Biden: “Any Sovereign Nation Is Entitled” to Attack Any Other

Vice President Joe Biden, apparently speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, has just given Israel the green light to bomb Iran.

“Israel can determine for itself — it’s a sovereign nation — what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,” he told ABC’s This Week in an interview broadcast Sunday. “Whether we agree or not, they’re entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed. If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice,” he declared.

The statement is presented in logically abstract terms. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do what’s in its interest regardless of what “we” think, surely. How very reasonable–magnanimous, even, coming from the mouth of the vice-president of the superpower that’s in the last eight years brutally imposed its will on two sizable Southwest Asian countries.

But to test Biden’s universalist logic imagine yourself in 1939, substitute Germany for Israel and Poland for Iran and ask whether “any sovereign nation is” really “entitled to do that.”

Of course Israel doesn’t have any “sovereign right” to attack Iran! And Biden’s implied distaste for the attack (“That is not our choice”), which may presage a calculated distancing from an action in the future, doesn’t undo the fact that he explicitly validates such action here.

They’re entitled to do it, says Joe. Just as presumably they’re entitled to remain outside the nuclear nonproliferation treaty regime, and produce and stockpile the only nuclear weapons in the Middle East, while claiming that the Iranian nuclear program (begun under U.S. encouragement under the Shah) can only have military intentions and can only be designed to produced a “nuclear Holocaust” to destroy the Jews.

Just as presumably they’re entitled to deploy vast resources to pressure the U.S. government to bomb Iran for them. (But no worry about the impact on U.S. foreign policy. “There is no pressure,” says Joe, “from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed.” What he really means is: There’s actually a whole shitload of pressure from Israel on us to bomb Iran. But we might not do that. Because Obama thinks that the Israeli-demanded attack on Iran, like the assault on Iraq, might be a “strategic blunder.”)

One could argue, of course, that in positing Netanyahu’s “sovereign right” to bomb Iran, a nation which has not attacked another in modern times, Biden is just shooting off his famous mouth again. But there are at least two reasons his comments should be taken very seriously.

First of all, there is obviously much conflict within the U.S. power structure over the wisdom of a U.S. attack on Iran. The Israel Lobby demanding one may have suffered a defeat at the hands of the Pentagon, which sees such an attack as complicating the imbroglios it faces in Iraq and Afghanistan (and down the road in Pakistan?), and the intelligence community which knows that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapons program threatening the world.

Secondly, the state of Israel continues to depict the Islamic Republic of Iran as an “existential” threat to itself, while threatening to attack it with missiles if the U.S. does not do so. The Bush administration always endorsed Israel’s vilification campaign and conceded the possibility that it might act “on its own” (as though it could really do so without a green light from Washington). Dick Cheney told Don Imus on MSNBC in January 2005, “Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel [sic (disinformation)], the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.” He implied that if the U.S. didn’t take action, the Israelis would be justified in doing so.

This remains the U.S. position under the Obama administration. And having decided for geopolitical reasons to adopt a tougher line on Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank, Washington is perhaps particularly disinclined to deter Israel should it opt to create the mess of which Cheney spoke. “That was not our choice,” it will say.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on July 10th, 2009 at 9:10am #

    Well said Professor Leupp.

    Here are the White House Zionists in a photo with Erekat who is no doubt selling his countrymen down the river yet again.

    (Other photos on the page)

  2. lichen said on July 10th, 2009 at 1:51pm #

    Not to mention there is something called international law that designates aggressive war as illegal and does not consider the paranoid, psychotic propaganda of Israeli politicians constitutes an act of war by Iran. What a scumbag! Israel doesn’t have a right to do any such thing! And remember how clinton screamed in public that if Iran attacked Israel with mythical nuclear weapons, she would destroy the entire country? Where is Iran’s ‘right’ to do whatever? And what about North Korea? It seems we have a few ‘super-sovereign’ nations in the world, and everyone else is just a bunch of criminal peasants.

  3. Mac Skiba said on July 10th, 2009 at 5:35pm #

    Your a retard,

    Im shocked your a professor. Your comparing apples to oranges. Instead of substituting Germany for Israel and Iran for Poland. You should substitute America for Israel and Germany for Iran. If you can go back in time would you not support America attacking Hitlers Germany before he was able to destroy most of Europe killing millions in the process? Your a fool.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain said on July 11th, 2009 at 12:26am #

    A new Zionazi toad. Or a new monicker, perhaps. The only countries that bear a distinct similarity to Nazi Germany are Israel and the US. Both see themselves as Herrenvolk, the Israelis directly from their tribal superstitions, the US via the intermediation of the Old Testament. Israel seeks lebensraum in the East in what it unctuously calls ‘Judea and Samaria’, as if the world ought to be named according to ancient usages of certain ‘Chosen’ people. One might as well start calling Switzerland Helvetia or Palestine and Israel Canaan. It is, of course, an arrogant assertion of Judaic supremacism, nothing new. Any Ziotoad that compares Iran to Nazi Germeny is obviously setting the scene, as was done with Iraq, for another Holocaust against an Islamic country, another war of aggression (a Nazi crime, but not of the German type alone) and millions more dead men, women and children. Quite clearly there is a type of Zionist, both Judaic and Gentile, whose bloodlust is so hypertrophied that they wish to see as many Moslems slaughtered as possible, and to that end they will lie and dissemble, while vilifying and threatening any who dare oppose them. That a psychopathic state, like Israel, is armed to the teeth with thermo-nuclear weapons, and its more extreme racist and fascist politicians are openly threatening their use, is the greatest danger in the world today.

  5. Theophilus said on July 11th, 2009 at 5:16am #

    It seems to me that you are twisting Mr Biden’s words here. We could debate semantics til the cows come home, but it seems to me that he is making the point that the US government should not be dictating the policy choices of other sovereign nations. Rather, those nations choose their own direction, and then the US government acts accordingly. This may be with approval or, even in the case of allied nations, it may be with disapproval.

    Biden is not saying that he believes Israel has ethical carte blanche to conduct itself however it pleases. And of course international law still applies. If Israel begins to act out of line with perceived American interests, then they do not need US approval to do so, however, you can be sure that Washington will have something to say about it.

    Of course, it seems likely that in actuality, the Israeli government does consider itself beholden to American policy interests. And it also seems likely that if it reaches the point where Israel launches an attack on Iran, the decision will have been made in collaboration with and with the support of the government in Washington. However, it is essential to the US public image, in the Middle East in particular, to maintain the image of an Israel that is a fully independent actor, and a USA that does not play favourites.

  6. Don Hawkins said on July 11th, 2009 at 5:26am #

    Twist these words Earthling.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Charles Dickens

    Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
    Carl Sagan

  7. Govt Watch: Obama File – July 11th 2009 « Lighthouse Patriot Journal said on July 11th, 2009 at 5:33am #

    […] regards to the issue concerning Israel and Iran, Vice President Joe Biden stated that the U.S. cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot […]

  8. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on July 11th, 2009 at 6:11am #

    correctly includes ‘religions’ [cults, to me] in his evaluation of land robbing by the giant and the dwarf.
    it is a myth that one can have separation of cults from state or politics from ‘religion’ and cults from expansionism, etc.

    aren’t ?all US pols godfull? Ruling also impious as well as alien cultists such as in afpak, iraq, palestine? tnx

  9. bozhidar balkas vancouver said on July 11th, 2009 at 6:37am #

    anent what biden [read: US] has said about the right of any country to attack another i am still on interpretation level.
    Usually pols mean opposite of what they say or a deliberately vague, inexact, nonspecific, etc.

    nevertheless, his utterance will be or is now very affective and effective; most likely vitiating in effect.

    what is much of greater significance is the fact that US does not object to a war on a necesary principle that no land has the right to attack another under no known circumsatances.

    but the sane and of necessary truth tenet that no land has the right to attack another won’t do for US long standing policy of expansionism.
    with sincere adoption of such principle US wldn’b in afpak, palestine, or iraq.
    but, dear friends, grave, land, diamond, food robbers are not fret about sanity or principles when preparing to steal. tnx

  10. Ismail Zayid said on July 12th, 2009 at 2:30pm #

    Does this bizarre and extraordinary statement by Biden indicate that he is unaware of international law, or is this an indication that the US and Israel continue to believe that they are above international law?!

  11. mary said on July 13th, 2009 at 9:41pm #

    Dog training for the new puppy in the White House.

    Sit Obama. Stay. Fetch. Come. Sit. Lie down. Now roll over Obama. Good dog.

    Barack Obama meets Jewish leaders over ‘tough line’ on Israel:
    President Barack Obama has called a meeting with leaders of American Jewish groups who are concerned at his new tough line on Israel and perceived softness on Iran.