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When President Bush insists our military forces have acted in accordance with international law, many other nations disagree. This happens so often that observers may wonder: exactly what laws are they arguing about? To readers willing to put in the work, this dense book provides the answers. According to Byers (The Role of Law in International Politics), laws governing war have existed since the 19th century, but nations freely disregarded them until the adoption of the U.N. Charter in 1945. The charter itself, however, is still subject to interpretation. When Israeli planes bombed an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981, for example, the U.S. insisted that pre-emptive self-defense was not sanctioned. By 2003, America had changed its mind. Byers devotes three chapters to the complicated issue of self-defense, and another three to the equally contentious issue of humanitarian intervention: i.e., whether it's okay to invade a nation to stop it from committing unspeakable acts, such as genocide, or to bring democracy to its people. A final chapter attacks recent U.S. foreign policy, which, Byers argues, places American interests above international law and returns the world to the pre-1945 era when powerful nations routinely threw their weight around the globe, often with terrible consequences. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Succinct, highly readable, and important." "Should be read, and pondered, by those who are seriously concerned with the legacy we will leave to future generations." -- Noam Chomsky "If Britain suspected that a Boston bar barbored IRA terrorists, would it be justified in lobbing cruise missiles into the city? Byers . . . achieves plenty of similar provocations in this lucid primer."