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While no elected leader will admit it publicly, hypocrisy is often a virtue in politics. Yet even in the political world where hypocrisy, prevarication, deceit, and cover-ups are often the currency of the culture, to be called out on one’s hypocrisy in word and deed can carry its own unique shame. Case in point: the United States is a signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – a treaty that is part of US law – yet actually favors policies that increase racial discrimination. The United Nations criticized the US government in a report detailing the ways in which racial discrimination has structurally intensified since the US signed the treaty. Truthout columnist Marjorie Cohn writes about what’s in the UN report and reminds us how the government has failed in many ways to comply with what’s set forth in the treaty.
Law professor Cohn’s focus on complying with legal statutes takes her into the realm of war; specifically the impending war with Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq – and the president’s lack of authority to wage war without congressional approval. As Cohn reminds us, President Obama is basing his war-making authority on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Congress passed in 2001 and 2002 after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC. She highlights the limitations of those congressional authorizations and how the intent of Congress was to prevent the Bush Administration from engaging in an open-ended and perpetual war – a war Obama is ready to continue with or without congressional approval.