If there were a greater moral and political disposition among the different governments, cities and multilateral organizations of the world to comply with and respect international law (the Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and any of the resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council, decided upon, by the way, by votes from only the United States, Russia, England, France and China, in a contradictory exercise of democracy among nations), the United States would have been tried and condemned on various occasions for perpetrating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide — in the same way the most emblematic leaders of Nazism were tried at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.
However, there is one "small" detail: The United States doesn't recognize, for example, the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which handles such matters. On various occasions the U.S. imposes its own interpretation and application of the laws, consequently establishing new legal categories that respond to its own particular interests. Take what is happening at Guantanamo, for example, where prisoners of war are kept in a judicial limbo, tortured, humiliated and left in solitary confinement with no convincing proof of their being terrorists, simply classified as enemy combatants, outside the reach of the Geneva Convention and even further from the rights established by the American Constitution. This in a territory that does not even belong to the United States.
It is through this that the United States has assumed an attitude of arrogance toward all of humanity. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright summed this up well in 1998 during Bill Clinton's presidency, when, regarding a cruise missile attack against Iraq, she announced, “If we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” Any initiative from the White House that is in the name of the war on terror, it would then seem, will have an undefined duration and no territorial limits and will be, according to this point of view, just. The Yankees have become the executives of the commercial and military strategy of globalized, neoliberal capitalism. As Thomas Friedman, a security adviser for the Clinton administration,* said, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
As you can infer, it is vital to Washington that nothing and nobody oppose this imperial status. Its ungovernability, the chaos that has been rising for some time now in different regions and nations, particularly in the Middle East and Syria, has set the stage for the Yankee imperials to impose their neoliberal, capitalist views on any and everyone, claiming it an unquestionable expression of freedom, progress and civilization, with no regard for those trying to protect their cultural identity and inalienable right to self-determination.
*Editor's Note: Thomas Friedman, a journalist and columnist, was not a security adviser for the Clinton administration. He was a White House press correspondent at the beginning of the administration.