Another view of Kellogg-Briand pact
In a recent letter, Frank Goetz sought to alert the public to the importance of the Kellogg-Briand pact in making war a crime. Unfortunately, Mr. Goetz made a number of errors in his recitation.
First of all, he asserts that the law was made part of our constitution. This is clearly wrong; the Senate cannot amend the constitution without the approval of the states. A treaty simply sets boundaries for a state's international conduct.
Secondly, Kellogg-Briand sought to outlaw "aggressive war," not all war. It didn't attempt to define peace as the total absence of war -- a concept inherent in Goetz's interpretation. Moreover, Kellogg-Briand was officially replaced by the U.N. Charter. This document also "outlaws" war, but it lists exceptions. These reservations are outlined in Article 51 and include reprisals, Pacific blockade, armed intervention, necessity and self-defense. It is critical to understand that self-defense is defined as the preservation of vital national interests. Thus, in World War II it was legal for Great Britain to invade Danish overseas possessions, including Iceland, when Germany occupied neutral Denmark.
Finally, the only obligation a state has to apply for such an exemption is to put its case before the Security Council. If the council takes no action, the state is free to pursue what it perceives to be its national interests. This is exactly what happened in 2003: the Bush administration came to the council with its grievances, they did nothing, and we invaded Iraq.
Dissembling information cheapens even the loftiest ambition -- a fact that Goetz should remember as he pursues his worthy, if forlorn, goal of world peace.