The Secret War in Central America: Sandinista Assault on World Order

The Secret War in Central America: Sandinista Assault on World Order

The Secret War in Central America: Sandinista Assault on World Order

The Secret War in Central America: Sandinista Assault on World Order

Excerpt

The core principle of modern world order is that aggressive attack is prohibited in international relations and that necessary and proportional force may be used in response to such an attack. This dual principle is embodied in Articles 2(4) and 51 of the United Nations Charter, Articles 21 and 22 of the Revised Charter of the Organization of American States, and virtually every modern normative statement about use of force in international relations. Indeed, it is the most important principle to emerge in more than 2000 years of human thought about the prevention of war. In our contemporary world of conflicting ideology and nuclear threat, no task is more important for international lawyers and statesmen than to maintain the integrity of this principle in both its critical and reciprocal dimensions: prohibition of aggression and maintenance of the right of effective defense.

There is today a fundamental threat to this core principle. It is a threat that has already contributed to a serious destabilization of world order and, unless arrested, holds potential for the complete collapse of constraints on the use of force. That threat is an assault on world order by radical regimes that share a common antipathy to democratic values and a "true belief" in the use of force for expansion of regime ideology. This radical regime assault is particularly destabilizing since, by maintaining a moral justification for the use of force to achieve "revolutionary internationalism," it simultaneously fights a guerrilla war against the core Charter principle while publicly denying any actual state-sanctioned use of force in order to receive the protection of the very legal order it is attacking. Thus the assault undermines both the authority of the prohibition of aggression and the effectiveness of the right of defense.

There is an alarming proliferation of examples of this radical regime assault, such as Libyan and Vietnamese attacks on their neighbors or Iranian and North Korean state-sponsored terrorism. One of the most serious challenges to the future of the legal order, however, is the Cuban-Nicaraguan secret war against their Central American neighbors. Recognizing the existence of this assault is of . . .

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