Melissa Harris-Perry | February 09, 2013
>>> morning i want to direct your attention to a little skirmish in the china sea and the bbc it is calling it a little skirmish that could have big, big consequences, think world war iii consequences, and it is because of these teeny islands that are inhabitable, and even the name is in dispute with china calling them one thing and japan calling them another. the dispute was reignited when the chinese government accused tokyo of stealing, and sent two naval enforcement ships to the area in a show of force. across china, anti-japanese protests started causing a protest of japanese protests and those who use them. and the protests are so bad that a chinese man made the simple mistake of driving a japanese car in a chai neads city of chian and was beat sewn badly he is paralyzed. this week, a chinese minister accused a japanese vessel of target i targeting the radar on a japanese ship off of the islands, but the chinese officials are disputing it happened. now think about this, the world's second and the third largest economies playing chicken in the pacific over a dispute of uninhabited islands , but if this diplomatic disagreement were to escalate into a military obligation, the united states would be obligated by the 52-year-old treaty obligation to help the sovereignty of japan , and does that mean that north korea would come to the aid of china, but it is a quaint and admittedly alarmist experiment, because that is not how foreign wars are conducted anymore. next month marks the 10-year invasion of iraq , and the last conflict that we can think of conventional war that claimed the lives of more than 4,000 americans and by some counts more than 110,000 iraqis, all because of the bush administration 's false claim that iraq had weapons of mass destruction .
>> at this hour, american and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm iraq, to e free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. on my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine saddam hussein 's ability to wage war.
>> that turn ded out to be quite not so sure, because perhaps the iraq war was to war to end all wars , because even the war that we are still fighting is looking less and less like the traditional mobilization of the ground troops and the tanks and fighting forces that were once the core of the overseas interventions, but for the most parts, bootss on the ground have been shipped back home and backed up by drone strikes, the perpetual war state ignited in response to the september 11th attacks has become an institutional apparatus that needs no particular provocation. what were thought to be finite measures in 2001 are now entrench eed protocols from targeted kill lists to imminent threat . counterterrorism policies put into place under president george bush have been continued and robust ly expanded under president obama . just last month in his second inaugural address president obama called for an inlasting peace na does not require perpetual war , but that is what this administration has largely institutionalized. this week, michael isikoff got a hold of a secret department of justice memo which outlines the legal basis for the administration to use legal force in count terrorism tactics even against american citizens. this is the provocation for use of force and one that trumps constitutional protections and it goes further that the military can engage in a preemptive attack even without clear evidence that a specific p attack is eminent. while we can be sure that a mere territorial dispute will not lead our troops back into the trenches burk the ex trenches, but the explanation of what constitutes a preemptive strike , we are left of asking, what will get us out of war? and joining us is roulajabril, and professor of law at syracuse university , and the chairman of the project against unjust crimes to end humanity, and the editor of "time" magazine which is devoting the cover story to the "rise of drones." let's start with you here, because it is quite a week, jim, on this question. if we start by thinking of war, what counts now as imminent threat ? what is the thing that ought to move us into war?
>> well, yeah, it is particularly troubling that the white paper laid out a definition of imminent threat that changes the completely conventi conventional definition of what an imminent threat is. and the definition is so vague that drones can be employed anywhere in the world against united states citizens without due process of law and that makes us ask, when is the united states , the president, and the administration very often in secret justified in projecting force all across the world with lethal means without any kind of recourse or any due process or any real justification or call for accountability by the united states people ? i mean, this conversation is far overdue, because this is really just a continuation, as you described, of bush era policies, and this is really a rumsfeldian view of war that obama has not just continued, but expanded dramatically and it is the lasting legacy of foreign policy .
>> and that leave mes with the question because of so many ideological differences of president obama and president bush , but not on this. it suggests possibilities that presidents are just presidents and they always expand their kind of war powers which is one possibility, and the other is that the president nose something that i don't know about what constitutes threats to the national security , and the third is that well, on this one question, this president is just as hawk ish as george w. bush and any way to adjudicate the possibilities of what war means to the obama administration?
>> well, i think that, i think that is absolutely right, it has been a continuation of the bush administration policies, and yes, administrations always try to push the outer bounds of the authority. but one thank is clear is that the laws of war have not changed even if the practice has changed. there are really three reasons that a country can, a state can use force outside of its borders. one, if it is the victim of an armed attack and second if the u.n. security council authorizes it, and three, assisting a state that requests it, and we have stretched that boundary as well far beyond what the laws of war call for. so i think that there is a very serious question about this question of perpetual war , but we should remember historically in the 20th century , the u.s. was at war virtually every decade of the 20th century , so if we think of ourselves as peaceful country that does not engage in war, we need to rethink that.
>> that is right. david, i want to ask this question, because where we were before and boots on the ground , the sense of the collective experience of war was quite different. we were looking at the numbers of military troops versus civilian americans not engaged and it is less than 1% of the u.s. population that is doing the fighting, and now with technology and drones, it, part of it why perpetual war seems possible because there is little cost to the vast majority of us.
>> well, if we had a universal draft and in 1994 two-thirds of the class of princeton was drafted. that is a huge check on the politicians, and the policies that we are are following with drones are infuriating people because other people get killed and innocent people killed along the way, which raises in your question that you are raising future conflicts, and the anger that, imagine if somebody was using a drone here and killed innocent americans the response that we would have to that.
>> absolutely. and rula, that is what i want to ask you, because are we creating perpetual war in part by creating new enemies?
>> let's think of it this way also, the kill list after september 11th was 10 people, and now it is thousands of peoples and we don't know who are these peoples and what they have done simply because if you are an executive of the al qaeda in yemen, pakistan or somalia and you have been killed your cousins or your driver will take your place and with him many other people. the implication of the use of drone is not known in america, but it is not, and it is very well known in pakistan, and especially in the areas of the waziristan where people cannot stand americans anymore, because of the buzz of the drones going over their heads over and over . they know that you might give a ride to a guy in the streets or you might be talking to another g guy, and actually in a coffee shop , and you will be killed in that moment without any reason, simply because you were standing in the wrong place at the wrong person. so all of this has terrible implications, but if you think of what is happening in yemen, i mean, the major al qaeda fighting there or the islamic fight is not against the americans anymore, but the yemeni government and the pakistani government and so it is engaging in a war that is an american war which it is not a american war .
>> not anymore nthan the tiny islands off of japan .
>> and that is going to make it easier for the people to fight it actually.
>> and to find it effective in the long term. we want to stay on this issue the kill lists and the drone and the tools of war. what if our enemies with were using them