Sunday, March 27, 2011

Clinton said the elements that led to intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution -- are “not going to happen” with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.”...

Each of these situations is unique,” Clinton said, referring to the Middle Eastern countries dealing with change and unrest, a list that now includes Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Bahrain.
Every act is unique. The purpose of the "rule of law" is to limit debate to one over formal categories. Does act "X" fit into Category "A"? If so does it fit "A1" or "A2"? etc. Discussion of law is one step removed from discussion of morality, less isolated from it than insulated, insulation denoting remove but also seepage. So there is a sense of higher neutral authority applying to all, even if that authority at that moment is merely formal. Law is the application of rules developed in the past in debates over morality that have been settled not as truth but as practicable. Morality is subjective. Law is not morality, it represents morality as defined in previous debates. The point is not to return to those debates again and again, debates that would threaten the survival of the community itself.

Liberals have less and less understanding of the purpose of the rule of law, supporting it in name only. Their faith in their own capacity for reason means they only support it when it's not applied to limit their own actions. So although liberal legal scholars criticize doctrines of original intent when they are applied to the Constitution or the Bible, liberal philosophers treat their own sense of history as absolute. The doctrine of the "living" Constitution is predicated on a living language, and what does that say about analytic and conceptualist doctrines? Stipulating to a definition of mathematics as "dead" what does that say about the relation of language to formal logic and of formal logic to the linguistic and political world?

I can't think of a purely logical distinction between the situation in Libya and the Ivory Coast and yet liberal defenders of intervention refer to principles as if there were. Other opinions are pushed aside not by reason but by passion and assumption. Reason trumps law in the anglophone and anglocentric bubble, and reason becomes unreason. Precedents are set then reinforced. Power corrupts.

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