Tucker Carlson Advocates Genocide (Bemusingly Updated)

by Kevin Jon Heller

Various right-wing commentators, Mitt Romney, and dozens of congressmen have demanded that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be prosecuted for genocide for advocating (in one debatable translation) the destruction of Israel.  I wonder if they will be quite so passionate about demanding a similar fate for Tucker Carlson, who earlier today openly advocated the destruction of Iran by the U.S.:

I think we are the only country with the moral authority […] sufficient to do that. [The U.S. is] the only country that doesn’t seek hegemony in the world. I do think, I’m sure I’m the lone voice in saying this, that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.

That sound you hear?  Crickets chirping.

UPDATE: Carlson, apparently believing we are all idiots, now says that he “misrepresented his own views,” because he “was actually trying to make the opposite point but… was doing it in a very inarticulate way.”  That, of course, is right-wing speak for “I wasn’t supposed to say out loud what I really think.”


10 Responses

  1. It is difficult to pry apart political rhetoric and tabloid sensationalism from real instances of incitement to genocide. The precipice upon which individuals on both sides of the debate wish to push the topic are lamentable at best, and risk open conflict between Iran and the US on the other. Recalling the ICTR case Barayagwiza, one ought to consider the context of an ongoing genocide and the decision to prosecute under those circumstances. This is reminiscent of many legal debates over what constitutes the invocation of the 1948 Genocide convention. According to the treaty, it is not necessary for any person to actually be killed for there to be an act of genocide. Conversely, the social and historical interpretations of what genocide is provoke scenes akin to the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Even the cases involving a charge of genocide are difficult to reconcile the schools of thought between law and socio-historical, i.e., Tadic. However, in approaching this thought provoking entry here, it almost goes without saying that, pragmatically, it would be unlikely for a solitary case of incitement to genocide be pursued outside a contextual environment wherein mass atrocities are occurring (the so-called threshold requirement).

    What is more difficult, from an international lawyer’s perspective, is under whose jurisdiction either of these cases could fall. The persistent refusal to recognise the authority of the International Criminal Court by the United States makes one wonder in which court these American pundits and candidates intend to prosecute Ahmadinejad. On the other foot, I’m pretty sure Tucker Carlson is safe for the same reason, as, per the American Servicemembers Protection Act (colloquially, the “Hague Invasion” act), his detention at the Hague would result in military intervention in the Netherlands by the US, a scenario unlikely to be pursued by the ICC, the Netherlands, or America.

    So then, to the next question, could a standing leader be indicted for such acts? Again, likely not the case here. While such incitement could be construed as beyond the head of state immunity (Pinochet, Taylor), an indictment is a long way from effecting an arrest, prosecution or conviction (Al-Bashir).

    Unfortunately, knowing the pragmatic implications of any international criminal prosecution is a matter somewhat beyond the competence of the aforementioned persons in relation to this blog entry. Mr Carlson is not offering up news/newsworthy commentary, and his contribution to journalism appears wanting, particularly on the day that Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik lost their lives covering the events in Homs, Syria. Perhaps Tucker ought to research and commentate with a degree of responsibility as opposed to portraying himself as a lone voice – lone due to its incredible stupidity.

    As for Mr Ahmedinejad, the continued posturing over the right for Israel to exist is moot. It is without question that, given the international system that exists, Israel is, and will continue to be, a country in existence. Any threat to Israel’s sovereignty may, for the sake of argument (and likely precedent), be equivalent to any country in the world. As per Article 51 (UN Charter), there exists an inherent right of self-defence for any sovereign nation, and this sovereignty is to be respected throughout all nations (Article 2(1), ibid). If only the consumers of these statements as a whole understood the restrictions and limitations imposed, they would likely understand that the political rhetoric espoused is reprehensible and irresponsible on all parts.

    (Aside: Thank you for your continuing entries Opinio Juris! They’re often digested along with my Wheaties over breakfast.)

  2. LLM,

    Thanks so much for the articulate comments.  Were they all so well-reasoned…

  3. I am just in the business of collecting “debatable” translations:

  4. Officially adding http://internationalnewsandlaw.blogspot.com/ to my “blogs-I-should-read-regularly” list. Great comment.

  5. An another debatable translation of yet another scientist who participated in this peaceful nuclear program

  6. Good post, Kevin. And I’m glad you linked to the material on the question of the proper translation of what Ahmadinejad has said concerning Israel. That statement and others like it are so often used unquestioningly and mantraically by the anti-Iran crowd.

  7. The bottom line is this:

    (1) it is wrong to call for or wish for the destruction of civilians and calling for “annihilation” is wrong

    (2) however, those individuals whether scientists or govt leaders who do call for a nation’s destruction (such as the mad Iranian scientists see Yaniv’s posts). Those madmen – those specific individuals – are indeed legitimate targets of elimination since it is self-defense.

    The simple truth is that the Iranian regime has people who believe that the “End Days” are at hand and are awaiting a global war wherein Islam will emerge triumphant.  This belief, while bizarre to those of us in the West, must be respected and dealt with. These are people who cannot be reasoned with: they do not care about sex parties or money.  They believe that the ultimate path to glory and their version of salvation lies in triggering the “big one.” Again, not everybody, not every Iranian maybe a very small percentage believe the above but these are the folks trying to build a nuke. This is the reality.

  8. Yeah, Tucker Carlson (TV commentator), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (believes in hidden Imam, seeking nuclear weapons) … SAME THING!!!

  9. Legally, it is indeed the same thing.  Incitement to genocide is an inchoate crime, and it can be committed by anyone.  There is no requirement that the perpetrator be a political leader.  Indeed, media defendants have been convicted of incitement to genocide before, at the ICTR.  So your snarky comment fails utterly.

    Oh, and by the way, the claim that MA is “seeking nuclear weapons” contradicts the stated position of both the US and Israel.  Not that you care, but I thought I should point it out.

  10. Professor Heller,

    Do you interpret the statement to be “annihilation of the government,” which would seem not to fall under the genocide convention or “annihilation of the Iranian people?  It seems that the more natural reading is “of the government.”  In contrast, MA has been (allegedly) accused of advocating for the annihilation of Israel — i.e., the Israeli people by, in some translations, “pushing them in the sea.”  Seems to be a significant difference.  What am I missing?

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