The United States has not learned the proper lesson from its failed wars, Richard Falk, emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, told Xinhua in a recent interview via video link.
Falk had first-hand experience visiting wartime Vietnam in 1968, which led him to question the lawfulness and the legitimacy of U.S. wars abroad.
“When I had the opportunity to visit Hanoi and meet some of the leaders there and see the effects of a high technology war machine being used against a peasant society that was trying to establish its own right of self-determination, it changed my understanding fundamentally,” he recalled.
The United States, rather than learning the lesson of the Vietnam War, has repeated the mistake time and again, according to Falk.
“The U.S., ever since its defeat in Vietnam, despite having overwhelming military superiority, has failed to learn the basic lesson that military intervention is not an effective geopolitical tool,” the renowned scholar explained, adding that the U.S. military adventures in the Middle East have further discredited “regime-changing interventions followed by prolonged occupations and state-building undertakings in the post-colonial period.”
The empirical record, Falk stressed, “suggests that excessive reliance of American foreign policy on the military instrument was a consequence of retaining a quasi-war posture ever since World War II.”
“The U.S. became a very militarized state bureaucracy with a high peacetime military budget, and this led it to consistently exaggerate security threats, coupled with the related claim that military approaches to foreign policy challenges continued to be effective,” he commented.
Despite the preaching of the virtues of a “rules-based international order” in the current U.S. administration’s foreign policy prescriptions, such an affirmation “certainly doesn’t seem to mean respect for international law,” Falk pointed out.
“It seems to mean that others will be held accountable if they depart from U.S. perceptions of what rules should govern,” he added. “But it leaves the U.S. itself in a position of pursuing its geopolitical ambitions without any kind of visible respect for the limits set by international law or the UN (United Nations) Charter.”