Whenever the United States or its partners in war crimes face a seemingly intractable foreign adversary - one that refuses to simply yield to Western domination or diktat - the "ticking clock" paradigm is invoked, lending a fierce urgency to the threats, ultimatums, and bullying demands made by government officials. For them, time is always running out.
Whether it's the non-existent "two-state solution" in Israel/Palestine, hysterical predictions made about a non-existent Iranian nuclear weapon or the deadline for Iranian capitulation to outrageous U.S. and Israel commands, Western intervention in the bloody Syrian civil war, a timeframe for pulling occupation troops out of Iraq, a timeframe the quell the power struggles in Iraq, a countdown before complete anarchy or U.S. airstrikes in Iraq... you name it, it's always the same refrain. Time is running out.
This phrase is almost always a bluff - political bluster meant to convey seriousness and resolve. It is always spit outward, absolving its speaker of any actual responsibility. Case in point: John Kerry's new op-ed on negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and the lifting of sanctions.
Only once in recent memory was this rhetorical device actually acted upon. The action taken - the supreme international crime, as the Nuremberg Tribunal described it: the initiation of a war of aggression - was the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
It is no surprise that Kerry - a man who himself voted to give George W. Bush the authority to destroy an entire country - evokes that same haunted ultimatum with Iran.
As a reminder of the build-up to the Iraq invasion, that unspeakable crime against humanity, below is a collection - far from exhaustive - of media headlines dating back to 1998:
Orlando Sentinel, February 9, 1998:
The New York Times, August 27, 2002:
Associated Press, September 9, 2002:
BBC News, September 15, 2002:
BBC News, January 14, 2003:
Fox News, January 18, 2003:
American Forces Press Service, January 20, 2003:
CNN, January 21, 2003:
The Sydney Morning Herald, January 21, 2003:
Council on Foreign Relations, January 23, 2003:
PBS Newshour, January 23, 2003:
American Forces Press Service, January 27, 2003:
Associated Press, January 29, 2003:
In case you were wondering, time is still running out.
MSNBC, July 20, 2014: