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RICHARD FALK Printer Friendly Page

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  • Radical law professor
  • Chairman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • Longtime member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  • Supporter of Ayatollah Khomeni’s 1979 revolution in Iran

Born to Jewish parents in 1930, Richard Falk is Professor Emeritus of International Law and Policy at Princeton University. Since his 2001 retirement from the Princeton faculty, he has served as a Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2003 he took part in the Socialist Scholars Conference. He is Chairman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; a longtime prominent member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; and a longtime member of The Nation's editorial board.

Central to the theme of his life’s work, which includes the writing of more than twenty books, is Falk’s consistent opposition to American foreign policies, including the War on Terror. He characterizes such measures as the Domestic Security Enhancement Act and the Patriot Act as “sweeping powers” that represent a “slide toward fascism.”

In a 2003 article titled “Will the Empire be Fascist?” Professor Falk cites “unaccountable military power,” “uncritical and chauvinistic patriotism,” and “an authoritarian approach to law enforcement” as indicators of America's move toward fascism. He alleges that terror warnings and threat assessments are tools used by the U.S. government to frighten and thereby control the American people, observing that the “periodic alarmist warnings of mega-terrorist imminent attacks” have not yet been followed by any actual attacks.

In an interview conducted in 2003, Falk stated: “Given an Attorney General like John Ashcroft, the domestic face of the American global design is revealed as a kind of proto-fascist mentality that is prepared to use extreme methods to reach its goals. Without being paranoid, this is the sort of mentality that is capable of fabricating a Reichstag fire as a pretext, so as to achieve more and more control by the state over supposed islands of resistance.” 

Attacking the Bush administration for what he calls its “fascist conception of control,” Falk writes: “America has proved to be resilient in the past, as when anti-Democratic forces were unleashed by the rabid witch-hunting anti-Communism of McCarthyism during the 1950s, but this resilience is now being tested as never before, because the proponents of this extremist American global strategy currently occupy the heights of political influence in and around the White House and Pentagon.”

Professor Falk’s proposed antidote to what he calls the rise of American fascism is the creation of a “Global Peoples’ Assembly,” a governing body whose members would “represent the worldwide voice of the people in action and decision making.” In practice, such an organization would be authorized to direct U.S. foreign and domestic policies, as well as the policies of other nations.

In Falk's calculus, the root cause of Islamic terrorist attacks is that “the mass of humanity … finds itself under the heels of U.S. economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic power.” In 1979 he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Ayatollah Khomeni, who he hailed as a “liberator” of Iran. Falk continues to invariably side with America's foes in international disputes.

Professor Falk has been particularly outspoken against the War in Iraq. In an article he co-wrote prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion, he stated, “Nothing in Iraq's current behavior would justify a preemptive attack against Iraq. … There are available alternatives to war that are consistent with international law and are strongly preferred by America's most trusted allies. These include the resumption of weapons inspections under United Nations auspices combined with multilateral diplomacy and a continued reliance on non-nuclear deterrence.” 

Prior to the invasion, Falk had worked closely with the anti-sanctions organization Voices in the Wilderness, helping the group to formulate legal arguments against the U.N.-authorized, U.S.-enforced sanctions against Iraq.

In March 2008 the United Nations appointed Falk, who has compared Israel to the Nazis, to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as a special investigator on Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories. The Jerusalem Post reported:

“Falk, in his academic writing, has already stated that a Palestinian holocaust was in the making. Yitzhak Levanon, ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, spoke against Falk's appointment in an address to the [UNHRC]: ‘In a recent article, [Falk] stated that he did not think it to be ‘an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with the criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity.... He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of struggle.'”

Also in March 2008, Falk told Kevin Barrett of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth that he was skeptical about what he termed the "official version" of what had occurred on September 11, 2001. Said Falk: "It is possibly true that especially the neoconservatives thought there was a situation in the country and in the world where something had to happen to wake up the American people. Whether they are innocent about the contention that they made that something happen or not, I don’t think we can answer definitively at this point. All we can say is there is a lot of grounds for suspicion, there should be an official investigation of the sort the 9/11 commission did not engage in and that the failure to do these things is cheating the American people and in some sense the people of the world of a greater confidence in what really happened than they presently possess.”

In response to Israel's December 2008 military incursion into Gaza (in retaliation for persistent rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists), Falk condemned the Jewish state for its "severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law"; for imposing "collective punishment" on the Palestinians; for "targeting civilians"; and for its "disproportionate military response." He also impugned the United States for being "complicit ... in Israel's violations of international law" by "knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks."

In April 2010, Falk said he was "impressed by the Hamas effort to negotiate a ceasefire with Israel from the time of its election in January 2006, and its consistent effort to reestablish a ceasefire, including one for a long duration." He condemned "the refusal of Israel to take advantage of such diplomatic opportunities, and its insistence on treating Hamas as a terrorist organization with whom no negotiations can occur." "It was a mistake from the outset," Falk added, "not to take Hamas at their word as turning away from violence and toward political action. When initially elected Hamas established a one-year ceasefire unilaterally, which they kept despite a series of Israeli provocations, including the assassination of Hamas leaders by missile attack.... Hamas has basically displayed a willingness to establish a ceasefire, including one of long duration, along its border with Israel.... To attach the label ‘terrorist organization’ is to signal an unwillingness to substitute diplomacy for violence and a refusal to lift the cruel and criminal siege that is now causing such damage to the physical and mental health of the entire civilian population of Gaza."

In the wake of the deadly April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings by two Muslim jihadists, Falk suggested that the attacks were part of the post-colonial world’s natural “resistance” to “the American global domination project.”



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