Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Comments on "Problems of the Law of Armed Conflict in Lebanon," Proceedings of the American Society of International Law 236-39 (1983)


Preferences inevitably angle one's perspective and infiltrate one's judgment. Let me make explicit my political biases to help explain some of the appraisals I am about to make. I support the security of the state of Israel. I continue to support the right of the Palestinians to form their own state in the Gaza Strip and on the West Bank as the only plausible political and moral solution and the only solution consistent with and, I believe, mandated by international law. I am therefore very uneasy with efforts to "solve" the problem by selective historic definitions of what the Palestinian Mandate was, much as I would imagine a Pakistani would be uneasy about a selective definition of what India or the "subcontinent" was. These sorts of arguments play on a structural defect of the international legal process: the absence of a formal legislator who can terminate, with clear sharp cuts, obsolete or abandoned normative arrangements. Without such formal terminations, obsolete arrangements are in fact terminated, but linger on in a sort of legal sheol, from which they can be recalled by later politicians. Witness Sukarno's Mahapajit Empire and Qadhafi's claims to Chad based on the Sanussid dynasty. Nonformal terminations exist everywhere, so whoever plays the game of selective historicism had better be prepared to have it played against him.

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