when attacked are fraught with extreme difficulty, if not impossibility of making the most beneficial decision.

I do think my analogy of a physically weaker woman being sexually attacked is very apt.  A rape victim has to quickly decide whether to try and fight her attacker to at least  escape, or choose a pacifist strategy, in hopes that her attacker will somehow become nicer and let her survive.  There are no good options for a weaker rape victim who is often killed regardless of her decision, whether through an attempt at escape/fighting back or after submission.   Having been exposed to a number of these rape situation trainings (wherein the consensus is usually that the victim herself is in the best position to make that difficult assessment) and also from all that training experience on police use of deadly force (only justified when limited to actual defense of oneself or other innocent victims), the only thing that is clear as mud is that there are no good options, no crystal balls and no one-size-fits-all perfect answers.  Being "right" involves calculating risk (without knowing future consequences) of a choice between a risk-filled mixture of bad, worse and outright terrible. 

Ray McGovern et al are wrong that Russia had no other option.   But he, we signers of the Eisenhower Ad, Oliver, and many others were and are right, to try and refute the US-NATO propaganda falsely blaming and demonizing Russia to sustain war momentum when the U.S. was and is primarily responsible for carrying out its long-planned old Brezinski chess move of baiting/provoking Russia.  Primary responsibility, the majority of fault--which is not the same at all as options to avoid--does lie with the US-NATO.  The war propaganda relying on fear-hate gained such a large foothold on liberals, including the "peace community," beginning with the Russiagate hoaxes that it seems practically compulsory now for Left-leaning leaders to continue adding some "Russia-bashing" or at least some "fair and balanced" bones into any statement or speech they hope to publish or get traction with.  I don't know if the NYT, for instance, would have have even let us publish the ad DESPITE the $150,000 (Alice Slater's estimate) it got to pocket.  Pragmatic influence experts will also point to the need to appear "fair and balanced" in trying to reach a wider audience, especially hard with the large segment of effectively propagandized readers to even get them to continue past a first sentence down when introducing facts and ideas that challenge their prior massive brainwashing from on high.    

International law is even more dependent than domestic law upon RECIPROCITY under the law as its main--or only enforcement mechanism.  Justice Brandeis long ago explained how governmental wrongdoing breeds contempt for the law and if there is not any accountability, it will always lead to chaos.  In this way, the U.S. has already nearly destroyed the bit of international institutions and law that previously existed by claiming to be above it.  All kinds of nefarious bribery, blackmail and other forms of coercion have allowed the U.S. to gain control over parts of the U.N, over international chemical and other weapon inspectors and over the ICC (even tho' the U.S. is not even a member).  It cannot possibly work for any length of time to say international law is for everyone else while the U.S. can torture and commit all kinds of war crimes by "might makes right law of the jungle."  

Given that little international law or international institutional justice  even remains by which to adjudicate primary or proportional responsibility for the supreme crime of launching wars of aggression, the worse thing is that such determinations are made moot by the continued ratcheting up of this world war between nuclear powers that now has us on a direct trajectory to nuclear holocaust.  Ray McGovern and others who seem either too wedded in analysis of more conventional, past wars, or like to engage in wishful thinking or just want to put their stock in the progress of a mankind too civilized and smart to self-destruct, but in any case, they are way too cavalier in my opinion about this unprecedented danger, this absolutely WORST of all potential outcomes, far worse than any preceding mass murder or war the world has ever known.  David Swanson IS right that both sides of this war between nuclear superpowers have made their respective highly risky and dangerous decisions that, unless some miracle intervenes, are likely to end nearly all life on this planet.  

Expand full comment

Thank you!

Expand full comment
May 25Liked by Oliver Boyd-Barrett

Couldn't agree more. I get so weary of the apparently obligatory assumptions of Russian "aggression" and "imperialism" - straight-up projection, as though we can't conceive of any other motivations. Which, given our imperialist history, most westerners probably can't. But as all other "options" require that they trust the west, it would seem that virtue's first characteristic is stupidity. I don't think so. Thanks for a great piece!

Expand full comment