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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Every Now and Again .... 
15th-Apr-2005 06:28 am
I I hear the sound of those ignorant of law speculating on it. The result is always the same: they don't argue from the text of the law, they argue from the "intent" of the law -- and then say that a lawyer who relies on the text and who comes to a different conclusion is just niggling.

Sadly, they've missed the point. To the extent that someone's intention was not stated in the law, it is without force of law: something that can be used, if you feel like it, or ignored, if you feel like it. Especially in the case of international law, where most of it is meant to be ignored (there is no such regime of lawmakers on the international scale, and to cite the debates of a nonprofit corporation may be less useful than you think). What nations agree to do they cannot be compelled to do: this is especially true with those barbaric countries outside of Europe and the US, where conscience has no effect whatsoever. International law is a series of common thoughts, and should not be treated as if it were a law in the same sense as municipal codes about parking tickets.

Interational law here, as most of the times it has been invoked in the past several years, is a smokescreen: what they want to do is oppose the invasion of Iraq, or Afghanistan, and they know they don't have a good case on the merits. So they want to enlist the "prestige" of legal arguments to make a case against what should be done for prudential reasons: they, in fact, are the ones who are niggling with the law in the face of the facts. And they know it.
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