The Facts Are All Important --
Appeal For An Enlightened Public Opinion

War Propaganda
Getting reliable news
Deceit and Deception
The Bias Myth
Conservative Silence
Grassroots Dissent
Earthly Kingdoms
Deceit Necessary to Start a War
Attempts to establish a link Iraq - Al Qaeda
began well before 9-11

The U.S. as an International Terrorist
Well-trained intellectuals
Congress passed an illegal law
Should we always follow our leaders?
More U.S. Supported Terror
Obedience to the commandments of God
Is U.N. the Anticrist?
Fundamentalists of Power
Truth is truth whoever speaks it
Without righteousness no justification
Contempt for law and human rights
inside and outside the U.S.

Whether to support terror or civilization
Does might make right?

A real eye-opener
An Excerpt from Rogue States
Exactly the wrong conclusion
Articles of Impeachment
Confronting the Empire
History of the Church, 1805 - 1847
Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong
The "New World Order" in Practice
Iraq War - Legality without a UN Mandate
UN did not give a mandate for violence
The so called no fly zones and the U.N.
The Raid on Baghdad -- Lawfulness and Implications
Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?
Iraq War Unleashes Barbarism
Did Saddam gas his own people?
20 Lies About the War
Better Late Than Never
Top 40 Bush Administration Lies on Iraq War and Terror
I write this to you in fear of my immortal soul
Human Rights Watch Letter to Donald Rumsfeld
'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values
Do We Really Have Free Speech?
You are with us or against us
Defying Law, Bush Administration Locks Up Americans
Showdown Nears Over Terrorism Detentions
Mormonism And The American System

The following was added after the essay was already finished

Searching for a Christian Response to the War on Iraq
Media control:
The Spectacular Achievements Of Propaganda

Impeachable Offenses
We Stand Our Ground
A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles
Personal Notes to the Recipient

The Facts Are All Important --
Appeal For An Enlightened Public Opinion

The Facts Are All Important --
Appeal For An Enlightened Public Opinion

Essay by Leif Erlingsson, July 2003

There are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization.  This is such a time.  The greatest sedition is now silence.

(Don't read this if you prefer fiction to truth, or if you honestly believe that the facts doesn't matter.)


No doubt I'll be attacked for writing this essay.  Therefore, let me immediately make perfectly clear that I do _not_ share every opinion with every quoted source.  Quotes are used to illustrate reasoning and facts that may not be well known.  I believe the facts but I do not necessarily share in all of the conclusions.  Forming the proper conclusions is something I hope we can do together, though naturally I have already formed a substantial number by myself.  In any case, this essay supplies most of the needed facts, since most of these facts have not been widely known or discussed inside the U.S..

I know how easily some jump to the conclusion that because you criticize things that are rotten in the U.S. society, you therefore criticize everything that America is about, as if Bush, America, God, patriotism, apple pie, Route 66, oil profits, unilateral vigilante-ism and support for the right wing were all the same thing.  I sincerely hope that my readers will understand that I have very high regard for America, and wish it the best, and that is exactly why I want to do everything in my power to help spread the word about the rot that will otherwise destroy it, and the rest of the world with it.

If it is possible to both make a detailed list of lies and deceptions such that it can be easily verified to be accurate and true, and at the same time make the text spiritually uplifting to read, I lack the skills to do so.  But I do know that it is vitally important to speak up about the evil that will otherwise be done in our name.  I imagine that only those who oppose the evil will be able to feel entirely without blame for it.  And speaking up can make a difference.  It has in my own country, and in so many other countries.  I am a Swede, and the prime minister in my own country is morally corrupt.  His original concern about the Iraq war was that it would, he felt, be good for the economy.  But after 100,000 Swedes went out on the streets to demonstrate against the war, and after he understood just how few Swedes supported the war, he quickly turned around and opposed the war.  So your and mine opinion matters.  In the kind of democracy we have in "old Europe", public opinion matters.  The voice of the people matters.  I wish that all the world will have the same kind of democracy, the kind where the leaders listen to the will of the people.


I feel betrayed.  I had bought in to much the same story as millions and millions others worldwide about the U.S. as the champion for human rights, justice, human dignity, democracy and all of that.  This is essentially the story of how I changed my most basic perception of the U.S. of America into a not quite that naïve and not quite that positive perception.  And I tell the story by telling what I found out.  Since my own changed perception was no isolated occurance but rather one that happened to millions of other people around the world at about the same time, I think this may have some interest for a wider -- especially Latter-day Saint -- audience.  (Also see the APPENDIX A real eye-opener by myself.)

However, I want to emphasize that even though I touch on much of the rotten things, there is indeed _a_ _lot_ that is very good in America -- especially the American people!!  And this gives me and others a lot of hope and it makes it worthwhile to work with the American people, spreading the word "mouth to mouth".  Americans are basically very decent people, not easily corrupted.

War Propaganda

When in the autumn of 2002 I was shown a flick of Fox News I immediately recognized it for what it was; blatant war propaganda. [*]  I could not ignore this.  I had to find out what was going on in America, because war propaganda is of course a war crime (except in some backwards terrorist countries -- and in America), so this definitely caught my attention.  I started to research the reporting in U.S. media.  I have access to Fox News via satellite.  And CNN.  And BBC News.  And the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite network.  And many U.S. newspapers via the web.  It didn't take long to see that most media didn't even touch vital and essential news.  But as if that wasn't bad enough, especially U.S. cable networks but also most mainstream U.S. media in general put a spin on what they can not ignore.  In 1945 that was called "propaganda".  Again, Fox News was worst, (and there, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly with his "spin-free zone" is the worst of the worst), tightly followed by CNN.  BBC News has been surprisingly independent from the U.K. administration though, and have on the whole been very dependable during this crisis.  And the Al-Jazeera network have published news that would perhaps not have made it to BBC News otherwise.  (But at a heavy price for the Al-Jazeera network.  Apparently, elements of the U.S. military wants to take out journalists, which has costed al-Jazeera several casualties in a number of U.S. attacks, starting in 2001 with a cruise missile at al-Jazeera's office in Kabul.  Then in April 2003 an U.S. jet turned to rocket al-Jazeera's office on the banks of the Tigris at 7.45am local time.  Other journalists are also targets for these elements of the U.S. military.  A few hours later that day Reuters television bureau in Baghdad was the next target when a U.S. tank opened fired on the Palestine Hotel, killing José Couso, a cameraman for Spain's Tele 5 channel, and Taras Protsyuk, cameraman for Reuters.  Reporter Samia Nakhoul and photographer Faleh Kheiber -- both of Reuters -- suffered facial and head wounds.  Al-Jazeera and Reuters had given the U.S. military exact coordinates and obtained promises that they would not shoot at these locations.  And in any case, shooting at journalists constitutes a war crime.)  As has been amply explained by e.g. Chomsky, ``To escape the impact of a well-functioning system of propaganda that bars dissent and unwanted fact while fostering lively debate within the permitted bounds is remarkably difficult.'' [ Necessary Illusions -- Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky, Chapter Three, The Bounds of the Expressible; ].  For this reason no one should feel bad about having been deceived, but just happy for having seen through it all.

*)  War propaganda is easily detected when you know what to look for.  When one part is consistently mentioned in derogatory terms, like e.g. "the regime", and the other part is consistently mentioned in neutral or positive terms, like "the U.S. government", you know that you are dealing with war propaganda.  I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to list other derogatory terms for the one part and match them with neutral or positive terms for the other part.  ``Heroes and Devils:  As the authors of children's tales understand, life is simple when there are heroes to admire and love, and devils to fear and despise.  One goal of a well-crafted propaganda system is to dull the mental faculties, reducing its targets to a level at which they will respond with appropriate enthusiasm to slogans carrying a patriotic message.  Accordingly, the cast of characters in international affairs includes heroes, who stand for freedom, democracy, reform, and all good things, and devils, who are violent, totalitarian, and generally repellent.  Most of the players are irrelevant, part of the background scenery.  Entry into the two significant categories is determined by contribution to elite interests, or harm caused them.'' [  Necessary Illusions -- Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky, Appendix V, Heroes and Devils; ]

Getting reliable news

I quickly discovered that the safest way to get massive amounts of reliable news about U.S. foreign policy and deceit was to listen to some of the people from the left side of the political spectrum.  There may exist reliable and informative sources at the other end of the political spectrum as well, but unfortunately I have not been able to locate any significant such sources.  At least not between September 2002, when the war propaganda really heated up, and March 2003, when the land-invasion of Iraq started big-time.

Deceit and Deception

Anyway, what I discovered was that whereas the previous U.S. president was nearly impeached for lying about a personal matter, the present U.S. president has been able to lie all day long, and there has been no mention of it in the press at all except during the last few weeks.  The lists of lies and deceptions ( see e.g. 20 Lies About the War or Top 40 Bush Administration Lies on Iraq War and Terror -- both also included in the APPENDIXES ) are so long that the present U.S. president is frequently and perhaps correctly labeled "a compulsive liar".  But not by U.S. media (as of mid July 2003).  It is common knowledge and well proven that not only has the president lied about his own background in the military -- he deserted in wartime -- but he drove the U.S. into war by lies and deceptions, all of which was disproved already when he spoke them, like the several lies and distortions in his State of the Union speech.  But the U.S. media was overall pretty silent about it whereas the media in the rest of the world weren't.  Not all U.S. media was silent though, there were local newspapers and sometimes even national newspapers like the New York Times that sometimes allowed glimpses of what was really going on.  But there was no debate.  The dissenting voices were just that, dissenting voices.  No discussion.  No media scandal.  I have in my possession a huge archive with articles mainly from U.S. and U.K. press but also from Arabic and European origin stretching from October 2002 to the present that clearly show that most of the phony case for war against Iraq was exposed well before the war.  However most of the media just kept quiet about the crimes and the lies that paved the way to the Iraqi Oil Ministry.  (Which was the only official building in Baghdad that was protected from the looting that the U.S. troops initiated by the murder of two Sudanese guards outside a local administration building at the Haifa avenue and the destruction of the door to that and other buildings, and the instructions in Arabic by the Arabic translators in the tanks to the people on the street to get in and take whatever they wanted.  The witness is Khaled Bayomi from Malmö, Sweden, who was only 300 meter away.)  It is the criminal silence of the U.S. domestic media that is making it (or should I say have made it?) politically possible for the present U.S. president to stay in power even though he has lied more to the U.S. public than any other person in history.

The Bias Myth

The silence of the U.S. media would have been all the more strange if Bernard Goldberg's book Bias, that the present U.S. president so conspicuously carried with him on a trip to Maine in January 2002, would have been right.  Because this book says that there is a liberal bias in U.S. media.  If there is, why on earth didn't the U.S. media jump on the endless scandals around Bush that are a thousandfold more damning than ever Clinton's womanizing and lying about it under oath that have been well known in many circles since well before GWB became president?  Isn't it more damning to start wars using lies and deception than to commit adultery and lie about it?  But Bernard Goldberg never bothers to systematically prove the existence of liberal bias in the news, or even define what he means by the term.  Rather, he simply uncritically repeats and quotes popular opinions held by both high and low.  As I have been editing this text in July 2003, U.S. media has however started to expose the deceptions used to scare the U.S. public into accepting the Iraq war.  The lid is finally off.

Conservative Silence

But what about the silence from conservatives?  This has been particularly difficult for me to understand.  Surely it is not a conservative value to support deceit, lies and deception?  I have concluded that maybe the lack of critizism is partly because so many people are in or have been in denial.  And are engaging in wishful thinking.  We really don't want the Bush administration to be evil because it stands for so many of our own values, and speaks our language....  BUT BY NOT FACING THE EVIL, BY NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE EVIL IS EVIL, WE IN FACT CONDONE THE EVIL.  WE IN FACT ACCEPT THE EVIL.  WE IN FACT BECOME IMPLICIT PARTNERS IN THE EVIL.

Grassroots Dissent

It must be said that not all conservatives are silent.  There is e.g. a small grassroots movement "Republicans Against Bush".  I also seem to recall some critical Republican Senators, etc.  And a few critical articles in conservative newspapers.  Dissent has not been totally quiet.  And there are military families against the Iraq war and there's the 9-11 families fighting for a real investigation and against using 9-11 as an excuse to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq. [*]  And there's a widespread grassroots uprising with people from all backgrounds that have now in 132 cities and counties and in 3 states passed resolutions stating their intention not to cooperate with some provisions of USA PATRIOT.  Elected office-holders in these communities have publicly declared that they will not abide by federal laws and orders that would compel them to accord the people in their jurisdiction less than full rights and protections guaranteed to all persons in the U.S. Constitution.

*)  According to many different sources there is a 9-11 coverup, see this Guardian article about witness intimidation: .  While it is true that the people behind 9-11 operated from Afghanistan, without the Taliban stopping them, it is also a sad fact that the U.S./U.K. operations in Afghanistan has killed more civilians than was killed in the U.S. on 9-11.  Many people feel that the U.S./U.K. have gone too far.  It is also a sad fact that Human Rights organizations are kept at a distance.  This is what U.S.S.R. used to do, and China.  Now the U.S./U.K. is doing it.

Earthly Kingdoms

John Taylor, Third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, cautioned that ``You who have made yourselves acquainted with the political structure and the political intrigues of earthly kingdoms, I ask, whence did they obtain their power?  Did they get it from God?  . . .   Go to any power that has existed upon this earth, and you will find that earthly government, earthly rule and dominion, have been obtained by the sword.  It was the sword of men that first put them in possession of this power.  They have walked up to their thrones through rivers of blood, through the clotted gore and the groans of the dying, and through the tears and lamentations of bereaved widows and helpless orphans; and hence the common saying is, "Thrones won by blood, by blood must be maintained."  By the same principle that they have been put in possession of territory, have they sought to sustain themselves the same violence, the same fraud, and the same oppression have been made use of to sustain their illegitimacy.  . . .  -- JD, 1:223-225, April 8, 1853.'' [The Gospel Kingdom, selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, Third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p.315.]

Gordon B. Hinckley, current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gives a similar warning in his War and Peace Sunday Morning Session talk on the April 2003 173rd Annul General Conference: ``We sometimes are prone to glorify the great empires of the past, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and in more recent times, the vast British Empire. But there is a darker side to every one of them. There is a grim and tragic overlay of brutal conquest, of subjugation, of repression, and an astronomical cost in life and treasure.''  With prophetic clarity, President Hinckley also stated in the same speech:  ``In the course of history tyrants have arisen from time to time who have oppressed their own people and threatened the world. Such is adjudged to be the case presently, and consequently great and terrifying forces with sophisticated and fearsome armaments have been engaged in battle.''  I am of course aware that most listeners understand President Hinckley to refer to Saddam Hussein in the present situation when talking about tyrants who oppress their people and threaten the world.  But note the choice of the word "adjudged".  The word means "formally pronounced" or "officially pronounced".  That is to say, the prophet is stating what we all know, that the official story [of the U.S. government and the coalition of the willing] is that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who threatens the world.  This is important because of what President Hinckley is _not_ saying.  Technically, President Hinckley is _not_ saying that Saddam Hussein threatens (or threatened) the world.  And this is important because it has been well known in most parts of the world at least since March 2003 -- before the land-war really started in Iraq -- that Saddam Hussein did indeed _not_ threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Deceit Necessary to Start a War

Lies and deceptions are the rule, not the exception, when it comes to justify war.  It seems that most people are peaceful, and do not want to go out in war.  So they have to be deceived.  Five Examples of many:

    * In 1898 when the USS Maine exploded violently in Havana harbor the U.S. public was decieved that this was the work of Spain.  Captain Sigsbee on the other hand urged that no assumptions of enemy attack be made until there was a full investigation of the cause of the explosion.  For this he was excoriated in the press for "refusing to see the obvious".  In 1975, an investigation led by Admiral Hyman Rickover examined the data recovered from a 1911 examination of the wreck and concluded that there had been no evidence of an external explosion.  The most likely cause of the sinking was a coal dust explosion in a coal bunker imprudently located next to the ship's magazines.  Captain Sigsbee's caution had been well founded.  Also in 1898, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal were arguing for American intervention in Cuba.  Hearst is reported to have dispatched a photographer to Cuba to photograph the coming war with Spain.  When the photographer asked just what war that might be, Hearst is reported to have replied, "You take the photographs, and I will provide the war".  Hearst was true to his word, as his newspaper published stories of great atrocities being committed against the Cuban people, most of which turned out to be complete fabrications.

    * ``The morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941 began as any other day in Pearl Harbor, a U.S. naval base in Hawaii.  At 7:49, the Japanese fleet of carriers that had been making it's way toward the Hawaiian Islands sprang into action.  Wave after wave of Japanese aircraft screamed into the harbor and pounced on the American fleet as it sat helpless (Ienaga 136).  No one saw the attack coming, so defense to the brutal assault was minimal.  In the aftermath of the carnage, the final tallies shocked the nation.  Five U.S. battleships and ten warships had been destroyed, and three more battleships were severely damaged.  The human death toll was also high.  Over 2,400 American soldiers were slaughtered in the strike.'' [ ]  This is how history usually describes this horrible event.  But lets back up a little:  ``President Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed a war.  He needed the fever of a major war to mask the symptoms of a still deathly ill economy struggling back from the Great Depression (and mutating towards Socialism at the same time).  Roosevelt wanted a war with Germany to stop Hitler, but despite several provocations in the Atlantic, the American people, still struggling with that troublesome economy, were opposed to any wars.  Roosevelt violated neutrality with lend lease, and even ordered the sinking of several German ships in the Atlantic, but Hitler refused to be provoked.
      Roosevelt needed an enemy, and if America would not willingly attack that enemy, then one would have to be maneuvered into attacking America.  . . .  The way open to war was created when Japan signed the tripartite agreement with Italy and Germany, with all parties pledging mutual defense to each other.  Whereas Hitler would never declare war on the United States no matter the provocation, the means to force Japan to do so were readily at hand.
      The first step was to place oil and steel embargoes on Japan, using Japan's wars on the Asian mainland as a reason.  This forced Japan to consider seizing the oil and mineral rich regions in Indonesia.  With the European powers militarily exhausted by the war in Europe, the United States was the only power in the Pacific able to stop Japan from invading the Dutch East Indies, and by moving the Pacific fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Roosevelt made a pre-emptive strike on that fleet the mandatory first step in any Japanese plan to extend it's empire into the "southern resource area".
      Roosevelt boxed in Japan just as completely as Crassus had boxed in Spartacus [a reference to similar tactics in the Roman Empire].  Japan needed oil.  They had to invade Indonesia to get it, and to do that they first had to remove the threat of the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.  There never really was any other course open to them.
      To enrage the American people as much as possible, Roosevelt needed the first overt attack by Japan to be as bloody as possible, appearing as a sneak attack much as the Japanese had done to the Russians.  From that moment up until the attack on Pearl Harbor itself, Roosevelt and his associates made sure that the commanders in Hawaii, General Short and Admiral Kimmel, were kept in the dark as much as possible about the location of the Japanese fleet and it's intentions, then later scapegoated for the attack.  (Congress recently exonerated both Short and Kimmel, posthumously restoring them to their former ranks).
      But as the Army board had concluded at the time, and subsequent de-classified documents confirmed, Washington DC knew the attack was coming, knew exactly where the Japanese fleet was, and knew where it was headed.
      On November 29th, Secretary of State Hull showed United Press reporter Joe Leib a message with the time and place of the attack, and the New York Times in it's special 12/8/41 Pearl Harbor edition, on page 13, reported that the time and place of the attack had been known in advance!'' [ (also compare the Cover notes from the book Day of Deceit at )]

    * In August 1964, after U.S. destroyer Maddox together with the South Vietnamese navy and the Laotian air force unprovoked had attacked North Vietnam in the Tonkin Gulf, and some U.S. destroyers two days later had been firing on ghosts also in the Tonkin Gulf, President Lyndon Johnson went on national TV to decieve the U.S. public that there had been a North Vietnamese torpedo attack.  Washington Post on August 5, 1964, reported that "American Planes Hit North Vietnam After Second Attack on Our Destroyers; Move Taken to Halt New Aggression" [ ].  The same day the front page of the New York Times reported: "President Johnson has ordered retaliatory action against gunboats and 'certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam' after renewed attacks against American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin."  But there was no "second attack" by North Vietnam -- no "renewed attacks against American destroyers."  By reporting official claims as absolute truths, American journalism opened the floodgates for the bloody Vietnam War, leading to over 50,000 American deaths and millions of Vietnamese casualties.  President Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to "retaliate" for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened.  Read more details at .

    * In August 1990 it was good ol' pal Saddam who was deceived into invading Kuwait, and this was of course the justification needed to try to crush him.  See details at, look up "The Gulf War, 1990-91".  There was numerous other lies used, like the story about the "gassing of his own people", used to sell the war to the world.  Many of us bought it at the time, I know I did.  But Pentagon knew otherwise.  See "Did Saddam gas his own people?" (included in it's entirety among the Appendixes).  ``A Pentagon investigation at the time ... turned up no hard evidence of Saddam gassing his own people.  This is serious stuff, because the U.N. tells us that 1.4 million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the sanctions, which is 3,000 times more than the number of Kurds who supposedly died of gassing at the hands of Saddam.'' (October 17, 2001)  Also see .

    * 11 September 2001, New York and Washington happened.  And the administration immediately set out to implicate Saddam and Iraq.  See .  And all 9-11 inquiries have been sabotaged.  See .

As I already stated, virtually every war that the U.S. started has required lies and deceptions.  These two books explain why:  Necessary Illusions ,  Deterring Democracy .  This essay written in the context of the 1998 Iraq crisis will also be helpful:  Rogue States .

Attempts to establish a link Iraq - Al Qaeda began well before 9-11

These notes may also be helpful in order to understand why Iraq was implicated in 9-11:  ``On October 23, [2002,] the Wall Street Journal published an article on its front page indicating that the administration has lied about the alleged connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda.  The article quoted a speech delivered by Bush the week before in which he described Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as "a man who we know has had connections with Al Qaeda.  This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use Al Qaeda as a forward army."  Based on its own investigation, the Journal, by no means an opponent of the current administration, concluded: "There's no evidence of contact between Al Qaeda and the Iraqis, according to current and former intelligence officials."  Significantly, the article indicated that the administration's attempt to establish a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda began almost as soon as Bush was installed in the White House. "When the Bush administration took office in 2001, officials at the Pentagon immediately began peppering intelligence agencies with requests for studies on Baghdad's links to terrorism," the article stated.  "At a meeting of senior administration officials in April 2001 to discuss Al Qaeda, a top Defense Department official asked Mr. Clarke [Richard Clarke, the National Security Council's counterterrorism coordinator] about whether Iraq had connections to Mr. bin Laden's group.  Mr. Clarke said no, according to two people in the room."  The administration's demands led to a concerted drive to link Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing," the Journal reported, adding that these efforts "have come up empty."  Thus, while Washington portrays its military buildup against Iraq as a response to September 11 and a defense of the U.S. against an imminent terrorist threat, it now emerges that top Bush administration officials were desperately seeking evidence to tie Iraq to terrorism-and specifically to Al Qaeda-at least five months before any planes crashed into World Trade Center and the Pentagon.'' (Bill Vann, 24 October 2002)

The U.S. as an International Terrorist

At this point I must digress in order to describe some of the not so pleasant things I have discovered about U.S. international terrorism and U.S. support of international terrorism.

``The meaning of the term "terrorism" is not seriously in dispute.  It is defined with sufficient clarity in the official U.S. Code and numerous government publications.  A U.S. Army manual on countering the plague defines terrorism as "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature.  This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."  Still more succinct is the characterization in a Pentagon-commissioned study by noted terrorologist Robert Kupperman, which speaks of the threat or use of force "to achieve political objectives without the full-scale commitment of resources." [ US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism Counteraction (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984); Robert Kupperman Associates, Low Intensity Conflict, July 30, 1983.  Both cited in Michael Klare and Peter Kornbluh, eds., Low Intensity Warfare (Pantheon, 1988, 69, 147).  The actual quote from Kupperman refers specifically to "the threat of force"; its use is also plainly intended. ]'' [  Necessary Illusions -- Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky, Appendix V, "The Evil Scourge of Terrorism"; ]

The U.S. in the 80's gave substantial support to Saddam Hussein at the same time that he commited his worst crimes.  In the 80's the U.S. also fought a big war in Central America that left about 200,000 tortured and mutilated dead, millions of orphans and refugees and four countries ravaged.  The U.S. was convicted by the International Court in Hague for International Terrorism -- for illegal use of violence in a sentence listing almost 300 reasons and 16 discrete decisions saying either that the U.S. are in the wrong or that the U.S. must make reparation for all injury caused to Nicaragua by the unlawful actions of the U.S. [ ].  The U.S. ignored the judgment and instead increased the violence until the democratic Nicaraguan government eventually was overthrown.  The U.S. also blocked a Security Council resolution that would have declared that all countries must abide by international law.  In 1985 the U.S. exploded a car-bomb in Beirut that killed 80 innocent civilians.  The U.S. also supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that costed 18.000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilian lives.  Terrorism is illegal in the U.S., but frequently used.  Who built al-Qaida?  -- The U.S., in order to trick the Soviet Union into the "Afghan trap".  There are so many more examples, involving millions and millions of victims even not counting Vietnam.  The target has traditionally usually been either the Catholic Church or Communism, but there are notable exceptions.  Take Guatemala.  After CIA overthrew the democratic capitalist government of Guatemala in 1954, "Many Guatemalans are passionately attached to the democratic-nationalist ideals of the 1944 revolution," particularly to "the social and economic programs" of the democratic capitalist government overthrown in the CIA coup.  (Quotes originate from Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1955-57, Vol. VII, 88f. and from National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 1955, 82-85.  [ ].)  This was a problem.  The U.S. killed a democracy because the democracy in question didn't have the sense to act according to the will of the U.S., but rather according to the will of the people.  And after the invasion the people of the former democracy was clinging to democratic values.  So 40 years of U.S. supported reign of terror ensued.  Recently the U.S. severely criticized Turkey for listening more to the will of the people than to the will of the U.S..  And "old Europe" as well.  But Italy is "new Europe" because even though over 80% of the public was against the war, Berlusconi supports the U.S. (and made a law that he himself couldn't go to jail while president).

Well-trained intellectuals

As you can imagine, I've seen through several layers of smoke screens during the last 3/4 of a year.  Therefore it has not escaped my attention that in the U.S., the well-trained intellectual will translate e.g. "aggression and state terror in the Third World" into e.g. "defense of democracy and human rights", and further will consider "democracy" to be successfully achieved when the government is safely in the hands of "the rich men dwelling at peace within their habitations," as in Winston Churchill's prescription for world order [Churchill, The Second World War, vol. 5 (Houghton Mifflin, 1951, 382)].  Hypocrisy, Milton wrote, is "the only evil that walks Invisible, except to God alone." [Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk. III, 682-84, from ]  In our own times, the device, thanks to Orwell, is called Newspeak.  It may come as a surprise to some people, but a lot of Europeans actually believe in the values that the U.S. rhetoric preach; in equality before the law -- not separate justice for the rich and well connected -- and all of that.  Maybe we simply aren't cynical enough -- or maybe we do not want to be "cynical enough"...  And I'm not talking politicians, I'm talking public opinion.

One of the prime motives used for an Iraq war has been that Saddam Hussein was supposed to be irrational or that the conflicts in the region in general have been impossible to get a handle on.  This reasoning may well be honest in that them who reason like so actually believe and think like so.  But if they do, they reveal more about themselves and their own paradigm that they are constrained by, than that of Saddam or the other people in the region.  It has been very clearly demonstrated that Saddam in no way acted irrationally.  In fact, it is the U.S. that has an explicitly formulated and resurrected "Madman theory" [
*] saying that the U.S. should appear crazed and unpredictable, etc.  It is a neat propaganda trick to turn the tables and make it appear that it is really Saddam that is "crazed and unpredictable", or that it really is the other leaders and peoples in the region that is, but it is not true.  All of their motives and actions are easily understood, once you take the same facts into consideration as they do.  But by insisting on ignoring the facts -- or being unable to see them because they are not thinkable within ones paradigm -- and instead trying to construct complex philosophical arguments based on ones own imaginings, one will ``not seem able to get a handle on [these issues]'' [ Our World-Historical Gamble by Lee Harris  March 11, 2003 ].  By the way, the article just referred to is a splendid example.  I started to take it apart, and I think that by changing some of the labels in it, it can be used to accurately describe the difficulty the rest of the world is having to get a grip on the U.S. "crazed and unpredictable" "Madman" behavior.  But it was written with the intent to form some sort of philosophic argument for why the U.S. needs to throw law and order out the window.  It is the excuse of the madman, so to speak.

*)  ``A secret 1995 study of the Strategic Command, which is responsible for the strategic nuclear arsenal, outlines the basic thinking.  Released through the Freedom of Information act, the study, Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence, "shows how the United States shifted its deterrent strategy from the defunct Soviet Union to so-called rogue states such as Iraq, Libya, Cuba and North Korea," AP reports.  The study advocates that the U.S. exploit its nuclear arsenal to portray itself as "irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked."  That "should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries," particularly the "rogue states."  "It hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed," let alone committed to such silliness as international law and treaty obligations.  "The fact that some elements" of the U.S. government "may appear to be potentially `out of control' can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary's decision makers."  The report resurrects Nixon's "madman theory": our enemies should recognize that we are crazed and unpredictable, with extraordinary destructive force at our command, so they will bend to our will in fear.  The concept was apparently devised in Israel in the 1950s by the governing Labor Party, whose leaders "preached in favor of acts of madness," Prime Minister Moshe Sharett records in his diary, warning that "we will go crazy" ("nishtagea") if crossed, a "secret weapon" aimed in part against the U.S., not considered sufficiently reliable at the time.  In the hands of the world's sole superpower, which regards itself as an outlaw state and is subject to few constraints from elites within, that stance poses no small problem for the world.'' [ Major essay written by Noam Chomsky in the context of the 1998 Iraq crisis; Rogue States; ]

Congress passed an illegal law

This is where I feel betrayed.  The U.S. says one thing, or at least have been saying -- that it upholds international treaties, law, etc, but it acts another way.  The U.S. didn't even try to act within international law by applying to the Security Council for lawful authority to enter Afghanistan in order to capture and suppress the bands of armed terrorists who had carried out criminal acts against the U.S..  Instead the U.S. itself became guilty of unlawful warmaking, since the U.S. is a party of the U.N. Charter.  In fact, Congress passed a resolution authorising the President to use force not only against Al-Quai'da terrorists, but also against those harbouring Al-Quai'da.  I.e. Congress passed an illegal law.  The domestic law is illegal according to international law binding for the U.S.  This web page explains the legal issues in great detail, and even gives a plausible explanation why the U.S. quite intentionally would choose to violate the law: (bad link), local transcript: .  As a footnote, it is worth mentioning that the U.S. is working hard to sabotage The International Criminal Court, the ICC, and is breathing threats towards anyone who would contemplate bringing a U.S. citizen to justice.  Not surprising, since, according to international law, anyone who actively supports the current U.S. administration is in the same league as the guys that was tried and executed at the Nuremberg Tribunal.  It may be noted that in 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, said: "The very essence of the Nuremberg charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the state."  No wonder the U.S. is sabotaging the ICC.  There's even a "scientific" theory for this behaviour; The Bobbitt Theory.  But as they say, nothing is new under the sun.  The international behaviour which Bobbitt advocates for the United States of America is precisely the behaviour which the United Nations was established to prevent.  Of course, that was when the perils of fascism were fresh in everybody's mind.  [ The Bobbitt "New World Order" necessarily undermines the authority of the United Nations - of what value is that institution if a gang of powerful states (decribed in Bobbitt 1984-speak as "a coalition of the willing") can arrogate to themselves the power of decision as to which countries and governments are to survive and which to be overthrown?!  See (bad link), local transcript: for more details. ]

Should we always follow our leaders?

There is an interesting ethics question here:  Were we wrong to convict Nazis for following their leader?  Was President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrong in 1956, when he on 31st October said to the American people:  ``My fellow citizens, as I review the march of world events in recent years, I am ever more deeply convinced that the processes of the United Nations represents the soundest hope for peace in the world.  For this very reason, I believe that the processes of the United Nations need further to be developed and strengthened.  I speak particularly of increasing its ability to secure justice under international law.    In all the recent troubles in the Middle East, there have indeed been injustices suffered by all nations involved.  But I do not believe that another instrument of injustice -- war -- is the remedy for these wrongs.    There can be no peace -- without law.  And there can be no law -- if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us -- and another for our friends.'' [ ] ?  But even if we erred by convicting the Nazis, we did indeed establish law.  And just like Ike said, ``There can be no peace -- without law.  And there can be no law -- if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us -- and another for our friends.''  But that is exactly what the U.S. is doing.  And unfortunately, not even Ike is off the hook on that one -- it was his administration that illegaly helped invade Guatemala. [ ]

It appears that in 1937 Latter-day Saint Church President Heber J. Grant had visited Germany and instructed the German members to be loyal to the Nazi government.  This seems to be a recurring theme, to be loyal no matter what.  This may be just one of these things were my own preconceptions are wrong.  When I have ascertained which is right in this, I'll abide by what is right.  But at the moment I am very confused;  Does the Church tell us to support any leader no matter what?  Which is right, the Nuremberg charter (that individuals have duties transcending the state) or the principle to always follow your leader, no matter what?  April 2003, President Gordon B. Hinckley said in General Conference that ``I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do.''  Should we from President Hinckley's remarks conclude that the Nazis in uniform, who were agents of their government in carrying forward that which they were legally obligated to do, were entirely justified in this?  Should we conclude that the Nuremberg Tribunal was in error?  Maybe the Nuremberg Tribunal expects more of man than does God?

I have ever since I studied Nazi-Germany in school had the absolute conviction that our individual responsibilities transcends our responsibility to the state.  Tell me, am I wrong?  If I am wrong, so are millions and millions of Europeans -- and millions of Americans as well.  If we are in the armed forces, we must follow orders.  But we should write to our Congressman.  We should vote.  And if crimes against mankind are perpetrated, we may have to risk our lives by betraying the lawless state, for the good of humanity.

More U.S. Supported Terror

It doesn't ever seem to end.  Noam Chomsky writes in February 01, 2003:  ``Last month [i.e. January 2003] I was in southeastern Turkey, the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the grisly 1990s, still continuing: just a few hours ago we were informed of renewed atrocities by the army near Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish regions.  Through the 1990s, millions of people were driven out of the devastated countryside, with tens of thousands killed and every imaginable form of barbaric torture.  They try to survive in caves outside the walls of Diyarbakir, in condemned buildings in miserable slums in Istanbul, or wherever they can find refuge, barred from returning to their villages despite new legislation that theoretically permits return.  80% of the weapons came from the US.  In the year 1997 alone, Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined up to the onset of the state terror campaign  --  called "counterterror" by the perpetrators and their supporters, another convention.  Turkey became the leading recipient of US arms as atrocities peaked (apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category).

``In 1999, Turkey relinquished this position to Colombia.  The reason is that in Turkey, US-backed state terror had largely succeeded, while in Colombia it had not.  Colombia had the worst human rights record in the Western hemisphere in the 1990s and was by far the leading recipient of US arms and military training, and now leads the world.  It also leads the world by other measures, for example, murder of labor activists: more than half of those killed worldwide in the last decade were in Colombia.  Close to 1/2 million people were driven from their land last year, a new record.  The displaced population is now estimated at 2.7 million.  Political killings have risen to 20 a day; 5 years ago it was half that.

``I visited Cauca in southern Colombia, which had the worst human rights record in the country in 2001, quite an achievement.  There I listened to hours of testimony by peasants who were driven from their lands by chemical warfare  --  called "fumigation" under the pretext of a US-run "drug war" that few take seriously and that would be obscene if that were the intent.  Their lives and lands are destroyed, children are dying, they suffer from sickness and wounds.  Peasant agriculture is based on a rich tradition of knowledge and experience gained over many centuries, in much of the world passed on from mother to daughter.  Though a remarkable human achievement, it is very fragile, and can be destroyed forever in a single generation.  Also being destroyed is some of the richest biodiversity in the world, similar to neighboring regions of Brazil. Campesinos, indigenous people, Afro-Colombians can join the millions in rotting slums and camps.  With the people gone, multinationals can come in to strip the mountains for coal and to extract oil and other resources, and to convert what is left of the land to monocrop agroexport using laboratory-produced seeds in an environment shorn of its treasures and variety.'' [ ZNet | Terror War, Confronting the Empire, Noam Chomsky February 01, 2003, (Included in it's entirety among the Appendixes.) ]

Sadly, these cases are just examples, there's so much more.  But it's just depressing so I'll stop here.  In essence, America still concentrates "on the task of felling trees and Indians and of rounding out their natural boundaries," as diplomatic historian Thomas Bailey described it in 1969. [ Year 501 -- The Conquest Continues By Noam Chomsky, Chapter One; "Felling Trees and Indians", ]

Obedience to the commandments of God

President Gordon B. Hinckley started his "The Times in Which We Live" speech on the October 2001 General Conference with the words "Our safety lies in repentance.  Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God."  And indeed, this is the key.  Obedience to the commandments of God.  And what are the commandments of God?  In the same speech, President Gordon B. Hinckley clearly state that we are people of peace, that we are followers of the Christ who was and is the Prince of Peace but that there are times when we must stand up for right and decency, for freedom and civilization.  And indeed, this is such a time, when Denial and Deception is continually being used to deceive us into more and more war.  President Gordon B. Hinckley also pointed out that the terrorist organizations must be ferreted out and brought down, and that the "terrible forces of evil" must be confronted and held accountable for their actions.  And indeed, they must.  The greatest sedition is indeed silence.

In his "The Times in Which We Live" speech, President Gordon B. Hinckley seemed to be under the impression that these evil forces of which he spoke were to be found outside his own country, outside America.  But are they really?  This is very important, because without obedience to the commandments of God, the land of America has no special promises -- and as if that isn't reason enough for members of the church to hesitate in our support of America, some of us doesn't feel very comfortable with promoting an organization that supports terrorism, and if we are not careful, the church may become just such an organization.  And there are even those among us who has strong ethical barriers stopping them from in any way cooperating with evildoers.

Is U.N. the Anticrist?

Here is a great divide of how the world is perceived.  The war on Iraq has been portrayed by President G W Bush as part of a battle against evil and, therefore, as a devout act that pleases God.  And he has the Christian Right on his side in this.  Since the attacks on September 11th, the apocalypse of John, Book of Revelations, is experiencing a booming comeback in the fundamentalist churches of America.  To many of them, the United Nations represents the preferred forum of the Antichrist, because Revelations 17:13 teaches that the kings of the earth "shall give their power and strength unto the beast."  The Pope, also an opponent of war, is chastised as a "whore of Babylon" because, according to Revelations 17:9, its throne is on "seven mountains," just as Rome lies on seven hills.  The fact that the EU exists as a result of the Treaties of Rome makes all of Europe an instrument of the devil.  Many are firmly convinced that the attacks on New York and Washington have started the process that will lead to the end of the world, the return of Jesus Christ, and the dawning of the promised thousand-year reign of God.  When these people hear their president talk about the "Axis of Evil," they are convinced that he is speaking their own language, that he, like they, is a holy warrior.  [ Much borrowed from english translation of War Out of Compassion by Hans Hoyng, Gerhard Sporl, Der Spiegel, 17 February 2003, see,1518,236692,00.html ]

But is President Bush really a holy warrior?  Is this Iraq war, and any war that may result, really a holy war?

Fundamentalists of Power

It cannot be questioned that President G W Bush gives a very frank and straightforward appearance.  His radicalism no doubt needs religious faith as its justification.  But the same cannot be said of hard-liner duo Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney, who manage without making reference to a higher being.  To them, the United States' own claim that it is the world's only superpower is sufficient justification - Rumsfeld and Cheney are fundamentalists of power.  In the words of Hans Hoyng, Gerhard Sporl, Der Spiegel, 17 February 2003 (see above), the obvious implication is that [Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney] are taking advantage of [President G W Bush's] religious zeal, his urge to convert others, to further their own highly worldly goals.  [ Much borrowed from english translation of War Out of Compassion by Hans Hoyng, Gerhard Sporl, Der Spiegel, 17 February 2003, see,1518,236692,00.html ]

It has been amply demonstrated and there is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived the United States of America into war.  In Paul Krugman's words June 24, 2003, in a NYT OP-ED:  "Leaks from professional intelligence analysts, who are furious over the way their work was abused, have given us a far more complete picture of how America went to war.  Thanks to reporting by my colleague Nicholas Kristof, other reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and a magisterial article by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman in The New Republic, we now know that top officials, including Mr. Bush, sought to convey an impression about the Iraqi threat that was not supported by actual intelligence reports."  Exactly how the the present Iraq war was sold on us -- with the most important details of the administrations clever deceptions -- has to date not been better described anywhere than in an article by John B. Judis & Spencer Ackerman that can be read here: or here: .

Truth is truth whoever speaks it

I understand that many in the Christian Right (think Ann Coulter, with her latest book Traitor) would prefer to level The New York Times to the ground, not to speak of The New Republic.  And probably all of Europe as well.  But truth is truth whoever speaks it.  Neither Truth nor God is a respecter of persons! (See Moroni 8:12, D&C 1:35.)  "For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion." (D&C 1:35.)

Without righteousness no justification

And this is really the crux of the entire matter, that without obedience to the commandments of God, without righteousness and truthfulness, the Christian Right has no right and no justification to support wars of agression and terrorism in other countries, which is exactly what it is doing in Iraq and other places, past, present and yet to come.  While this will probably be entirely without merit for true believers, it may still be worth mentioning that the collective minds of law scholars across our planet nearly unanimously agree that the United States and it's allies are in violation of it's own internatinal treaties and the international laws it has signed with it's war of agression against Iraq.  Many law scholars also agree that the United States and it's allies have been conducting an illegal air-war against Iraq for over a decade, and that Iraq has had every right to defend it's air-space against the U.S./U.K. aggression.  In fact, the very U.S. Constitution declares valid treaties "the supreme law of the land," particularly the most fundamental of them, the U.N. Charter.  The Constitution further authorizes Congress to "define and punish...offenses against the law of nations," undergirded by the Charter in the contemporary era.  It is unfortunate indeed that ``contempt for the rule of law is [so] deeply rooted in U.S. practice and intellectual culture.  Recall, for example, the reaction to the judgment of the World Court in 1986 condemning the U.S. for "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua, demanding that it desist and pay extensive reparations, and declaring all U.S. aid to the contras, whatever its character, to be "military aid," not "humanitarian aid."  The Court was denounced on all sides for having discredited itself.  The terms of the judgment were not considered fit to print, and were ignored.  The Democrat-controlled Congress immediately authorized new funds to step up the unlawful use of force.  Washington vetoed a Security Council resolution calling on all states to respect international law -- not mentioning anyone, though the intent was clear.  When the General Assembly passed a similar resolution, the U.S. voted against it, effectively vetoing it, joined only by Israel and El Salvador; the following year, only the automatic Israeli vote could be garnered.  Little of this received mention in the media or journals of opinion, let alone what it signifies.'' [ Essay "Rogue States" (an Excerpt is included among the Appendixes). ]

Contempt for law and human rights inside and outside the U.S.

This ``contempt for the rule of law [that] is [so] deeply rooted in U.S. practice and intellectual culture'' may also help to explain the secret internment without trial of so many people with roots in the Middle East.  This contempt may also explain why human rights organizations are despised and ignored even in the U.S..  And the contempt for the millions and millions of peaceful and dignified protesters around the world.  ``Why do they hate us'', many Americans ask themself.  We don't hate.  We love.  All mankind, Americans too.  One in every 40 of the 2,000,000 dead in Vietnam was American.  We love you no less than the other 2,000,000 and their families.  The same in every conflict -- we feel the same love towards the familiy and friends of the occasional U.S. casualty as we do towards the many other families and friends of all the other casualties.  Take Iraq, there's a lot of mainly Iraqi people that loose their life there now, not to speak of the dreadful social situation after the society was destroyed by the occupation forces.  And some Americans too.  We feel equally for both -- none of them deserve to be in this situation.  The U.S. soliders should never have been sent there and the Iraqi people should never had to endure a foreign occupation force.  I cannot of course speak for everyone, but I felt the spirit in the demonstration in Stockholm, there was love.  A lot of love.  Not hate.  Never hate.


In a private letter from one American to another American about facts similar to the ones in this essay, that I had brought up in private correspondence, the first American wrote (March 3, 2003) to the second, with a copy to me: ``while Leif is certainly entitled to his opinions, he has crossed over the line of rational debate, and entered the realm of emotionalism and hyperbole.  Many of his statements are not only insulting, but false.  I am trying hard to give Leif the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps he is misinformed.  But many of his statements betray a deep anti-Americanism.''  It is very difficult to know how to respond to sentiments like these when you know that you have done all in your power to present the truth as accurately as you possibly can.  And in the case of my private correspondence, it was even very much "cushioned" compared to the present text exactly because I care so deeply for the recipient.  I think Air Force veteran Todd Altman puts the finger on what is behind this kind of reaction (i.e. that I and others criticizing the hypocrisy would be anti-American):  ``Consider first the claim that war protestors are "anti-American."  Is this accusation valid?  I don't believe it is.  Here's why.    The term "America" is virtually synonymous with individualism [ ] , and one of the central tenets of individualism is that there is a fundamental difference between the government of a country and the country itself.  Thus, in the very act of accusing dissenters of being "anti-American," pro-war advocates unwittingly reveal themselves to be anti-American.  Why?  Because the premise of their accusation is the collectivist [ ] notion that there is not a fundamental difference between the government of a country and the country itself, and that it is therefore impossible to criticize one without criticizing the other.  There is an eerie sense of Orwellian doublethink to this sort of "patriotism," and I think more and more Americans are starting to realize this.    Consider next the issue of historical context.  If you oppose this war, and often find yourself being viciously attacked by those who support it, you've probably figured out by now that there are certain things about the federal government's foreign policy -- both past and present -- that pro-war advocates simply don't want to know about.  . . .'' [ Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong -- Facts versus Propaganda, by Air Force veteran Todd Altman: (Included in it's entirety among the Appendixes.  I recommend it's reading in full.) ]

Gunter Grass, who is finally proud to be German because his country has learned from history, writes April 7, 2003:  ``No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the United States; nor do the dictator Saddam Hussein and his extensively disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the world.  It is President Bush and his government that are diminishing democratic values, bringing sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the United Nations, and that are now terrifying the world with a war in violation of international law.'' [ The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values by Gunter Grass, Los Angeles Times April 7, 2003: (Included in it's entirety among the Appendixes.)]

This little incident is _very_ telling for Europeans and Jews alike:  ``A reporter visits Guantánamo Bay and asks a guard about the sign at the front gate of the prison camp.  The sign says: "Honor bound -- to defend freedom."    The reporter asks "Isn't that a little strange, a slogan about freedom on the gate of a prison camp?"    The guard replies "Doesn't seem strange to me-- does it seem strange to you?"'' [Ted Conover, In the Land of Guantánamo, New York Times, June 29, 2003; (original was at ].  This exchange appeared in a New York Times Magazine story.  One can't help but wonder if either of these persons are aware that over each of the front gates of the Auschwitz I concentration camp, the Dachau concentration camp, the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the Terezín ghetto-camp, the Nazis had beautiful signs each reading "Arbeit Macht Frei", or "Work makes one free." [ ]  So, who is anti-american here?

Whether to support terror or civilization

As for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what remains is to decide if one wants to support international terrorism in the name of ones God and country, or if one wants to support commandments of God, right and decency, freedom and civilization . . .  It has and is truthfully said about the United States of America that it is the most dangerous terrorist state on the face of the earth, and on top of that, one controlled by fanatical fundamentalists far more unpredictable than Usama bin Laden.  That this truth isn't shouted from the roof-tops and in every international assembly is just a consequence of the raw power of the United States, not of it's righteousness.  But it should give reason for pause that the United States has made everything in it's power to stop the International Court from having jurisdiction over United States citizens.  And it is a great thing that gives hope for humanity yet that so few countries have allowed the United States to bribe or bully them into supporting the United States in this Gadiantonry; to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society.  With the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, "We see the same thing in the present situation."  (Hinckley was referring to other terrorist states, not the United States, when he said this.)

Does might make right?

A common justification for unilateral "policing" (an insult to the police, who are supposed to enforce the law, not tear it to shreds) is that ``it is morally and intellectually dishonest to claim respect for "International Law" as embodied in U.N. resolutions while at the same time expressing disdain for the only nation with the ability to enforce those resolutions.'' [ Private correspondence ]

Similar views are mentioned here: :  ``Senator John Kerry added that it would be "legitimate" for the U.S. to invade Iraq outright if Saddam "remains obdurate and in violation of the United Nations resolutions, and in a position of threat to the world community," whether the Security Council so determines or not.  Such unilateral U.S. action would be "within the framework of international law," as Kerry conceives it.''

My response is:  I'll use a metaphor.  God is the ultimate lawenforcer.  He is all mighty.  He can do anything.  Yet He will abide by His word.  He will keep his word (as long as we keep to Him).  God the lawenforcer will not contrary to his law subject us to injustice and He will not tear the law to shreds.  Our disdain is for the hypocrisy of the nation that perverts it's own Constitution.  (The same Constitution that declares valid treaties "the supreme law of the land," particularly the most fundamental of them, the U.N. Charter.  The Constitution further authorizes Congress to "define and punish...offenses against the law of nations," undergirded by the Charter in the contemporary era.)  Our disdain is for a nation that on the one hand criticize other countries for their lack of conformance to International Law and U.N. resolutions but who on the other hand regularly disobey or sabotage such laws and resolutions.  The U.S. is the country that has most often used the veto power.  Several times exactly to prevent otherwise virtually unanimous resolutions AGAINST the U.S..  In the extent that the U.N. doesn't work this is largely because the U.S. wish it to be so.

Maybe the reply would be:  ``You have been deceived by the anti-Americanism in European media.  If your news had been more balanced you would understand that the countries that oppose the war have financial interests in Iraq.''

To this I might reply:  ``You think we have been deceived?  Isn't it just that we insist on less hypocrisy?''  "Follow the money," someone wrote to me.  Sure, Russia and France have interests in Iraq.  But what companies are getting all the contracts now?  Can you spell to Vice-President Cheney's old "Halliburton Petroleum"?  Only companies with the best of contacts with the U.S. administration gets to share the loot. [ IslamOnline 23/03/2003, The Real Motives for War in Iraq By Noor ad-Deen Ingalls (Staff writer) ]  The U.S. and U.K. doesn't exactly have clean hands.  ``There are legitimate ways to react to the many threats to world peace.  If Iraq's neighbors feel threatened, they can approach the Security Council to authorize appropriate measures to respond to the threat.  If the U.S. and Britain feel threatened, they can do the same.  But no state has the authority [ -- not legally -- ] to make its own determinations on these matters and to act as it chooses; the U.S. and U.K. would have no such authority even if their own hands were clean, hardly the case.'' [ Essay "Rogue States" ( is included among the Appendixes). ]  Also, how can we trust a "law enforcer" who routinely plants false evidence (e.g. the "gassing of his own people" story that many including the U.N. bought at the time), and who on top of that routinely ignores the verdicts of the court that it deceives (the U.N.)?  The most incriminating evidence against Saddam -- agreeably a really unpleasant ruler -- is simply false.  But the resulting sanctions have killed 1.4 million Iraqi civilians (October 17, 2001).  This is 3,000 times more than the number of Kurds who supposedly died of gassing at the hands of Saddam.   [ "Did Saddam gas his own people?" and "QUESTIONS THAT WON'T BE ASKED ABOUT IRAQ" (Both included in their entirety among the Appendixes.) ]  The U.S. has corrupted all of us.  The change that you see as anti-Americanism is that the _grassroots_ in the U.S. and Europe alike has caught on, and some "strange" democracies have actually listened to their voters and changed policy.  I know, it's not the american way, but nevertheless this is what has happened.  And European media have to a much larger degree reflected public opinion than in the U.S., where the peace marches were ridiculed and falsely reported.

As I just stated, the U.S. has corrupted all of us.  We are all guilty.  Let me illustrate:  ``In 1998, Denis Halliday, the first coordinator of humanitarian relief in Iraq, resigned after 34 years of service with the UN.  Halliday stated:    I have been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide:  a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.  What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.  History will slaughter those responsible.    Halliday's replacement, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in 2000.  "How long," he asked, "should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?" Sponeck described the oil-for-food program as providing the Iraqi population with $177 per person per year-50 cents a day-for all of the needs of each Iraqi citizen.    Numerous policy papers and studies issued by UN agencies and legal scholars have determined that the sanctions program violates international human rights and humanitarian laws.  In 1999, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights published a working paper which described sanctions as "unequivocally illegal" and stated that sanctions had caused a humanitarian disaster "comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decade."'' [ Searching for a Christian Response to the War on Iraq: a Call to Repentance and Resistance ]  It is precisely when the Security Council yields to the pressure from the U.S. (or any other Rouge State) that it is "out of control".  U.S. media would have us believe precisely the opposite, that whenever the Security Council opposes the dictates of the U.S., it is therefore demonstrably irrelevant.  The idea of course being that the U.N. exists at the sole discretion of the U.S..  Maybe that is why the U.S. Congress didn't pay the huge U.S. debt to the U.N. until it felt it could use the U.N. for it's own purposes.
[ Statistics on the debt: United Nations Financial Crisis:
Tables and Charts
Also see UN Financial Crisis & USA Debt and LIAISON Vol. 3, No. 5, September 1999: ``The most powerful country in the world still owes a total of 1.6 billion to the UN.'' ]

``In God's government there is perfect order, harmony, beauty, magnificence, and grandeur; in the government of man, confusion, disorder, instability, misery, discord, and death.  In the first, the most consummate wisdom and power are manifested; in the second, ignorance, imbecility, and weakness.  The first displays the comprehension, light, glory, beneficence, and intelligence of God' the second, the folly, littleness, darkness, and incompetency of man.  The contemplation of the first elevates the mind, expands the capacity, the second produces doubt, distrust, and uncertainty and fills the mind with gloomy apprehensions.  In a word, the one is the work of God, and the other that of man.'' [The Government Of God by John Taylor, one of the twelve apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ch.1.]

Human governments are of necessity imperfect.  We all know that.  Still, it is the policy of the church to support worldly leaders.  It's even one of the articles of faith; We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

But contempt for obvious truths will hardly win any friends to the church.  By ignoring the plain truth -- or refusing to take any part of it -- members and leaders of the Church will gain no respect outside the circles of religious fundamentalists and fanatics.  For ``We are called of God to be an upright people, a virtuous people, an honorable people.  We are called upon to maintain correct principles, and to introduce them among the peoples of the earth, and especially among the people of this nation. -- JD, 25:93, February 10, 1884.   By and by, you will find they will tear the Constitution to shreds, as they have begun now.  They have started long ago to rend the Constitution of our country in pieces; and in doing so they are letting loose and encouraging a principle which will react upon themselves with terrible consequences.  For if lawmakers and administrators can afford to trample upon justice, equity, and the Constitution of this country, they will find thousands and tens of thousands who are willing to follow in their wake in the demolition of the rights of man, and the destruction of all principles of justice, and the safeguards of the nation.  But we will stand by and maintain its principles and the rights of all men of every color, and every clime.  We will cleave to the truth, live our religion, and keep the commandments of God, and God will bless us in time and throughout the eternities that are to come. -- JD, 26:38-39, December 14, 1884.'' [ John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, Chapter 29, p.310:  Calling Of The Latter-day Saints.  [The people of this nation Will Tear The Constitution To Shreds.  We are called upon to maintain correct principles.]]  ``We have reason to deplore [our governments] maladministration, and I call upon our legislators, our governors and president to pause in their careers and not to tamper with the rights and liberties of American citizens, nor wantonly tear down the bulwarks of American and human liberty.  God has given to us glorious institutions.  Let us preserve them intact and not pander to the vices, passions, and fanaticism of a depraved public opinion. -- JD, 23:65-66, April 9, 1882.'' [ John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, Chapter 29, p.311:  Appeal For An Enlightened Public Opinion.]

With Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles I therefore exclaim, ``Peace is a prime priority that pleads for our pursuit''! [ Blessed Are the Peacemakers, General Conference October 2002, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,5232,23-1-315-13,00.html ]

Leif Erlingsson

Leif currently serves as
Ward Executive Secretary
Hägersten Ward
Stockholm Sweden South Stake
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


A real eye-opener
An Excerpt from Rogue States
Exactly the wrong conclusion
Articles of Impeachment
Confronting the Empire
History of the Church, 1805 - 1847
Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong
The "New World Order" in Practice
Iraq War - Legality without a UN Mandate
UN did not give a mandate for violence
The so called no fly zones and the U.N.
The Raid on Baghdad -- Lawfulness and Implications
Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?
Iraq War Unleashes Barbarism
Did Saddam gas his own people?
20 Lies About the War
Better Late Than Never
Top 40 Bush Administration Lies on Iraq War and Terror
I write this to you in fear of my immortal soul
Human Rights Watch Letter to Donald Rumsfeld
'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values
Do We Really Have Free Speech?
You are with us or against us
Defying Law, Bush Administration Locks Up Americans
Showdown Nears Over Terrorism Detentions
Mormonism And The American System

The following was added after the essay was already finished

Searching for a Christian Response to the War on Iraq
Media control:
The Spectacular Achievements Of Propaganda

Impeachable Offenses
We Stand Our Ground
A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles
Personal Notes to the Recipient

A real eye-opener

A real eye-opener
by Leif Erlingsson; July 26, 2003

For me, this period since September 2002 has been a real eye-opener.  In September I discovered the U.S. war propaganda, and started to investigate.  And hasn't really stopped since then.  Let it be enough to say that I am still in the process of re-evaluating everything I "knew".  I was shocked indeed to discover that many, many of my fellow Latter-day Saints were _for_ the war.  But maybe this is not so strange if you consider that they have been led to believe that the war was justified.  Latter-day Saints believe -- indeed have been prepared by the Book of Mormon to understand -- that war in order to defend your land, freedom and families are justified before God.  And George Walker Bush  has "sold" the war in exactly these terms.  Of course, in reality the war is not justifiable in any way.  The U.S. is outside the law, even it's own law. [ (bad link), local transcript:  or ].  The three-part series "Military Necessity or War Crimes?" at or at #1: ,   #2: ,   #3:   clearly show both that the war is and was illegal in all respects and also that it was not justifiable by any "Military Necessity" either.  In short, it is and was a War Crime, which makes the epithet "regime" for Saddam's Iraq and "government" for Bush's U.S. seem quite unjust.  (Why should one be called a "regime" and not the other?)

About me personally:  I was born 1958 in Sweden, where I still live and raise a family.  Wife, 11 year old boy, 9 year old girl, newborn boy (June 5, 2003).  Are active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Have a brother in Miami Springs with his own family, that have no affiliation with the abovementioned church, but we are both very active in the "anti-war-propaganda-movement".


``THE RULE OF FORCE. -- . . . You who have made yourselves acquainted with the political structure and the political intrigues of earthly kingdoms, I ask, whence did they obtain their power?  Did they get it from God?  Go to the history of Europe, if you please, and examine how the rulers of those nations obtained their authority.  Depending upon history for our information, we say those nations have been founded by the sword.  If we trace the pages of history still further back to the first nation that existed, still we find that it was founded upon the same principles.  Then follow the various revolutions and changes that took place among subsequent nations and power, from the Babylonians through the Medo-Persians, Grecians, Romans, and from that power to all the other powers of Europe, Asia, and Africa of which we have any knowledge.  And if we look to America from the first discoveries by Columbus to the present time, where are now the original proprietors of the soil?  Go to any power that has existed upon this earth, and you will find that earthly government, earthly rule and dominion, have been obtained by the sword.  It was the sword of men that first put them in possession of this power.  They have walked up to their thrones through rivers of blood, through the clotted gore and the groans of the dying, and through the tears and lamentations of bereaved widows and helpless orphans; and hence the common saying is, "Thrones won by blood, by blood must be maintained."  By the same principle that they have been put in possession of territory, have they sought to sustain themselves the same violence, the same fraud, and the same oppression have been made use of to sustain their illegitimacy.  . . .  -- JD, 1:223-225, April 8, 1853.'' [The Gospel Kingdom, selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, Third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p.315.]

An Excerpt from Rogue States

[ Full (and most interesting) text at ]

An Excerpt from Rogue States
by Noam Chomsky

The concept of "rogue state" plays a pre-eminent role today in policy planning and analysis.

The current Iraq crisis is only the latest example. Washington and London declared Iraq a "rogue state," a threat to its neighbors and to the entire world, an "outlaw nation" led by a reincarnation of Hitler who must be contained by the guardians of world order, the United States and its British "junior partner," to adopt the term ruefully employed by the British foreign office half a century ago. The concept merits a close look.


A secret 1995 study of the Strategic Command, which is responsible for the strategic nuclear arsenal, outlines the basic thinking. Released through the Freedom of Information Act, the study, Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence, "shows how the United States shifted its deterrent strategy from the defunct Soviet Union to so-called rogue states such as Iraq, Libya, Cuba and North Korea," AP reports. The study advocates that the US exploit its nuclear arsenal to portray itself as "irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked." That "should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries," in particular the "rogue states." "It hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed," let alone committed to such silliness as international law and treaty obligations. "The fact that some elements" of the US government "may appear to be potentially `out of control' can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary's decision makers." The report resurrects Nixon's "madman theory": our enemies should recognize that we are crazed and unpredictable, with extraordinary destructive force at our command, so they will bend to our will in fear.


Iraq has displaced Iran and Libya as the leading "rogue state." Others have never entered the ranks. Perhaps the most relevant case is Indonesia, which shifted from enemy to friend when General Suharto took power in 1965, presiding over an enormous slaughter that elicited great satisfaction in the West. Since then Suharto has been "our kind of guy," as the Clinton Administration described him, while carrying out murderous aggression and endless atrocities against his own people; killing 10,000 Indonesians just in the 1980s, according to the personal testimony of "our guy," who wrote that "the corpses were left lying around as a form of shock therapy." (Cited by Charles Glass, Prospect (London), March 1998.) In December 1975 the UN Security Council unanimously ordered Indonesia to withdraw its invading forces from East Timor "without delay" and called upon "all States to respect the territorial integrity of East Timor as well as the inalienable right of its people to self-determination." The US responded by (secretly) increasing shipments of arms to the aggressors; Carter accelerated the arms flow once again as the attack reached near-genocidal levels in 1978.

In his memoirs, UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan takes pride in his success in rendering the UN "utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook," following the instructions of the State Department, which "wished things to turn out as they did and worked to bring this about." The US also happily accepts the robbery of East Timor's oil (with participation of a US company), in violation of any reasonable interpretation of international agreements.

The analogy to Iraq/Kuwait is close, though there are differences: to mention only the most obvious, US-sponsored atrocities in East Timor were vastly beyond anything attributed to Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.


The concept "rogue state" is highly nuanced. Thus Cuba qualifies as a leading "rogue state" because of its alleged involvement in international terrorism, but the US does not fall into the category despite its terrorist attacks against Cuba for close to 40 years, apparently continuing through last summer according to important investigative reporting of the Miami Herald, which failed to reach the national press (here -- it did in Europe). Cuba was a "rogue state" when its military forces were in Angola, backing the government against South African attacks supported by the US. South Africa, in contrast, was not a rogue state then, nor during the Reagan years, when it caused over $60 billion in damage and 1.5 million deaths in neighboring states according to a UN Commission, not to speak of some events at home -- and with ample US/UK support. The same exemption applies to Indonesia and many others.

The criteria are fairly clear: a "rogue state" is not simply a criminal state, but one that defies the orders of the powerful -- who are, of course, exempt.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Exactly the wrong conclusion

``Geoffrey Biddulph cites all the right scriptures in his article on the Book of Mormon and Iraq and comes to exactly the wrong conclusion.  As he notes over and over the Book of Mormon does not justify aggressive war.  Yet we will be conducting a preemptive strike if the United States attacks Iraq.  Granted the people of the United States are not filled with anger against that nation, but the President surely is.  Unfortunately, we all will suffer if he continues in his course.  The surest way to provoke a retaliatory terrorist attack from Iraq is for us to attack first.  If not from Iraq itself, our invasion of a Muslim country will throw fuel on the fires in the mideast and create more recruits for terrorist organizations.  I thought we had learned the lessons of patience in our policy of containment and deterrence with the Soviet Union, but the aggressive desire for action against an enemy is too much for our President to resist.  We are likely soon to be plunged into war in contradiction to the Book of Mormon policy.'' [ Richard Bushman, Columbia University, in feedback on website to essay by Geoffrey Biddulph ]

Articles of Impeachment

Articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Attorney General John David Ashcroft

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. - - ARTICLE II, SECTION 4 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Attorney General John David Ashcroft have committed violations and subversions of the Constitution of the United States of America in an attempt to carry out with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes and deprivations of the civil rights of the people of the United States and other nations, by assuming powers of an imperial executive unaccountable to law and usurping powers of the Congress, the Judiciary and those reserved to the people of the United States, by the following acts:

1) Threatening Iraq with a first-strike war of aggression by overwhelming and indiscriminate force including specific threats to use nuclear weapons while engaged in a massive military build-up in surrounding nations and waters.

2) Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct attacks on civilians, civilian facilities and locations where civilian casualties are unavoidable.

3) Threatening the independence and sovereignty of Iraq by belligerently proclaiming an intention to change its government by force while preparing to assault Iraq in a war of aggression.

4) Authorizing, ordering and condoning assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain false statements concerning acts and intentions of governments and individuals and violating within the United States, and by authorizing U.S. forces and agents elsewhere, the rights of individuals under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

5) Making, ordering and condoning false statements and propaganda about the conduct of foreign governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel; manipulating the media and foreign governments with false information; concealing information vital to public discussion and informed judgment concerning acts, intentions and possession, or efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in order to falsely create a climate of fear and destroy opposition to U.S. wars of aggression and first strike attacks.

6) Violations and subversions of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, both a part of the "Supreme Law of the land" under Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, in an attempt to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in wars and threats of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts and by rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of U.S. military and economic power against the international community.

7) Acting to strip United States citizens of their constitutional and human rights, ordering indefinite detention of citizens, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention, based solely on the discretionary designation by the Executive of a citizen as an "enemy combatant."

8) Ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, and without charge, at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense.

9) Ordering and authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction, even where the judicial officer after full hearing determines a detainee is wrongfully held by the government.

10) Authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens who are designated solely at the discretion of the Executive who acts as indicting official, prosecutor and as the only avenue of appellate relief.

11) Refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the U.S. government in the United States, including in response to Congressional inquiry.

12) Use of secret arrests of persons within the United States and elsewhere and denial of the right to public trials.

13) Authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government, even in the absence of a court order and even where an incarcerated person has not been charged with a crime.

14) Ordering and authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States, prior to hearing or trial, for lawful or innocent association with any entity that at the discretionary designation of the Executive has been deemed "terrorist."

15) Institutionalization of racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity.

16) Refusal to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions.

17) Rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and abrogation of the obligations of the United States under, and withdrawal from, international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, and including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia, and recission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court.

Confronting the Empire§ionID=40

ZNet | Terror War
Confronting the Empire
by Noam Chomsky;  February 01, 2003

We are meeting at a moment of world history that is in many ways unique  --  a moment that is ominous, but also full of hope.

The most powerful state in history has proclaimed, loud and clear, that it intends to rule the world by force, the dimension in which it reigns supreme.  Apart from the conventional bow to noble intentions that is the standard (hence meaningless) accompaniment of coercion, its leaders are committed to pursuit of their ``imperial ambition,'' as it is frankly described in the leading journal of the foreign policy establishment  --  critically, an important matter.  They have also declared that they will tolerate no competitors, now or in the future.  They evidently believe that the means of violence in their hands are so extraordinary that they can dismiss with contempt anyone who stands in their way.  There is good reason to believe that the war with Iraq is intended, in part, to teach the world some lessons about what lies ahead when the empire decides to strike a blow -- though ``war'' is hardly the proper term, given the array of forces.

The doctrine is not entirely new, nor unique to the US, but it has never before been proclaimed with such brazen arrogance  --  at least not by anyone we would care to remember.

I am not going to try to answer the question posed for this meeting: How to confront the empire.  The reason is that most of you know the answers as well or better than I do, through your own lives and work.  The way to ``confront the empire'' is to create a different world, one that is not based on violence and subjugation, hate and fear.  That is why we are here, and the WSF offers hope that these are not idle dreams.

Yesterday I had the rare privilege of seeing some very inspiring work to achieve these goals, at the international gathering of the Via Campesina at a community of the MST, which I think is the most important and exciting popular movement in the world.  With constructive local actions such as those of the MST, and international organization of the kind illustrated by the Via Campesina and the WSF, with sympathy and solidarity and mutual aid, there is real hope for a decent future.

I have also had some other recent experiences that give a vivid picture of what the world may be like if imperial violence is not limited and dismantled.  Last month I was in southeastern Turkey, the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the grisly 1990s, still continuing: just a few hours ago we were informed of  renewed atrocities by the army near Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish regions.  Through the 1990s, millions of people were driven out of the devastated countryside, with tens of thousands killed and every imaginable form of barbaric torture.  They try to survive in caves outside the walls of Diyarbakir, in condemned buildings in miserable slums in Istanbul, or wherever they can find refuge, barred from returning to their villages despite new legislation that theoretically permits return.  80% of the weapons came from the US.  In the year 1997 alone, Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than in the entire Cold War period combined up to the onset of the state terror campaign  --  called ``counterterror'' by the perpetrators and their supporters, another convention.  Turkey became the leading recipient of US arms as atrocities peaked (apart from Israel-Egypt, a separate category).

In 1999, Turkey relinquished this position to Colombia.  The reason is that in Turkey, US-backed state terror had largely succeeded, while in Colombia it had not.  Colombia had the worst human rights record in the Western hemisphere in the 1990s and was by far the leading recipient of US arms and military training, and now leads the world.  It also leads the world by other measures, for example, murder of labor activists: more than half of those killed worldwide in the last decade were in Colombia.  Close to 1/2 million people were driven from their land last year, a new record.  The displaced population is now estimated at 2.7 million.  Political killings have risen to 20 a day; 5 years ago it was half that.

I visited Cauca in southern Colombia, which had the worst human rights record in the country in 2001, quite an achievement.  There I listened to hours of testimony by peasants who were driven from their lands by chemical warfare  --  called ``fumigation'' under the pretext of a US-run ``drug war'' that few take seriously and that would be obscene if that were the intent.  Their lives and lands are destroyed, children are dying, they suffer from sickness and wounds.  Peasant agriculture is based on a rich tradition of knowledge and experience gained over many centuries, in much of the world passed on from mother to daughter.  Though a remarkable human achievement, it is very fragile, and can be destroyed forever in a single generation.  Also being destroyed is some of the richest biodiversity in the world, similar to neighboring regions of Brazil. Campesinos, indigenous people, Afro-Colombians can join the millions in rotting slums and camps.  With the people gone, multinationals can come in to strip the mountains for coal and to extract oil and other resources, and to convert what is left of the land to monocrop agroexport using laboratory-produced seeds in an environment shorn of its treasures and variety.

The scenes in Cauca and Southeastern Turkey are very different from the celebrations of the Via Campesina gathering at the MST community.  But Turkey and Colombia are inspiring and hopeful in different ways, because of the courage and dedication of people struggling for justice and freedom, confronting the empire where it is killing and destroying.
These are some of the signs of the future if ``imperial ambition'' proceeds on its normal course, now to be accelerated by the grand strategy of global rule by force.  None of this is inevitable, and among the good models for ending these crimes are the ones I mentioned: the MST, the Via Campesina, and the WSF.

At the WSF, the range of issues and problems under intense discussion is very broad, remarkably so, but I think we can identify two main themes.  One is global justice and Life after Capitalism  --  or to put it more simply, life, because it is not so clear that the human species can survive very long under existing state capitalist institutions.  The second theme is related: war and peace, and more specifically, the war in Iraq that Washington and London are desperately seeking to carry out, virtually alone.

Let's start with some good news about these basic themes.  As you know, there is also a conference of the World Economic Forum going on right now, in Davos.  Here in Porto Alegre, the mood is hopeful, vigorous, exciting.  In Davos, the New York Times tells us, ``the mood has darkened.'' For the ``movers and shakers,'' it is not ``global party time'' any more.  In fact, the founder of the Forum has conceded defeat: ``The power of corporations has completely disappeared,'' he said.  So we have won.  There is nothing left for us to do but pick up the pieces -- not only to talk about a vision of the future that is just and humane, but to move on to create it.

Of course, we should not let the praise go to our heads.  There are still a few difficulties ahead.

The main theme of the WEF is ``Building Trust.'' There is a reason for that.  The ``masters of the universe,'' as they liked to call themselves in more exuberant days, know that they are in serious trouble.  They recently released a poll showing that trust in leaders has severely declined.  Only the leaders of NGOs had the trust of a clear majority, followed by UN and spiritual/religious leaders, then leaders of Western Europe and economic managers, below them corporate executives, and well below them, at the bottom, leaders of the US, with about 25% trust.  That may well mean virtually no trust: when people are asked whether they trust leaders with power, they usually say ``Yes,'' out of habit.

It gets worse.  A few days ago a poll in Canada found that over 1/3 of the population regard the US as the greatest threat to world peace.  The US ranks more than twice as high as Iraq or North Korea, and far higher than al-Qaeda as well.  A poll without careful controls, by Time magazine, found that over 80% of respondents in Europe regarded the US as the greatest threat to world peace, compared with less than 10% for Iraq or North Korea.  Even if these numbers are wrong by some substantial factor, they are dramatic.

Without going on, the corporate leaders who paid $30,000 to attend the somber meetings in Davos have good reasons to take as their theme: ``Building Trust.''

The coming war with Iraq is undoubtedly contributing to these interesting and important developments.  Opposition to the war is completely without historical precedent.  In Europe it is so high that Secretary of ``Defense'' Donald Rumsfeld dismissed Germany and France as just the ``old Europe,'' plainly of no concern because of their disobedience.   The ``vast numbers of other countries in Europe [are] with the United States,'' he assured foreign journalists.  These vast numbers are the ``new Europe,'' symbolized by Italy's Berlusconi, soon to visit the White House, praying that he will be invited to be the third of the ``three B's'': Bush-Blair-Berlusconi  --  assuming that he can stay out of jail.  Italy is on board, the White House tells us.  It is apparently not a problem that over 80% of the public is opposed to the war, according to recent polls.  That just shows that the people of Italy also belong to the ``old Europe,'' and can be sent to the ashcan of history along with France and Germany, and others who do not know their place.

Spain is hailed as another prominent member of the new Europe -- with 75% totally opposed to the war, according to an international Gallup poll.  According to the leading foreign policy analyst of Newsweek, pretty much the same is true of the most hopeful part of the new Europe, the former Communist countries that are counted on (quite openly) to serve US interests and undermine Europe's despised social market and welfare states.  He reports that in Czechoslovakia, 2/3 of the population oppose participation in a war, while in Poland only 1/4 would support a war even if the UN inspectors ``prove that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.'' The Polish press reports 37% approval in this case, still extremely low, at the heart of the ``new Europe.''

New Europe soon identified itself in an open letter in the Wall Street Journal: along with Italy, Spain, Poland and Czechoslovakia  --  the leaders, that is, not the people  --  it includes Denmark (with popular opinion on the war about the same as Germany, therefore ``old Europe''),  Portugal (53% opposed to war under any circumstances, 96% opposed to war by the US and its allies unilaterally), Britain (40% opposed to war under any circumstances, 90% opposed to war by the US and its allies unilaterally), and Hungary (no figures available).

In brief, the exciting ``new Europe'' consists of some leaders who are willing to defy their populations.

Old Europe reacted with some annoyance to Rumsfeld's declaration that they are ``problem'' countries, not modern states.  Their reaction was explained by thoughtful US commentators.  Keeping just to the national press, we learn that ``world-weary European allies'' do not appreciate the ``moral rectitude'' of the President.  The evidence for his ``moral rectitude'' is that ``his advisors say the evangelical zeal'' comes directly from the simple man who is dedicated to driving evil from the world.  Since that is surely the most reliable and objective evidence that can be imagined, it would be improper to express slight skepticism, let alone to react as we would to similar performances by others.  The cynical Europeans, we are told, misinterpret Bush's purity of soul as ``moral naiveté''  --  without a thought that the administration's PR specialists might have a hand in creating imagery that will sell.  We are informed further that there is a great divide between world-weary Europe and the ``idealistic New World bent on ending inhumanity." That this is the driving purpose of the idealistic New World  we also know for certain, because so our leaders proclaim.  What more in the way of proof could one seek?

The rare mention of public opinion in the new Europe treats it as a problem of marketing; the product being sold is necessarily right and honorable, given its source.  The willingness of the leaders of the new Europe to prefer Washington to their own populations ``threatens to isolate the Germans and French,'' who are exhibiting retrograde democratic tendencies, and shows that Germany and France cannot ``say that they are speaking for Europe.'' They are merely speaking for the people of old and new Europe, who  --  the same commentators acknowledge -- express ``strong opposition'' to the policies of the new Europe.

The official pronouncements and the reaction to them are illuminating.  They demonstrate with some clarity the contempt for democracy that is rather typical, historically, among those who feel that they rule the world by right.

There are many other illustrations.  When German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder dared to take the position of the overwhelming majority of voters in the last election, that was described as a shocking failure of leadership, a serious problem that Germany must overcome if it wants to be accepted in the civilized world.  The problem lies with Germany, not elites of the Anglo-American democracies.  Germany's problem is that ``the government lives in fear of the voters, and that is causing it to make mistake after mistake''  --  the spokesperson for the right-wing Christian Social Union party, who understands the real nature of democracy.

The case of Turkey is even more revealing.  As throughout the region, Turks are very strongly opposed to the war  --  about 90% according to the most recent polls.  And so far the government has irresponsibly paid some attention to the people who elected it.  It has not bowed completely to the intense pressure and threats that Washington is exerting to compel it to heed the master's voice.  This reluctance of the elected government to follow orders from on high proves that its leaders are not true democrats.  For those who may be too dull to comprehend these subtleties, they are explained by former Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, now a distinguished senior statesman and commentator.  Ten years ago, he explained, Turkey was governed by a real democrat, Turgut Ozal, who ``overrode his countrymen's pronounced preference to stay out of the Gulf war.'' But democracy has declined in Turkey.  The current leadership ``is following the people,'' revealing its lack of ``democratic credentials.'' ``Regrettably,'' he says, ``for the US there is no Ozal around.'' So it will be necessary to bring authentic democracy to Turkey by economic strangulation and other coercive means  --  regrettably, but that is demanded by what the elite press calls our ``yearning for democracy.''

Brazil is witnessing another exercise of the real attitudes towards democracy among the masters of the universe.  In  the most free election in the hemisphere, a large majority voted for policies that are strongly opposed by international finance and investors, by the IMF and the US Treasury Department.   In earlier years, that would have been the signal for a military coup installing a murderous National Security State, as in Brazil 40 years ago.  Now that will not work; the populations of South and North have changed, and will not easily tolerate it.  Furthermore, there are now simpler ways to undermine the will of the people, thanks to the neoliberal instruments that have been  put in place:  economic controls, capital flight, attacks on currency, privatization, and other devices that are well-designed to reduce the arena of popular choice.  These, it is hoped, may compel the government to follow the dictates of what international economists call the ``virtual parliament'' of investors and lenders, who make the real decisions, coercing the population, an irrelevant nuisance according to the reigning principles of  democracy.

When I was just about to leave for the airport I received another of the many inquiries from the press about why there is so little anti-war protest in the US.  The impressions are instructive.  In fact, protest in the US, as elsewhere, is also at levels that have no historical precedent.  Not just demonstrations, teach-ins, and other public events.  To take an example of a different kind, last week the Chicago City Council passed an anti-war resolution, 46-1, joining 50 other cities and towns.  The same is true in other sectors, including those that are the most highly trusted, as the WEF learned to its dismay: NGOs and religious organizations and figures, with few exceptions.   Several months ago the biggest university in the country passed a strong antiwar resolution  --  the University of Texas, right next door to George W's ranch.  And it's easy to continue.

So why the widespread judgment among elites that the tradition of dissent and protest has died?  Invariably, comparisons are drawn to Vietnam, a very revealing fact.  We have just passed the 40th anniversary of the public announcement that the Kennedy administration was sending the US Air Force to bomb South Vietnam, also initiating plans to drive millions of people into concentration camps and chemical warfare programs to destroy food crops.  There was no pretext of defense, except in the sense of official rhetoric: defense against the "internal aggression" of South Vietnamese in South Vietnam and their "assault from the inside" (President Kennedy and his UN Ambassador, Adlai Stevenson).  Protest was non-existent.  It did not reach any meaningful level for several years.  By that time hundreds of thousands of US troops had joined the occupying army, densely-populated areas were being demolished by saturation bombing, and the aggression had spread to the rest of Indochina.   Protest among elite intellectuals kept primarily to ``pragmatic grounds'': the war was a ``mistake'' that was becoming too costly to the US.  In sharp contrast, by the late 1960s the great majority of the public had come to oppose the war as ``fundamentally wrong and immoral,'' not ``a mistake,'' figures that hold steady until the present.

Today, in dramatic contrast to the 1960s, there is large-scale, committed, and principled popular protest all over the US before the war has been officially launched.  That reflects a steady increase over these years in unwillingness to tolerate aggression and atrocities, one of many such changes, worldwide in fact.  That's part of the background for what is taking place in Porto Alegre, and part of the reason for the gloom in Davos.

The political leadership is well aware of these developments.  When a new administration comes into office, it receives a review of the world situation compiled by the intelligence agencies.  It is secret; we learn about these things many years later.  But when Bush #1 came into office in 1989, a small part of the review was leaked, a passage concerned with ``cases where the U.S. confronts much weaker enemies''  --  the only kind one would  think of fighting.  Intelligence analysts advised that in conflicts with ``much weaker enemies'' the US must win ``decisively and rapidly,'' or popular support will collapse.  It's not like the 1960s, when the population would tolerate a murderous and destructive war for years without visible protest.   That's no longer true.  The activist movements of the past 40 years have had a significant civilizing effect.  By now, the only way to attack a much weaker enemy is to construct a huge propaganda offensive depicting it as about to commit genocide, maybe even a threat to our very survival, then to celebrate a miraculous victory over the awesome foe, while chanting praises to the courageous leaders who came to the rescue just in time.

That is the current scenario in Iraq.

Polls reveal more support for the planned war in the US than elsewhere, but the numbers are misleading.  It is important to bear in mind that the US is the only country outside Iraq where Saddam Hussein is not only reviled but also feared.  There is a flood of lurid propaganda warning that if we do not stop him today he will destroy us tomorrow.  The next evidence of his weapons of mass destruction may be a ``mushroom cloud,'' so National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice announced in September  --  presumably over New York.  No one in Iraq's neighborhood seems overly concerned, much as they may hate the murderous tyrant.  Perhaps that is because they know that as a result of the sanctions ``the vast majority of the country's population has been on a semi-starvation diet for years,'' as the World Health Organization reported, and that Iraq is one of the weakest states in the region: its economy and military expenditures are a fraction of Kuwait's, which has 10% of Iraq's population, and much farther below others nearby.

But the US is different.  When Congress granted the President authority to go to war last October, it was ``to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.'' We must tremble in fear before this awesome threat, while countries nearby seek to reintegrate Iraq into the region, including those who were attacked by Saddam when he was a friend and ally of those who now run the show in Washington  --  and who were happily providing him with aid including the means to develop WMD, at a time when he was far more dangerous than today and had already committed by far his worst crimes.

A serious measure of support for war in the US would have to extricate this ``fear factor,'' which is genuine, and unique to the US.  The residue would give a more realistic measure of support for the resort to violence, and would show, I think, that it is about the same as elsewhere.

It is also rather striking that strong opposition to the coming war extends right through the establishment.  The current issues of the two major foreign policy journals feature articles opposing the war by leading figures of foreign policy elites.  The very respectable American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a long monograph on the war, trying to give the most sympathetic possible account of the Bush administration position, then dismantling it point by point.  One respected analyst they quote is a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,  who warns that the US is becoming ``a menace to itself and to mankind'' under its current leadership.  There are no precedents for anything like this.

We should recognize that these criticisms tend to be narrow.  They are concerned with threats to the US and its allies.  They do not take into account the likely effects on Iraqis: the warnings of the UN and aid agencies that millions may be at very serious risk in a country that is at the edge of survival after a terrible war that targeted its basic infrastructure  --  which amounts to biological warfare -- and a decade of devastating sanctions that have killed hundreds of thousands of people and blocked any reconstruction, while strengthening the brutal tyrant who rules Iraq.  It is also interesting that the criticisms do not even take the trouble to mention the lofty rhetoric about democratization and liberation.  Presumably, the critics take for granted that the rhetoric is intended for intellectuals and editorial writers  --  who are not supposed to notice that the drive to war is accompanied by a dramatic demonstration of hatred of democracy, just as they are supposed to forget the record of those who are leading the campaign.  That is also why none of this is ever brought up at the UN.

Nevertheless, the threats that do concern establishment critics are very real.  They were surely not surprised when the CIA informed Congress last October that they know of no link between Iraq and al Qaeda-style terrorism, but that an attack on Iraq would probably increase the terrorist threat to the West, in many ways.  It is likely to inspire a new generation of terrorists bent on revenge, and it might induce Iraq to carry out terrorist actions that are already in place, a possibility taken very seriously by US analysts.  A high-level task force of the Council on Foreign Relations just released a report warning of likely terrorist attacks that could be far worse than 9-11, including possible use of WMD right within the US, dangers that become ``more urgent by the prospect of the US going to war with Iraq.''  They provide many illustrations, virtually a cook-book for terrorists.  It is not the first; similar ones were published by prominent strategic analysts long before 9-11.

It is also understood that an attack on Iraq may lead not just to more terror, but also to proliferation of WMD, for a simple reason: potential targets of the US recognize that there is no other way to deter the most powerful state in history, which is pursuing ``America's Imperial Ambition,'' posing serious dangers to the US and the world, the author warns in the main establishment journal, Foreign Affairs.   Prominent hawks warn that a war in Iraq might lead to the ``greatest proliferation disaster in history.'' They know that if Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, the dictatorship keeps them under tight control.  They understand further that except as a last resort if attacked, Iraq is highly unlikely to use any WMD it has, thus inviting instant incineration.   And it is also highly unlikely to leak them to the Osama bin Ladens of the world, which would be a terrible threat to Saddam Hussein himself, quite apart from the reaction if there is even a hint that this might take place.  But under attack,  the society would collapse, including the controls over WMD.  These would be ``privatized,'' terrorism experts point out, and offered to the huge ``market for unconventional weapons, where they will have no trouble finding buyers.'' That really is a ``nightmare scenario,'' just as the hawks warn.

Even before the Bush administration began beating the war drums about Iraq, there were plenty of warnings that its adventurism was going to lead to proliferation of WMD, as well as terror, simply as a deterrent.  Right now, Washington is teaching the world a very ugly and dangerous lesson: if you want to defend yourself from us, you had better mimic North Korea and pose a credible military threat, including WMD.  Otherwise we will demolish you in pursuit of the new ``grand strategy'' that has caused shudders not only among the usual victims, and in ``old Europe,'' but right at the heart of the US foreign policy elite, who recognize that ``commitment of the US to active military confrontation for decisive national advantage will leave the world more dangerous and the US less secure''  --  again, quoting respected figures in elite journals.

Evidently, the likely increase of terror and proliferation of WMD is of limited concern to planners in Washington, in the context of their real priorities.  Without too much difficulty, one can think of reasons why this might be the case, not very attractive ones.

The nature of the threats was dramatically underscored last October, at the summit meeting in Havana on the 40th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, attended by key participants from Russia, the US, and Cuba.   Planners knew at the time that they had the fate of the world in their hands, but new information released at the Havana summit was truly startling.  We learned that the world was saved from nuclear devastation by one Russian submarine captain, Vasily Arkhipov, who blocked an order to fire nuclear missiles when Russian submarines were attacked by US destroyers near Kennedy's ``quarantine'' line.  Had Arkhipov agreed, the nuclear launch would have almost certainly set off an interchange that could have ``destroyed the Northern hemisphere,'' as Eisenhower had warned.

The dreadful revelation is particularly timely because of the circumstances: the roots of the missile crisis lay in international terrorism aimed at ``regime change,'' two concepts very much in the news today.  US terrorist attacks against Cuba began shortly after Castro took power, and were sharply escalated by Kennedy, leading to a very plausible fear of invasion, as Robert McNamara has acknowledged.  Kennedy resumed the terrorist war immediately after the crisis was over; terrorist actions against Cuba, based in the US, peaked in the late 1970s continued 20 years later.  Putting aside any judgment about the behavior of the participants in the missile crisis, the new discoveries demonstrate with brilliant clarity the terrible and unanticipated risks of attacks on a ``much weaker enemy'' aimed at ``regime change''  --  risks to survival, it is no exaggeration to say.

As for the fate of the people of Iraq, no one can predict with any confidence: not the CIA, not Donald Rumsfeld, not those who claim to be experts on Iraq, no one.  Possibilities range from the frightening prospects for which the aid agencies are preparing, to the delightful tales spun by administration PR specialists and their chorus.  One never knows.  These are among the many reasons why decent human beings do not contemplate the threat or use of violence, whether in personal life or international affairs, unless reasons have been offered that have overwhelming force.  And surely nothing remotely like that has been offered in the present case, which is why opposition to the plans of Washington and London has reached such scale and intensity.

The timing of the Washington-London propaganda campaign was so transparent that it too has been a topic of discussion, and sometimes ridicule, right in the mainstream.  The campaign began in September of last year.  Before that, Saddam was a terrible guy, but not an imminent threat to the survival of the US.  The ``mushroom cloud'' was announced in early September.  Since then, fear that Saddam will attack the US has been running at about 60-70% of the population. ``The desperate urgency about moving rapidly against Iraq that Bush expressed in October was not evident from anything he said two months before,'' the chief political analyst of United Press International observed, drawing the obvious conclusion: September marked the opening of the political campaign for the mid-term congressional elections. The administration, he continued, was ``campaigning to sustain and increase its power on a policy of international adventurism, new radical preemptive military strategies, and a hunger for a politically convenient and perfectly timed confrontation with Iraq.'' As long as domestic issues were in the forefront, Bush and his cohorts were losing ground  --  naturally enough, because they are conducting a serious assault against the general population. ``But lo and behold! Though there have been no new terrorist attacks or credible indications of imminent threat, since the beginning of September, national security issues have been in the driver's seat,'' not just al Qaeda but an awesome and threatening military power, Iraq.

The same observations have been made by many others.  Thats convenient for people like us: we can just quote the mainstream instead of giving controversial analyses.  The Carnegie Endowment Senior Associate I quoted before writes that Bush and Co. are following the classic modern strategy of an endangered right-wing oligarchy, which is to divert mass discontent into nationalism," inspired by fear of enemies about to destroy us.  That strategy is of critical importance if the "radical nationalists" setting policy in Washington hope to advance their announced plan for "unilateral world domination through absolute military superiority," while conducting a major assault against the interests of the large majority of the domestic population.

For the elections, the strategy worked, barely.  The Fall 2002 election was won by a small number of votes, but enough to hand Congress to the executive.  Analyses of the election found that voters maintained their opposition to the administration on social and economic issues, but suppressed these issues in favor of security concerns, which typically lead to support for the figure in authority  the brave cowboy who must ride to our rescue, just in time.

As history shows, it is all too easy for unscrupulous leaders to terrify the public, with consequences that have not been attractive.  That is the natural method to divert attention from the fact that tax cuts for the rich and other devices are undermining prospects for a decent life for large majority of the population, and for future generations.  When the presidential campaign begins, Republican strategists surely do not want people to be asking questions about their pensions, jobs, health care, and other such matters.  Rather, they should be praising their heroic leader for rescuing them from imminent destruction by a foe of colossal power, and marching on to confront the next powerful force bent on our destruction.  It could be Iran, or conflicts in the Andean countries: there are lots of good choices, as long as the targets are defenseless.

These ideas are second nature to the current political leaders, most of them recycled from the Reagan administration.  They are replaying a familiar script: drive the country into deficit so as to be able to undermine social programs, declare a war on terror (as they did in 1981) and conjure up one devil after another to frighten the population into obedience. In the `80s it was Libyan hit-men prowling the streets of Washington to assassinate our leader, then the Nicaraguan army only two-days march from Texas, a threat to survival so severe that Reagan had to declare a national emergency.  Or an airfield in Grenada that the Russians were going to use to bomb us (if they could find it on a map); Arab terrorists seeking to kill Americans everywhere while Qaddafi plans to expel America from the world, so Reagan wailed.  Or Hispanic narcotraffickers seeking to destroy the youth; and on, and on.

Meanwhile the political leadership were able to carry out domestic policies that had generally poor economic outcomes but did create wealth for narrow sectors while harming a considerable majority of the population  the script that is being followed once again.  And since the public knows it, they have to resort to the classic modern strategy of an endangered right wing oligarchy if they hope to carry out the domestic and international programs to which they are committed, perhaps even to institutionalize them so they will be hard to dismantle when they lose control.

Of course, there is much more to it than domestic considerations  which are of no slight importance in themselves.  The September 11 terrorist atrocities provided an opportunity and pretext to implement long-standing plans to take control of Iraq's immense oil wealth, a central component of the Persian Gulf resources that the State Department, in 1945, described as "a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history." US intelligence predicts that these will be of even greater significance in the years ahead.  The issue has never been access.  The same intelligence analyses anticipate that the US will rely on more secure supplies in the Western hemisphere and West Africa.  The same was true after World War II.  What matters is control over the "material prize," which funnels enormous wealth to the US in many ways, Britain as well, and the "stupendous source of strategic power," which translates into a lever of unilateral world domination -- the goal that is now openly proclaimed, and is frightening much of the world, including old Europe and the conservative establishment in the US.

I think a realistic look at the world gives a mixed picture.  There are many reasons to be encouraged, but there will be a long hard road ahead.

History of the Church, 1805 - 1847

History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1805 - 1847, Joseph Smith, Vol.2, Ch.18, p.247

        President Oliver Cowdery then read the following article on "Governments and Laws in General," which was accepted and adopted and ordered to be printed in said book, by a unanimous vote'

        Of Governments and Laws in General. "That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws in general may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same.

        "We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man, and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them for the good and safety of society.

History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.18, p.248

        "We believe that no Government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held in violate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, and the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

        "We believe that all governments necessarily require evil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same, and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for, and upheld by the voice of the people (if a republic,) or the will of the sovereign.

        "We believe that religion is instituted of God, and that men are amenable to Him, and to aim only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the conscience; of men, or dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

        "We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

        "We believe that every man should be honored in his station; ruler or magistrate as such--being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would he supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

        "We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right, in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws, and such religious opinions do not justify sedition or conspiracy.

History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.18, p.249

        "We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense, that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respect, should be punished according to their criminality, and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

        "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

        "We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies provided that such dealing be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world's goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb; or to inflict any physical punishment upon them; they can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

        "We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances where personal abuse is inflicted, or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends and property, and the government from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency when immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

        "We believe it just to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond servants; neither preach the Gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters; nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful, and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude."

        A hymn was then sung. President Sidney Rigdon returned thanks;

History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.18, p.250

        after which the assembly was blessed by the Presidency with uplifted hands, and dismissed.



Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong

Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong

Facts versus Propaganda

Why Pro-War Advocates Have Got It Wrong

If you're committed to a certain belief, it can be unpleasant to find truths that go against it.  Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves, our children, and our country, to pay attention to what is really happening in the world around us.

In this article, Todd Altman gives a sharp dose of truth to those whose foreign policy is mainly built on false myths, fears and vague wishes.

by Todd Altman
April, 2003

The current war on Iraq [ ]  is proving to be the most divisive issue the people of this country have had to face since the Vietnam war. And just as was the case with many of those who supported the war in Vietnam, many of those who support the war in Iraq are fond of doing two things. First, they routinely accuse those who oppose this war of being "anti-American [ ] ." Second, they consistently ignore the historical context in which this war is being waged.

Consider first the claim that war protestors are "anti-American." Is this accusation valid? I don't believe it is. Here's why.

The term "America" is virtually synonymous with individualism [ ] , and one of the central tenets of individualism is that there is a fundamental difference between the government of a country and the country itself. Thus, in the very act of accusing dissenters of being "anti-American," pro-war advocates unwittingly reveal themselves to be anti-American. Why? Because the premise of their accusation is the collectivist [ ] notion that there is not a fundamental difference between the government of a country and the country itself, and that it is therefore impossible to criticize one without criticizing the other. There is an eerie sense of Orwellian doublethink to this sort of "patriotism," and I think more and more Americans are starting to realize this.

Consider next the issue of historical context. If you oppose this war, and often find yourself being viciously attacked by those who support it, you've probably figured out by now that there are certain things about the federal government's foreign policy -- both past and present -- that pro-war advocates simply don't want to know about.

Why? I can think of no other reason than that they have a deep-rooted fear of losing the emotional comfort that their comic-book worldview affords them, and so cling to that view the way a frightened four-year-old child clings to his teddybear. Thus, whenever someone attempts to expose the ignorance on which this view is based, they have the same hysterical reaction that said child would have if you tried to take his teddybear away.

What, specifically, do pro-war advocates not want to know about? In short, the long, disgraceful history of lies and deceit surrounding U.S. foreign policy -- a history that, if openly acknowledged, would force them to face the traumatic possibility that they have allowed themselves to be manipulated and betrayed over and over again by the very political leaders in whom they've invested so much blind faith over the years. To discover that this possibility is in fact true would be emotionally devastating. Thus, to protect their sense of emotional security, they deliberately ignore the fact that the government:

  * Lied about Pearl Harbor being a "surprise" attack.

  * Lied about the Gulf of Tonkin attack.

  * Lied about not being a long-time sponsor of the very terrorist activities it professes to oppose.,1361,583254,00.html

  * Lied about the real reasons behind, and brutality of, the U.S. invasion of Panama.

  * Lied about "mass genocide" in Kosovo.

  * Lied about not having told Saddam Hussein (prior to his 1990 invasion) that the U.S. had no interest in his border dispute with Kuwait.

  * Lied about Iraqi soldiers taking scores of babies from incubators.

  * Lied about there being hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops being amassed near the Saudi border.

  * Lied about not having foreknowledge of 9/11:

  * Lied about weapons inspectors being "kicked out" of Iraq.

  * Lied about Saddam Hussein (brutal though he is) having gassed "his own people."

  * Lied about how George Bush Sr. [ ] continued to coddle Saddam Hussein long after the very gassing incident that is now being used as a pretext for the current war, and how the Reagan-Bush administration went out of its way to arm Iraq throughout the 1980s, even though the U.S. State Department had identified Iraq in 1979 as a sponsor of terrorism.

  * Lied about Saddam Hussein's "Weapons of Mass Destruction" programs.

  * Lied about how many Afghan civilians it killed during the Fall and Winter of 2001/2002.

  * And lied about the true source of the information it recently presented to the UN to justify the current war.

As the old saying goes, "Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us!"

It is time that we, the people, stop living in denial about just how corrupt our government has become; that we stop viewing all of reality in childlike terms of black and white; that we face the fact that human conflicts are not always a convenient case of "good guy vs. bad guy," but are often a case of "bad guy vs. worse guy;" and that we realize there is nothing "patriotic" or "American" about mindlessly supporting an unjust war.

To learn about what you can do to peacefully express your opposition to the war on Iraq, visit:


Todd Altman is an Air Force veteran, has a bachelors degree from the University of Maryland, and is the author of the Geolibertarian FAQ [ ] .

Copyright © 2003 by Todd Altman.  All rights reserved.  No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Todd Altman and The Progress Report.

View responses to this article [ ]

Email a text-only version of this article [ ] Sign up for free Progress Report updates via email [ ]

Page One [ ]
Page Two [ ]
Archive [ ]
Discussion Room [ ]
Letters [ ]
What's Geoism? [ ]

The "New World Order" in Practice

2003 Iraq War; The "New World Order" in Practice, (bad link), local transcript:

[ Also see: ]

The "New World Order" in Practice
The Afghan War, the "War" on Terrorism, the War on Iraq

[Note: Last Update to this page: 08.30 GMT 18 March 2003]

Introduction - Misuse of Language Results in Confusion

In an endeavour to react to the tragedy of the twin towers, a lot of imprecise language has been used by people in both the Bush Administration and the Blair Government.

This language has served to inject unnecessary confusion into an already confusing situation.  A degree of loose talk may be acceptable in a political context.  Politicians do talk about a "war on drug traffickers" or a "war on child pornographers" when what they really mean is a concerted effort by law enforcement agencies to stamp out a particular criminal practice.

Such expressions should be understood for what they are:  political hyperbole to impress on electors their commitment to the funding and encouragement of the law enforcement effort, just as to call an official a "Drugs Czar" may mean that the person is invested with a lot of power but not the powers of an autocrat.

By talking of a "war" in relation to terrorists, one introduces into the debate all sorts of unnecessary connotations and issues which really ought to be of no relevance.

In the legal sense, one cannot go to war against a gang of criminals, but only against a sovereign state.

Thus, the Geneva Conventions are irrelevant in the case of persons who are arrested on suspicion having committed criminal acts, but equally a legally misconceived "declaration of war" against a non-sovereign entity is not grounds for emasculating the legal protections afforded to suspected criminals in a civilised society.

A law enforcement agency which overreacts to criminal conduct by throwing away the rule book itself becomes criminal.  The same is true at all levels of the executive in a country under the rule of law.  When a gang of policemen decide to become at one and the same time arresting officers, juries, judges and executioners in order to tackle a crime wave, they themselves become murderers.

When serious violations of the rights of a suspected criminal are sanctioned by the state itself, that state puts itself beyond the bounds of civilised behaviour and such state-sanctioned misbehaviour attracts penalties - for example, right thinking states will in such circumstances refuse extradition of suspects.

Likewise, upon examination a "coalition of the willing" can be seen to be no more than a gang of nation state thugs bypassing the protections established by international law to prevent nations using force against other nations and international law will in such circumtances permit the prosecution of the high officials who direct or implement such unlawful conduct.

When is a War Not a War

In ascertaining what lawyers mean by "war", as good a place to start as any is with the web site of the Constitution Society [ ] which has on line a copy of Vattel's Law of Nations edited by Chitty and commented by Ingraham as published in the United States in 1883 by T & JW Johnson & Co of Philadelphia.




§ 1. Definition of war.(136)

WAR is that state in which we prosecute our right by force. We also understand, by this term, the act itself, or the manner of prosecuting our right by force: but it is more conformable to general usage, and more proper in a treatise on the law of war, to understand this term in the sense we have annexed to it.

§ 2. Public war.(136)

Public war is that which takes place between nations or sovereigns, and which is carried on in the name of the public power, and by its order. This is the war we are here to consider:  --  private war, or that which is carried on between private individuals, belongs to the law of nature properly so called.

§ 3. Right of making war.(136)

In treating of the right to security (Book II. Chap. IV.), we have shown that nature gives men a right to employ force, when it is necessary for their defence, and for the preservation of their rights. This principle is generally acknowledged: reason demonstrates it; and nature herself has engraved it on the heart of man. Some fanatics indeed, taking in a literal sense the moderation recommended in the gospel, have adopted the strange fancy of suffering themselves to be massacred or plundered, rather than oppose force to violence. But we need not fear that this error will make any great progress. The generality of mankind will, of themselves, guard against its contagion  --  happy, if they as well knew how to keep within the just bounds which nature has set to a right that is granted only through necessity! To mark those just bounds,  --  and, by the rules of justice, equity, and humanity, to moderate the exercise of that harsh, though too often necessary right  --  is the intention of this third book.

§ 4. It belongs only to the sovereign power.(137)

As nature has given men no right to employ force, unless when it becomes necessary for self defence and the preservation of their rights (Book II. § 49, &c.), the inference is manifest, that, since the establishment of political societies, a right, so dangerous in its exercise, no longer remains with private persons except in those encounters where society cannot protect or defend them. In the bosom of society, the public authority decides all the disputes of the citizens, represses violence, and checks every attempt to do ourselves justice with our own hands. If a private person intends to prosecute his right against the subject of a foreign power, he may apply to the sovereign of his adversary, or to the magistrates invested with the public authority: and if he is denied justice by them, he must have recourse to his own sovereign, who is obliged to protect him. It would be too dangerous to allow every citizen the liberty of doing himself justice against foreigners; as, in that case, there would not be a single member of the state who might not involve it in war. And how could peace be preserved between nations, if it were in the power of every private individual to disturb it? A right of so momentous a nature,  -- the right of judging whether the nation has real grounds of complaint, whether she is authorized to employ force, and justifiable in taking up arms, whether prudence will admit of such a step, and whether the welfare of the state requires it,  --  that right, I say, can belong only to the body of the nation, or to the sovereign, her representative. It is doubtless one of those rights, without which there can be no salutary government, and which are therefore called rights of majesty (Book I. § 45).

Thus the sovereign power alone is possessed of authority to make war. But, as the different rights which constitute this power, originally resident in the body of the nation, may be separated or limited according to the will of the nation (Book I. § 31 and 45), it is from the particular constitution of each state, that we are to learn where the power resides, that is authorized to make war in the name of the society at large. The kings of England, whose power is in other respects so limited, have the right of making war and peace.  Those of Sweden have lost it. The brilliant but ruinous exploits of Charles XII. sufficiently warranted the states of that kingdom to reserve to themselves a right of such importance to their safety.

(link to text [ ]) © 1999 The Constitution Society

From this one gets the principle that a state of war may only exist between sovereign states.  Thus, a state of war could have existed between the United States of America and its allies and the sovereign state of Afghanistan.  No state of war in the legal sense is capable of existing between the United State of America and terrorists because terrorists do not possess any sovereignty.

Wars are supposed to be declared.  In the latter half of the 19th Century much diplomatic effort was expended on codifying "laws of war" with the aim of mitigating so far as possible the barbarity of war.  The Avalon Project at Yale University has a collection of the relevant conventions and treaties [ ]. The Hague Convention of 1807 (in force as of 1910) on the Opening of Hostilities provided:-

Article 1

The Contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between themselves must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a reasoned declaration of war or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war.

Article 2

The existence of a state of war must be notified to the neutral Powers without delay, and shall not take effect in regard to them until after the receipt of a notification, which may, however, be given by telegraph.

Neutral Powers, nevertheless, cannot rely on the absence of notification if it is clearly established that they were in fact aware of the existence of a state of war.

Article 3

Article 1 of the present Convention shall take effect in case of war between two or more of the Contracting Powers.

Article 2 is binding as between a belligerent Power which is a party to the Convention and neutral Powers which are also parties to the Convention.

(link to text [ ])

This text merely codifies between the contracting parties what was by then the universal custom of states.  However, formal ultimata and conditional declarations of war, or declarations of war have now gone very much out of fashion.  Perhaps the last examples were those relating to World War II.  For example, the United Kingdom gave an ultimatum to Germany delivered on 3rd September 1939 and, it having expired without satisfactory response, a note was handed to the German Chargé d'Affaires in London at 11.15 am on 4th September 1939 declaring that a state of war existed.

In the United States the power to declare war is vested in the Congress and the World War II Declarations are reproduced by the Avalon Project US Declarations of War page [ ].

Formal declarations of war have become unfashionable largely because the signatories of the United Nations Charter are not supposed to go around declaring war on other states, but to bring their disputes before the Security Council which may in an appropriate case authorise the use of force. - see Chapters VI and VII of the Charter of the United Nations. [ ]

In fact, because of the provisions of the UN Charter, there has been no formal declaration of war by any major power for more than 50 years.

Nowadays, there is much use of euphemism to avoid calling a spade a spade.  The "Korean War" was a Chapter VII Action under United Nations auspices.  The "Vietnam War" was technically military assistance to the friendly foreign government of South Vietnam, etc.  The US bombings of Laos and Cambodia, or its mining of the ports of Nicaragua were (as we shall see) purely and simply unlawful as a matter of international law (as was the British, French and Israeli invasion of Suez in 1956).

In relation to Suez (which is a good precedent for Iraq) it is worth recalling the position of the then US Administration which had the good fortune to be headed by the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  When in 1956, France, Israel and the United Kingdom sent troops to the Suez Canal without the authority of the United Nations, President Eisenhower addressed the American people.  He said this:-

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Extract from an Address to the American People

31st October 1956

On Sunday [October 29] the Israeli Government ordered total mobilization. On Monday, their armed forces penetrated deeply into Egypt and to the vicinity of the Suez Canal, nearly one hundred miles away. And on Tuesday, the British and French Governments delivered a 12-hour ultimatum to Israel and Egypt -- now followed up by armed attack against Egypt.  The United States was not consulted in any way about any phase of these actions. Nor were we informed of them in advance.

As it is the manifest right of any of these nations to take such decisions and actions, it is likewise our right -- if our judgment so dictates -- to dissent. We believe these actions to have been taken in error. For we do not accept the use of force as a wise or proper instrument for the settlement of international disputes.

To say this -- in this particular instance -- is in no way to minimize our friendship with these nations -- nor our determination to maintain those friendships.  And we are fully aware of the grave anxieties of Israel, of Britain and of France. We know that they have been subjected to grave and repeated provocations.

The present fact, nonetheless, seems clear: the action taken can scarcely be reconciled with the principles and purposes of the United Nations to which we have all subscribed. And, beyond this, we are forced to doubt that resort to force and war will for long serve the permanent interest of the attacking nations.

Now -- we must look to the future.

In the circumstances I have described, there will be no United States involvement in these present hostilities. I therefore have no plan to call the Congress in Special Session. Of course, we shall continue to keep in contact with Congressional leaders of both parties.

I assure you, your government will remain alert to every possibility of this situation, and keep in close contact and coordination with the Legislative Branch of this government.

At the same time it is -- and it will remain -- the dedicated purpose of your government to do all in its power to localize the fighting and to end the conflict.

We took our first measure in this action yesterday. We went to the United Nations with a request that the forces of Israel return to their own land and that hostilities in the area be brought to a close. This proposal was not adopted  -- because it was vetoed by Great Britain and by France.

The processes of the United Nations, however, are not exhausted. It is our hope and intent that this matter will be brought before the United Nations General Assembly. There -- with no veto operating -- the opinion of the world can be brought to bear in our quest for a just end to this tormenting problem. In the past the United Nations has proved able to find a way to end bloodshed. We believe it can and that it will do so again.

My fellow citizens, as I review the march of world events in recent years, I am ever more deeply convinced that the processes of the United Nations represents the soundest hope for peace in the world. For this very reason, I believe that the processes of the United Nations need further to be developed and strengthened. I speak particularly of increasing its ability to secure justice under international law,

In all the recent troubles in the Middle East, there have indeed been injustices suffered by all nations involved. But I do not believe that another instrument of injustice -- war -- is the remedy for these wrongs.

There can be no peace -- without law. And there can be no law -- if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us -- and another for our friends.

(link to full text [ ])

We would say that those were wise words from a political leader who, as a Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II and as NATO's SACEUR in the immediate post-war period, had good reason to know the potential consequences of ill-advised war making.

Regrettably, the commitment of the Bush Administration and "Poodle" Blair's Government to the Charter of the United Nations is now in serious doubt.

The United Nations Charter

The fundamental basis on which the United Nations is organised is that national states are sovereign within their own borders.  One state must not interfere by military force within the territory of another state for a matter falling within the sovereign competence of that state.

It is unquestionable that this national sovereignty principle leaves open the possibility of horrendous human rights abuses within the borders of nation states without there being any remedy.  No one in their right mind would seek to argue that the United Nations is the perfect vehicle for resolution of such issues.

The United Nations was the product of World War II and UN history since World War II is littered with examples of evil despotic regimes which have been tolerated by the UN.

The doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of nation states is difficult to stomach when one considers the human rights abuses which have taken place inside some states, both during the cold war and since the cold war ended.  One can point to the abuses of Stalin in Russia, of Mao in China, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Milosevic in former Yugoslavia.

There have been other perpetrators of human rights abuses albeit on a lesser scale.  None of the former colonial powers has been entirely free of blame for human rights abuses committed during the decolonisation process.  One could also point to the activities of the 20th Century's principal neo-colonial power - the USA - in Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as of the USA's puppet, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In fact, since the end of the cold war, the ability of the United Nations to deal with problems affecting world peace has much improved.  As Richard Butler points out in an article on the issue since the end of the Cold War the UN Security Council has met more frequently and achieved much more. Only seven vetoes were cast in the post-Cold War period, versus 240 in the first 45 years of UN life. Twenty peacekeeping operations were mandated, more than the total for all the preceding years.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered [ bewitched-bothered-and-bewildered-repairing-the-security-council.html ], an article by Richard Butler published in the September/October 1999 Foreign Affairs magazine gives a good analysis of the problem and makes sensible suggestions for improvement.

However, the principle on which the United Nations operates, is that sovereign states cannot be invaded to achieve regime change unless they pose a threat to world peace - and even then only with the authority of the Security Council and under the direction of the Security Council.

Under the UN Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council.  The UN Security Council has 15 members-- five permanent members and 10 elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Each Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members. Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the concurring (or at least abstaining) votes of each of the five permanent members. This is the rule of "great Power unanimity", often referred to as the "veto" power.

While other organs of the United Nations may make recommendations to Governments, the Security Council alone has the power to take decisions which Member States are obliged under the Charter to carry out.

In order to appreciate the legal position, it is necessary to consider Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. [ ]

Article 42 of Chapter VII of the Charter authorises the Security Council to decide to use force to secure compliance with its will.

Article 46 provides that plans for the use of force are to be drawn up by the Security Council with the assistance of its Military Staff.

In the discussions which preceded the passing of the latest Iraq Security Council Resolution, France, Russia and others argued that the Charter of the United Nations vests these very important powers in the Security Council and contains no provision for the Security Council to delegate the exercise of these powers.  However, before considering further the Iraq position, it may be helpful to look at the legal position of the Al-Quaida terrorists and at the legality of the US Intervention in Afghanistan.

It is thus the case that Resolution 1441 does not of itself authorise the use of force by any state against Iraq.  That requires a resolution by the Security Council pursuant to Article 42 and plans pursuant to Article 46.

Terrorist Acts of 11th September 2001 an Act of War ?

President Bush was in legal error when he proclaimed the events of 11th September 2001 as "an act of war".  Of course, in the loose language of politicians, he can be excused, given the horror of the event.

But the law requires precise definitions and the US Criminal Code at 18 USC 2331(4) carefully delimits an "act of war" so as to distinguish it from terrorism as:-

Any act occurring in the course of:

a.  a declared war;

b.  armed conflict, whether or not war has been declared, between two or more nations; or

c.  armed conflict between military forces of any origin.

This is useful, because it clearly defines the proper characterisations of the Al-Quai'da terrorists who launched the attacks of 11th September 2001.  They are not belligerants of a sovereign state.  They are common criminals, as are those who have aided and abetted them before or after the event.

As a matter both of the domestic law of the United States, of the United Kingdom and of public international law there cannot be a "war on terrorism".  War can only be against a sovereign state.

Therefore, Al Quai'da terrorists, or persons suspected of being terrorists, do not in our view properly benefit from any of the protections which might avail armed combatants of a sovereign state, regular or irregular, whether in US domestic law, or the domestic laws of any other country, or or as a matter of public or private international law.

The Crimes of War Project [ ] - This website has some useful material on the subjects discussed on this page -in particular some useful expert contributions

Legality of US Intervention in Afghanistan

Was the United States military intervention in Afghanistan lawful as a matter of international law ?  Professor Robert Turner, who is apparently "Associate Director of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, former Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the Naval War College and and former three-term chairman of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security" asserted on the Jurist Web Site [ ] that it was:-


Professor Robert F. Turner - 8th October 2001

Did the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon constitute ``acts of War'' permitting the United States to use lethal force beyond its borders? The wording is archaic, as formalities of ``War'' largely lapsed more than half-a-century ago when the initiation of the kind of aggressive hostilities traditionally associated with declarations of War were outlawed. No country has clearly ``declared War'' in more than fifty years, and more sophisticated scholars today speak of the ``Law of Armed Conflict'' rather than the ``Law of War.''

Nevertheless, the underlying issue remains: May the United States resort to the use of lethal force beyond its borders in response to these horrific attacks; and, if so, how much force and against what targets? The clear answer to the first question is a resounding YES, but the second requires some elaboration.

International law outlaws the threat or use of lethal force by one sovereign state against another, with two clear exceptions. The UN Security Council may authorize states to use force, and states have an inherent right to defend themselves against unlawful uses of force and to aid other victims of aggression seeking help in collective self-defense. Such uses of lethal force must be necessary in the sense that effective peaceful alternatives are not available; and they must be proportional in the sense that force greatly excessive to that necessary to protect the state's lawful defensive interests is not permitted. Beyond that, international law also imposes constraints upon weapons and targets (thus, biological weapons are unlawful and hospitals may not be targeted unless used for military purposes, such as to house an anti-aircraft gun).

If the evidence shows that any country intentionally aided or abetted the terrorists, the United States and its allies may use necessary and proportional lethal force against those states to bring an end to such aid. Pirates and other non-state actors who engage in terrorism have minimal protection under international law (for example, they may not be tortured), and bin Laden is already a lawful target because of his past acts of terrorism and his public threats to attack Americans at every opportunity. I would add that the use of lethal force against bin Laden as a measure of self-defense would not be ``murder,'' and thus, by definition, could not be ``assassination.''

If (as has been claimed by the US and UK governments) bin Laden masterminded the attacks on New York and Washington, Afghanistan is in breach of its state responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent its territory from being used to launch attacks against other states. The United States and its allies thus have a legal right to violate Afghanistan's territorial integrity to destroy bin Laden and related terrorist targets. If the Taliban elects to join forces with bin Laden, it, too, becomes a lawful target. In that event, the Security Council may eventually wish to consider the option of authorizing the establishment of a UN trusteeship for Afghanistan to promote relief efforts to avoid massive starvation and to set the stage for the transfer of power to an elected government willing to live in peace with the world.

(link to text [ ])

Unfortunately, this was just a brief comment on a web site and the learned Professor did not cite any precedents in support of his assertions, so one may have to look elsewhere for an answer.  In the first place the first two paragraphs appear to elide several issues.

One can begin by considering what what the United States of America was seeking to do with the use of force within the territory of a foreign sovereign state.

Insofar as the United States was engaged in hostilities against the state of Afghanistan for the purpose of overthrowing its de jure or de facto government, the United States of America was conducting a war in that it was a sovereign state conducting armed hostilities against another state.  It matters not for international law purposes that no war against Afghanistan was declared by Congress.

As a matter of public international law, the United States is bound by the United Nations Charter.  It may not accordingly commence hostilities against another sovereign state.  It may only engage in offensive military action against the state if mandated to do so by authorising resolutions of the Security Council under Articles 42-48 of the Charter.  That was not the case here.

Thus, the US war against the state of Afghanistan without UN authority was unlawful unless justified under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

Article 51 proclaims the "right of self-defence":  "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."

Note that the right is one of "...defence if an armed attack occurs, until the Security Council has taken measures.." and for that purpose the defending state has to report the exercise of the right to the Security Council immediately.

The definitive clarification of the scope of Article 51 is provided by the Judgmement of the International Court of Justice in Case No 70 of 28th June 1986 - Nicaragua -v- United States of America [ ] [PDF format 137 pages].  This is a case with which several present officials of the Bush Administration should be thoroughly familiar, given their involvement in the subject matter of the case.  In its Judgment the Court held:-

"Whether self-defence be individual or collective, it can only be exercised in response to an 'armed attack'. In view of the court, this is to be understood as meaning not merely action by regular armed forces across an international frontier but also the sending by a state of armed bands on to the territory of another state if such an operation, because of its scale and extent, would have been classified as an armed attack had it been carried out by regular armed forces."

There is absolutely no evidence that the Government of Afghanistan sent the hijackers to the United States.  Nor do we think that any Court would hold that a criminal act of armed hijacking and murder conducted by a small number of terrorists (however horrific the consequences) could in law be equated to an armed attack by regular armed forces.  The events of 11th September 2001 do not therefore constitute an "armed attack" by Afghanistan for the purposes of Article 51.

Two other important findings were made by the International Court of Justice which are relevant.

"263.  The finding of the United States Congress also expressed the view that the Nicaraguan Government had taken "significant steps towards establishing a totalitarian Communist dictatorship".  However the regime in Nicaragua be defined, adhrence by a State to any particular doctrine does not constitute a violation of customary international law; to hold otherwise would make nonsense of the fundamental principle of State sovereignty, on which the whole of international law rests, and the freedom of choice of the political, social, economic and cultural system of a State.  Consequently, Nicaragua's domestic policy options, even assuming that they correspond to the description of them by the Congress finding, cannot justify on the legal plane the various actions of the Respondent complained of.  The Court cannot contemplate the creation of a new rule opening up a right of intervention by one State against another on the ground that the latter has opted for some particular ideology or political system".

Seeking regime change on the basis that you do not like the ideology of another state is not justifiable in international law.  The Court also considered allegations that Nicaragua was violating human rights and held:-

"268.  In any event, while the United States might form its own appraisal of the situation as to respect for human rights in Nicaragua, the use of force could not be the appropriate method to monitor or ensure such respect.  With regard to the steps actually taken, the protection of human rights, a strictly humanitarian objective, cannot be compatible with the mining of ports, the destruction of oil installations, or again with the training, arming and equipping of the contras.  The Court concludes that the argument derived from the preservation of human rights in Nicaragua cannot afford a legal justification for the conduct of the United States, and cannot in any event be reconciled with the legal strategy of the respondent State, which is based on the right of collective self-defence."

One can at once see parallels between the Nicaragua -v- United States of America situation and that of the intervention in Afghanistan.  Dislike of the form of the Taliban government, or its alleged violations of the human rights of the Afghan people did not constitute legal justification for military intervention in Afghanistan under Article 51.

States Harbouring Terrorists

Insofar as the United States was seeking to enter Afghanistan to capture and suppress bands of armed terrorists who had carried out criminal acts, that action could have been a limited international police action which could have been lawful with Security Council authority, but which authority the United States failed to seek.

There is a principle in public international law that states have obligations to other states in relation to criminals accused of serious crimes.  It is the principle "aut dedere aut punire" - the state where the criminal is must either extradite the criminal or itself prosecute.  This is the principle underlying extradition conventions in which states agree categories of crime which are sufficiently serious to justify extradition and the terms on which they will do so.

In the case of United States -v- Iran [ ( now a dead link ) ] 24th May 1980 the International Court of Justice held that Iran was under an obligation to ensure the US Embasssy hostages were freed and to either prosecute those responsible or to extradite the perpetrators to the United States.

There is also a principle that certain crimes are so odious that they are crimes "of universal jurisdiction" for which every court everywhere in the world may take jurisdiction if its national law permits.  An early example was "piracy jure gentium" under which the English common law assumed jurisdiction over pirates no matter where the act of piracy as committed.  See also the discussion in relation to war crimes and torture in Regina -v- Bartle and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Ex Parte Pinochet and Others [ ] - (UK House of Lords).

The hijacking of an aircraft and use of it as a missile is murder and air piracy.

But does the failure of a state to take measures to repress or surrender terrorists justify military intervention without express UN authority as a matter of international law ?  "Self-Help" - or taking military action inside the territory of another state to counter a breach of law has also been considered by the International Court of Justice.

United Kingdom -v- Albania [ ( now a dead link ) ] 15th December 1949 was an International Court of Justice case concerning the laying of mines in Albanian territorial waters to prevent the right of innocent passage.  It was not proved who had laid the mines, but the Court held that Albania had not complied with its international obligations in respect thereof.

However the Court then went on to examine the actions of the United Kingdom in going into Albanian territorial waters to cut and remove the mines and said this:-

"As regards the operation on November 12th/13th, it was executed contrary to the clearly expressed wish of the Albanian Government; it did not have the consent of the international mine clearance organizations; it could not be justified as the exercise of the right of innocent passage.

The United Kingdom has stated that its object was to secure the mines as quickly as possible for fear lest they should be taken away by the authors of the mine laying or by the Albanian authorities: this was presented either as a new and special application of the theory of intervention, by means of which the intervening State was acting to facilitate the task of the international tribunal, or as a method of self-protection or self-help.

The Court cannot accept these lines of defence.  It can only regard the alleged right of intervention as the manifestation of a policy of force which cannot find a place in international law.

As regards the notion of self-help, the Court is also unable to accept it: between independent States the respect for territorial sovereignty is an essential foundation for international relations. Certainly, the Court recognises the Albanian Government's complete failure to carry out its duties after the explosions and the dilatory nature of its diplomatic Notes as extenuating circumstances for the action of the United Kingdom. But, to ensure respect for international law, of which it is the organ, the Court must declare that the action of the British Navy constituted a violation of Albanian sovereignty. This declaration is in accordance with the request made by Albania through her counsel and is in itself appropriate satisfaction."

In other words, even when a state is in breach of its international law obligations, another state cannot violate sovereignty and resort to "self-help".  Something more is needed, although the misconduct and failure of the state in breach may constitute extenuating circumstances.

Thus the announcement by President Bush that any country which "harboured" terrorists would suffer the fate of the terrorists themselves did not constitute in international law a legal basis for war or military intervention.

It could certainly be argued that the action or inaction of the Government of Afghanistan as regards Al-Quai'da was in breach of international law insofar as it must have been aware of the aims, objectives and preparations of Al-Qua'ida (perhaps not as regards the specific crimes of 11th September 2001) but certainly as to acts of terrorism in general (also becuause of the catalogue of previous incidents -see our Terrorism page [ ( now a dead link, instead go to Bush War on Terrorism ) ]) yet it took no action to warn, investigate or repress.

In the wake of the events of 11th September 2002, the United Nations Security Council adopted two Resolutions, No 1368 and No 1373.  Both are to be found on the Avalon Project September 11 Page [ ].

UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001)

September 12, 2001

The Security Council,

Reaffirming the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,

Determined to combat by all means threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts,

Recognizing the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the Charter,

1. Unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks which took place on 11 September 2001 in New York, Washington (D.C.) and Pennsylvania and regards such acts, like any act of international terrorism, as a threat to international peace and security;

2. Expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families and to the People and Government of the United States of America;

3. Calls on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable;

4. Calls also on the international community to redouble their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts including by increased cooperation and full implementation of the relevant international anti-terrorist conventions and Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 1269 of 19 October 1999;

5. Expresses its readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations;

6. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

This resolution certainly puts beyond doubt the terrorist nature of the offences and the obligation in public international law upon Afghanistan to bring the perpetrators and the aiders and abettors to justice.  It also expresses the willingness of the Security Council to take further steps.

Although it refers in its preambles to Article 51, the resolution did not authorise the United States (or anyone else) to intervene militarily in Afghanistan.  Security Council resolutions 1373 and 1390 provide for sanctions but neither resolution authorised the United States of America (or anyone else) to intervene militarily in Afghanistan.

As a matter of domestic law, Congress passed a resolution authorising the President to use force not only against Al-Quai'da terrorists, but also against those harbouring Al-Quai'da.  It would therefore be a very brave US judge indeed who would hold that the US actions in Afghanistan were unlawful as a matter of US domestic law and when it comes to considering the situation of persons in US custody, the public international law position may not be the consideration which most influences a court.

Insofar as the primary injured party of the unlawful US action is the State of Afghanistan, it is hardly likely that the interim Government installed at the behest of the United States will now take the United States to the International Court of Justice to claim reparations for ulawful warmaking (particularly since it is more than likely that the United States would simply "do a Nicaragua" and refuse to appear) and there is no international court before which individuals harmed by US actions can implead the United States.

As to whether innocent individuals could implead the United States before the domestic courts and claim in respect of loss and damage suffered, for example as a result of deaths, injuries or material damage caused by bombing, is a matter for US lawyers, and whether the fact that the intervention was unlawful as a matter of public international law (as opposed to US domestic law) would make any difference is a matter for the opinion of US lawyers - whose opinions on the subject would be welcome.

Why Was Further Authority Not Sought ?

Given the willingness of the Security Council expressed in Resolution 1368 to take further steps to enforce its will, why did the United States not go back to the United Nations for a resolution for military intervention in Afghanistan ?

Perhaps the principal reason is the unwillingness of the United States to support steps by international institutions which might be seen as limiting its freedom to act as and when it sees fit.  The United States has developed a propensity to act contrary to international law when it wishes, as it did in Grenada, as it did in Nicaragua, as it did in Cambodia.

The Bush Administration clearly did not wish to recognise the principle of international law that only the Security Council can authorise the use of military force.  As the Iraq pages [ ( now a dead link, instead go to ) ] demonstrate, the US neoconservatives in the Bush Administration were already planning to invade Iraq "with or without UN authority" and asking for a UN Mandate for intervention in Afghanistan would have prejudiced that position.

There is also the problem that Chapter VII of the UN Charter puts the UN in command of military operations, as was the case in Korea. The US has long been unwilling to place its troops under UN command.

Asking for a UN Mandate might also have involved the establishment of an international tribunal for the terrorists.  Given the US general opposition to international tribunals (see our UN Courts page [ ( now a dead link, instead go to and also the page ) ]), that was also probably an unattractive proposition to the Bush Administration.

Unilateralism - The "New World Order"

One of the recurring themes which runs through all that has been said and written about US policy since 11th September 2001 is that of "US unilateralism".

Reduced to its essentials, this is the argument that since the advent of the Bush Administration, the United States of America has decided to abide by international law and treaties, such as the United Nations Charter, or the UN Torture Convention, only when it suits US policy objectives to do so.  When it does not, the United States is prepared to ignore international law secure in the knowledge that there is not much anyone can do to restrain the world's only hyper-power from acting as it sees fit.

One of the leading proponents of the unilateralist position is Professor Philip Bobbitt (Princeton, Yale, Oxford) who holds a chair in law at the University of Texas.  Bobbit is the advocate of the "market state" theory.

Prof. Philip Bobbitt - "Satan's Theologian":  The Bobbitt Theory: Globalisation has brought the end of the territorial nation state and the advent of 'market-states', i.e, nation-states whose power extends beyond territorial boundaries. These powerful states have responsibility for the maintenance of order among backward 'pre-modern' states, for the enforcing of human rights, and for ensuring that such states do not spawn bellicose dictators or provide safe havens for terrorist and pirates - A New World Order enforced by the Powerful.

Bobbitt considers Al-Quaid'a to be a "virtual state" equipped with international political goals, income and followers. In his theory the Al Quai'da threat and that of "rogue states" requires the "right thinking" states to form "coalitions of the willing" to enforce their values - within the United Nations framework if possible, but outside it if necessary.

Bobbitt is a member of the American Law Institute, The Council on Foreign Relations, the Pacific Council on International Policy, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He has served as Associate Counsel to the President, the Counselor on International Law at the State Department, Legal Counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra Committee, and Director for Intelligence, Senior Director for Critical Infrastructure and Senior Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council (under Clinton). He is a former trustee of Princeton University; and a former member of the Oxford University Modern History Faculty and the War Studies Department of Kings College, London.

He has published six influential books: Constitutional Interpretation (1991), Democracy and Deterrence (1987), U.S. Nuclear Strategy (with Freedman and Treverton) (1989), Constitutional Fate (1982), Tragic Choices (with Calabresi) (1978) and most recently The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History (Knopf, 2002).

Bobbitt's latest work has been hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as enormously important.  Oxford Professor, Michael Howard, described it as "one of the most important works on public [ie international] relations to be published in the last 50 years".

It has to be said that "The Shield of Achilles" is readable - and because it is so readable, it is all the more a very dangerous work.  It is the sort of academic treatise which declares what the author would like the law to be.

Bobbitt argues that:-

globalisation has meant the end of the territorial nation state and the advent of 'market-states' by which he means nation-states whose power extends beyond territorial boundaries;

powerful such 'market-states' have responsibility for the maintenance of order among backward 'pre-modern' states, for the enforcing of such human rights as he is prepared to acknowledge and for ensuring that such states do not spawn bellicose dictators or provide safe havens for terrorists and pirates.

Of course, according to Bobbitt, it follows that it is the powerful 'market-states' which are to decide which are the backward 'pre-modern' states, which states are to considered as having 'bellicose dictators' and which are to be considered as providing 'safe havens' for terroists and pirates.  Bobbit argues for a New World Order enforced by his powerful "market-states" and for "pre-emptive action" against those backward 'pre-modern states' who do not comply with the wishes of the powerful 'market states'.

In an interview with Tim Sebastian on the BBC's Hard Talk programme, Bobbitt argued that military intervention against Iraq was "necessary" (and therefore justified) "to prevent weapons of mass destruction going to groups the US cannot deter".

It is easy to see why the Bobbitt Theory proved attractive in the USA after 11th September 2001 since it provides plausible justification for the Bush "war" on terrorism, for intervention in Afghanistan without UN authority and for invasion of Iraq, likewise if necessary without UN Authority.

The Bobbitt "New World Order" necessarily undermines the authority of the United Nations - of what value is that institution if a gang of powerful states (decribed in Bobbitt 1984-speak as "a coalition of the willing") can arrogate to themselves the power of decision as to which countries and governments are to survive and which to be overthrown.  The international behaviour which Bobbitt advocates for the United States of America is precisely the behaviour which the United Nations was established to prevent.  Of course, that was when the perils of fascism were fresh in everybody's mind.

Kofi Annan's U.N. Power Grab [ ( now a dead link ) ] a November 1999 article in William Kristol's Standard by John Bolton, now Undersecretary for Arms Control in the State Department, challenged the proposition that international military intervention must be authorised by the UN Security Council and argued that the US must be able to act unilaterally if action is vetoed in the Security Council.  Not, you will note , on the basis that Kofi Annan was incorrectly stating international law, but on the basis that regardless of international law the US had to be free to act in its national interest.  Hitler could of course have argued that it was in Germany's national interest to annex Austria, invade Poland. etc.

It is plain that Professor Bobbit's theory is not compatible with international law as enunciated in the Charter of the United Nations and in the judgments of the International Court of Justice - sole body entitled to give a definitive ruling on the meaning of the Charter.

The Bush Doctrine - Unilateralism

At a Graduation Ceremony at the US Military Academy at West Point on 1st June 2002, President George W. Bush delivered a speech which may well one day be recognised as the most infamous statement of defence policy in the history of the human race.  The "Bush Doctrine", as it has come to be known, espouses the Bobbitt Theory wholesale.

Bush at West Point Graduation Ceremony.

Extract from Bush Remarks to West Point Graduands

1st June 2002

In this speech, Bush announced that the US was abandoning its "no first strike policy" and would in future act pre-emptively against perceived threats.  The fact that he was applauded says much about the US military.  To be fair, the minds of the graduands were probably on other things and the pernicious new "Bush doctrine" was wrapped up in a lot of patriotic rhetoric.

The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology -- when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike great nations. Our enemies have declared this very intention, and have been caught seeking these terrible weapons. They want the capability to blackmail us, or to harm us, or to harm our friends -- and we will oppose them with all our power.

For much of the last century, America's defense relied on the Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment. In some cases, those strategies still apply. But new threats also require new thinking. Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend. Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles or secretly provide them to terrorist allies.

We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long.

Homeland defense and missile defense are part of stronger security, and they're essential priorities for America. Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.

In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act.

(link to full text [ ])

The dangers of the neoconservative position on nuclear weapons strategy has not gone unnoticed - see the article below by William D. Hartung who is the president's fellow at the World Policy Institute at New School University and a military affairs adviser to Foreign Policy in Focus.

See the other docments below from the Global Securityı web site which particularise the US Nuclear Weapons posture of the Bush Administration.

Bush's Nuclear Doctrine: From MAD to NUTS?

William D. Hartung, World Policy Institute

The Bush foreign policy team is quietly contemplating radical changes in U.S. strategy that could set off a global nuclear arms race that will make the U.S.-Soviet competition of the cold war period look tame by comparison.

In his only significant public pronouncement on the subject, delivered last spring, Bush put forward a schizophrenic view of the nuclear conundrum. On the positive side, he spoke of making unilateral cuts in U.S. nuclear forces and taking those forces off of hair-trigger alert. He even implied that the cold war doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD was a ``dead relic'' of a bygone era. On the negative side of the ledger, Bush endorsed the deployment of a massive missile defense program on the scale of Ronald Reagan's ``Star Wars'' plan, complete with interceptor missiles based on land, at sea, in the air, and in outer space.

The seeming contradiction in the Bush view -- taking reassuring steps by reducing the size of the U.S. arsenal and taking forces off of alert on the one hand, while provoking other nuclear powers with a massive Star Wars program on the other -- disappears if you look at the common thread uniting these proposals: nuclear unilateralism.

Spurred on by the ideological rantings of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, a powerful bloc within the Republican Party has increasingly come to treat negotiated arms control arrangements -- like the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I and II), and the proposed Comprehensive Test Ban treaty -- as obstacles to U.S. supremacy rather than guarantors of a fragile but critical level of stability in the nuclear age.

The right-wing rallying cry is ``peace through strength, not peace through paper.'' If that means shredding two decades of international arms control agreements (most of which were negotiated by Republican presidents), so be it.

This unilateralist approach to nuclear strategy is a disaster waiting to happen. Bush advisers like Stephen Hadley have suggested that the U.S. can significantly reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons in its current arsenal of 8,000 to 10,000 strategic warheads. Simultaneously, the U.S. would need to modernize the force by developing low-yield nuclear weapons that could be used for missions like destroying hardened underground command centers or hidden weapons facilities.

The barely concealed premise of this emerging nuclear doctrine is a desire to make U.S. nuclear weapons more usable. This dubious proposition is grounded in the notion that a low-yield weapon could more readily be used as a threat, or actually dropped on a target, without sparking nuclear retaliation by another nuclear power. Some conservative analysts have even suggested that low-yield nukes are a ``humanitarian'' weapon, claiming that they can be used to take out underground biological warfare laboratories, for example, with less loss of life than would result from other approaches to destroying such facilities!

Of course, in the unfortunate event of a nuclear exchange prompted by a U.S. threat to use ``mini-nukes,'' the Bush doctrine would trust in our spiffy new Star Wars system to protect us. The fact that such a system is far from reality and may never successfully be built does not seem to cool the passions of the new generation of nuclear use theorists (or NUTs, as some critics have called them).

At least one sector of American society will benefit from this dangerous new doctrine. The big four weapons contractors -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and TRW -- will reap billions in taxpayer funds to build the Bush version of Star Wars, which could cost as much as $240 billion over a ten- to fifteen-year period.

It's not like we haven't been through this before. Ronald Reagan came into office in 1981 with guns blazing, pushing for a new generation of nuclear weapons and a Star Wars system. By the end of his second term, however, he had put Star Wars on the shelf and signed on to two major nuclear arms reduction treaties, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Reagan's historic reversal came as a direct result of pressure brought to bear by the nuclear freeze campaign, the European Nuclear Disarmament movement (END), and pressures from European allies and our erstwhile adversaries in Moscow, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, who wouldn't take no for an answer.

It will take a similar international outcry to stop Bush's reckless nuclear doctrine. The sooner we get started, the safer we'll be.

(link to full text [ ])


U.S. military forces themselves, including nuclear forces, will now be used to "dissuade adversaries from undertaking military programs or operations that could threaten U.S. interests or those of allies and friends." (p. 9)

Nuclear Posture Review - Department of Defense to Congress January 2002 [ ]


"Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- nuclear, biological, and chemical -- in the possession of hostile states and terrorists represent one of the greatest security challenges facing the United States. (...) An effective strategy for countering WMD, including their use and further proliferation, is an integral component of the National Security Strategy of the United States of America. As with the war on terrorism, our strategy for homeland security, and our new concept of deterrence, the U.S. approach to combat WMD represents a fundamental change from the past.(*)  To succeed, we must take full advantage of today's opportunities, including the application of new technologies, increased emphasis on intelligence collection and analysis, the strengthening of alliance relationships, and the establishment of new partnerships with former adversaries."

National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction [ ] - PDF format (9) pages

*  The "fundamental changes" are "pre-emptive-strikes" and abandonment of the "no first use of nuclear weapons" policy.    The Global Security Web Site [ ] provides systematic and scientific analysis of defence materials world wide and is much relied on by the news media as a source of accurate information.

Before one considers the Bush Doctrine further, one has to consider its precise implications in practice:-

The Bush Administration considers it essential that the USA be able to enforce its will on land, in the air, at sea and in space;

The Bush Administration considers itself entitled to enforce its will against sovereign states if it considers necessary by the use of lethal force including nuclear weapons, without the sanction of any world body;

The Bush Administration considers itself entitled without the sanction of any world body, or even without the warrant of any US Court, to use lethal force against individuals inside or outside the United States if the President in his absolute discretion deems that person to be an "unlawful combatant"; and

The Bush Administration considers itself entitled, without the sanction of any world body or even without the warrant of any US Court to be entitled to detain any person indefinitely without trial and in the case of a foreign national to send him or her to a state where the person will be at risk of torture or execution without the sanction of any court.

If these doctrines are accepted or acquiesed in by the international community, what they mean is the abrogation of international law as we know it and its substitution by an unreviewable discretion vested in the President of the United States.  There is a single word which adequately describes this kind of "new world order" - Fascism.

Unilateral Intervention in Iraq - Illegal

See our Iraq War - Legality page. [ ( now a dead link, instead go to or to ) ]

"Poodle" Blair espouses the New World Order

The supporters of the Bobbitt Theory, or of the Bush Doctrine, point to the past failures of the United Nations.  As discussed above, no-one in their right mind would suggest that the UN as presently configured is a perfect vehicle for resolving conflict, and particularly for dealing with human rights abuses.

Yes, the UN Security Council was paralysed over Bosnia/Kosovo by the threat of Russian veto.  But hard cases make bad law.  In particular, if the Security Council can be paralysed by the Great Power veto, that is an argument for reforming the Great Power veto, not for throwing the baby out with the bathwater and leaving the policing of the world to the whim of a hyperpower, particularly when that hyperpower has the human rights and civil liberties record of the Bush Administration.

Many of the US neoconservatives who have espoused the Bobbitt theory are former marxists and trotskyites who have gone from one political extreme to the other.  With the enthusiasm of the convert, they have sought to become "more catholic than the Pope" and have passed from the extreme left to the neofascist far right.  The same phenomenon is to be observed at the heart of the Blair Government and in particular among the Blair/Straw/Blunkett Troika who have the conduct of UK policy on the Iraq crisis and the war on terrorism.

It is worth recalling that Jack Straw was considered by the UK security services to be a "Communist sympathiser" and he was certainly on the radical left as President of the NUS between 1969 and 1971.  Many older readers will recall that David Blunkett was regarded as being on the "loonie left" of the Labour Party in 1985 when as leader of Sheffield Council he was said to run the "Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire".  It appears that the BSB Troika have all been infected with the neoconservative virus and have moved from the left to the far right.

When the British Prime Minister said in the House of Commons on 15th January 2003 that the Government had to reserve the right to support US unilateral action if someone in the United Nations interposed "an unreasonable veto", everyone understood him to mean that he was prepared to sacrifice British troops on the altar of his supposed ``special relationship'' with George W. Bush even if Canada, France, Germany and other NATO allies were not.  On 21st January 2003, Blair told Chairmen of Committees of the House of Commons that he reserved the right to join in military action, even if a UN Security Council member vetoed such a move.  He said that if UN weapons inspectors concluded that the Iraqi leader was in breach of Security Council resolutions and "somebody puts down an unreasonable veto", action should still follow.

There are only 5 states with the Security Council veto power:  China, France, Russia the United Kingdom and the United States of America.  Which state does the Prime Minister think is going to be "unreasonable" ?  And how far should his proposition be taken ?  Suppose a resolution for the enforcement of peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict should shortly come before the Security Council (as well it might) and be vetoed as usual by the United States (which, incidentally has vetoed more resolutions than any other Security Council Member, generally to protect its puppet Israel) - does Mr Blair then think that it would be legitimate for a "coalition of the willing" (say Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Russia and Syria) to proceed to enforce peace in the Occupied Territories without UN authority ?

Even though 80% of British voters think a UN Resolution autorising action is an essential prerequisite of military action against Iraq, the British BSB Troika showed themselves prepared to defy public opinion and put British servicemen in harm's way without UN authority.  Small wonder that the British and world public opinion now thoroughly distrusts the judgment of both the Bush Administration and the BSB Troika on the issue of making war on Iraq.

Undermining the UN

Europeans Demonstrate Against an Iraq War

United Kingdom        Italy         Spain         Turkey        Greece

If the world's largest superpower is permitted to treat the UN Security Council and international law on the use of force as if it matters not, then there are hard times ahead for the international community.  If Americans do not understand this yet, Europeans certainly do.  There are huge popular majorities agianst war in all the countries in Europe and there have been some of the biggest demonstrations seen since 1945 in all major European capitals.

It is perhaps salutary to recall that four countries in particular have known life under US-supported fascist military dictatorships, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.  Some leaders would do well to remember the quite recent past in their own countries and understand the reasoning behind the popular opposition to the US acting as the world's policeman outside the scope of the UN.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Iraq War - Legality without a UN Mandate

2003 Iraq War; Iraq War - Legality without a UN Mandate, (now a dead link), local transcript:

[ Also see: ]

Iraq War - Legality without a UN Mandate

[Note: Last Update to this page: 23.10 BST 30 March 2003]


This page seeks to collect together in one convenient place, relevant materials on the legal issue whether the United States of America and the United Kingdom presently have lawful authority to comenence warlike operations against the State of Iraq and, if not, what they would need for such operations to be lawful.

Please note that this page may duplicate partial information elesewhere on this site - at least until we can tidy up the pages.

This page addresses the question how and when warlike operations become lawful as a matter of public international law.  The issue whether such operations are lawful as a matter of domestic or internal law of the United States of America or the United Kingdom is a different question.  Warlike operations can be lawful as a matter of internal or domestic law and yet be unlawful as a matter of public international law.

There are lawyers who argue that there cannot be law without a court to enforce it and thus that there is no such thing as public international law which is no more than a law professors' attempt at codification of the customs of states when dealing with each other.  It is not an argument which nowadays really stands up to much scrutiny because there are now various, albeit imperfect, international courts and tribunals which can enforce international law.

However, it is true that in determining authoritatively what international law might be there are often not as many precedents (i.e., prior decisions of a court of competent jurisdiction) to guide a common lawyer as he or she might like.  Lawyers from the civil law traditions, who are much more used to arguing from first principles, do not find that dearth of authority quite as worrying.

"War" is not a Fashionable Word

As we point out in a little more detail on our New World Order page [ ( now a dead link, instead go to or to ) ], the old rules about declarations of war have fallen into disuse.  Because the United Nations Charter broadly outlines war, 20th Century warlike operations have been conducted without declaring war.  Everybody speaks of "the Vietnam War", yet the United States never declared war on North Vietnam.  So far as we can tell the last major conflict in which war was formally declared was World War II, which led in turn to the establishment of the United Nations.

It is perhaps now necessary to define a few terms in the language of the international community of the United Nations so as to clarify some of the issues arising in the present debate between world leaders.

UN-Speak - How the UN uses language


A country engaged in war or hostilities - but not a country engaged in peace enforcement, therefore a term of disapproval.


This is by definition an unlawful act in UN terms.  By the terms of the UN Charter, Member States have bound themselves to renounce warfare as a means of resolving their disputes.  So, when the United Nations uses the expression "war" it means something unlawful.


This is the expression the UN tends to use as a neutral expression to denote a war without pronouncing on the merits.


This is the expression the UN uses when, for example, it places lightly armed forces under UN command between the armed forces of states in conflict to keep them apart.  The actual armed forces are provided by member states, but they all wear blue UN berets and their vehicles are painted white and marked with UN insignia.  There have been a number of highly successful UN peacekeeping operations of which the longest running is on the island of Cyprus.  There have also been failures, one of the most recent in Bosnia.

Peace Enforcement

This is UN speak for what the public calls a UN mandated war.

Serious Consequences

This is the language used in UN Security Council resolutions to warn the state addressed that if it does not comply with the will of the United Nations, the Security Council will consider the use of force.  Note that the use of the expression "serious consequences" DOES NOT itself authorise the use of force - it is an expression of a final warning that the use of force will be considered by the Security Council.

All Necessary Means

This is the language used in UN Security Council resolutions when a mandate is given for the use of force.  This is UN-Speak for what the public calls war.


This is UN-Speak for a resolution that authorises the use of force without further reference to the Security Council.

The United Nations Charter

The fundamental basis on which the United Nations is organised is that national states are sovereign within their own borders.  One state must not interfere by military force within the territory of another state for a matter falling within the sovereign competence of that state.

It is unquestionable that this national sovereignty principle leaves open the possibility of horrendous human rights abuses within the borders of nation states without there being any remedy.  No one in their right mind would seek to argue that the United Nations is the perfect vehicle for resolution of  such issues.  The United Nations was the product of World War II and UN history since World War II is littered with examples of evil despotic regimes which have been tolerated by the UN.

The doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of nation states is difficult to stomach when one considers the human rights abuses which have taken place inside some states, both during the cold war and since the cold war ended.  One can point to the abuses of Stalin in Russia, of Mao in China, of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, of Milosevic in former Yugoslavia.

There have been other perpetrators of human rights abuses albeit on a lesser scale.  None of the former colonial powers has been entirely free of blame for human rights abuses committed during the decolonisation process. One could also point to the activities of the 20th Century's principal neo-colonial power - the USA - in Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as of the USA's puppet, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In fact, since the end of the cold war, the ability of the United Nations to deal with problems affecting world peace has much improved.  As Richard Butler points out in an article on the issue since the end of the Cold War the UN Security Council has met more frequently and achieved much more. Only seven vetoes were cast in the post-Cold War period, versus 240 in the first 45 years of UN life. Twenty peacekeeping operations were mandated, more than the total for all the preceding years.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered [ ], an article by Richard Butler published in the September/October 1999 Foreign Affairs magazine gives a good analysis of the problem and makes sensible suggestions for improvement.

However, the principle on which the United Nations operates, is that sovereign states cannot be invaded to achieve regime change unless they pose a threat to world peace - and even then only with the authority of the Security Council and under the direction of the Security Council.

The United Nations Security Council

Under the UN Charter, all Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council which is the UN Organ which has primary responsibility for ensuring peace between states.

The UN Security Council has 15 members-- five permanent members and 10 elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Each Council member has one vote. Decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of at least nine of the 15 members. Decisions on substantive matters require nine votes, including the concurring (or at least abstaining) votes of each of the five permanent members. This is the rule of "great Power unanimity", often referred to as the "veto" power.

While other organs of the United Nations may make recommendations to Governments, the Security Council alone has the power to take decisions which Member States are obliged under the Charter to carry out.

In order to appreciate the legal position on "peace enforcement", it is necessary to consider Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations [ ].

Article 42 of Chapter VII of the Charter authorises the Security Council to decide to use force to secure compliance with its will.

Article 46 provides that plans for the use of force are to be drawn up by the Security Council with the assistance of its Military Staff.

In fact, the original concept was that the UN would in time develop its own army and military staff.  The Korean war was technically fought under UN peace enforcement terms with all troops provided by member states (eg the US, the UK, Turkey, etc) wearing UN insignia.

Since then the concept has somewhat foundered.  Member states have been unwilling to see the UN develop its own forces and therefore when the UN Security Council wishes to see force used it has to call upon member states to furnish the men and machines.  The USA in particular has been very reluctant to place its forces under UN command and control.

The Right of Self Defence

When the Bush Administration decided it would rather like to start a war with Iraq, it first postulated the theory that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States of America and therefore that it could invoke an exception to the general prohibition on waging war contained in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

Article 51 proclaims the "right of self-defence":

"Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security."

Note that the right is one of "...defence if an armed attack occurs, until the Security Council has taken measures.." and for that purpose the defending state has to report the exercise of the right to the Security Council immediately.

Since there has been no attack by Iraq on the United States of America, nor any reason to think one is imminent, it is self-evidenent that Article 51 has no application.

In any event, the need under Article 51, to report to the Security Council for it to decide upon action, would preclude unilateral action without at once involving the Security Council.

Collective Security and Humanitarian Grounds

The next suggestions floated in the USA as possible grounds for going to war against Iraq without involving the UN Security Council were that it was necessary to achieve "regime change" in Iraq because the regime was so objectionable or on humanitarian grounds to benefit the people of Iraq.

Unfortunately, both arguments had been considered by the International Court of Justice in Case No 70 of 28th June 1986 - Nicaragua -v- United States of America [ ] [PDF format 137 pages].

This is a case from the time of the Reagan Administration involving US covert and overt operations in Nicaragua.  It is a case with which several high officials of the Bush Administration should be very familiar indeed because they were personally involved in the activities brought before the Court.

Two other important findings were made by the International Court of Justice which are relevant.

"263.  The finding of the United States Congress also expressed the view that the Nicaraguan Government had taken "significant steps towards establishing a totalitarian Communist dictatorship".  However the regime in Nicaragua be defined, adherence by a State to any particular doctrine does not constitute a violation of customary international law; to hold otherwise would make nonsense of the fundamental principle of State sovereignty, on which the whole of international law rests, and the freedom of choice of the political, social, economic and cultural system of a State.  Consequently, Nicaragua's domestic policy options, even assuming that they correspond to the description of them by the Congress finding, cannot justify on the legal plane the various actions of the Respondent complained of.  The Court cannot contemplate the creation of a new rule opening up a right of intervention by one State against another on the ground that the latter has opted for some particular ideology or political system".

Seeking regime change on the basis that you do not like the ideology of another state is not justifiable in international law.

The Court also considered allegations that Nicaragua was violating human rights and held:-

"268.  In any event, while the United States might form its own appraisal of the situation as to respect for human rights in Nicaragua, the use of force could not be the appropriate method to monitor or ensure such respect.  With regard to the steps actually taken, the protection of human rights, a strictly humanitarian objective, cannot be compatible with the mining of ports, the destruction of oil installations, or again with the training, arming and equipping of the contras.  The Court concludes that the argument derived from the preservation of human rights in Nicaragua cannot afford a legal justification for the conduct of the United States, and cannot in any event be reconciled with the legal strategy of the respondent State, which is based on the right of collective self-defence."

Thus, while leaving open the door for forms of humanitarian intervention, the Court held that to be lawful they would have to be very tightly limited.

The UN and Iraq - Security Council Resolutions pre 2002

In the event, the United States concluded that it would be appropriate to bring the non-compliance of Iraq with the disarmament imposed on it back before the United Nations, a very proper way of proceeding.

In order to follow the arguments on the exact position of Iraq, it is necessary to look at the terms of various UN Security Council Resolutions already in effect.  UN Security Council Resolutions are available on line on the UN Security Council Resolutions page [ ].  However, if you are browsing the web from behind a firewall (and in today's computer virus and worm world, you should be) then you may need to adjust your firewall settings to access the texts of resolutions because for some reason the UN site does not like firewalls.  To save you mucking about with firewall settings, the most relevant Iraq Resolutions are given below.  These early resolutions are photocopies in PDF format.

02 Aug 1990


This is the Resolution demanding that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait

"The Security Council...

2. Demands that Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces to the positions in which they were located on 1 August 1990."

Full Text in PDF Format [ ( now a dead link, instead visit ) ]

06 Aug 1990


This is the Resolution imposing economic sanctions on Iraq.

It includes a full trade embargo on Iraq, except for medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian need, as determined by the Security Council sanctions committee.  The sanctions regime has been modified serveral times since the Gulf War but sanctions remain in force to this day with disasterous effects for the Iraqi people.

Full Text in PDF Format [ ( now a dead link, instead visit ) ]

29 Nov 1990


This is the Resolution authorising the use of force in the 1991 Gulf War.

"The Security Council....

2.  Authorises Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements...the above mentioned resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area."

Note:  The expression " use all necessary means to implement ..." is the operative authority for the use of force.

Full Text in PDF Format [ ( now a dead link, instead visit ) ]

03 Apr 1991


This is the Resolution implementing the end of hostilities for the 1991 Gulf War

The Security Council....

33.  Declares that, upon official notification by Iraq to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council of its acceptance of the above provisions, a formal-cease-fire is effective between Iraq and Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Iraq in accordance with resolution 678 (1990).

34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the region."

Full Text in PDF Format [ ( now a dead link, instead visit ) ]

UN Security Council 1441

UN Security Council Meeting - 8th November 2002
Security Council Votes on Iraq Resolution

Click Here For Text of UN Security Council Resolution No 1441 [ ] [ The UN site doesn't always produce documents, so here's Local copies: ]

Dr Hans Blix at the Security Council

UN Security Council Resolution 1441, does not authorise the use of force.  It warns Iraq of "serious conseqences" if it does not comply.  Officials in the Bush Administration and the Ministers in the Blair Government have sought to argue that this was sufficient mandate for the use of force.  That is nonsense.

Neither Resolution 1441, nor the draft Resolution tabled by Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, constituted the requisite authority for the use of force.

In an interview with the BBC, Professor Nicholas Grief, who is head of the law school at Bournemouth University said:

"There is a school of thought that going to war without the express authority of the Security Council would violate the UN charter. That could raise serious questions about the personal responsibility of President Bush and Mr Blair, and they could have a case to answer. They could be held to account in years to come. It is something they ought to be concerned about."

Professor Grief, who is head of the law school at Bournemouth University, says there would be a further risk if US and British forces failed to make a proper distinction between military targets and civilians.

Colin Warbrick, Professor of Law at Durham University, agrees that the possibility of criminal charges should be taken seriously.  "It could apply to military commanders in the field, as well as civilian leaders," he said to the BBC.

Both Professors Warbrick and Grief told the BBC that for the use of force to be lawful a special kind of further resolution has to be passed.

"Authorisation by the Security Council for action needs to be explicit," said.Professor Warbrick.  "The draft resolution does not contain the authority to use force, neither does Resolution 1441. Resolution 1441 does talk about 'serious consequences' for Iraq, but the decision on what that means should be reserved for the Security Council It should set precise mandates, time limits, and a mechanism for accountability."

On 6th March 2003, the Times published a letter from Professor Robert Black QC confirming our view of the legality of the use of force under the current resolution and draft resolution and the Guardian newspaper published a letter from a group of 16 eminent academic lawyers in similar vein.

Legality of action against Iraq

From Professor Robert Black, QC - The Times - March 06, 2003

Sir, Security Council Resolution 1441 does not render lawful the use of armed force against Iraq (Law, February 25). It simply provides for ``serious consequences'' if Iraq does not comply with the obligations placed upon it.

In the context of Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations, the expression ``serious consequences'' is not synonymous with, nor a warrant for the use of, armed force. The recognised UN euphemism for the latter is taking ``all necessary means'' to secure compliance with the obligation in question. The form of words in Resolution 1441 was chosen precisely in order to achieve Security Council consent and unanimity, which could not have been obtained if armed force had been expressly or impliedly authorised or threatened in it by the use of the phrase ``all necessary means''.

Equally, even if the Security Council were to pass the draft resolution recently submitted by the UK and US Governments, this would not render lawful the use of armed force against Iraq. The draft resolution merely states that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441. It does not go on to authorise or instruct UN member states to resort to armed intervention or to take ``all necessary means'' to secure Iraqi compliance. It accordingly does not constitute a legal warrant for the use of armed force against that country.

Yours faithfully,

School of Law,
The University of Edinburgh,
Old College, South Bridge,
Edinburgh EH89 9YL.
March 4.

Guardian Letters - Legality of the Use of Force

We are teachers of international law. On the basis of the information publicly available, there is no justification under international law for the use of military force against Iraq.

The UN charter outlaws the use of force with only two exceptions: individual or collective self-defence in response to an armed attack and action authorised by the security council as a collective response to a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression.

There are currently no grounds for a claim to use such force in self-defence.

The doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence against an attack that might arise at some hypothetical future time has no basis in international law.

Neither security council resolution 1441 nor any prior resolution authorises the proposed use of force in the present circumstances.

Before military action can lawfully be undertaken against Iraq, the security council must have indicated its clearly expressed assent.

It has not yet done so.

A vetoed resolution could provide no such assent.

The prime minister's assertion that in certain circumstances a veto becomes "unreasonable" and may be disregarded has no basis in international law.

The UK has used its security council veto on 32 occasions since 1945.

Any attempt to disregard these votes on the ground that they were "unreasonable" would have been deplored as an unacceptable infringement of the UK's right to exercise a veto under UN charter article 27.

A decision to undertake military action in Iraq without proper security council authorisation will seriously undermine the international rule of law. Of course, even with that authorisation, serious questions would remain.

A lawful war is not necessarily a just, prudent or humanitarian war.

Prof Ulf Bernitz, Dr Nicolas Espejo-Yaksic, Agnes Hurwitz, Prof Vaughan Lowe, Dr Ben Saul, Dr Katja Ziegler (University of Oxford), Prof James Crawford, Dr Susan Marks, Dr Roger O'Keefe (University of Cambridge), Prof Christine Chinkin, Dr Gerry Simpson, Deborah Cass (London School of Economics), Dr Matthew Craven (School of Oriental and African Studies), Prof Philippe Sands, Ralph Wilde (University College London), Prof Pierre-Marie Dupuy (University of Paris).

Similar legal opinions have been published in the United States of America, Australia and elsewhere.

Given that both Ministers and Commanders might be vulnerable to war crimes prosecutions, not only before domestic courts, but also before international courts and national courts exercising universal jurisdiction (see the Pinochet Nightmare Scenario [ ( now a dead link, instead go to and also the page )] on our UN Courts page), the legality of action is a matter which ought to be exercising minds far more than at present appears to be the case.

In the run up to 7th March 2003, possible illegality exercised many minds in the UK Government, in the UK Parliament, in the UK Labour Party and in the United Kingdom as a whole.

- the Overseas Development Secretary, Claire Short, the Leader of the House of Commons, Robin Cook, and a number of junior ministers indicated they would resign if the UK went to war without an authorising UN Resolution;

- upwards of 100 Labour MP's were expected to vote against any government resolution authorising the use of UK troops unless there were an authorising UN Resolution;

- public opinion was against a unilateral war (although much for favourable to UN mandated intervention);

- there was public concern about US policy - an opinion poll found that the British felt that George W. Bush was a greater threat to international peace and security than Saddam Hussein.

In the event, Claire Short did not resign, Robin Cook, the Leader of the Commons and former Foreign Secretary, did. 9 other ministers and parliamentary private secretaries also resigned.  More than the expected number of Labour back benchers rebelled, but the Government had a substantial majority thanks to Conservative support (see our Failure of UK/US Diplomacy page [ (now a dead link) ]).

Possibility of Action under Resolution 678

Although the UN Charter allows for self-defence in the case of an armed attack, the consensus of legal opinion is that international law does not presently permit a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

A good analysis of the position in international law is given by Professor Stephen Zunesr in "Seven Fallacies of US Plans to Invade Iraq" a scholarly paper published in Foreign Policy in Focus [ ] which seems to us to be a good analysis of the international law position.

There is no legal justification for U.S. military action against Iraq.

Iraq is currently in violation of part of one section of UN Security Council Resolution 687 (and a series of subsequent resolutions reiterating that segment) requiring full cooperation with United Nations inspectors ensuring that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and facilities for manufacturing such weapons are destroyed. The conflict regarding access for UN inspectors and possible Iraqi procurement of weapons of mass destruction has always been an issue involving the Iraqi government and the United Nations, not an impasse between Iraq and the United States. Although UN Security Council Resolution 687 was the most detailed in the world body's history, no military enforcement mechanisms were specified. Nor did the Security Council specify any military enforcement mechanisms in subsequent resolutions. As is normally the case when it is determined that governments violate all or part of UN resolutions, any decision about the enforcement of its resolutions is a matter for the UN Security Council as a whole -- not for any one member of the council.  The most explicit warning to Iraq regarding its noncompliance came in UN Security Council Resolution 1154. Although this resolution warned Iraq of the ``severest consequences'' if it continued its refusal to comply, the Security Council declared that it alone had the authority to ``ensure implementation of this resolution and peace and security in the area.''

According to articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter, no member state has the right to enforce any resolution militarily unless the UN Security Council determines that there has been a material breach of its resolution, decides that all nonmilitary means of enforcement have been exhausted, and then specifically authorizes the use of military force. This is what the Security Council did in November 1990 with Resolution 678 in response to Iraq's ongoing occupation of Kuwait in violation of a series of resolutions passed that August. The UN has not done so for any subsequent violations involving Iraq or any other government.

If the United States can unilaterally claim the right to invade Iraq due to that country's violation of UN Security Council resolutions, other Security Council members could logically also claim the right to invade other member states that are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. For example, Russia could claim the right to invade Israel, France could claim the right to invade Turkey, and Great Britain could claim the right to invade Morocco, simply because those targeted governments are also violating UN Security Council resolutions. The U.S. insistence on the right to attack unilaterally could seriously undermine the principle of collective security and the authority of the United Nations and in doing so would open the door to international anarchy.

There is little debate regarding the nefarious nature of the Iraqi regime, but this has never been a legal ground for invasion. When Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 to overthrow the Khmer Rouge -- a radical communist movement even more brutal than the regime of Saddam Hussein -- the United States condemned the action before the United Nations as an act of aggression and a violation of international law. The United States successfully led an international effort to impose sanctions against Vietnam and insisted that the UN recognize the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia for more than a decade after their leaders were forced out of the capital into remote jungle areas. Similarly, the United States challenged three of its closest allies -- Great Britain, France, and Israel -- before the United Nations in 1956 when they invaded Egypt in an attempt to overthrow the radical anti-Western regime of Gamal Abdul-Nasser. The Eisenhower administration insisted that international law and the UN Charter must be upheld by all nations regardless of their relations with the United States. It now appears that the leadership of both political parties is ready to reverse what was once a bipartisan consensus.

Link to full text [ ]

The United Kingdom Attorney-General made a little publicised visit to the USA and it was widely rumoured that the purpose of the visit was to see if the US Administration could come up with a justification for the use of force without a UN Security Council Mandate.

Fresh resolution 'gives no authority for war'

Matthew Tempest, The Guardian, Wednesday March 5, 2003

Tony Blair's political dilemmas over a possible military attack on Iraq increased today, with reports that the government's attorney general may resign if Britain goes to war without clear authorisation from the United Nations.

Legal opinion varies on the basis for war under resolution 1441, but yesterday Cherie Booth's own legal chambers, Matrix, advised there was no authority for war without an unambiguous fresh resolution.

Now it has emerged that there are fears within the government's legal service about the exact provisions of international law for a US-UK attack.  The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, has already flown to Washington on an unpublicised trip to discuss the legal ramifications with the US attorney general, John Ashcroft.

Lord Goldsmith's job is to advise ministers on the legality of all their actions, but his office has refused to divulge his opinion on a future war with Iraq.  This morning he was forced to deny to the Financial Times rumours that he may resign if bombs are dropped without a second UN resolution.  His office is quoted as saying this scenario was "not something he recognises", but the FT quotes an unnamed mandarin as saying: "Civil servants are meant to respect the law. There will be lots of resignations from the government legal service. Lord Goldsmith could go."  The FT reported last year that the attorney general warned the cabinet any war designed primarily to remove Saddam Hussein would be illegal.

(link to full story [,11538,908157,00.html ])

It then appeared that the Bush Administration believed it had found a tabulam in naufragio in the theory that action could be taken under the original UN Security Council Resolution authorising the Gulf War.

See the following press briefing from the White House:-

The White House

Extract from Press Briefing by Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

13 March 2003

Legal Authority for Military Action Against Iraq

Q.  Ari, what is the administration's formal legal position and assessment from the State Department legal advisor, from the White House counsel about the lawfulness of taking military action if this resolution were to be voted down in the teeth of the opposition of the Security Council, either by a majority or by a veto?

MR. FLEISCHER: You want me to read you a legal sentence?

Q.  Thank you.

MR. FLEISCHER: The United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorized use of all necessary means to uphold United Nations Security Council Resolution 660, and subsequent resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area. That was the basis for the use of force against Iraq during the Gulf War.

Thereafter, United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 declared a cease-fire, but imposed several conditions, including extensive WMD related conditions. Those conditions provided the conditions essential to the restoration of peace and security in the area. A material breach of those conditions removes the basis for the cease-fire and provides a legal grounds for the use of force.

Q.  Thank you. So it's our assessment that we can go to war even if the Security Council votes down this second resolution, should there be a vote.?

MR. FLEISCHER: There is no question, based on both international law and domestic law that the President has that authority.

Q.  Thank you. (Laughter.) Is that assessment shared by Great Britain, Spain and other members of the coalition of the willing? Or is some of the reason for this talk that maybe we won't have a vote that their international lawyers come to a different conclusion, that this war would be illegal over a U.N. veto?

MR. FLEISCHER: You need to talk to them about their interpretations of laws. I don't speak for them.

The argument that Security Council resolution 678 (1990) could provide authority for the use of force is wholly unconvincing. That resolution authorised the American-led coalition to use in 1990 "all necessary means" to liberate Kuwait and restore peace and security to the region.

But hostilities in the Gulf war were then terminated by resolution 687 (1991), which imposed a lengthy list of obligations on Iraq, including several regarding disarmament.  Iraq is in breach of those obligations. Indeed, resolution 1441 found it to be in "material breach" of them.

The Bush Administration accordingly argues that the authorisation to use force granted the US and the UK by resolution 678 has been re-activated.  But resolution 678 did not so provide.  Indeed, by its clause 34, the Security Council reserved to itself the power to decide further steps to secure implementation of its will.  It did so by Resolution 1441.

Thus, this latest argument must be seen for what it is, a last-ditch attempt to find some semblance of legal cover for unauthorised action.  We suggest that the argument is even less respectable than the "unreasonable veto" nonsense earlier advanced by the Blair Government.

Legal basis for use of force against Iraq

17th March 2003

In a written Parliamentary The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, has set out his view of the legal basis for the use of force against Iraq:

"Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. All of these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which allows the use of force for the express purpose of restoring international peace and security:

1. In resolution 678 the Security Council authorised force against Iraq, to eject it from Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the area.

2. In resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire conditions after Operation Desert Storm, the Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in order to restore international peace and security in the area. Resolution 687 suspended but did not terminate the authority to use force under resolution 678.

3. A material breach of resolution 687 revives the authority to use force under resolution 678.

4. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of resolution 687, because it has not fully complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.

5. The Security Council in resolution 1441 gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations" and warned Iraq of the "serious consequences" if it did not.

6. The Security Council also decided in resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.

7. It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.

8. Thus, the authority to use force under resolution 678 has revived and so continues today.

9. Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been intended. Thus, all that resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by the Security Council of Iraq's failures, but not an express further decision to authorise force.

I have lodged a copy of this answer, together with resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 in the Library of both Houses."

In recent days, there has been a lot of Blair Government spin to the effect that HM Attorney-General's view represents the law.  It is, of course, part of the skill of a lawyer to make an arguable case for almost anything.

It is a matter of regret that HM Attorney-General has chosen not to publish his reasoning to show how he feels able to discount the preponderance of legal opinion against this implausible interpretation of international law.  In our view it stops only just short of being unarguable.

We are comforted in that belief by the following speeches in the UK House of Lords.  One of the advantages of the present composition of the House of Lords is the fact that among the appointees are specialists who have achieved eminence in all walks of life - including the law.

UK House of Lords

17th March 2003

Lord Goodhart * rose to call attention to the obligations of the United Kingdom under international law concerning the use of armed force, and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said:

My Lords, shortly -- in a matter of hours -- President Bush will no doubt deliver a final ultimatum to Iraq. Within 24 hours of that, probably, there will almost inevitably be war with Iraq in which British troops will be involved.

As we have just been told, we shall have another debate tomorrow. The purpose of this debate is limited to one specific aspect of that wider debate: the legality of the use of armed force in Iraq without the specific authority of a further resolution of the Security Council. The Government have during the past weeks and months laid great stress on the importance of legality. They have said that they would not ask the Armed Forces to intervene unless it was lawful for them to do so.

A second resolution in the Security Council would have given legitimacy, but it is now clear that no second resolution will be passed by the Security Council. The Government now have to face the question of whether force is lawful without such a resolution. The noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General says yes, but I must say that I believe he is wrong.

Can force be justified without United Nations authority in any circumstances? Sometimes, yes. There is of course the right of collective dissent under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Another example, although still a controversial one, is the right of humanitarian intervention outside the charter, as exercised in Kosovo -- an occasion on which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, appeared on behalf of the Government to argue the case in the International Court of Justice for the existence of the right of humanitarian intervention.

As I explained in my speech of 26th February in your Lordships' House, I believe that neither of those grounds -- collective defence nor humanitarian intervention -- can be relied on to justify the use of armed force against Iraq today. The Attorney-General does not base his case on either of those grounds, so I shall not pursue them.

Probably the most important document in international law today is the United Nations Charter. Under chapter 7 of the charter, the Security Council deals with threats to peace and acts of aggression. Article 39 gives the Security Council power to decide what measures should be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42 to maintain or restore international peace and security. Article 41 gives the Security Council power to impose measures not involving the use of armed force, such as economic sanctions. Finally, Article 42 states that if the Security Council considers that the measures provided for under Article 41 would be or have proved to be inadequate, military action may be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Those powers were the basis of the Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent UN action in Iraq. The Attorney-General bases his case that there is an existing authority to use armed force on resolutions arising from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and its aftermath. We therefore need to consider those resolutions.

Resolution 660, adopted on 2nd August 1990, demanded that Iraq withdraw its forces from Kuwait. Resolution 661 imposed economic sanctions under Article 41 on Iraq. Resolution 678, adopted on 28th November 1990, authorised member states, unless Iraq withdrew from Kuwait by 15th January 1991, "to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 . . . and to restore international peace and security in the area".

In that context, all necessary means obviously included armed force.

Resolution 687 was adopted after the end of the war on 8th April 1991. It affirmed the previous resolutions. It required Iraq to accept the destruction and removal of chemical and bacteriological weapons and missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres. It required from Iraq a commitment not to use, develop, construct or acquire banned weapons, and not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. It reaffirmed the economic sanctions, with a relaxation for foodstuffs, and provided for sanctions to end when Iraq had completed the required actions.

The resolution declared,

"that, upon notification by Iraq to the . . . Security Council of its acceptance",

the formal cease-fire would become effective. The motion also decided that the Security Council would, "remain seized of the matter and take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the resolution and to secure peace and security in the area".

There is nothing in Resolution 687 that authorises the further use of armed force against Iraq by member states without a further resolution of the Security Council. Such action, would, in my view, be plainly inconsistent with the terms of the resolution.

We now move to Resolution 1441, adopted on 8th November last year. It decided that Iraq was in breach of its obligations under Resolution 687, but should be given a final opportunity to comply. Paragraph 12 decided that the Security Council would convene immediately on a report from the inspectors of non-compliance by Iraq,

"in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security".

Paragraph 13 recalled,

"in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations".

By paragraph 14, the Security Council decided,

"to remain seized of the matter".

That is the background. We now have the summary of the advice given to the Government by the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General. We welcome the fact of that disclosure, although we should have liked to see much more detail of what must have been a lengthy opinion dealing with the complex arguments involved in the case and showing possible qualifications and reservations. All we have seen is the baldly stated summary. We also regret that the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General has not given us the opportunity to ask questions and to hear his answers.

The Attorney General's opinion reaches a highly questionable conclusion, which is based on a dubious interpretation of deliberately ambiguous wording. I do not dispute that some reputable experts in international law have reached the same conclusion as the Attorney General. I mention Professor Ruth Wedgwood, of the law school of Columbia University, for example. But they are in a minority, especially in the United Kingdom. The opinion of' 16 leading academic international lawyers, including the professors of international law at Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, in a letter to the Guardian on 7th March, was contrary to that which the Attorney-General has now disclosed.

Resolution 687 is crucial because it set up the ban on weapons of mass destruction. It also set up the inspection regime. As I said, there is nothing there that constitutes an authority to go to war without going back to the Security Council for authoritative act under Article 42.

Resolution 1441 is undoubtedly the most important of all. I have already read the main provisions of paragraphs 12, 13 and 14. I cannot see how anyone could conclude that a breach by Iraq was sufficient to justify armed force without further reference to the Security Council. Paragraph 12 requires the Council to convene on the report,

"in order to consider the situation".

That in itself is inconsistent with an automatic trigger of further action. The motion says that the Council recalls that it has warned Iraq of serious consequences as a result of violations. Indeed, that is the case. This is a further warning that breaches may well lead to the use of armed force, but it is no automatic authority to go ahead. The final paragraph states that the Council decided,

"to remain seized of the matter".

It is plainly not delegating it.

The Attorney-General says that Resolution 1441 would have said so if a further decision were required. I see no justification for his argument. Both the United States and British ambassadors to the United Nations when Resolution 1441 was adopted said that it contained no automaticity. I believe that there was a clear understanding that Resolution 1441 did not confer a right of action without referring back to the Security Council. Unless there had been such an understanding, it would have been difficult if not impossible to get Resolution 1441 through the Security Council.

A final decision on the use of armed force requires judgment as to the seriousness of the breaches by Iraq, the effectiveness of the inspection system and whether the breaches could be corrected by means short of war. Those are difficult decisions. The Attorney General is arguing that the Security Council has delegated those decisions to the United Kingdom and the United States of America -- in effect, to the US alone. I do not believe that that is the kind of decision that the Security Council could, or would delegate to any one member, however powerful. A decision to use armed force under Article 42 in full scale war is the most solemn decision that the Security Council can ever take. The idea that vague and ambiguous words in those resolutions can be read as implying a delegation to the United States, with or without the United Kingdom, to take these decisions verges on the absurd.

Where does that leave the Government? I speak as someone who believes that Saddam Hussein should be disarmed by force if no other way succeeds. I believe that he does have weapons of mass destruction. His failure to co-operate with the inspectors when co-operation would have led to the lifting of sanctions can have no other rational explanation. But I also believe in the rule of law. I respect what the Prime Minister and the Government have done up to now. They have undoubtedly worked their guts out to achieve a second resolution, but it is now apparent that they have failed. It is not the fault of the Government, but mainly that of the Bush Administration who have have shown contempt for the United Nations and for international law. To some extent, it is also the fault of the French Government, who seem animated more by hostility to Anglo-Americans than by a willingness to seek a compromise. But failure there has been.

War and British participation now seems inevitable. The Government should face up to the fact that what we are about to do is not lawful. They will have to bear the consequences of that, and so will we.

*  Lord Goodhart QC is a very senior British lawyer.  Educated at Eton College, Trinity College, Cambridge (1956 BA, 1957 MA); Harvard Law School (1958 LLM).  He was called to the Bar in 1957 and appoinied Queen's Counsel in 1997.  He has been a practising lawyer at the Chancery Bar since 1960.  He was knighted in 1989 and ennobled as a Life Peer in 1997.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: **  My Lords, two issues have been raised by my noble friend's Motion. The first is whether the use of force against Iraq is lawful under international law; and the second is that, even if it were lawful, what are the legal limits governing the use of force under international humanitarian law? I shall deal with the second of those issues rather than the first.

As I am sure all noble Lords will agree, it is obviously essential for members of the Armed Forces and civil servants to have clear guidance about the legal obligations imposed on them as we face imminent war against Iraq. The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Andrew Turnbull, has recognised this in evidence to a committee in another place and has indicated that at the earliest opportunity that position will be clarified in a parliamentary debate. That is why this debate is particularly timely. I very much hope that the Minister will reply clearly to both those issues. In the light of some Questions for Written Answer that I had tabled, I wrote last Thursday to the noble Baroness asking her to do so. Having waived privilege in respect of the Attorney-General's conclusions, I hope that in fairness to the Attorney-General the Government will publish his full reasons so that we can see more than the one-page summary.

Forty years ago, I learned the principles of public international law as I understand them not in this country but in the United States Harvard law school. My mentors were two great American jurists, Professor Richard Baxter who became the American judge on the International Court of Justice and Professor Louis Sohn, the expert on United Nations law. On the basis of their teaching and my subsequent practice, and my reading not only of the various opinions which have been referred to but also the four detailed opinions by Rabinder Singh QC and his colleagues, I agree with the views expressed by my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Brennan. I am not convinced by the summary reasoning given by the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General.

International humanitarian law is inspired by the desire of all civilised nations to reduce the evils of war by protecting both combatants and non-combatants from unnecessary suffering, safeguarding the fundamental human rights of those who fall into the hands of the enemy, particularly prisoners of war, the wounded, sick and civilians, and facilitating the restoration of peace. English law makes it quite clear that a military commander is responsible for offences committed by forces under his effective command and control. English law makes it an offence to commit crimes against humanity or war crimes. I am sure the Minister will be able to confirm that there are effective sanctions under English law for any such offences. I ask the Minister also to confirm that those principles are rooted in well-established, customary and conventional international law; and that Ministers, civil servants and members of the Armed Forces of this country and the United States are bound to comply with those obligations.

On Saturday the Financial Times published an important letter from the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Mr Angelo Gnaedinger who wrote:

"If a war is fought, all combatants must behave in a way that prevents indiscriminate and excessive suffering and destruction. International humanitarian law prohibits direct attacks on civilians and stipulates that everything possible must be done to minimise incidental civilian deaths and injuries. Furthermore, combatants must avoid damaging or destroying vital structures. These provisions can only become a reality if the warring parties do not use weapons that indiscriminately kill and maim, cause excessive and long-lasting suffering and damage or pose long-term threats to health and security".

The director-general also noted that during the Gulf War tens of thousands of people from both sides were detained as prisoners of war or civilian internees. He wrote:

"It is essential that everyone in this situation is treated humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The potential conflict parties must also do everything possible to care for the sick and wounded, whether combatants or civilians, friend or foe. This implies that combatants respect the work of medical staff and facilities protected by the Red Cross and the Red Crescent emblems. In addition, everyone should do their outmost to ensure that humanitarian organisations can deliver medical care and emergency relief".

Do the Government accept everything that the Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross has said is required? I hope and believe that the answer will be in the affirmative.

Finally, the director-general wrote:

"If war cannot be avoided, everything must be done to contain its effect on the safety and stability of the region. Much of this depends on how the hostilities are conducted and on the space given to human dignity and integrity in the midst of turmoil".

Do the Government agree with that? Do they accept the obligation to meet the needs of the people and their rights for help and protection under international humanitarian law?

To be just, a war against Iraq would have to respect the principles and rules of the international rule of law. Even amid the clash of arms, the laws are not silent. In the pursuit of the international rule of law, our Government as well as the Government of the United States must surely be ruled by international law in war as in peace and must demonstrate that they will fully comply with those fundamental principles in their conduct. We are not Romans; nor are we barbarians; nor, if I may say so, cowboys enforcing gun law in the Wild West. I hope that the United States Government will understand in their conduct of this war that, in Shakespeare's words,

"it is excellent to have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant".

I look forward to the Minister's full explanation of the Government's understanding of the international legal obligations imposed upon them and their allies in the use of armed force and the Government's acceptance of the matters raised on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In case there is any doubt about the matter, I wish to reiterate that for the reasons already given, and to be given, my view is firmly that what we are about to do is in breach of fundamental international legal principles.

** Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is also a very senior barrister speciaising in administrative and European law.  Educated at the City of London School, Trinity College, Cambridge (1960 BA) and Harvard Law School (1962 LLM).  He was called to the Englsih bar in 1963 and appointed Queen's Counsel in 1975.  He was ennobled as a Life Peer in 1993. He is a leading human rights specialist and President of Interights (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights); and on the Council of JUSTICE.  He is visiting professor of Public Law, University College London and authored 'Halsbury's Laws', 'Constitutional Law and Human Rights' 1996; and is co-editor with David Pannick QC of 'Human Rights: Law and Practice' (Butterworths 1999).

The True Position in International Law

Under Articles 42 and 46 of the UN Charter, it is not George Bush, Tony Blair, Darth Vader Rumsfeld or any other denizen of some so-called "coalition of the willing" who has the legal authority to decide whether and if so in what measure force should be used in the event of non-compliance.  That power is vested by international law in the Security Council of the United Nations and in no-one else.

At a Franco-UK summit on 5th February 2003, France again reiterated its position that it is for the UN Security Council as a whole to oversee the disarmament process in Iraq.  President Chirac stated that force might have to be used, but that every means short of war should be attempted first, that war is "the worst of all possible options" and expressed a personal view that the inspectors should be given more time.

France has held to that position in the UN Security Council and has thus far been supported by China, Russia, a substantial number of the non-permanent members and the vast majority of the General Assembly members who spoke by invitation at the most recent meeting of the Security Council

It can be hoped and expected that France will continue to insist that decisions on the use of force are for the Security Council as a whole and that if force is authorised it is for the Security Council to determine mission, means and command and control arrangements.  It is hoped that China and Russia will continue to support this position and use their veto powers if necessary.

The UK Prime Minister's recent argument that the use of force without United Nations Security Council authority would be justified if there was "an unreasonable veto" interposed by a permanent Security Council member is devoid of any merit.  It begs several questions, in particular:

(i) who decides as a matter of law that the veto was unreasonable ?

(ii) can any "coalition of the willing" take matters into their own hands in the face of an "unreasonable" veto - such as those the United States habitually imposes to protect Israel ?

The veto power is a right granted by the UN Charter.  The US has used its veto power 76 times - 36 times to block action against the State of Israel.  Britain itself has used the veto power 32 times as opposed to France's 8 times and China's 5 times.  Were all these votes unreasonable and would it have been lawful to proceed disregarding the votes ?

It is also to be hoped that the elected members will hold to their responsibilities and and resist US/UK bribery and blackmail.  The US/UK should not be given the cover of a majority vote for a vetoed resolution as a cover for unlawful action.

If the rule of international law is to mean anything, it is for the Security Council to uphold the Charter.  Failure to do so is a recipe for international anarchy.

As President Eisenhower said when Britain, France and Israel unlawfully launched the Suez invasion of Egypt in 1956:-

"In all the recent troubles in the Middle East, there have indeed been injustices suffered by all nations involved. But I do not believe that another instrument of injustice -- war -- is the remedy for these wrongs.

There can be no peace -- without law. And there can be no law -- if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us -- and another for our friends."

Foreign Office adviser resigns

Laura Peek - The Times - 22 March 2003

THE deputy legal adviser to the Foreign Office has resigned from her job over the Government's position on the legality of war in Iraq.

Elizabeth Wilmhurst, 54, has been a Foreign Office legal adviser for 30 years. Her resignation will be a fresh blow for the Prime Minister and will raise new questions about the legality of the war.

Ms Wilmhurst is understood to have left her post because she is unhappy about Tony Blair's argument that he has sufficient basis for war under UN resolutions.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ``We can confirm that the deputy legal adviser has resigned. It is a personal decision and not for us to comment.'' He said that the resignation did not cast doubts over the legal basis for war.

``We stand by the advice the Attorney-General has set out in his written answer to a parliamentary question on March 17.''

Ms Wilmhurst's departure is likely to encourage anti-war MPs to renew pressure on Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, to publish his legal advice to the Government in full.Lord Goldsmith published a condensed version of his advice to Mr Blair on Monday following a week of questions about the legality of going to war without a second UN resolution. Anti-war MPs and some lawyers believe the full version may offer a more balanced view.

Two former Foreign Office legal advisers expressed concern about the advice this week. In a letter to The Times, Sir Franklin Berman and Sir Arthur Watts expressed regret that the pursuit of a second resolution had been abandoned.

Uniting for Peace Procedure

What can happen now the USA and/or the UK have decided to bypass the Security Council and start a war against Iraq without UN authority ?

While the UN Charter vests in the UN Security Council ``the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security'', there is a backstop procedure to counter permanent members vetoes within the UN Security Council.

This is the ``Uniting for Peace'' Resolution 377A (1950) adopted by the General Assembly by near unanimity in 1950, largely at the instance of the United States which was at that time concerned by Soviet use of the veto.  See Text of Resolution 377A (1950) [ ( now a dead link, instead visit ) ] in PDF Format.

The Resolution provides that:-

"...if the Security Council...fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of agression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendation to Members for collective measures".

This procedure was used with great success by the Eisenhower Administration to counter the vetoes of France and the UK in relation to their unlawful Suez canal adventures.

Given that history, it might be difficult for the USA and UK to ignore a General Assembly resolution under this procedure, especially if passed by a substantial majority and, if the tenor of the speeches of General Assembly members at the Security Council is anything to go by, the majority would be substantial.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

UN did not give a mandate for violence

English translation of this Swedish News Paper Article, written by Carl-Henrik Ehrenkrona, Law Supervisor at the Swedish Foreign Office and Marie Jacobsson, International Law advisor at the Swedish Foreign Office:

Svenska Dagbladet "Focal Point" (SvD Brännpunkt)
April 1, 2003

UN did not give a mandate for violence

The worlds foremost International Law experts seems to be in agreement.  The military action against Iraq is a crime against the UN Charter's prohibition against violence.  Any immediate emergency, like the one in Kosovo, was not present when the United States of America and Great Britain commenced the war, writes the Swedish Foreign Office through Carl-Henrik Ehrenkrona and Marie Jacobsson, who explains Swedens stance in the matter.

IMAGE TEXT:  Thousands of innocent civilians have been hit by the repulsiveness of war.  Many are on the run, captured or homeless after the bombings.    Photo: Desmond Boylan/Reuters

The division we saw between International Law experts in the Kosovo case and in relation to the 11 September attacks seems to be totally gone.  The exceptions from the prohibition against violence that makes self defense or use of force after a decision by the U.N. Security Council is not an issue.

The opinion of the International Law experts are shared by a large majority of the worlds states.  [Translators comment:  See for example and ]  Nevertheless, some countries that take military part in the U.S.-led coalition have a different opinion in the International Law question.  This is natural.

The Iraq war has two important dimensions.  One is legal.  The other concerns the political legitimacy of the military action.

The legal question concerns the interpretation of the 60+ Iraq resolutions that the U.N. Security Council have approved.  The discussion have primarily been focused on the resolutions 678 (1990), 687 (1991) and 1441 (2002).

Resolution 678 is the resolution that gives the U.S.-led coalition mandate to make the Iraqi invasion forces withdraw from Kuwait territory.  That is to say, resolution 678 gave those states that assisted Kuwait a mandate for violence in order to free Kuwait (resolution 660) and to realize the Iraq resolutions that have been approved between 660 and 678.

Resolution 678 gave Iraq one final opportunity to at the latest 15 January 1991 comply with previous demands and it gave an explicit mandate to the coalition if this did not occur.  Resolution 687 meant to establish a de-facto peace.  Iraq was forced to surrender to the peace conditions that the binding Security Council resolution 687 decreed.  The resolution made a number of demands on Iraq, one of which was disarmament of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The argument has been made that the violence mandate in resolution 678 (1990) still is in effect.  This is not an acceptable way to see things.

The violence mandate in resolution 678 was created in a very different situation than what we have now and for a different purpose, namely to free Kuwait.  The violence mandate was discontinued through the "peace resolution" 687 (1991), that forced Iraq to submit to a number of peace conditions, among them a cease-fire.

One argument that has been brought forth is that a material breach against resolution 687 revives the violence mandate in resolution 678.  Neither such an interpretation has any support with the majority of countries.

On the contrary, the resistance against use of force without further Security Council decisions have been striking.  The resistance was not leastly noticed during the 1998 crisis, when the U.S. attempted to press through a new mandate for violence in the Security Council.  (The background then was Iraq's total unwillingness to cooperate with the weapons inspectors.  [Translators comment:  Hardly surprising considering that in 1998, President Bill Clinton successfully pressured UNSCOM director Richard Butler to withdraw inspectors without authorization from the Secretary General or the Security Council -- before their mission was complete -- in order to engage in a four-day heavy bombing campaign against Iraq.  As predicted at the time, this illegal use of military force -- combined with revelations that the United States had abused the inspections process for espionage purposes -- resulted in the Iraqi government barring the inspectors' return until a reorganized inspections commission known as UNMOVIC commenced inspections last year.  [Steven Zunes, ``An Annotated Critique of President George W. Bush's March 17 Address Preparing the Nation for War,'' (Silver City, NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, March 2003)]])

No violence mandate materialized, one of the reasons being that there was a veto-threat from the Russian side.  When the U.S. and U.K. in December used military means against Iraq, they were criticized for acting without a mandate for violence.  Thus the critical states expressed their legal interpretation of the meaning of the resolutions, just as Sweden and other countries now express their conception of justice.  The purpose is to prevent a non-desirable evolution of International Law towards a far too wide room for the use of violence.

A little more than ten years later, resolution 1441 established that Iraq is in breach of the obligations the country is subject to in resolution 687 and other resolutions, and it warns Iraq for serious consequences if Iraq doesn't do what the country is obliged to do according to the various U.N. resolutions.

It was not possible for the parties proposing the resolution to achieve a mandate for violence in resolution 1441.  A pre-requisite for the approval of resolution 1441 was precisely that it did not contain any explicit or implicit mandate for violence.

This is clear from the discussions in the Security Council before the decision and from the pronouncements made immediately after the resolution was approved.  This is why the alliance now attempts to rely on the original, twelve year old mandate for violence.

The U.N. Charter's main rule is that states should solve their quarrels with peaceful means.  If there is ambiguity or difference of opinion whether there exists a mandate for violence or not this means that the rule shall be interpreted so that preference is given to the peaceful, non- military alternative.

This does not mean that the U.N. Charter excludes military action.  On the contrary, the whole charter is built on the possibility to use military means of coercion when there are no other ways to leverage pressure.

One can even say that the U.N. Charter presumes that it's member states will assist the organization with military means.  That individual states have the right to individual and collective self defense is a matter of course, that is also written into the U.N. Charter.

But it is up to the U.N. Security Council to decide when and if the time is ripe for exercising military means to restore or keep international peace and security.

In the debate it's been said that the Human Rights for the people of Iraq have been sacrificed on the altar of International Law.  But there is no opposition between International Law and Human Rights.  On the contrary:  Human Rights is one of the basic pillars of International Law.  [Translators comment:  In Swedish the word for "International Law" is "folkrätt", which literally translates to "peoples rights", and since Swedes where among the people that drew up the original U.N. Charter, this "peoples rights" thinking has permeated the document.]

There can however be an opposition between the state sovereignty and the Human Rights.  If individual Human Rights are threatened because a specific country does not live up to it's responsibility, there are a number of ways to try to end the violations.

One is political pressure, like in the U.N. Commission for Human Rights.  Another is legal actions or sanctions.

If the crimes against the Human Rights becomes serious enough that the situation threatens international peace and security, then the Security Council can and should act.

This means that humanitarian situations can arise when exceptions from the prohibition against violence must be accepted.  These exceptions are however not codified in any way in existing International Law, but are exception situations that have grown, or are growing from a conviction in the international community that there can be urgent emergency situations when people acutely is threatened by serious and systematic violations of Human Rights.

For example, it's not reasonable in todays world to passively observe a threatening genocide just because the Security Council is paralyzed.  Such was the case in the Kosovo case.  [Translators comment:  This view is far from uncontroversial.  A number of top U.S. diplomats resigned in protest against how this was handled and it appears from some later analyzes that the large scale genocide was triggered (i.e. caused) by the intervention and not the other way around. ]

At the time we faced an acute humanitarian catastrophe, where a whole population group were under threat to be driven away and where the systematic and large-scale violations of human rights became increasingly worse.  A violent intervention was performed to prevent the catastrophe from becoming an irreparable fact.  [ Translators comment:  Again, critics say that diplomacy wasn't given a proper chance. ]

In the Iraq case, we certainly are dealing with one of the worlds worst dictatorships -- a country where the crimes against Human Rights is also systematic and blatant.  But the acute emergency situation that were present in the Kosovo case is not deemed to be the case today in Iraq.  [ Translators comment:  April 1, 2003. ]

Which is why none of the states that take part in the military alliance have attempted to legitimize their actions by describing the situation as a "humanitarian intervention".

Sweden have never excluded the possibility that in the end some sort of military action might be needed in order to disarm Iraq.  However, all peaceful means to achieve this was not yet exhausted, and it was in the hands of the Security Council to decide when and if military intervention should be used.

In March, the members of the Security Council was not prepared to give a new mandate for violence.  Most of the members of the council had listened to Hans Blix's wish for more time.  It was consequently in violation of International Law [ Translators comment:  Literally "peoples rights" ] that individual countries bypassed the Security Council and applied military force.

Carl-Henrik Ehrenkrona
Law Supervisor at the Swedish Foreign Office
Marie Jacobsson
International Law advisor at the Swedish Foreign Office

[ Translator and adder of comments:  Leif Erlingsson, 07 May 2003. ]

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

The so called no fly zones and the U.N.

The so called no fly zones and the U.N.

This text was written WELL BEFORE the US/UK full scale attack on Iraq and deals with the illegal US/UK bombing of Iraq in the years between Gulf War I and Gulf War II

It was originally written in Swedish, but has been translated to English by Leif Erlingsson.  It is being used with permission from the author.

Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 15:30:21 +0100
From: Anders Ekbom <>
To: Leif Erlingsson <>
Subject: Re: US/UK bombing of Iraq

The US/UK bombing of Iraq between Gulf War I and Gulf War II

It's important to remember that the zones were established by the US, the UK and France after the Gulf War, *not* by the UN.

Briefly, the US/UK argues that there is justification in resolution 688 for the attacks according to article 42 in the 7:th chapter of the UN Charter, while most analysts (and also UN:s lawyers!) feels that the resolution does not fall under this chapter.

UN resolution 688    [ Copy here:  ( Also see ) ]

UN Charter, chapter VII

The British seems lately to have become somewhat less self-assured, and now says that:
" ... the justification is essentially based on the overwhelming humanitarian necessity of protecting people on the ground, combined with the need to monitor the effect of 688; so it is the two taken in combination that provides the legal justification."

Lately [remember, this was written 9 Mar 2003, BEFORE 20 Mar 2003!] the US/UK have justified the attacks with the argument that when Iraq is using it's targeting radar against American and British aircraft, they are in breach of resolution 1441, where it is stated that Iraq may not use force against the forces that are enforcing the resolutions.  This is however somewhat problematic since the no-fly-zones aren't established according to any UN-resolution.

Some other analyzes:
Did The United Nations Authorize "No-Fly" Zones Over Iraq?
"... in 1993, the U.N. legal department announced that it could find no existing Security Council resolutions authorizing the United States, Britain, and France to enforce the no-fly zones."

No-fly zones: The legal position

Also in the U.S. this has attracted attention:
No-Fly zones go on trial in Des Moines, Iowa

And regarding the claim that the zones are established in order to protect resistance groups in Northern and Southern Iraq:
" should be noted when the Kurds in the North and Shiites in the South rose up against the government of Iraq in 1991 they were denied military help from the West and their rebellion was crushed..."
(From the above article)

And when one also knows that Turkish aircraft (with the U.S. fully aware) regularly have attacked kurdish groups in northern Iraq, such claims have a distinctly cynical ring to them.

One CAN legalize these zones, but only by asserting that resolution 688 through resolution 678 is giving the international community the right to use all available means to restore stability and safety to the region (it was resolution 678 that gave the right to the invasion of Iraq in 1991), and by further claiming that the requirements for the cease-fire that are mentioned in resolution 678 haven't been fulfilled since Iraq has resisted the U.N. weapons inspections.  [The latter is however patently false.  In 1998, President Bill Clinton successfully pressured UNSCOM director Richard Butler to withdraw inspectors without authorization from the Secretary General or the Security Council -- before their mission was complete -- in order to engage in a four-day heavy bombing campaign against Iraq.  As predicted at the time, this illegal use of military force -- combined with revelations that the United States had abused the inspections process for espionage purposes -- resulted in the Iraqi government barring the inspectors' return until a reorganized inspections commission known as UNMOVIC commenced inspections last year.  [Steven Zunes, ``An Annotated Critique of President George W. Bush's March 17 Address Preparing the Nation for War,'' (Silver City, NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, March 2003)]].  So by presupposing a whole lot of things that are not explicitly expressed in resolutions, and also by interpreting international law in a rather one-track manner, one can assert that the no-fly zones are legal.

But:  To say that American aircraft according to international law have the right to defend themselves when "attacked" (= locked by Iraqi target radar) by the Iraqi air defense, when the American aircrafts according to all international law is actually violating Iraqi airspace, feels rather strained.

I haven't found any American debate about this (like the British example above), but even though I really have tried, I have been unable to find any signs of any international treaty for the establishment of these zones.

The Raid on Baghdad -- Lawfulness and Implications

The Raid on Baghdad: Some Reflections on its Lawfulness and Implications

The Raid on Baghdad: Some Reflections on its Lawfulness and Implications


If unilateral actions are potentially lawful, how they are characterized legally acquires importance. It is not unusual for governments, like many other actors, to invoke a variety of justifications for their actions, some of which are inconsistent and some of which are, at best, peripherally linked to the governments' real objectives. In justifying the Baghdad raid, some US officials noted that Iraq had failed to comply with a series of Security Council resolutions on disarmament.[15] Still, the United States sought to preserve the distinction between unilateral retaliation for the plot against Bush and the possibility of multilateral action to enforce the disarmament decrees.

Despite the fact that the United States sought to characterize the Baghdad raid as an act of self-defence, the raid fits at least as comfortably, if not more so, under the classic rubric of reprisal. In fact, there is quite a history to the contention that acts of reprisal are really acts of self-defence under the Charter. The United States has steadfastly resisted acknowledging that what it or some of its friends sometimes do are essentially reprisals. In 1979, the Office of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State released a statement which, in relevant part, set out the American position:

        Initially, the United States joined in the adoption of Security Council resolutions which isolated and condemned as illegal Israeli armed reprisals regardless of the provocations involved. [1953-1964] [in original] ... While the United States has modified its initial position of willingness to isolate armed reprisals and condemn them as illegal by insisting on a balanced condemnation of both the provocative acts, especially acts of terrorism, and the armed reprisals, the United States has not changed its position that reprisals involving the use of force are illegal...

        In conclusion, it is clear that the United States has taken the categorical position that reprisals involving the use of force are illegal under international law; that it is generally not willing to condemn reprisals without also condemning provocative terrorist acts; and that it recognizes the difficulty of distinguishing between proportionate self-defence and reprisals but maintains the distinction. Where the United States has itself possibly engaged in reprisal action involving the use of force, characterization of the action has been confused by equating it also with self-defence. These so-called reprisal incidents took place in the context of a war justified by the United States Government as collective self-defence, and on this basis, could be distinguished from the reprisal raids conducted by Israel. It is also clear that the United States has determined that patterns of attacks can constitute a level of `armed attack' justifying the use of force in self-defence.[16]

On a number of occasions in the last decade, the United States and the United Kingdom have exercised what could be characterized as reprisals against the presumed headquarters from which international terrorist actions emanate. In October, 1987, Iran fired Chinese-built Silkworm missiles upon the Sea Isle City, one of eleven Kuwaiti vessels that had been `born again' with US flags, wounding the ship's US captain and injuring 16 other crewmen. The United States responded by destroying two Iranian offshore oil platforms.[17] While this action, too, was described as self-defence,[18] the much more plausible view is that it was an act of reprisal. Israel claimed a right of reprisal for more than 20 years; the United Nations General Assembly never accepted it. South Africa also claimed it with regard to paramilitary operations by the African National Congress (ANC) from bases outside of South Africa.[19] The United States invoked it in actions against the Sandinista Government in Nicaragua. The International Court condemned the US action.[20] The United States ignored the Court.

Whatever the US position, it appears that the notion of reprisal is generally reviving, under the guise of `counter-measures,' as developed by the US-France tribunal in the Air Services Agreement arbitration[21] and elaborated by the UN International Law Commission.[22]

Reprisals have followed a curious path in international politics. Article 50 of the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare provided that

        No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.

This provision limits permissible targets of reprisals but does not prohibit reprisals as such. Sir Hersch Lauterpacht wrote in this regard:

        Probably Article 50 of the Hague Regulations, enacting that no general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise may be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible, does not prevent the burning, by way of reprisals, of villages or even towns, for a treacherous attack committed there on enemy soldiers by unknown individuals, and this being so, a brutal belligerent has his opportunity.

Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, which is not in force for the United States, provides that `civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals', and that `attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives'.[25] (In this regard, one may note that the target of the Baghdad raid probably met the target tests of Protocol I.) These provisions do not preclude resort to reprisals as such but address issues of target and scope. The International Law Commission's draft on State responsibility states in Article 30:

        The wrongfulness of an act of a state not in conformity with an obligation of that state towards another state is precluded if the act constitutes a measure legitimate under international law against that other state, in consequence of an internationally wrongful act of that other state.

The drafting committee of the Commission has prepared additional articles that establish conditions and limitations or counter-measures. Certain members of the Commission would plainly like to reduce their ambit substantially. What will ultimately emerge from the Commission and whether the international community will accept it remain to be seen.[27]

The American Law Institute, in its Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law, follows the ILC. Its black letter provides:

        [A] state victim of a violation of an international obligation by another state may resort to counter-measures that might otherwise be unlawful, if such measures (a) are necessary to terminate the violation or prevent further violation, or to remedy the violation; and (b) are not out of proportion to the violation and the injury suffered.

But the American Law Institute qualifies this privilege of resort to force:

        The threat or use of force in response to a violation of international law is subject to prohibitions on the threat or use of force in the United Nations Charter...

That, of course, neatly begs the question. A strict interpretation of the Charter would, according to many scholars, preclude any unilateral use of force other than acts in self-defence within the meaning of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Even to explore the contingencies, conditions and restrictions on such unilateral uses of force is to acknowledge that they may sometimes be lawful.

The United States has it both ways by insisting that activities that it has undertaken that might be characterized as reprisals come under Charter Article 51. That makes them lawful and legitimately unilateral. It is sometimes good lawyering to fudge matters for a client. The critical question, of course, is what longer-term implications this approach carries for world order. That inquiry would be best served by clarity.



15   See, e.g., Statement of Madeleine Albright of 27 June 1993, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, excerpted in `Raid on Baghdad', supra note 5, at 7: `Since its invasion of Kuwait, on August 2d, 1990, Iraq had repeatedly and consistently refused to comply with the resolutions of this Council. My Government's policy remains constant. We insist on full Iraqi compliance with all the United Nations resolutions.' Statement of General Colin Powell, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman of 27 June 1993, quoted in `Iraq Attack was Success', Houston Chronicle 28 June 1993, at 1; `The Iraqi regime would do well to comply with the obligations they entered into at the end of Operation Desert Storm.'

16   M.L. Nash, Digest of United States Practice in International Law (1983) 1979, 1749-1752.

17   See Tyler, `Silkworm Hits Kuwaiti Oil Terminal; Iran Reports Attack, but Makes No Claim of Responsibility', Washington Post 23 October 1987, at A1; Cannon, Ottoway, `Officials Say Attack Shows US Intends to Defend Interests', Washington Post 20 October 1987, at A26.

18   See, e.g., Statement of President Ronald Reagan of 19 October 1987, quoted in Kurkjian, `US Destroys 2 Iranian Platforms in Response to Attack on Tanker', Boston Globe 20 October 1987, at 1 (characterizing US action as `lawful exercise of the right of self-defence enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter); see also `Britain, Israel Applaud; Soviets Call Action Aggression', Los Angeles Times 20 October 1987, Section 1 page 9.

19   As the South African representative told the UN Security Council `... South Africa will not tolerate activities endangering our security ... we will not hesitate to take whatever action may be appropriate for defence and security of our own people and for the elimination of terrorist elements who are intent on sowing death and destruction in our country and in our region. We will not allow ourselves to be attacked with impunity. We shall take whatever steps are appropriate to defend ourselves.'

      Statement of Ambassador von Schirnding, 41 UN SCOR (2684th mtg.) at 27-28, UN Doc. S/PV.2684 (prov. ed. 1986); see also W.M. Reisman, J.E. Baker, Regulating Covert Action (1992), at 82-83.

20   Case concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America), Merits, ICJ Reports (1986) 14, at paras. 248-49. After rejecting self-defence as a justification for US support for the contras, the Court addressed the legality of counter-measures: `While an armed attack would give rise to an entitlement to collective self-defence, a use of force of a lesser degree of gravity cannot ... produce any entitlement to take collective counter-measures involving the use of force. The acts of which Nicaragua is accused ... could only have justified proportionate counter-measures on the part of the State which had been the victim of these acts, namely El Salvador, Honduras or Costa Rica. They could not justify counter-measures taken by a third State, the United States, and particularly could not justify intervention involving the use of force.' Ibid., at para. 249.

21   Case concerning the Air Service Agreement of 27 March 1946 between the United States of America and France (US v. France), 18 Reports of International Arbitral Awards (1987) 417 (hereafter referred to as US v. France); for a very thoughtful examination of its implications, see E. Zoller, Peacetime Unilateral Remedies: An Analysis of Counter-measures (1984). The case involved a dispute over the proper interpretation of the 1946 Agreement between the United States and France. Pan Am, the designated US carrier under the agreement for flights between the West Coast and Paris via London, used a different capacity plane for the London to Paris leg of the trip than it had used for the West Coast to London leg. France charged that the switch violated the agreement, which did not grant the United States traffic rights between London and Paris. The US Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) responded by requiring French airlines to file all of their flight schedules to and from the US with the CAB for approval.

The US v. France Tribunal addressed the legality of reprisals in general as follows: `If a situation arises which, in one State's view, results in a violation of an international obligation by another State, the first State is entitled, within the limits set by the general rules of international law pertaining to the use of force, to affirm its rights through "counter-measures".'

See US v. France, 18 Reports of International Arbitral Awards 417 at 443. In the dispute before it, the tribunal found that the United States had the right to act as it did. Ibid., at 441, 447; see also W.M. Reisman, J.E. Baker, supra note 18, at 93-97.

22   The International Law Commission addressed the legality of counter-measures in its draft text on State responsibility, offering a fairly permissive view of their use. Under the draft text, counter-measures are lawful if taken in response to an internationally wrongful act of another State, Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Thirty-First Session: State Responsibility, Draft Articles (pt. 1), Art. 3, 2 ILC Yearbook (1980) and if taken after that State refuses to comply with interim measures of protection, Sixth Report on the Content, Forms and Degrees of International Responsibility, Draft Articles (pt. 2), Art. 10, 2 ILC Yearbook (1985) 12. See also the Symposium on counter-measures in this issue at 20.

23   Convention on Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV), 18 October 1907, C.I. Bevans, Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949, Vol. 1 (1968) 631, at 652.

24   L. Oppenheim, International Law, Vol. II, Disputes, War and Neutrality (H. Lauterpacht ed., 7th ed. 1952) 565.

25   Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I) (1977), 16 ILM 1391 (1977).

26   Report of the International Law Commission on the Work of its Thirty-First Session, supra note 21, at 33.

27   See generally the discussion in the Symposium in this edition.

28   Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States sec. 905 (1987).

29   Ibid.

© 1990-2003 European Journal of International Law

All comments and suggestions  should be sent to

This site is part of the Academy of European Law online, a joint partnership of the Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law and the Academy of European Law at the European University Institute.

This file was last modified: Tuesday, August 03, 1999 01:13PM

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?

2003 Iraq War; "Military Necessity or War Crimes?" at #1:,  #2:,  #3:  --  This series clearly show both that the 2003 Iraq war is and was illegal in all respects and also that it was not justifiable by any "Military Necessity" either.  In short, it is and was a War Crime.

Local transcript at or below:

Van Bergen & Gittings | Military Necessity or War Crimes?

     Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?
     By Jennifer Van Bergen & Charles B. Gittings [1]
     t r u t h o u t | Monday, 14 July 2003

     [Editor's Note] This is Part One of a three-part series that raises the question whether the ``Bush War'' - namely, the domestic agenda in the so-called ``war on terrorism,'' the Military Tribunal Order of November 13, 2001, the illegitimate detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere without due process -- are justified, as the Bush Administration claims, by the doctrine of ``military necessity,'' or whether they, in fact, constitute violations of the Geneva Conventions, which would thus be ``war crimes'' under United States law, subject to capital punishment. Part One introduces the question. Part Two discusses the Geneva and Hague Conventions, which the authors claim Bush is violating. Part Three discusses the doctrine of military necessity and concludes military necessity does not justify the Bush War.

     A reporter visits Guantanamo Bay and asks a guard about the sign at the front gate of the prison camp. The sign says: "Honor bound -- to defend freedom."

     The reporter asks "Isn't that a little strange, a slogan about freedom on the gate of a prison camp?"

     The guard replies "Doesn't seem strange to me-- does it seem strange to you?"

     This exchange appeared in a New York Times Magazine story. One can't help but wonder if either of these persons are aware that over the front gate at the Auschwitz concentration camp the Nazis had a sign that said "Work makes one free."

     An Air Force Colonel who has been given the job of chief defense counsel for military commissions at Guantanamo talks to Reuters and says that some of the rules formulated for the these commissions would be different if he was making the rules. As reported by Reuters:

``If I were the person who had designed this system, I would have designed it differently," [USAF Col. Will] Gunn said.

Gunn singled out language permitting the Defense Department to monitor any conversations or communications between defense lawyers and defendants, which some critics have called a breach of customary attorney-client privilege.

"For instance, I would make it clear that no conversation between the defense counsel and a client can be monitored unless the government had a particularized reason for doing so ... a reason that can be clearly articulated," Gunn said.

Gunn said the appeals process would be different if he had designed it. The rules do not allow for an independent judicial review of convictions or sentences. Appeals go to a military panel appointed by the Pentagon, and final review of convictions or sentences is made by Bush himself.

Gunn said the traditional U.S. military justice system allows for some appeals to be heard by a civilian court.

"The most serious cases with the most severe sanctions can be reviewed by civilians," Gunn said.

     As it stands, the President has claimed the authority to invade any country he pleases, determine who is an enemy combatant, whether or not they can be detained indefinitely, whether they are to be tried before a commission (or not at all), what the rules for such commissions should be, and whether or not the results of such a trial are fair and just -- solely at his own discretion.

     One wonders if any of these people have ever read the Federalist, where Madison says:

``The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.''

     And whenever anyone dares to question the Bush Administration's actions -- many of which these authors believe are violations of the Geneva Conventions and other treaties, and some of which are war crimes subject to capital punishment under U.S. law -- the Administration always insists that it is following Geneva  . . .  except to the extent that "military necessity" requires otherwise.

     The President has claimed that the invasion of Iraq was a military necessity and we now know it was founded on forged documents.
[5] The President has claimed that the detention of persons at Guantanamo is ``appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949.'' He has declared that the establishment of Military Tribunals in this country, even while the civil courts are open and fully functioning, is ``necessary to meet the emergency.'' [6]

     The authors thus ask the question: is Bush complying with international law, and specifically with the Geneva Conventions? Or is he violating them? If government officials, including Bush and Rumsfeld, are violating Geneva, are they thereby committing war crimes? Or does military necessity dictate -- and justify -- their course? What do the Geneva Conventions require of the Administration? What is military necessary and what determines it?

Tomorrow the authors will discuss the Geneva and Hague Conventions which set forth the parameters within which any ``High Contracting Party'' (which includes the United States) is obligated to operate.



1 Jennifer Van Bergen [ ] is a frequent contributor to Truthout. She holds a J.D. from Cardozo School of Law and will be teaching a course on ``The Anti-Terrorism Laws, the Constitution and Civil Rights'' at the New School Online University, NY, this Fall.
Charles B. Gittings [ ] is a computer programmer and the founder of the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions (PEGC) [ ]

2 Ted Conover, ``In the Land of Guantanamo [],'' New York Times, 6/29/03

3 Will Dunham, ``Key Lawyer Differs on U.S. Terrorism Trial Rules [],'' Reuters, 6/28/03

4 James Madison, The Federalist Papers, #47 []

5 See

6 See the Military Tribunal Order [], and the White House Fact Sheet on the Status of Detainees at Guantanamo [].

© Copyright 2003 by

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Van Bergen & Gittings | Military Necessity or War Crimes?  Part II

     Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?
     By Jennifer Van Bergen & Charles B. Gittings [1]

     t r u t h o u t | Tuesday, 15 July 2003

     [Editor's Note] This is Part Two of a three-part series that raises the question whether the ``Bush War'' - namely, the domestic agenda in the so-called ``war on terrorism,'' the Military Tribunal Order of November 13, 2001, the illegitimate detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere without due process -- are justified, as the Bush Administration claims, by the doctrine of ``military necessity,'' or whether they, in fact, constitute violations of the Geneva Conventions, which would thus be ``war crimes'' under United States law, subject to capital punishment. Part One introduced the question []. Part Two discusses the Geneva and Hague Conventions, which the authors claim Bush is violating. Part Three discusses the doctrine of military necessity and concludes military necessity does not justify the Bush War. The Bush Administration is violating the Geneva and Hague Conventions, the U.S. Constitution, and federal criminal law.

Conventions, the U.S. Constitution, and federal criminal law.

     Part 1 []; Part 2 []; Part 3

     The United States Constitution expressly incorporates international treaties as ``the supreme law of the land.'' Article 6 of the United States Constitution states: The Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

     All executive and judicial officers and members of Congress are bound by oath to support the Constitution, including Article 6. The term ``treaties'' includes those signed by the President and ratified by the Senate, as well as those not ratified or simply part of ``customary international law'' -- meaning those principles which are recognized by most nations.
[2] The Geneva and Hague Conventions were signed and ratified by the United States in 1956. They have a long history. They were developed through many wars, starting in 1864. Their present versions arose out of the depredations of World War II. As the Geneva Convention requires, the United States codified their enforcement in the U.S. Code. [3].

     Geneva forbids ``the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.'' It is forbidden under the Hague Convention ``to declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party.''
[4]  Think about what Bush has done by detaining combatants at Guantanamo for over a year without trial  . . .  or by taking persons out of civil courts and throwing them in military brigs for eventual trial before military tribunals  . . .  tribunals that do not have judicial guarantees that meet basic Constitutional or international human rights standards. Think about the lack of judicial guarantees, the lack of access to a jury of peers, of basic rules of evidence (that disallow hearsay, for example), the right to confidential communications with and zealous representation by an attorney, and the right to appeal to an independent judicial body.  The Bush Military Tribunals fail to guarantee any of these protections.

     In fact, the Geneva Convention not only requires due process by regularly constituted courts, but requires that every captured person ``whose status is in doubt'' have his status determined by a competent tribunal. The official Geneva Commentary states that ``[t]his amendment was based on the view that decisions which might have the gravest consequences should not be left to a single person  . . .  The matter should be taken to court.'' Because combatants might be subject to capital punishment, a further amendment was made, ``stipulating that a decision regarding persons whose status was in doubt would be taken by a `competent tribunal,' and not a specifically a military tribunal.''
[5] A unilateral determination by the President that captives are ``unlawful enemy combatants'' does NOT meet the requirements of the Geneva Convention.  It is rumored that some detainees have already been deported to other countries. (Some rumors have it that these persons were deported to countries that use harsher interrogation methods than we do.) The 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal forbids the deportation (not to mention the ill-treatment or murder) of ``civilian population of or in occupied territory'' for ``any  . . .  purpose.'' [6] Geneva forbids the ``unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person  . . .  or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial.'' [7] Geneva defines protected persons as those ``who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.'' [8] While Geneva makes rules for how combatants and civilians are to be treated, it also makes rules that apply to the nation who captures them - and to those that violate the treaty. The Geneva Conventions ``were the first treaties to require States to prosecute violators, regardless of their nationality or the place where the offence is committed.'' Furthermore, under Geneva, ``States must not only respect but `ensure respect' for [international humanitarian] law.'' [9] The 1929 Geneva Convention abolished the provision that the Convention is binding only if all the belligerents are bound by it. In other words, Geneva is binding on all.

     Finally, Geneva is applicable in all circumstances. This means that ``no Power bound by the Convention can offer any valid pretext, legal or other, for not respecting the Convention in all its parts.'' Whether the war is just or unjust, a war of aggression or of resistance to aggression, all parties are bound, not merely to take the necessary legislative action to prevent or repress violations, but to search for, and prosecute, guilty parties. No signatory can evade this responsibility.
[10] The Bush Administration is denying terrorist suspects hearings by a competent tribunal on their status, and is disobeying the intent of the conventions that combatants should be classified as POWs until such a hearing finds otherwise. The legal processes that will be used in the military tribunals violate both the Conventions and any rational concept of justice; they presume guilt, lack independent counsel, and lack appeal to independent competent authority. These are all deeply troubling flaws that cannot be ignored. Any one of those things by itself would be a war crime. Taken together, they are an outrage against humanity.

     The United States enacted section 2441 of Title 18 of the United States Code to enforce Geneva. Section 2441 states that ``Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a war crime  . . .  shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.''
[11] In its pertinent part, subsection (c) defines a war crime as:

     (1) a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party;

     (2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, signed 18 October 1907;

     (3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party  . . .  [12] Clearly, the Bush Administration is flagrantly violating Geneva, and in doing so, it is violating the United States Constitution, international humanitarian law, and domestic federal law. How can Bush get away with this? Military necessity.

     Next, in Part Three of the Bush War, the authors discuss the doctrine of military necessity and conclude that it does not justify Bush's actions.



1 Jennifer Van Bergen [ ] is a frequent contributor to Truthout. She holds a J.D. from Cardozo School of Law and will be teaching a course on ``The Anti-Terrorism Laws, the Constitution and Civil Rights'' at the New School Online University, NY, this Fall.

Charles B. Gittings [ ] is a computer programmer and founder of the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions (PEGC) []

2 See Paquete Habana, 175 U.S. 677 (1900) and U.S. v. Belmont, 301 U.S. 324 (1934).

3 18 U.S. Code, section 2441. []

4 Geneva Common Article [] 3(1)(d); Hague IV Annex [] (HR) Article 23.

5 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (Jean S. Pictet, ed.), Commentary to the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts [], 8 June 1977 (hereafter ``Geneva Commentary''), vol. 3, pp. 75-76.

6 IMT Charter (London 1945).

7 Hague IV Annex [] (HR) Art. 23-28.

8 Fourth Geneva Convention [ 78eb50ead6ee7aa1c12563cd0051b9d4?OpenDocument] (Civilians) Article 4. Other definitions specifically include POW's. See Pietro Verri, Dictionary of the International Law of Armed Conflict, (ICRC, 1992).

9 Both quotes from: ICRC, Punishing Violations of International Humanitarian Law at the National Level: A Guide for Common Law States (2001), pp. 9-10 (emphasis in the original).

10 All information in this paragraph is from: ICRC, Geneva Commentary, vol. 3, p. 27.

11 See footnote 12 for link. This statute applies only to violations against U.S. citizens. See footnote 7 for the link to the Hague Convention articles.

12 clause ends with ``and which deals with non-international armed conflict.'' Thus, clause (1) and (2) apply to international conflicts, and clause (3) applies to non-international ones. The meaning of this is that there is no ``sovereign immunity'' for officials who commit war crimes against domestic rebels, criminals, or untermenschen. (Sub clause (4) relates to any person who willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians under the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices.)

© Copyright 2003 by

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Van Bergen and Gittings | Military Necessity or War Crimes? Part III

     Bush War: Military Necessity or War Crimes?
     By Jennifer Van Bergen & Charles B. Gittings [1]
     t r u t h o u t | Tuesday, 15 July 2003

     [Editor's Note] This is Part Three of a three-part series that raises the question whether the ``Bush War'' - namely, the domestic agenda in the so-called ``war on terrorism,'' the Military Tribunal Order of November 13, 2001, the illegitimate detention of suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere without due process -- are justified, as the Bush Administration claims, by the doctrine of ``military necessity,'' or whether they, in fact, constitute violations of the Geneva Conventions, which would thus be ``war crimes'' under United States law, subject to capital punishment. Part One introduces the question. Part Two discusses the Geneva and Hague Conventions, which the authors claim Bush is violating. Part Three discusses the doctrine of military necessity and concludes military necessity does not justify the Bush War.

     Military Necessity

     As we wrote yesterday, the Bush Administration is violating Geneva, and in doing so, it is violating the United States Constitution, international law, and federal domestic law. The President and his officials get away with this by claiming "military necessity." The determination of military necessity shifts the balance on most prohibitions. The Third Geneva Convention forbids:

Wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

     The Hague Convention prohibits destruction or seizure of "the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war."

     "Military necessity" is a term that has been thrown around quite a bit by this Administration. What is it? According to one scholar:

Military necessity was first stated as a legal principle in General Orders No. 100, a codification of the law of war drafted by Francis Lieber and issued by President Lincoln in 1863. Controversial from the beginning, the principle was nevertheless intended as a new restraint on military discretion, as Lincoln's application of it during the Civil War demonstrates. Military necessity remains an important restraint on military operations in new situations for which specific rules have yet to be established.

     Lieber wrote that "Military necessity, as understood by modern civilized nations, consists in the necessity of those measures which are indispensable for securing the ends of the war, and which are lawful according to the modern law and usages of war."

     Lieber's language is reflected in the Commentary to the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, which states that military necessity "means the necessity for measures which are essential to attain the goals of war, and which are lawful in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

     The concept of military necessity comes from the idea of "just war," which is based on the idea of a human society with norms and morals that transcend national boundaries and apply to all humanity. According to the 16th century Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius, war is just if

(1) the danger faced by the nation is immediate,

(2) the force used is necessary to adequately defend the nation's interests, and

(3) the use of force is proportionate to the threatened danger.

According to one commentator, there are three constraints on the free exercise of military necessity:

First, any attack must be intended and tend toward the military defeat of the enemy; attacks not so intended cannot be justified by military necessity because they would have no military purpose. Second, even an attack aimed at the military weakening of the enemy must not cause harm to civilians or civilian objects that is excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. Third, military necessity cannot justify violation of the other rules of IHL [International Humanitarian law].

     "[T]he principle of necessity specifies that a military operation is forbidden if there is some alternative operation that causes less destruction but has the same probability of producing a successful military result." [9]

     The Truth About Bush's Wars

     The question must be asked, then: is the Bush Administration following Geneva, except to the extent that "military necessity" requires otherwise?

     Clearly not. Military necessity cannot justify violation of rules of international humanitarian law, which include those provisions in the Geneva and Hague Conventions relating to status determination of captives, right to a fair hearing, legal representation, and full due process. Military necessity does not justify indefinite detention of suspects without charge. It does not justify violation of the United States Constitution. Nor can military necessity sanction the violation of federal criminal law.

     And, where is the necessity in committing an act that is explicitly prohibited by law? (Remember 18 U.S.C. 2441 explicitly prohibits violation of Geneva and Hague and requires the United States to prosecute violators. This means that not only is every official who violates 2441 guilty of a war crime, but every federal prosecutor in this country who does not prosecute them is failing his or her duty.)

     What about protecting our freedoms could possibly justify preventing our laws from being enforced? And since when does "necessity" entail doing anything that someone happens to think is a good idea without the least regard for any civilized standard of conduct?

     A real necessity is obvious. When we launched the D-Day invasion we knew that there were French civilians living in the beachhead area who would very likely be injured or killed, but we also knew that warning them of the invasion would seriously jeopardize the chance of it's success. That is an example of a real military necessity: a specific instance where the specific circumstances require a specific method.

     It is not necessity to simply do whatever you think might possibly give you some tactical advantage or leverage. If we were to capture some of Osama Bin Laden's children, we might be able to exert some pressure on him by roasting them one by one over an open fire, but there wouldn't be anything necessary about it -- it would simply be another atrocity committed by an administration that has not the least understanding of necessity because they are lost in hysteria, greed, and the self-serving conviction of their own infallibility.



1 Jennifer Van Bergen [ ] is a frequent contributor to Truthout. She holds a J.D. from Cardozo School of Law and will be teaching a course on "The Anti-Terrorism Laws, the Constitution and Civil Rights" at the New School Online University, NY, this Fall.

Charles B. Gittings [ ] is a computer programmer and founder of the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions (PEGC) [],

2 Third Geneva Convention Article 130. The spelling is so in the original. []

3 Hague IV Annex (HR) Article 23. []

4 Burrus M. Carnahan, "Lincoln, Lieber and the Laws of War: The Origins and Limits of the Principle of Military Necessity," 92 American Journal of Int'l Law [], Vol. 92 (No. 2), p. 213 (April 1998).

5 []

6 ICRC, Geneva Commentary [], pp. 681-82.

7 See Rebecca Grant, "In Search of Lawful Targets," [] Air Force Magazine (February 2003).

8 Francoise Hampson, "Military Necessity," [] (From Crimes of War Project - The Book).

9 Douglas P. Lackey, The Ethics of War and Peace [] (1989) p. 59, quoted in, Colonel J.G. Fleury, "Jus In Bello and Military Necessity," Department of National Defence (Canada), Advanced Military Studies Course ("This paper was written by a student attending the Canadian Forces College in fulfillment of one of the communication skills requirements of the Course of Studies. The paper is a scholastic document, and thus contains facts and opinions which the author alone considered appropriate and correct for the subject. It does not necessarily reflect the policy or the opinion of any agency, including the Government of Canada and the Canadian Department of National Defence.").

© Copyright 2003 by

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Iraq War Unleashes Barbarism

Iraq War Unleashes Barbarism
By Ian Williams
March 31, 2003
Editors: John Gershman, Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC [ ])
Erik Leaver, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS [ ])

0303barbarism.pdf [ ]

So much for winning the cold war. And so much for a world united behind the War on Terror. A poll this weekend showed that 80% of Russians want Iraq to defeat the United States. Polls across the Arab world show the same, and it is likely that in much of the world outside the Western democracies there would be similar numbers rooting for the victory of a blood-thirsty tyrant and certified aggressor.

Such reactions should give pause to the ideologues around the White House engaged in trying to build a new American World Order, and even to those gullible Americans who bought the presidential rhetoric about the attack being part of the War on Terror.

The global coalition forged to fight the War on Terror after 9-11 is dead, strangled and dismembered by the Bush administration, which has created a worldwide reservoir of passive, and indeed quite possibly active, support for future anti-American deeds. Even more frighteningly, the president may have unleashed a worldwide shock wave of nationalism, in which people no longer notice atrocities as long as they are perpetrated against the "other," let alone the "enemy."

This is not a matter for gloating by anti-war protestors. How many of those Russians cheering on the Iraqis also cheered on atrocities by their armed forces against the Chechens? Chinese outraged at the bombing of Baghdad may be insouciant about what happens to the Tibetans or the Uighurs. How many of the Arabs demonstrating would have applauded suicide bombers blowing up busloads of Israelis? Many Americans who are rightly appalled at images of airliners plunging into New York buildings may well cheer at pictures of cruise missiles hitting Baghdad.

Thanks to George Bush and his entourage, we are seeing a reversion to barbarism of the kind that George Orwell saw happening by the end of World War II and that depressed him into writing 1984, in which nationalist crowds cheer atrocities on screen.

For the last decades of the twentieth century, there were increasing signs of a genuine globalization, one of empathy, in which people across the world related to each other's sufferings as television and print brought them images of human distress. That was the impulse for the intervention in Iraqi Kurdistan when what Saddam Hussein's forces were doing to the Kurds reached the media of the world. Once the Indonesians were seen massacring the Timorese in Dili on television, it was the beginning of the end for their occupation.

In response, we saw an efflorescence of international law and institutions: Human rights inside countries became an issue for all of us. The creation of international tribunals, the belated interventions in the Balkans and the liberation of Kosovo, for all their messiness and faults, were supported by people across the world who saw them as an expression of our common humanity. Bush has set all of this back.

He devalued "humanitarian intervention" by invoking it last September against Saddam Hussein. What he said about the Ba'athist's treatment of his own people was entirely true. But how was the world to treat this as anything but expedient when everyone knew what he forgot to mention, that the most egregious atrocities took place with the connivance and complicity of an earlier Republican administration in Washington?

Bush devalued the United Nations by invoking Security Council decisions against Iraq, but expediently not allowing critical resolutions and enforcement action against friends like Morocco and Israel, and then by ignoring the majority of the Council when it tried to implement its own resolutions about inspections. His administration's top figures have culminated a decades-long campaign against the United Nations and multilateralism with a froth of vituperation against the organization, crowing about its demise and making plain that in their eyes, any reference to the organization was unprincipled and expedient.

President Bush has savaged multilateralism and enhanced nationalism worldwide with his assertion that the U.S. can take action regardless of the UN. In assembling a "coalition of the willing" in support of the invasion, Bush has not only taken liberties with the truth, he has also encouraged the Turkish military to pressure its elected government, pressured other governments to ignore their parliaments and electorates, and enlisted as allies some of the most repressive regimes in the world, such as that in Uzbekistan.

Through his uncritical support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ongoing pogroms against the Palestinians, and his repeated threat of "unreasonable" vetoes in the Security Council on his behalf, Bush has persuaded most Muslims in the world, and even most Europeans, that there are double standards, that there is indeed a crusade against Islam. In the next few weeks he will surely betray his promises to Tony Blair to expedite the Middle East Peace process and implement the "road map" that is ostensibly to lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

The president has lied in true Orwellian fashion, both to the public and to the U.S. Congress, with his assertion that the action against Iraq is because of Baghdad's support of and aid for the September 11 attacks. Even Tony Blair was too embarrassed to invoke that claim in support of the attack on Iraq. However, the assertion has gained credibility with the American people through its Big Brother-style repetition even as it strained what little credibility the U.S. case had abroad. In doing so, Bush has not only desecrated the memory of the 3,000 innocents who died that day, he has broken whatever consensus there was for a worldwide struggle against its emulation by other terrorists.

We may add that as collateral damage, he has strafed what passes for journalism in the U.S. where TV coverage is regularly emblazoned, "America Fights Back," or "The War against Terror." In stark contrast, Canadian Television has "The Attack on Iraq."

Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator, whose passing should be mourned by no one. Nothing could be more telling about the record of President George W. Bush than that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, people worldwide are praying for the success of the only leader ever to use chemical weapons against civilians, and who had active plans to unleash anthrax and botulinin on others. Saddam Hussein bears much blame, of course, but President Bush will be the one whom history will blame for unleashing a highly infectious epidemic of nationalism and barbarism on the world.  [Regrettably, Ian Williams is here the victim of propaganda.  See "Did Saddam gas his own people?" .  A Pentagon investigation at the time turned up no hard evidence of Saddam gassing his own people.  Also see .  -- Leif Erlingsson]

(Ian Williams contributes frequently to Foreign Policy in Focus (online at [ ]) on UN and international affairs.)

This page was last modified on Monday, March 31, 2003 1:23 PM
Contact the IRC's webmaster [ ] with inquiries regarding the functionality of this website.
Copyright ©

2002 IRC. All rights reserved.

Recommended citation:
Ian Williams, ``Iraq War Unleashes Barbarism,'' (Silver City, NM & Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, March 31, 2003).

Web location:

Production Information:
Writer: Ian Williams
Editor: John Gershman, IRC
Layout: Tonya Cannariato, IRC

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Did Saddam gas his own people?

WorldNetDaily: Did Saddam gas his own people?


Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Memo on the Margin
Jude Wanniski

Did Saddam gas his own people?
By Jude Wanniski

© 2001

Memo To: Editors, Columnists and Anchor Persons
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Gassing of Iraq's Kurds

I'm broadcasting this memo to the major media, hoping it would get more attention than it did when I initially sent it on April 7, 1998, to Jesse Helms, then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

You all know, because you read it in the newspapers over and over again, that Saddam Hussein "gassed his own people." Now, with journalists opening letters laced with anthrax, The Wall Street Journal editorial page has decided that "the leading supplier suspect has to be Iraq. Saddam Hussein used weapons-grade anthrax against his own Kurdish population with lousy results, before turning to more lethally efficient chemical weapons."

The Journal, of course, has been foaming at the mouth to bomb Baghdad as soon as we polish off the Taliban. But this kind of stuff is irresponsible. I'm sorry to see the new editorial-page editor, Paul Gigot, come out of the box ranting and raving. The clear objective is to scare you folks to the point where you join in beating the war drums to take out Saddam whatever the cost. If you have been following my commentaries here recently, you should know that Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, along with his henchman Richard Perle, have been supplying the WSJ editorialists with grist like this for years. They are first and foremost propagandists. So I urge you to do your own digging, and you will quickly find, I think, that there is no evidence Saddam Hussein ever "gassed his own people." Here is the Helms memo:

_ _ _

I continue to make inquiry into the situation in Iraq, as it is likely to brew up into another crisis one of these days when the U.N. has no choice but to conclude that Iraq is not hiding any weapons of mass destruction - or if they are, they are so well hidden that nobody is going to find them.

As you know, I'm sure, the warhawks in the United States will continue to insist that the embargo remain in place no matter what, and there will be assertions from around the world that we have not been acting in good faith.

As you also know, I believe there are serious questions regarding our behavior toward Iraq that go back further. You would agree, I think, that at the very least our State Department gave a "green light" to Saddam Hussein to go into Kuwait in August 1990. The more I read of the events of the period, the more I believe history will record that the Gulf War was unnecessary, perhaps even that Saddam Hussein was willing to retreat back to his borders, but our government decided we preferred the war to the status quo ante.

In my previous correspondence with you on this matter, I had been in a quandary about the state of our relations with Baghdad during that critical period. In the months immediately preceding the "green light" given by our ambassador, April Glaspie, a number of your Senate colleagues including Bob Dole had traveled to Baghdad, met with Saddam, and found him to be a head of state worthy of support. Even Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, a Jewish liberal and staunch supporter of Israel, gave him a seal of approval.

What disturbs me even now, Jesse, is that these meetings occurred after the Senate Foreign Relations committee had accused Iraq of using poison gas against its own people, i.e., the Kurds. Like all other Americans, in recent years I had assumed that what I read in the papers was true about Iraq gassing its own people. Once the war drums again began beating last November, I decided to read up on the history, and found Iraq denied having used gas against its own people. Furthermore, I heard that a Pentagon investigation at the time had also turned up no hard evidence of Saddam gassing his own people.

This is serious stuff, because the U.N. tells us that 1.4 million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the sanctions, which is 3,000 times more than the number of Kurds who supposedly died of gassing at the hands of Saddam. Many of my old Cold Warrior friends practically demand that we not lift the sanctions because if Saddam would gas his own people, he would gas anyone.

Now, I have come across the 1990 Pentagon report, published just prior to the invasion of Kuwait. Its authors are Stephen C. Pelletiere, Douglas V. Johnson II, and Leif R. Rosenberger, of the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. War College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The report is 93 pages, but I append here only the passages having to do with the aforementioned issue:

Iraqi Power and U.S. Security in the Middle East
Excerpt, Chapter 5

Introduction. Throughout the war the United States practiced a fairly benign policy toward Iraq. Although initially disapproving of the invasion, Washington came slowly over to the side of Baghdad. Both wanted to restore the status quo ante to the Gulf and to reestablish the relative harmony that prevailed there before Khomeini began threatening the regional balance of power. Khomeini's revolutionary appeal was anathema to both Baghdad and Washington; hence they wanted to get rid of him. United by a common interest, Iraq and the United States restored diplomatic relations in 1984, and the United States began to actively assist Iraq in ending the fighting.

It mounted Operation Staunch, an attempt to stem the flow of arms to Iran. It also increased its purchases of Iraqi oil while cutting back on Iranian oil purchases, and it urged its allies to do likewise. All this had the effect of repairing relations between the two countries, which had been at a very low ebb.

In September 1988, however - a month after the war had ended - the State Department abruptly, and in what many viewed as a sensational manner, condemned Iraq for allegedly using chemicals against its Kurdish population. The incident cannot be understood without some background of Iraq's relations with the Kurds. It is beyond the scope of this study to go deeply into this matter; suffice it to say that throughout the war Iraq effectively faced two enemies - Iran and the elements of its own Kurdish minority.

Significant numbers of the Kurds had launched a revolt against Baghdad and in the process teamed up with Tehran. As soon as the war with Iran ended, Iraq announced its determination to crush the Kurdish insurrection. It sent Republican Guards to the Kurdish area, and in the course of this operation - according to the U.S. State Department - gas was used, with the result that numerous Kurdish civilians were killed. The Iraqi government denied that any such gassing had occurred. Nonetheless, Secretary of State Schultz stood by U.S. accusations, and the U.S. Congress, acting on its own, sought to impose economic sanctions on Baghdad as a violator of the Kurds' human rights.

Having looked at all of the evidence that was available to us, we find it impossible to confirm the State Department's claim that gas was used in this instance. To begin with there were never any victims produced. International relief organizations who examined the Kurds - in Turkey where they had gone for asylum - failed to discover any. Nor were there ever any found inside Iraq. The claim rests solely on testimony of the Kurds who had crossed the border into Turkey, where they were interviewed by staffers of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

We would have expected, in a matter as serious as this, that the Congress would have exercised some care. However, passage of the sanctions measure through the Congress was unusually swift - at least in the Senate where a unanimous vote was secured within 24 hours. Further, the proposed sanctions were quite draconian (and will be discussed in detail below). Fortunately for the future of Iraqi-U.S. ties, the sanctions measure failed to pass on a bureaucratic technicality (it was attached as a rider to a bill that died before adjournment).

It appears that in seeking to punish Iraq, the Congress was influenced by another incident that occurred five months earlier in another Iraqi-Kurdish city, Halabjah. In March 1988, the Kurds at Halabjah were bombarded with chemical weapons, producing a great many deaths. Photographs of them, Kurdish victims,  were widely disseminated in the international media. Iraq was blamed for the Halabjah attack, even though it was subsequently brought out that Iran too had used chemicals in this operation, and it seemed likely that it was the Iranian bombardment that had actually killed the Kurds.

Thus, in our view, the Congress acted more on the basis of emotionalism than factual information, and without sufficient thought for the adverse diplomatic effects of its action. As a result of the outcome of the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq is now the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf, an area in which we have vital interests. To maintain an uninterrupted flow of oil from the Gulf to the West, we need to develop good working relations with all of the Gulf states, and particularly with Iraq, the strongest.

_ _ _

Editors: There is no evidence Saddam used anthrax or any other chemical weapons against the Iraqi Kurds. There have been allegations, but Iraq has always insisted it did not use such weapons in the two 1989 incidents alleged. There were estimates that 1,400 to 4,000 Kurds died of chemical weapons in an Iraqi offensive. The Iraq Defense Minister insisted it did not use gas and that it was neither logical nor feasible to use gas against small groups of Kurds in areas through which government forces had to pass.

The sole "evidence" seems to be the finding of a British laboratory that soil samples in the Kurdish region contained mustard gas (not anthrax). Edward Peck, our ambassador to Iraq in 1977-79, who today teaches at the government war colleges, recalls a Department of Defense statement at the time that the gas used in that region was not of the type we had supplied Iraq for its use in the war with Iran. Nizar Hamdoon, today the deputy foreign minister of Iraq, told me the army had used gas, but only against the human waves of suicide soldiers in the Iranian army. He did not know what kind was used. At the time, I think he was ambassador to the U.S. in Washington.

_ _ _

Jude Wanniski is author of the political-economic classic, The Way the World Works [ ].  Wanniski's investment service,, is geared to help investors understand the global capital markets, and his firm, Polyconomics Inc., has achieved international recognition for its accurate forecasts and particularly singular insight.   His daily memos and weekly supply-side lessons can be found at

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)


Questions that Won't be Asked about Iraq

Congressman Ron Paul
U.S. House of Representatives
September 10, 2002


Soon we hope to have hearings on the pending war with Iraq. I am concerned there are some questions that won't be asked- and maybe will not even be allowed to be asked.  Here are some questions I would like answered by those who are urging us to start this war.

        1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?

        2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate- which just confirms that there is no real threat?

        3. Is it not true that those who argue that even with inspections we cannot be sure that Hussein might be hiding weapons, at the same time imply that we can be more sure that weapons exist in the absence of inspections?

        4. Is it not true that the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency was able to complete its yearly verification mission to Iraq just this year with Iraqi cooperation?

        5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from Iraq?

        6. Was former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro wrong when he recently said there is no confirmed evidence of Iraq's links to terrorism?

        7. Is it not true that the CIA has concluded there is no evidence that a Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Atta and Iraqi intelligence took place?

        8. Is it not true that northern Iraq, where the administration claimed al-Qaeda were hiding out, is in the control of our "allies," the Kurds?

        9. Is it not true that the vast majority of al-Qaeda leaders who escaped appear to have safely made their way to Pakistan, another of our so-called allies?

        10. Has anyone noticed that Afghanistan is rapidly sinking into total chaos, with bombings and assassinations becoming daily occurrences; and that according to a recent UN report the al-Qaeda "is, by all accounts, alive and well and poised to strike again, how, when, and where it chooses"?

        11. Why are we taking precious military and intelligence resources away from tracking down those who did attack the United States- and who may again attack the United States- and using them to invade countries that have not attacked the United States?

        12. Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world's worst suspicions about the US, and isn't this what bin Laden wanted?

        13. How can Hussein be compared to Hitler when he has no navy or air force, and now has an army 1/5 the size of twelve years ago, which even then proved totally inept at defending the country?

        14. Is it not true that the constitutional power to declare war is exclusively that of the Congress? Should presidents, contrary to the Constitution, allow Congress to concur only when pressured by public opinion? Are presidents permitted to rely on the UN for permission to go to war?

        15. Are you aware of a Pentagon report studying charges that thousands of Kurds in one village were gassed by the Iraqis, which found no conclusive evidence that Iraq was responsible, that Iran occupied the very city involved, and that evidence indicated the type of gas used was more likely controlled by Iran not Iraq?

        16. Is it not true that anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 US soldiers have suffered from Persian Gulf War syndrome from the first Gulf War, and that thousands may have died?

        17. Are we prepared for possibly thousands of American casualties in a war against a country that does not have the capacity to attack the United States?

        18. Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 years occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to "build democracy" there?

        19. Iraq's alleged violations of UN resolutions are given as reason to initiate an attack, yet is it not true that hundreds of UN Resolutions have been ignored by various countries without penalty?

        20. Did former President Bush not cite the UN Resolution of 1990 as the reason he could not march into Baghdad, while supporters of a new attack assert that it is the very reason we can march into Baghdad?

        21. Is it not true that, contrary to current claims, the no-fly zones were set up by Britain and the United States without specific approval from the United Nations?

        22. If we claim membership in the international community and conform to its rules only when it pleases us, does this not serve to undermine our position, directing animosity toward us by both friend and foe?

        23. How can our declared goal of bringing democracy to Iraq be believable when we prop up dictators throughout the Middle East and support military tyrants like Musharaf in Pakistan, who overthrew a democratically-elected president?

        24. Are you familiar with the 1994 Senate Hearings that revealed the U.S. knowingly supplied chemical and biological materials to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and as late as 1992- including after the alleged Iraqi gas attack on a Kurdish village?

        25. Did we not assist Saddam Hussein's rise to power by supporting and encouraging his invasion of Iran? Is it honest to criticize Saddam now for his invasion of Iran, which at the time we actively supported?

        26. Is it not true that preventive war is synonymous with an act of aggression, and has never been considered a moral or legitimate US policy?

        27. Why do the oil company executives strongly support this war if oil is not the real reason we plan to take over Iraq?

        28. Why is it that those who never wore a uniform and are confident that they won't have to personally fight this war are more anxious for this war than our generals?

        29. What is the moral argument for attacking a nation that has not initiated aggression against us, and could not if it wanted?

        30. Where does the Constitution grant us permission to wage war for any reason other than self-defense?

        31. Is it not true that a war against Iraq rejects the sentiments of the time-honored Treaty of Westphalia, nearly 400 years ago, that countries should never go into another for the purpose of regime change?

        32. Is it not true that the more civilized a society is, the less likely disagreements will be settled by war?

        33. Is it not true that since World War II Congress has not declared war and- not coincidentally- we have not since then had a clear-cut victory?

        34. Is it not true that Pakistan, especially through its intelligence services, was an active supporter and key organizer of the Taliban?

        35. Why don't those who want war bring a formal declaration of war resolution to the floor of Congress?

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

20 Lies About the War

20 Lies About the War

     20 Lies About the War
          Falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain
          untruth were used to make the case for war.
          More lies are being used in the aftermath.

     By Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker

     Sunday 13 July 2003

     1) Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks

     A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11 September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi's contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/11, which was so successful that at one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.

     2) Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together

     Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British Defense Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links between them. Mr. Bin Laden's "aims are in ideological conflict with present-day Iraq", it added.

     Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa'ida members were being sheltered in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops reached the camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.

     3) Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons programme

     The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and that the claim should never have been in President Bush's State of the Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has "separate intelligence". The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information is now "under review".

     4) Iraq was trying to import aluminum tubes to develop nuclear weapons

     The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.

     5) Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War

     Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to produce materials with a shelf-life of 12 years, the time between the two wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness years ago.

     6) Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus

     Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.

     7) Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox

     This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN said there was nothing to support it.

     8) US and British claims were supported by the inspectors

     According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix "pointed out" that Iraq had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's chemical, biological and "indeed the nuclear weapons programme" had been well documented by the UN. Mr. Blix's reply? "This is not the same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction," he said last September. "If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council." In May this year he added: "I am obviously very interested in the question of whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning to suspect there possibly were not."

     9) Previous weapons inspections had failed

     Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had "tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully". But in 1999 a Security Council panel concluded: "Although important elements still have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated." Mr. Blair also claimed UN inspectors "found no trace at all of Saddam's offensive biological weapons programme" until his son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its biological weapons programme more than a month before the defection.

     10) Iraq was obstructing the inspectors

     Britain's February "dodgy dossier" claimed inspectors' escorts were "trained to start long arguments" with other Iraqi officials while evidence was being hidden, and inspectors' journeys were monitored and notified ahead to remove surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had conducted more than 400 inspections, all without notice, covering more than 300 sites. "We note that access to sites has so far been without problems," he said. : "In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side knew that the inspectors were coming."

     11) Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes

     This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the war, but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they could not have been used within 45 minutes.

     12) The "dodgy dossier"

     Mr. Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: "We issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence reports." It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the dossier's accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence organizations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years before it was created.

     13) War would be easy

     Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that "demolishing Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk", in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. "This wasn't the enemy we war-gamed against," one general complained.

     14) Umm Qasr

     The fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only port was announced several times before Anglo-American forces gained full control - by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce, chief of Britain's defense staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US Marines and is now in coalition hands," the Admiral announced, somewhat prematurely.

     15) Basra rebellion

     Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq's second city, had risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by military spokesman in no position to know the truth.

     16) The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch

     Private Jessica Lynch's "rescue" from a hospital in Nasiriya by American special forces was presented as the major "feel-good" story of the war. She was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out, and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The Special Forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was filmed.

     17) Troops would face chemical and biological weapons

     As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they would cross a "red line", within which Republican Guard units were authorized to use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.

     "It was a surprise to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some of the forward dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen."

     18) Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD

     "I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there ... once we have the co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no doubt that we will find them," Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But almost all Iraq's leading scientists are in custody, and claims that lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning to wear thin.

     19) Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis

     Tony Blair complained in Parliament that "people falsely claim that we want to seize" Iraq's oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek a Security Council resolution that would affirm "the use of all oil revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people".

     Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US and UK control over Iraq's oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust fund.

     Far from "all oil revenues" being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution continues to make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to pay in compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

     20) WMD were found

     After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological laboratories. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe were used for the production of biological weapons," said Mr. Blair. Mr. Bush went further: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them." It is now almost certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed - and that they were exported by Britain.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Better Late Than Never$517

All the President's Lies, Part 1
Better Late Than Never

In recent weeks, the press and the Democrats have finally taken up a critical White House deception about Iraq and uranium. What took them so long? And what about all the other lies?
by Steve Perry
City Pages
July 30, 2003


IT SEEMS A LONG TIME AGO NOW, but May 1 was a big day for the president--Victory in Iraq Day, even though he could not say so officially without putting U.S. occupation forces on the wrong side of still more international laws. But the occasion was designed with all the martial preening of a victory celebration and then some. The White House announced that Bush would close the day by delivering an address to the world from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln just off the coast of San Diego. And he would arrive on board in a Navy Viking jet.

This bit of gaudy theatrics was attributed to the president's desire to avoid a post-docking ceremony that would delay the sailors' homecoming. Afterward, when someone pointed out to Ari Fleischer that the carrier was within helicopter range of shore when W made his fighter-jet entrance, Fleischer essentially shrugged and said, The president really wanted to ride in that plane. According to the Washington Post, Bush also took a course of "underwater survival training" in the White House swimming pool to prepare for his odyssey.

That afternoon the president's plane broke through the clouds and glided to a tailhook landing with the whole country watching on television. Bush, grinning like a kid who got a real F-18 for Christmas, emerged in a camouflage flight suit and gave a thumbs-up to the cameras. But if it looked at first like the sequel to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, there was also more than a whiff of Triumph of the Will in that Flight of the Valkyries entrance, especially with Karl Rove's own film crew on hand to shoot the opening scenes of the Campaign 2004 biopic.

Then Bush swapped the jumpsuit for a business suit and ran an exultant rhetorical victory lap, during the course of which he proffered boast after boast that happened to be untrue. The shooting war is over and we won... We've defeated an ally of al Qaeda... The Iraqi people are liberated... We are rebuilding Iraq... We are in control of events in Iraq... Iraqis are celebrating the U.S. presence... We don't do business with countries that harbor terrorists...

Not only were these contentions false; they were already known to be so by anyone who had made a point of keeping up with the international English-language press, including a growing though still small number of internet-prowling Americans. The administration's May Day pageant was strictly for the undifferentiated mass of folks at home, that majority of Americans who had gotten their news from TV and later told pollsters that Saddam was behind 9/11 (70 percent), or we'd already found WMDs in Iraq (33 percent). Needless to say, misapprehensions like these were not failures of the Bush information plan, but successes.

But now the extent and gravity of the White House's lies are beginning to look manifest even on television. One regular guest on the news-chat circuit, former Nixon counsel and jailed Watergate conspirator John Dean, recently wrote, "In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison. If the Bush administration intentionally manipulated or misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, military action to take control of Iraq, then that would be a monstrous misdeed.... To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be 'a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause."

All very compelling, except for one thing. With the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, who's going to impeach him?

LATELY THE AMERICAN PRESS has demonstrated uncharacteristic spunk, dating to the White House's early July admission that the State of the Union uranium claim was false. The very first question--when did they learn this?--opened the floodgates, and incriminating details began swirling around Bush and Tony Blair alike. Before last week's triumphal shootout with Saddam's sons stole back the headlines for a day, the Bush gang had faced nearly three solid weeks of embarrassing revelations. Signs of open derision sprouted in the American press corps for the first time since September 2001. The heat on both sides of the Atlantic grew so intense that David Kelly, a member of Blair's intel staff and the source of a BBC report that Blair pressured his people to doctor intelligence, apparently killed himself.

Contrary to appearances, this is not some great spasm of reportorial enterprise we're witnessing. It is a window on the latest front in the administration's wars: the CIA versus George W. Bush et al. Every embarrassing leak to emerge so far has the Agency's fingerprints all over it; most involve matters only the CIA and the White House would know about. The White House humiliated the CIA in numerous ways while building Bush's case for war--ignoring the advice of its analysts, pressuring director George Tenet to sign off on the uranium claim when he had already stricken it from another Bush speech three months earlier, sticking him with the blame when the lie was exposed, and later, in a bit of blatant illegality, outing an undercover CIA agent--and now it's time for the Agency to settle a few accounts.

But if the tone of media reports and of political chatter has changed dramatically this month, it still leaves the past year to account for, all the months of numb collaboration in whatever the Bush administration chose to say or do to lay the foundations for an invasion. The most striking thing about the present age is not that a White House has lied and overreached itself in pursuit of its aims--hardly unique in the annals of the presidency--but that almost no one seemed to mind. No one who counted, that is; no one in a position to make his or her voice heard.

It's been said that this administration crucifies dissenters, and recent events bear that out. Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose cover was blown recently by Bush officials speaking through columnist Bob Novak, is the wife of former Iraq ambassador Joseph Wilson. It was Wilson who traveled to Africa in 2002 at Dick Cheney's behest. He reported back at the time that the uranium story was bogus, and told the world he'd done so in a New York Times op-ed earlier this month. When Illinois Senator Dick Durbin brought up the Plame affair, the White House charged that he was discussing classified information publicly and tried to ride him off the Senate Intelligence Committee. On a more bizarre note, Bush flacks contacted their chief cyber-spokesman, Matt Drudge, to say that ABC reporter Jeffrey Kofman, who had broadcast a withering report on troop morale in Iraq, was both gay and Canadian. (Laugh if you like, but their not-so-funny point was that Americans should not be listening to anyone whose loyalty to the fatherland is in question.)

But however vicious the president's posse is capable of being, the truth is that until recently Bush rarely had to flex those muscles. He has owed his success to the pliancy and corruption of supposedly democratic institutions from the start. Most Americans still think the episode in Florida came down to the swinging chads on a relative handful of disputed ballots, but the real tipping point came earlier when brother Jeb's secretary of state, Katherine Harris, hired a company to vacuum the state's voter rolls of any convicted felons registered in error. The resulting purge of mostly poor and black voters did not confine itself to felons, however; it also accidentally-on-purpose expunged from the rolls thousands of prospective Democratic voters with no criminal records at all. The second great outrage came when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to hand Bush the White House, a vote from which two of the pro-Bush justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, should have been forced to recuse themselves on the grounds that members of their families had worked for the Bush campaign.

Neither the press nor the Democrats focused on these aspects of the Florida episode, obviously, and the administration has met the same spirit of accommodation on practically every front, no matter how outrageous its demands. When Bush wanted his open-ended mandate for war, Congress obliged. When Dick Cheney intervened to suppress a more ambitious investigation into the events of September 11, no one complained. When Seymour Hersh reported in May that the administration had prepped for war by throwing away the findings of the U.S. intelligence apparatus in favor of the anecdotal testimony of handpicked Iraqi defectors fed to the administration by its stooge Ahmed Chalabi, the mainstream media left it alone. No peep, either, when the White House intervened a few months ago to suppress portions of Congress's eventual 9/11 report, which was finally released late last week after seven months of editing and stonewalling by the administration.

SINCE THE COUNTDOWN TO WAR began last fall, there has been exactly one prominent and categorical dissenter in the entire U.S. Congress, the 85-year-old West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. "This is no small conflagration we contemplate," he declaimed on the Senate floor one month before the invasion. "This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.

"This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption-- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future--is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of worldwide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our--or some other nation's--hit list. High level administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq...

"Frankly, many of the pronouncements made by this administration are outrageous. There is no other word. Yet this chamber is hauntingly silent. On what is possibly the eve of horrific infliction of death and destruction on the population of the nation of Iraq--a population, I might add, of which over 50 percent is under age 15--this chamber is silent. On what is possibly only days before we send thousands of our own citizens to face unimagined horrors of chemical and biological warfare--this chamber is silent. On the eve of what could possibly be a vicious terrorist attack in retaliation for our attack on Iraq, it is business as usual in the United States Senate. We are truly sleepwalking through history."

Ask any pundit why the Bushmen have had their way so easily and you will hear the story of Karl Rove's towering presence. Rove, the man half of Washington calls "Bush's brain," is one of the most formidable party bosses the city has seen since the days of towering Democratic figures like Lyndon Johnson and Jim Farley. He is an absolute master of the mechanics of party politics, a ruthless enforcer of marching orders, and an utterly audacious competitor. It is no exaggeration to say that Rove inspires fear and fealty throughout Republican ranks; his White House is by all accounts the most leakproof of the modern era.

Whether he is the über-media manipulator he's made out to be is less sure. Either way, however, it was not the residue of Rove's genius that put the Bush agenda over the top, but the utter acquiescence of America's most cherished democratic institutions--the opposition party and the free press. Bush and Rove will likely go down in history not as master propagandists but as ruthless operators in the right place at the right time: the first White House of the modern era bold enough to flout "checks and balances" altogether and charge through the bankrupt, tissue-thin lines of the Democratic party and the American news media without incurring serious consequences. When future historians comb through the muck of the Bush era, there is no telling what, if any, documentary evidence they will find (this is a crew schooled in the art of concealing its tracks), but they will surely be dumbfounded by the gap between the Bush administration's public conduct--radical in scope, aggressive in its means, beset by international opposition and by open lies, manipulations, and gaffes--and the paltry, token resistance it engendered in the domestic press and the American political establishment.

If the failure of the Democratic Party in responding to the Iraq war and the so-called war on terror has seemed especially glaring, it's only because the issues involved are so momentous that one can scarcely fail to notice the lack of dissent. But it's nothing new. The national Democratic party began retooling itself along more explicitly business-friendly, proto-Republican lines in the shadows of the Carter years, and from the start of the Reagan era onward, it has never put up serious resistance to any major Republican initiative. Neither has it cast an inquisitive eye toward any fermenting Republican scandal, from Iran-Contra to Enron to Saddam's WMDs. Apart from Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who have both called for an investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Novak, the Democrats have clucked a bit without really seeking to do anything. Just last week Bill Clinton phoned Larry King to say that all presidents make mistakes and everyone was being too hard on W. The previous Friday, Hillary Clinton had appeared on Bob Costas's HBO talk show saying the same thing. She still believed invading Iraq was the right thing to do, and she was going to reserve her judgment about the other questions surrounding Bush's conduct--until 2008, I'm guessing, unless she can be enticed to join the Democratic ticket next summer.

It's only fitting that the Clintons should come to Bush's rescue. Even during the ostensible interlude of the Clinton years, it was still the Republicans who set the social and fiscal agenda, which the president always embraced with a feigned reluctance. Most famously, he stole their welfare reform proposal and managed to get all the credit for it, which was one reason the right despised him so. A neat political trick, but it made little difference to the country: It was just eight more years of Republican rule in sheep's clothing.

At the moment the Republican party is controlled by a gang of neo-conservatives who want to build American empire by nakedly militarized means, for the express reason that there is currently no one to stop us and we ought to keep it that way. The Democrats are ruled by neoliberals who want to achieve the same imperial goals by gradualism and finesse, through systems of international trade and law dictated by U.S. corporations and the U.S. government. They are not opposed to military interventions, but they are certainly more circumspect about them than the current White House (who isn't?). So the great debate over America's new and precipitous policy of preemptive war was no debate at all. It more closely resembled a fretful lovers' tiff.

Which it was. A few weeks ago the UK magazine New Statesman featured a profile of George Soros, the billionaire currency trader who has become a vocal critic of the Bush crew. "Soros," wrote Neil Clark, "may not, as some have suggested, be a fully paid-up CIA agent." But, he continued, "that his companies and NGOs are closely wrapped up in U.S. expansionism cannot seriously be doubted. So why is he so upset with Bush? The answer is simple. Soros is angry not with Bush's aims--of extending Pax Americana and making the world safe for global capitalists like himself--but with the crass and blundering way Bush is going about it. By making U.S. ambitions so clear, the Bush gang has committed the cardinal sin of giving the game away.

"For years, Soros and his NGOs have gone about their work extending the boundaries of the "free world" so skillfully that hardly anyone noticed. Now a Texan redneck and a gang of overzealous neo-cons have blown it."

Soros is emblematic of the only kind of establishment critic Bush has had here in the U.S.: the ones who wonder if preemptive invasions are the right way to go at the thing. But they have no quarrel with his larger aims. Despite the few lonely cranks who, like Byrd, still call the U.S. Congress home, there is nothing like an anti-imperialist wing in either party or in U.S. media.

For that reason, Bush's putative opponents and watchdogs have had no place to stand, practically or philosophically, so long as what he was doing could be spun as a success on the evening news. If a majority of the people continued to think his war was a success, who was going to be first to call it a failure? But poll numbers and recent invocations of the q-word (quagmire, see: Vietnam) prove that far fewer people now deem the war a success. Bush got the briefest of news-cycle bounces from tracking down Uday and Qusay, but it won't change the situation on the ground in Iraq. The bad news will continue to dribble in. The war is not going well, which means the rules of engagement between the Bushmen, the Democrats, and the media are shifting.

OVER HALF A CENTURY HAS PASSED since the last time an American president undertook to shift the whole footing of U.S. foreign policy and American empire in quite so radical a manner. When the Truman administration began the military buildup that ushered in the Cold War, it was as untroubled by facts as the Bush administration. Afterward, as Gore Vidal tells it, "[Dean] Acheson wrote, cheerfully, 'If we did make our points clearer than truth, we did not differ from most other educators and could hardly do otherwise.' After all, as he noted, it was the State Department's view that the average American spent no more than 10 minutes a day brooding on foreign policy."

But Bush has it better than Truman in one regard. For purposes of managing public opinion, "the news" now means TV news, where surveys say 75-85 percent of the public gets most of its meager daily allowance of information. There are six major TV news operations in the country now--five, really, since NBC and its Microsoft-branded cable version are two of them. Control what they've got to say and you possess the equivalent of a state-run news agency with all the (rapidly diminishing) cachet of a free press.

And it's never been simpler to control what the networks have to say. And, though they matter less, the same can be said of most of the newspapers most of the time. "The press in this country," wrote James Wolcott in the June Vanity Fair, "has never identified less with the underdog and pandered more to the top pedigrees. The arrogance of the Bush administration is mirrored in the arrogance of the elite media, which preens even as it prostrates itself."

Part of the growing worthlessness of TV news derives from economic pressures, the same ones that have turned network entertainment divisions into production lines for reality TV shows, a spoon-fed and mostly spurious programming phenomenon driven mainly by the minuscule cost of these shows versus old-school sitcoms and dramas. In the broadcast news departments and at the cable networks, the age of austerity has meant cutting back on the resources devoted to newsgathering: reporters, foreign bureaus, production personnel. The change has wrought a predictable transformation in the mindset of the working broadcast journalist. As the distinction between informing and entertaining fades to the vanishing point, so does any notion that TV news might exist for purposes beyond pleasing the viewer. Gathering the news has become a matter of getting the best live shots, telling a tidy and gratifying "human" story, making the heroes look like heroes and the correspondents look like models. Critics of behemoth corporate media have always fretted about the top-down pressures on journalists to watch what they say, but it's hard to imagine that most contemporary network journalists have a single thought in their heads that might distress their bosses. (When they do, though, they are hauled straight to the woodshed, as MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield learned after telling a campus lecture audience that TV news did a poor job of covering numerous aspects of the war.)

Money is also one reason why there is no news on the cable news networks during the evening time slots, when the greatest share of viewers tune in. It's far cheaper to lard the schedule with talking heads who earn their keep finding ways to restate what official sources have already said. The format is a great boon to the White House. It serves to do the heavy lifting required of any serious propaganda campaign, which is sheer numbing repetition. More felicitously still, the ranks of prominent opinion-makers on TV, radio, and the internet are dominated by tub-thumping carnival barkers of the right such as Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and the Fox ensemble, who set the agenda for the (also right-wing) chat-show "liberals" chasing their fumes.

The most consequential player in the rightward lunge of TV's chattering classes is of course the visionary Fox News chieftain and old Nixon/Reagan hand Roger Ailes. As Michael Wolff wrote in New York magazine last spring, the most important factor in Ailes's triumph is not the network's open right-wing politics but its success in crafting a persona that appeals to the confused and vaguely disaffected as well as the hardcore right. Fox has fashioned itself the voice of the beleaguered, commonsensical little guy who rightly suspects that he's not getting the whole story.

The right now owns the entire American political apparatus--the federal government, the putative opposition party, and the lion's share of news media. Thanks in considerable measure to Ailes, it controls the most charged political symbols as well, from the flag to that most cherished marker of American citizenship, the role of victim. Fox News and all the other right-wing pundits thrive by assuring their audiences that they are the real unfortunates, oppressed by problems as varied as big government, liberal media, taxes and the bottom-feeders they serve, car-pool lanes, and France. Ann Coulter, whose public descent into complete hysteria can be spectacularly entertaining on the right night, is only the best known of a whole battalion of right-wing ravers penning book after book about the abuse of conservatives and conservative values by mobs of elite liberal thugs--no, traitors.

Demographically speaking, Fox and the other children of Ailes get to have it both ways, sucking up to the right-thinkers and to those who simply feel bewildered and powerless. What's the competition to do? While neither CNN or MSNBC has embraced Fox's brassy, jingoistic trappings, they have followed Fox's lead where it counts most, by installing flocks of right-wing commentators and giving short shrift to any hint of dissent or disorder concerning Bush administration affairs.

Finally, an interesting and little-known fact: Fox News is currently under investigation in the UK (where it appears on cable systems) for violating British broadcasting's "due impartiality" rule with its ceaseless pro-Bush, pro-war drumbeat. The head of one English journalism organization, Julian Petley, described the basis of the complaint: "Murdoch would like to do with British television news what he has done with newspapers, which is to force people to compete on his own terms.... [I]f we allow into Britain the kind of journalism represented by Fox, that would [amount to] a form of censorship."

RECENTLY JOHN DEAN PUBLISHED another essay on the White House's conduct. "The African uranium matter," he wrote, "is merely indicative of larger problems, and troubling questions of potential and widespread criminality when taking the nation to war. It appears that not only the Niger uranium hoax, but most everything else that Bush said about Saddam Hussein's weapons was false, fabricated, exaggerated, or phony. Bush repeatedly, in his State of the Union, presented beliefs, estimates, and educated guesses as established fact."

The public grows restless as well. Events in Iraq were already past the administration's grasp when the lies scandal broke. Thanks to television news, most Americans do not yet realize the extent of the troubles there, but they do know that they are bored and disappointed with this war. It's costing a lot in dollars and lives, it isn't good television anymore, and meanwhile the economy only grows worse. ("If American elections were decided by foreign policy," a friend reminded me recently, "our history would be entirely different. The economy and other domestic issues decide elections--much to the dismay of the pundit class, I know, but for a fact, nevertheless.")

Ever since 9/11, polls have attested to the breadth of the president's public support. Now we're seeing how shallow it was all along. Two weeks ago, a Zogby poll indicated that for the first time, more people opposed than supported Bush's reelection. If you are the Bush administration, the joy of a credulous, kept-in-the-dark populace is that they will believe practically anything you tell them; the danger is that, should events begin to spin out of your control, they are just as liable to believe anything your newly emboldened critics tell them.

Can Bush weather it? It's always instructive to read the transcripts of the daily White House press briefings, which offer a barometric reading on current media/administration relations. Lately they have been remarkably antagonistic on both sides, and the animus is personal. The administration has made reporters look like fools. And the White House, for its part, is visibly outraged that its word is no longer taken at face value. This is a recipe for protracted, open ugliness. Keep in mind that Bush's and Rove's tactical instincts are less Machiavelli than Genghis Khan. They are bullies and bludgeoners. Bush's spontaneous taunt to Iraqi guerrilla forces (Bring 'Em On! [$526 ]) seems to go for everyone in the world except Kim Jong-Il and the House of Saud.

More and more, the Soros critique of Bush's foreign policy--he makes the game too obvious--goes for domestic appearances too. A long time has passed since the Democrats and the Republicans had any serious or prolonged disagreements, which is doubtless part of what Rove meant when he told the New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, "I think we're at a point where the two major parties have sort of exhausted their governing agendas." What Rove seems not to see is that it's precisely in the absence of real politics that the appearance of debate and disagreement is most vital. In their unstinting imperiousness, the Bush crowd is exposing the sham for all to see.

One of the larger questions looming at the moment is how far the CIA wants to carry its current info-war against the Bush gang. Now that Congress's heavily redacted and emended 9/11 report is going public, watch the papers for additional disclosures about the White House's handling of pre-9/11 warnings about imminent attacks. Keep a particular eye on Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, the dean of CIA-insider American journalists. It was a Pincus story, published on June 12, that set the ball rolling by reporting that an anonymous official--later revealed as Joseph Wilson--had given the CIA a negative report on Niger uranium. More recently he has written that the Agency also advised Bush before the war that a besieged or deposed Saddam could pose greater risks than he did as leader. If the coming days and weeks bring leaks of a what-they-knew-and-when-they-knew-it nature about the White House and 9/11, it's probably fair to assume that the CIA is not out merely to humiliate Bush but to destroy him. At least we can be sure that the president, never a very industrious student, has learned one thing during his time in the White House: He knows why none of the numerous presidents who hated and feared J. Edgar Hoover ever dared show him up in public.

If the furor over lies keeps up, the president's men will only make it worse on themselves through their secretive, peremptory, capricious ways. A take-no-prisoners policy seems already in effect from the look of things. We see what they have already tried to do to Joseph Wilson, Dick Durbin, and Jeffrey Kofman, but the air of paranoiac retrenchment runs much deeper than that, as I lately learned firsthand. When City Pages contacted the White House for copies of photographs to accompany this story, the flack who fielded the request demanded to know what it was about, and later declined the request. A small thing, but it was the first time in my cumulative 10 years or so at the paper that any agency or office of the federal government has flatly refused to provide public materials on the grounds that it didn't like what we might do with them.

It's been evident for some time that only Bush could beat Bush in 2004, and he is already part of the way there--accent on part. Never forget that the White House still has two formidable assets in the ever-shrinking American public memory and the Democratic presidential field.

Copyright 2003 Steve Perry

Go to All the President's Lies, Part 2: Bring 'Em On! (annotated top 40 lies list) [$526 ]

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Top 40 Bush Administration Lies on Iraq War and Terror$526

  [A more readable version, but one without the source
   references, can be found at these addresses: ]

All the President's Lies, part 2
Bring 'Em On!
The Bush Administration's Top 40 Lies About War and Terrorism
(links-annotated version)

by Steve Perry
City Pages
July 30, 2003

Editor's note: Some of the items below do not yet feature links; those will be posted in the next few days, at this same URL.

1) The administration was not bent on war with Iraq from 9/11 onward.

Throughout the year leading up to war, the White House publicly maintained that the U.S. took weapons inspections seriously, that diplomacy would get its chance, that Saddam had the opportunity to prevent a US invasion. The most pungent and concise evidence to the contrary comes from the president's own mouth. According to Time's March 31 road-to-war story, Bush popped in on national security adviser Condi Rice one day in March 2002, interrupting a meeting on UN sanctions against Iraq. Getting a whiff of the subject matter, W peremptorily waved his hand and told her, "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out." Clare Short, Tony Blair's former secretary for international development, recently lent further credence to the anecdote. She told the London Guardian that Bush and Blair made a secret pact a few months afterward, in the summer of 2002, to invade Iraq in either February or March of this year.

Last fall CBS News obtained meeting notes taken by a Rumsfeld aide at 2:40 on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The notes indicate that Rumsfeld wanted the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden].... Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, the Bushmen's leading intellectual light, has long been rabid on the subject of Iraq. He reportedly told Vanity Fair writer Sam Tanenhaus off the record that he believes Saddam was connected not only to bin Laden and 9/11, but the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The Bush administration's foreign policy plan was not based on September 11, or terrorism; those events only brought to the forefront a radical plan for US control of the post-Cold War world that had been taking shape since the closing days of the first Bush presidency. Back then a small claque of planners, led by Wolfowitz, generated a draft document known as Defense Planning Guidance, which envisioned a US that took advantage of its lone-superpower status to consolidate American control of the world both militarily and economically, to the point where no other nation could ever reasonably hope to challenge the US Toward that end it envisioned what we now call "preemptive" wars waged to reset the geopolitical table.

After a copy of DPG was leaked to the New York Times, subsequent drafts were rendered a little less frank, but the basic idea never changed. In 1997 Wolfowitz and his true believers--Richard Perle, William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld--formed an organization called Project for the New American Century to carry their cause forward. And though they all flocked around the Bush administration from the start, W never really embraced their plan until the events of September 11 left him casting around for a foreign policy plan.

Information Clearing House [undated]: Bush Planned Iraq 'Regime Change' Before Becoming President [ ]

The Independent 4/23: Hans Blix vs the US: 'I was undermined' [ ]

Center for Cooperative Research [undated]: The Decision to 'Get Saddam' [ ]

Time Magazine [via Lisa Rein's Radar] 3/30: First Stop, Iraq [ ]

Bush Wars 4/7: Project for the New American Century (PNAC) [ ]

2) The invasion of Iraq was based on a reasonable belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the US, a belief supported by available intelligence evidence.

Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that weapons of mass destruction were not really the main reason for invading Iraq: "The decision to highlight weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for going to war in Iraq was taken for bureaucratic reasons.... [T]here were many other important factors as well." Right. But they did not come under the heading of self-defense.

We now know how the Bushmen gathered their prewar intelligence: They set out to patch together their case for invading Iraq and ignored everything that contradicted it. In the end, this required that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al. set aside the findings of analysts from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (the Pentagon's own spy bureau) and stake their claim largely on the basis of isolated, anecdotal testimony from handpicked Iraqi defectors. (See #5, Ahmed Chalabi.) But the administration did not just listen to the defectors; it promoted their claims in the press as a means of enlisting public opinion. The only reason so many Americans thought there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda in the first place was that the Bushmen trotted out Iraqi defectors making these sorts of claims to every major media outlet that would listen.

Here is the verdict of Gregory Thielman, the recently retired head of the State Department's intelligence office: "I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq. This administration has had a faith-based intelligence attitude--we know the answers, give us the intelligence to support those answers." Elsewhere he has been quoted as saying, "The principal reasons that Americans did not understand the nature of the Iraqi threat in my view was the failure of senior administration officials to speak honestly about what the intelligence showed."

Bush Wars 4/16: Good King George [ ]

Michael Leon, CounterPunch, 6/13: Missing Weapons, Shrinking Bush and the Media [ ]

Sydney Morning Herald 6/16: A mission in Iraq built on a lie [ ]

KCom Journal 6/14: A distinct lack of intelligence [ ]

Bush Wars 5/12: Hersh: Rummy's Hijacked the US Intelligence Apparatus [ ]

Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder, 6/6: Data didn't back Bush claims on Iraqi weapons, officials say [ ]

Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder, 10/08/02: Some in Bush administration have misgivings about Iraq policy [ ]

James Risen, New York Times, 6/18: Word That US Doubted Iraq Would Use Deadly Gas [ ]

Associated Press 6/11: Senate panel to investigate pre-war intelligence on Iraq [ ]

Mark Riley, Sydney Morning Herald, 6/16: Howard's Iraq evidence on parade in UK [ ]

Allister Sparks, The Star, 7/16: Bush and Blair are starting to hurt [ ]

Veterans for Peace 2/27: Career Diplomat Resigns over US Policy on Iraq [ ]

Simon Hoggart, Gulf News, 4/6: Blair's credibility crisis means a lonely US [ ]

Truth Out 2/27: John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation [ ]

CBS News 7/9: War Of Words Over WMD Heats Up [ ]

3) Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger.

Lies and distortions tend to beget more lies and distortions, and here is W's most notorious case in point: Once the administration decided to issue a damage-controlling (they hoped) mea culpa in the matter of African uranium, they were obliged to couch it in another, more perilous lie: that the administration, and quite likely Bush himself, thought the uranium claim was true when he made it. But former acting ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on July 6 that exploded the claim. Wilson, who traveled to Niger in 2002 to investigate the uranium claims at the behest of the CIA and Dick Cheney's office and found them to be groundless, describes what followed this way: "Although I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in US government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure."

Richard Evans, The Inquisitor, 6/10: Blair's WMD Claims Look Increasingly Shaky [ ]

Andrew Buncombe and Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, 6/29: Ministers knew war papers were forged, says diplomat [ ]

David Sanger, New York Times, 7/8: Bush Claim on Iraq Had Flawed Origin, White House Says [ ]

Toronto Star 7/8: Iraq evidence wrong, White House admits [ Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1057658525829&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154 ]

John Troyer, CounterPunch, 7/15: The Uranium Meltdown [ ]

Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, 7/9: Conned big time [ ]

Allister Sparks, The Star, 7/16: Bush and Blair are starting to hurt [ ]

Bill Press, Nashville City Paper, 7/16: White House confesses fabricating case for war [ ]

4) The aluminum tubes were proof of a nuclear program.

The very next sentence of Bush's State of the Union address was just as egregious a lie as the uranium claim, though a bit cagier in its formulation. "Our intelligence sources tell us that [Saddam] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." This is altogether false in its implication (that this is the likeliest use for these materials) and may be untrue in its literal sense as well. As the London Independent summed it up recently, "The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges." [emphasis added]

Warren P. Strobel et al, Knight Ridder, 10/08/02: Some in Bush administration have misgivings about Iraq policy [ ]

Rep. Henry Waxman's House homepage, last updated 7/29: Nuclear Evidence on Iraq [ ]

Marc Pritzke, CounterPunch, 6/23: An Interview with Ray McGovern [ ]

5) Iraq's WMDs were sent to Syria for hiding.

Or Iran, or.... "They shipped them out!" was a rallying cry for the administration in the first few nervous weeks of finding no WMDs, but not a bit of supporting evidence has emerged.

No links.

6) The CIA was primarily responsible for any prewar intelligence errors or distortions regarding Iraq.

Don't be misled by the news that CIA director George Tenet has taken the fall for Bush's falsehoods in the State of the Uranium address. As the journalist Robert Dreyfuss wrote shortly before the war, "Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon is bringing relentless pressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive of war with Iraq. ... Morale inside the US national-security apparatus is said to be low, with career staffers feeling intimidated and pressured to justify the push for war."

In short, Tenet fell on his sword when he vetted Bush's State of the Union yarns. And now he has had to get up and fall on it again.

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, 6/23: Did the CIA Shut Out Congress on WMD? [ ]

Rupert Cornwell, The Independent [via Common Dreams], 6/18: CIA Deliberately Misled UN Arms Inspectors, Says Senator [ ]

Michael Isikoff and Tamara Lipper, Newsweek, 7/21: A Spy Takes the Bullet [ ]

7) An International Atomic Energy Agency report indicated that Iraq could be as little as six months from making nuclear weapons.

Alas: The claim had to be retracted when the IAEA pointed out that no such report existed.

Andrew Buncombe and Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, 6/29: Ministers knew war papers were forged, says diplomat [ ]

8) Saddam was involved with bin Laden and al Qaeda in the plotting of 9/11.

One of the most audacious and well-traveled of the Bushmen's fibs, this one hangs by two of the slenderest evidentiary threads imaginable: first, anecdotal testimony by isolated, handpicked Iraqi defectors that there was an al Qaeda training camp in Iraq, a claim CIA analysts did not corroborate and that postwar US military inspectors conceded did not exist; and second, old intelligence accounts of a 1991 meeting in Baghdad between a bin Laden emissary and officers from Saddam's intelligence service, which did not lead to any subsequent contact that US or UK spies have ever managed to turn up. According to former State Department intelligence chief Gregory Thielman, the consensus of US intelligence agencies well in advance of the war was that "there was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist operation."

Bush Wars 4/28: Still no WMDs? No problem. Let's resurrect al Qaeda. [ ]

Walter Pincus, The Washington Post [via Charleston Post and Courier], 6/22: Iraq, al-Qaida link unclear, report says [ ]

Nicolaas Van Rijn, Toronto Star, 7/13: Al Qaeda claims exaggerated: analysts [ Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1058050506468&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154 ]

9) The US wants democracy in Iraq and the Middle East.

Democracy is the last thing the US can afford in Iraq, as anyone who has paid attention to the state of Arab popular sentiment already realizes. Representative government in Iraq would mean the rapid expulsion of US interests. Rather, the US wants westernized, secular leadership regimes that will stay in pocket and work to neutralize the politically ambitious anti-Western religious sects popping up everywhere. If a little brutality and graft are required to do the job, it has never troubled the US in the past. Ironically, these standards describe someone more or less like Saddam Hussein. Judging from the state of civil affairs in Iraq now, the Bush administration will no doubt be looking for a strongman again, if and when they are finally compelled to install anyone at all.

William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, 6/28: Occupation Forces Halt Elections Throughout Iraq [ ]

10) Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress are a homegrown Iraqi political force, not a U.S.-sponsored front.

Chalabi is a more important bit player in the Iraq war than most people realize, and not because he was the U.S.'s failed choice to lead a post-Saddam government. It was Chalabi and his INC that funneled compliant defectors to the Bush administration, where they attested to everything the Bushmen wanted to believe about Saddam and Iraq (meaning, mainly, al Qaeda connections and WMD programs). The administration proceeded to take their dubious word over that of the combined intelligence of the CIA and DIA, which indicated that Saddam was not in the business of sponsoring foreign terrorism and posed no imminent threat to anyone.

Naturally Chalabi is despised nowadays round the halls of Langley, but it wasn't always so. The CIA built the Iraqi National Congress and installed Chalabi at the helm back in the days following Gulf War I, when the thought was to topple Saddam by whipping up and sponsoring an internal opposition. It didn't work; from the start Iraqis have disliked and distrusted Chalabi. Moreover, his erratic and duplicitous ways have alienated practically everyone in the US foreign policy establishment as well--except for Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, and therefore the White House.

No links.

11) The United States is waging a war on terror.

Practically any school child could recite the terms of the Bush Doctrine, and may have to before the Ashcroft Justice Department is finished: The global war on terror is about confronting terrorist groups and the nations that harbor them. The United States does not make deals with terrorists or with nations where they find secure lodging.

Leave aside the blind eye that the US has always cast toward Israel's actions in the territories. How are the Bushmen doing elsewhere vis-à-vis their announced principles? We can start with their fabrications and manipulations of Iraqi WMD evidence--which, in the eyes of weapons inspectors, the UN Security Council, American intelligence analysts, and the world at large, did not pose any imminent threat.

The events of recent months have underscored more gaping violations of W's cardinal anti-terror rules. In April the Pentagon made a cooperation pact with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iranian terrorist group based in Iraq. Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, American intelligence blamed it for the death of several US nationals in Iran.

Most glaring of all is the Bush administration's remarkable treatment of Saudi Arabia. Consider: Eleven of the nineteen September 11 hijackers were Saudis. The ruling House of Saud has longstanding and well-known ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits, which it funds (read protection money) to keep them from making mischief at home. The May issue of Atlantic Monthly had a nice piece on the House of Saud that recounts these connections.

Yet the Bush government has never said boo regarding the Saudis and international terrorism. In fact, when terror bombers struck Riyadh in May, hitting compounds that housed American workers as well, Colin Powell went out of his way to avoid tarring the House of Saud: "Terrorism strikes everywhere and everyone. It is a threat to the civilized world. We will commit ourselves again to redouble our efforts to work closely with our Saudi friends and friends all around the world to go after al Qaeda." Later it was alleged that the Riyadh bombers purchased some of their ordnance from the Saudi National Guard, but neither Powell nor anyone else saw fit to revise their statements about "our Saudi friends."

Why do the Bushmen give a pass to the Saudi terror hotbed? Because the House of Saud controls a lot of oil, and they are still (however tenuously) on our side. And that, not terrorism, is what matters most in Bush's foreign policy calculus.

While the bomb craters in Riyadh were still smoking, W held a meeting with Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Speaking publicly afterward, he outlined a deal for US military aid to the Philippines in exchange for greater "cooperation" in getting American hands round the throats of Filipino terrorists. He mentioned in particular the US's longtime nemesis Abu Sayyaf--and he also singled out the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a small faction based on Mindanao, the southernmost big island in the Philippine chain.

Of course it's by purest coincidence that Mindanao is the location of Asia's richest oil reserves.

Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star [via Truth Out], 5/4: Real American Agenda Now Becoming Clear [ ]

Alejandro Lichauco, ABS-CBN, 4/30: Mindanao is next target of US oil imperialism? [ ]

Bush Wars 5/15: Bunker-Buster Nukes [ ]

Bush Wars [undated]: Overview...oil [$346 ]

12) The US has made progress against world terrorist elements, in particular by crippling al Qaeda.

A resurgent al Qaeda has been making international news since around the time of the Saudi Arabia bombings in May. The best coverage by far is that of Asia Times correspondent Syed Saleem Shahzad. According to Shahzad's detailed accounts, al Qaeda has reorganized itself along leaner, more diffuse lines, effectively dissolving itself into a coalition of localized units that mean to strike frequently, on a small scale, and in multiple locales around the world. Since claiming responsibility for the May Riyadh bombings, alleged al Qaeda communiqués have also claimed credit for some of the strikes at US troops in Iraq.

Michael Tomasky, American Prospect, 6/18: Guess who's appeasing the Taliban now? [ ]

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, 6/28: US shooting in the dark in Afghanistan [ ]

Bush Wars 5/19: Play It Again O-Sam-a [ ]

Bush Wars 5/20: New al-Qaeda Blueprint: Smaller is Better [ ]

Bush Wars 5/28: What if There's No Such Thing as "al-Qaeda"? [ ]

13) The Bush administration has made Americans safer from terror on US soil.

Like the Pentagon "plan" for occupying postwar Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security is mainly a Bush administration PR dirigible untethered to anything of substance. It's a scandal waiting to happen, and the only good news for W is that it's near the back of a fairly long line of scandals waiting to happen.

On May 26 the trade magazine Federal Computer Week published a report on DHS's first 100 days. At that point the nerve center of Bush's domestic war on terror had only recently gotten e-mail service. As for the larger matter of creating a functioning organizational grid and, more important, a software architecture plan for integrating the enormous mass of data that DHS is supposed to process--nada. In the nearly two years since the administration announced its intention to create a cabinet-level homeland security office, nothing meaningful has been accomplished. And there are no funds to implement a network plan if they had one. According to the magazine, "Robert David Steele, an author and former intelligence officer, points out that there are at least 30 separate intelligence systems [theoretically feeding into DHS] and no money to connect them to one another or make them interoperable. 'There is nothing in the president's homeland security program that makes America safer,' he said."

Dan Higgins, Ithaca Journal, 6/20: FBI on the lookout for David Nelson, any David Nelson [ ]

Chris Harris, Hartford Advocate, 6/26: You can't talk back to the Office of Homeland Security [ ]

Frank James, Seattle Times, 6/30: Homeland security underfunded, unprepared [ ]

Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service News Agency [undated]: Post-9/11 Immigrant Roundup Backfired [ ]

14) The Bush administration has nothing to hide concerning the events of September 11, 2001, or the intelligence evidence collected prior to that day.

First Dick Cheney personally intervened to scuttle a broad congressional investigation of the day's events and their origins. And for the past several months the administration has fought a quiet rear-guard action culminating in last week's delayed release of Congress's more modest 9/11 report. The White House even went so far as to classify after the fact materials that had already been presented in public hearing.

What were they trying to keep under wraps? The Saudi connection, mostly, and though 27 pages of the details have been excised from the public report, there is still plenty of evidence lurking in its extensively massaged text. (When you see the phrase "foreign nation" substituted in brackets, it's nearly always Saudi Arabia.) The report documents repeated signs that there was a major attack in the works with extensive help from Saudi nationals and apparently also at least one member of the government. It also suggests that is one reason intel operatives didn't chase the story harder: Saudi Arabia was by policy fiat a "friendly" nation and therefore no threat. The report does not explore the administration's response to the intelligence briefings it got; its purview is strictly the performance of intelligence agencies. All other questions now fall to the independent 9/11 commission, whose work is presently being slowed by the White House's foot-dragging in turning over evidence.

Bush Wars 5/9: Has Graham Got 9/11 Goods on Bush? [ ]

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, Newsweek, 4/30: The Secrets of September 11 [ ]

Bush Wars 5/12: The Bush 9/11 Timeline [ ]

Paul Thompson, Center for Cooperative Research [undated]: September 11: Minute by Minute [ ]

Michael Isikoff and Tamara Lipper, Newsweek [via Truth Out], 10/21/02: Cheney: 'Investigators, Keep Out' [ ]

Fox News Sunday transcript 5/4: Senator Bob Graham interview [,2933,85939,00.html ]

Carl Limbacher,, 5/7: Prez Wannabe Graham Eyeing Evidence That Bush Blew 9/11 [ ]

Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, 7/28: The 9-11 Report: Slamming the FBI [ ]

15) US air defenses functioned according to protocols on September 11, 2001.

Old questions abound here. The central mystery--how US air defenses could have responded so poorly on that day--is fairly easy to grasp. A cursory look at that morning's timeline of events is enough.

   8:13 Flight 11 disobeys air traffic instructions and
        turns off its transponder.

   8:40 NORAD command center claims first notification of
        likely Flight 11 hijacking.

   8:42 Flight 175 veers off course and shuts down its

   8:43 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight
        175 hijacking.

   8:46 Flight 11 hits the World Trade Center north tower.

   8:46 Flight 77 goes off course.

   9:03 Flight 175 hits the WTC south tower.

   9:16 Flight 93 goes off course.

   9:16 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 93

   9:24 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 77

   9:37 Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.

   10:06 Flight 93 crashes in a Pennsylvania field.

The open secret underlying 9/11 is that stateside US air defenses had been reduced to paltry levels since the end of the Cold War. According to a report by Paul Thompson published at the endlessly informative Center for Cooperative Research website ( [ ]), "[O]nly two air force bases in the Northeast region... were formally part of NORAD's defensive system. One was Otis Air National Guard Base, on Massachusetts's Cape Cod peninsula and about 188 miles east of New York City. The other was Langley Air Force Base near Norfolk, Virginia, and about 129 miles south of Washington. During the Cold War, the US had literally thousands of fighters on alert. But as the Cold War wound down, this number was reduced until it reached only 14 fighters in the continental US by 9/11."

But even an underpowered air defense system on slow-response status (15 minutes, officially, on 9/11) does not explain the magnitude of NORAD's apparent failures that day. Start with the discrepancy in the times at which NORAD commanders claim to have learned of the various hijackings. By 8:43 a.m., NORAD had been notified of two probable hijackings in the previous five minutes. If there was such a thing as a system-wide air defense crisis plan, it should have kicked in at that moment. Three minutes later, at 8:46, Flight 11 crashed into the first WTC tower. By then alerts should have been going out to all regional air traffic centers of apparent coordinated hijackings in progress. Yet when Flight 77, which eventually crashed into the Pentagon, was hijacked three minutes later, at 8:46, NORAD claims not to have learned of it until 9:24, 38 minutes after the fact and just 13 minutes before it crashed into the Pentagon.

The professed lag in reacting to the hijacking of Flight 93 is just as striking. NORAD acknowledged learning of the hijacking at 9:16, yet the Pentagon's position is that it had not yet intercepted the plane when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field just minutes away from Washington, D.C. at 10:06, a full 50 minutes later.

In fact, there are a couple of other circumstantial details of the crash, discussed mostly in Pennsylvania newspapers and barely noted in national wire stories, that suggest Flight 93 may have been shot down after all. First, officials never disputed reports that there was a secondary debris field six miles from the main crash site, and a few press accounts said that it included one of the plane's engines. A secondary debris field points to an explosion on board, from one of two probable causes--a terrorist bomb carried on board or an Air Force missile. And no investigation has ever intimated that any of the four terror crews were toting explosives. They kept to simple tools like the box cutters, for ease in passing security. Second, a handful of eyewitnesses in the rural area around the crash site did report seeing low-flying US military jets around the time of the crash.

Which only raises another question. Shooting down Flight 93 would have been incontestably the right thing to do under the circumstances. More than that, it would have constituted the only evidence of anything NORAD and the Pentagon had done right that whole morning. So why deny it? Conversely, if fighter jets really were not on the scene when 93 crashed, why weren't they? How could that possibly be?

Richard Wallace, UK Mirror [undated]: What Did Happen to Flight 93? [ ]

Jeff Pillets, The Record, 9/14/01: In rural hamlet, the mystery mounts; 5 report second plane at Pa. crash site; the investigation [ ]

William Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News, 9/16:02: Three-minute discrepancy in tape [ ]

Tom Gribb et al, Post-Gazette, 9/13/01: Investigators locate 'black box' from Flight 93; widen search area in Somerset crash [ ]

Richard Gazarik and Robin Acton, Tribune-Review [via], 9/14/01: Authorities deny Flight 93 was shot down by F-16 [ ]

Albert McKeon, Nashua-Telegraph, 9/13/01: FAA worker says hijacked jetliners almost collided before striking World Trade Center [ &ArticleID=40198&SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&S=1 ]

16) The Bush administration had a plan for restoring essential services and rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after the shooting war ended.

The question of what the US would do to rebuild Iraq was raised before the shooting started. I remember reading a press briefing in which a Pentagon official boasted that at the time, the American reconstruction team had already spent three weeks planning the postwar world! The Pentagon's first word was that the essentials of rebuilding the country would take about $10 billion and three months; this stood in fairly stark contrast to UN estimates that an aggressive rebuilding program could cost up to $100 billion a year for a minimum of three years.

After the shooting stopped it was evident the US had no plan for keeping order in the streets, much less commencing to rebuild. (They are upgrading certain oil facilities, but that's another matter.) There are two ways to read this. The popular version is that it proves what bumblers Bush and his crew really are. And it's certainly true that where the details of their grand designs are concerned, the administration tends to have postures rather than plans. But this ignores the strategic advantages the US stands to reap by leaving Iraqi domestic affairs in a chronic state of (managed, they hope) chaos. Most important, it provides an excuse for the continued presence of a large US force, which ensures that America will call the shots in putting Iraqi oil back on the world market and seeing to it that the Iraqis don't fall in with the wrong sort of oil company partners. A long military occupation is also a practical means of accomplishing something the US cannot do officially, which is to maintain air bases in Iraq indefinitely. (This became necessary after the US agreed to vacate its bases in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to try to defuse anti-U.S. political tensions there.)

Meanwhile, the US plans to pay for whatever rebuilding it gets around to doing with the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales, an enormous cash box the US will oversee for the good of the Iraqi people.

In other words, "no plan" may have been the plan the Bushmen were intent on pursuing all along.

Susan B. Glasser and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, 4/2: Reconstruction Planners Worry, Wait and Reevaluate [ pagename=article&node=&contentId=A6098-2003Apr1¬Found=true ]

Bush Wars 4/2: Reconstruction Blues [ ]

Bush Wars 5/16: Chaos in Iraq [ ]

Bush Wars 5/21: Chaos in Iraq: Just What the US Wanted? [ ]

PBS Newshour transcript, 3/25: The Cost of War [ ]

Bill Walsh, Anniston Star [via Google cache], 3/23: Rebuilding Iraq: Bush's plan to rebuild postwar Iraq draws fire from Congress [ opinion/2003/as-insight-0323-0-3c22q3140.htm %2B%22rebuilding%2BIraq%22%2Bcost%2Bbush&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 ]

Abid Ali, CNN, 3/31: Allies row over rebuilding Iraq [ ]

Ehsan Ahrari, Asia Times [via Google cache], 3/26: The lucrative business of rebuilding Iraq [ atimes/Middle_East/EC26Ak05.html%2B%22rebuilding%2BIraq%22%2Bcost %2Bbush&hl=en&ie=UTF- ]

Mike Allen, Washington Post [via The Iraq Foundation], 2/26: US Increases Estimated Cost Of War in Iraq [ ]

17) The US has made a good-faith effort at peacekeeping in Iraq during the postwar period.

"Some [looters] shot big grins at American soldiers and Marines or put down their prizes to offer a thumbs-up or a quick finger across the throat and a whispered word--Saddam--before grabbing their loot and vanishing."

--Robert Fisk, London Independent, 4/11/03

Despite the many clashes between US troops and Iraqis in the three months since the heavy artillery fell silent, the postwar performance of US forces has been more remarkable for the things they have not done--their failure to intervene in civil chaos or to begin reestablishing basic civil procedures. It isn't the soldiers' fault. Traditionally an occupation force is headed up by military police units schooled to interact with the natives and oversee the restoration of goods and services. But Rumsfeld has repeatedly declined advice to rotate out the combat troops sooner rather than later and replace some of them with an MP force. Lately this has been a source of escalating criticism within military ranks.

Bush Wars 4/16: "I Saw Marines Kill Civilians" [ ]

Bush Wars 4/11: Baghdad is Chaos [ ]

Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder, 7/1: Bremer requests more troops as violence, tension escalate [ ]

Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, 7/1: Mistrust Mixes With Misery In Heat of Baghdad Police Post [ ]

Robert Schlesinger, Boston Globe, 7/10: Rumsfeld is pressed on troops' return [ ]

18) Despite vocal international opposition, the US was backed by most of the world, as evidenced by the 40-plus-member Coalition of the Willing.

When the whole world opposed the US invasion of Iraq, the outcry was so loud that it briefly pierced the slumber of the American public, which poured out its angst in poll numbers that bespoke little taste for a war without the UN's blessing. So it became necessary to assure the folks at home that the whole world was in fact for the invasion. Thus was born the Coalition of the Willing, consisting of the US and UK, with Australia caddying--and 40-some additional co-champions of U.S.-style democracy in the Middle East, whose ranks included such titans of diplomacy and pillars of representative government as Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Eritrea, and Micronesia. If the American public noticed the ruse, all was nonetheless forgotten when Baghdad fell. Everybody loves a winner.

LiveJournal 3/31: Who is in the Coalition of the Willing? [ ]

19) This war was notable for its protection of civilians.

This from the Herald of Scotland, May 23: "American guns, bombs, and missiles killed more civilians in the recent war in Iraq than in any conflict since Vietnam, according to preliminary assessments carried out by the UN, international aid agencies, and independent study groups. Despite US boasts this was the fastest, most clinical campaign in military history, a first snapshot of 'collateral damage' indicates that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi non-combatants died in the course of the hi-tech blitzkrieg."

The Herald (Scotland) [via Refuse and Resist] 5/23: Civilian Deaths in Iraq could be as high as 10,000 [ ]

Associated Press [via The Globe and Mail] 4/1: 'Precise' bombs going astray [ ]

20) The looting of archaeological and historic sites in Baghdad was unanticipated.

General Jay Garner himself, then the head man for postwar Iraq, told the Washington Times that he had put the Iraqi National Museum second on a list of sites requiring protection after the fall of the Saddam government, and he had no idea why the recommendation was ignored. It's also a matter of record that the administration had met in January with a group of US scholars concerned with the preservation of Iraq's fabulous Sumerian antiquities. So the war planners were aware of the riches at stake. According to Scotland's Sunday Herald, the Pentagon took at least one other meeting as well: "[A] coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US Defense and State department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance.... The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favor a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities.... [Archaeological Institute of America] president Patty Gerstenblith said: 'The ACCP's agenda is to encourage the collecting of antiquities through weakening the laws of archaeologically rich nations and eliminate national ownership of antiquities to allow for easier export.'"

Liam McDougall, Sunday Herald, 4/6: US accused of plans to loot Iraqi antiques

Bush Wars 4/23: General Jay and the Museum [ ]

Bryan Pfaffenberger, Pfaffen Blog, 4/15: US failure to prevent looting... [ ]

21) Saddam was planning to provide WMD to terrorist groups.

This is very concisely debunked in Walter Pincus's July 21 Washington Post story, so I'll quote him: "'Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists,' President Bush said in Cincinnati on October 7.... But declassified portions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the US intelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began circulating October 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the United States."

Walter Pincus, Washington Post [via SFGate], 7/21: Iraq link to terror judged not likely before Bush speech [ ]

22) Saddam was capable of launching a chemical or biological attack in 45 minutes.

Again the WashPost wraps it up nicely: "The 45-minute claim is at the center of a scandal in Britain that led to the apparent suicide on Friday of a British weapons scientist who had questioned the government's use of the allegation. The scientist, David Kelly, was being investigated by the British parliament as the suspected source of a BBC report that the 45-minute claim was added to Britain's public 'dossier' on Iraq in September at the insistence of an aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair--and against the wishes of British intelligence, which said the charge was from a single source and was considered unreliable."

Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 7/20: White House Didn't Gain CIA Nod for Claim On Iraqi Strikes [ ]

John Dean, FindLaw, 7/18: Why A Special Prosecutor's Investigation Is Needed To Sort Out the Niger Uranium And Related WMDs Mess [ ]

23) The Bush administration is seeking to create a viable Palestinian state.

The interests of the US toward the Palestinians have not changed--not yet, at least. Israel's "security needs" are still the US's sturdiest pretext for its military role in policing the Middle East and arming its Israeli proxies. But the US's immediate needs have tilted since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the Bushmen need a fig leaf--to confuse, if not exactly cover, their designs, and to give shaky pro-U.S. governments in the region some scrap to hold out to their own restive peoples. Bush's roadmap has scared the hell out of the Israeli right, but they have little reason to worry. Press reports in the US and Israel have repeatedly telegraphed the assurance that Bush won't try to push Ariel Sharon any further than he's comfortable going.

Bush Wars 4/14: Sharon: New Melody, Same Lyrics [ ]

Bush Wars 4/4: Ha'aretz: The "Israelization" of America [ ]

Bush Wars 4/11: Ha'aretz: What Road Map? [ ]

Bush Wars 5/2: There Are No Bridges on Bush's Road Map [ ]

Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch [via Working for Change], 5/28: The road map hoax [ ]

24) People detained by the US after 9/11 were legitimate terror suspects.

Quite the contrary, as disclosed officially in last month's critical report on US detainees from the Justice Department's own Office of Inspector General. A summary analysis of post-9/11 detentions posted at the UC-Davis website states, "None of the 1,200 foreigners arrested and detained in secret after September 11 was charged with an act of terrorism. Instead, after periods of detention that ranged from weeks to months, most were deported for violating immigration laws. The government said that 752 of 1,200 foreigners arrested after September 11 were in custody in May 2002, but only 81 were still in custody in September 2002."

Bush Wars 4/24: Guantanamo: A Great Place for Kids, Too [ ]

Dale Russakoff, Washington Post, N.J. Judge Unseals Transcript in Controversial Terror Case [ ]

25) The US is obeying the Geneva conventions in its treatment of terror-related suspects, prisoners, and detainees.

The entire mumbo-jumbo about "unlawful combatants" was conceived to skirt the Geneva conventions on treatment of prisoners by making them out to be something other than POWs. Here is the actual wording of Donald Rumsfeld's pledge, freighted with enough qualifiers to make it absolutely meaningless: "We have indicated that we do plan to, for the most part, treat them in a manner that is reasonably consistent with the Geneva conventions to the extent they are appropriate." Meanwhile the administration has treated its prisoners--many of whom, as we are now seeing confirmed in legal hearings, have no plausible connection to terrorist enterprises--in a manner that blatantly violates several key Geneva provisions regarding humane treatment and housing.

No links.

26) Shots rang out from the Palestine hotel, directed at US soldiers, just before a US tank fired on the hotel, killing two journalists.

Eyewitnesses to the April 8 attack uniformly denied any gunfire from the hotel. And just two hours prior to firing on the hotel, US forces had bombed the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera, killing a Jordanian reporter. Taken together, and considering the timing, they were deemed a warning to unembedded journalists covering the fall of Baghdad around them. The day's events seem to have been an extreme instance of a more surreptitious pattern of hostility demonstrated by US and UK forces toward foreign journalists and those non-attached Western reporters who moved around the country at will. (One of them, Terry Lloyd of Britain's ITN, was shot to death by UK troops at a checkpoint in late March under circumstances the British government has refused to disclose.)

Some days after firing on the Palestine Hotel, the US sent in a commando unit to raid select floors of the hotel that were known to be occupied by journalists, and the news gatherers were held on the floor at gunpoint while their rooms were searched. A Centcom spokesman later explained cryptically that intelligence reports suggested there were people "not friendly to the US" staying at the hotel. Allied forces also bombed the headquarters of Abu Dhabi TV, injuring several.

Robert Fisk, CounterPunch, 4/29: Did the US Murder Journalists? [ ]

Joel Campagna and Rhonda Roumani, CPJ Press Online, 4/27: Permission to Fire [ ]

27) US troops "rescued" Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital.

If I had wanted to run up the tally of administration lies, the Lynch episode alone could be parsed into several more. Officials claimed that Lynch and her comrades were taken after a firefight in which Lynch battled back bravely. Later they announced with great fanfare that US Special Forces had rescued Lynch from her captors. They reported that she had been shot and stabbed. Later yet, they reported that the recuperating Lynch had no memory of the events.

Bit by bit it all proved false. Lynch's injuries occurred when the vehicle she was riding in crashed. She did not fire on anybody and she was not shot or stabbed. The Iraqi soldiers who had been holding her had abandoned the hospital where she was staying the night before US troops came to get her--a development her "rescuers" were aware of. In fact her doctor had tried to return her to the Americans the previous evening after the Iraqi soldiers left. But he was forced to turn back when US troops fired on the approaching ambulance. As for Lynch's amnesia, her family has told reporters her memory is perfectly fine.

Bush Wars 4/16: Saving Private Lynch [ ]

Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times, 4/9: Crash caused Lynch's 'horrific injuries' [ ]

28) The populace of Baghdad and of Iraq generally turned out en masse to greet US troops as liberators.

There were indeed scattered expressions of thanks when US divisions rolled in, but they were neither as extensive nor as enthusiastic as Bush image-makers pretended. Within a day or two of the Saddam government's fall, the scene in the Baghdad streets turned to wholesale ransacking and vandalism. Within the week, large-scale protests of the US occupation had already begun occurring in every major Iraqi city.

Bush Wars 4/10: So This Is Liberation [ ]

Bush Wars 4/18: Baghdad: "Tens of Thousands" Take to Streets [ ]

Bush Wars 4/17: Fisk: One War of Liberation Down, One to Go [ ]

Bush Wars 4/14: Misery and Mounting Ethnic Hostility [ ]

Bush Wars 4/12: Baghdad Riots Take a Huge Toll [ ]

29) A spontaneous crowd of cheering Iraqis showed up in a Baghdad square to celebrate the toppling of Saddam's statue.

A long-distance shot of the same scene that was widely posted on the internet shows that the teeming mob consisted of only one or two hundred souls, contrary to the impression given by all the close-up TV news shots of what appeared to be a massive gathering. It was later reported that members of Ahmed Chalabi's local entourage made up most of the throng.

Bush Wars 4/10: What cheering crowd in Baghdad? [ ] 4/12: Just Another Staged Baghdad Rally? [ ]

30) No major figure in the Bush administration said that the Iraqi populace would turn out en masse to welcome the US military as liberators.

When confronted with--oh, call them reality deficits--one habit of the Bushmen is to deny that they made erroneous or misleading statements to begin with, secure in the knowledge that the media will rarely muster the energy to look it up and call them on it. They did it when their bold prewar WMD predictions failed to pan out (We never said it would be easy! No, they only implied it), and they did it when the "jubilant Iraqis" who took to the streets after the fall of Saddam turned out to be anything but (We never promised they would welcome us with open arms!).

But they did. March 16, Dick Cheney, Meet the Press: The Iraqis are desperate "to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.... [T]he vast majority of them would turn on [Saddam] in a minute if, in fact, they thought they could do so safely").

Meet the Press, 3/16/03, pg. 6

31) The US achieved its stated objectives in Afghanistan, and vanquished the Taliban.

According to accounts in the Asia Times of Hong Kong, the US held a secret meeting earlier this year with Taliban leaders and Pakistani intelligence officials to offer a deal to the Taliban for inclusion in the Afghan government. (Main condition: Dump Mullah Omar.) As Michael Tomasky commented in The American Prospect, "The first thing you may be wondering: Why is there a possible role for the Taliban in a future government? Isn't that fellow Hamid Karzai running things, and isn't it all going basically okay? As it turns out, not really and not at all.... The reality... is an escalating guerilla war in which 'small hit-and-run attacks are a daily feature in most parts of the country, while face-to-face skirmishes are common in the former Taliban stronghold around Kandahar in the south.'"

No links.

32) Careful science demonstrates that depleted uranium is no big risk to the population.

Pure nonsense. While the government has trotted out expert after expert to debunk the dangers of depleted uranium, DU has been implicated in health troubles experienced both by Iraqis and by US and allied soldiers in the first Gulf War. Unexploded DU shells are not a grave danger, but detonated ones release particles that eventually find their way into air, soil, water, and food.

While we're on the subject, the BBC reported a couple of months ago that recent tests of Afghani civilians have turned up with unusually high concentrations of non-depleted uranium isotopes in their urine. International monitors have called it almost conclusive evidence that the US used a new kind of uranium-laced bomb in the Afghan war.

Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 4/15: Remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq [ ]

Col. James Naughton, Defense Link (DOD), 3/14: Briefing on Depleted Uranium [ ]

Dan Fahey, .pdf file [via Current Issues], 3/12: Facts, Myths and Propaganda Over Depleted Uranium Weapons [ ]

Bush Wars 5/5: Get Your Dirty Bombs Here [ ]

Alex Kirby, BBC News, 5/22: Afghans' uranium levels spark alert [ ]

Uranium Medical Research Center [undated]: UMRC's preliminary findings from Afghanistan & Operation Enduring Freedom [ ]

33) The looting of Iraqi nuclear facilities presented no big risk to the population.

Commanders on the scene, and Rumsfeld back in Washington, immediately assured everyone that the looting of a facility where raw uranium powder (so-called "yellowcake") and several other radioactive isotopes were stored was no serious danger to the populace--yet the looting of the facility came to light in part because, as the Washington Times noted, "US and British newspaper reports have suggested that residents of the area were suffering from severe ill health after tipping out yellowcake powder from barrels and using them to store food."

No links.

34) US troops were under attack when they fired upon a crowd of civilian protesters in Mosul.

April 15: US troops fire into a crowd of protesters when it grows angry at the pro-Western speech being given by the town's new mayor, Mashaan al-Juburi. Seven are killed and dozens injured. Eyewitness accounts say the soldiers spirit Juburi away as he is pelted with objects by the crowd, then take sniper positions and begin firing on the crowd.

Bush Wars 3/4: What Happened in Mosul? [ ]

Bush Wars 4/15: More Lessons in Democracy [ ]

35) US troops were under attack when they fired upon two separate crowds of civilian protesters in Fallujah.

April 28: American troops fire into a crowd of demonstrators gathered on Saddam's birthday, killing 13 and injuring 75. US commanders claim the troops had come under fire, but eyewitnesses contradict the account, saying the troops started shooting after they were spooked by warning shots fired over the crowd by one of the Americans' own Humvees. Two days later US soldiers fired on another crowd in Fallujah, killing three more.

London Times, 4/29: US troops 'kill 13' after shooting at Iraqi crowd [,,1-663189,00.html ]

Bush Wars 5/1: Unfriendly Fire [ ]

Bush Wars 5/2: Fallujah: Fever Pitch [ ]

36) The Iraqis fighting occupation forces consist almost entirely of "Saddam supporters" or "Ba'ath remnants."

This has been the subject of considerable spin on the Bushmen's part in the past month, since they launched Operation Sidewinder to capture or kill remaining opponents of the US occupation. It's true that the most fierce (but by no means all) of the recent guerrilla opposition has been concentrated in the Sunni-dominated areas that were Saddam's stronghold, and there is no question that Saddam partisans are numerous there. But, perhaps for that reason, many other guerrilla fighters have flocked there to wage jihad, both from within and without Iraq. Around the time of the US invasion, some 10,000 or so foreign fighters had crossed into Iraq, and I've seen no informed estimate of how many more may have joined them since.

Online note: There may be a reason for the apparent bloodlust of former Republican Guard officials around Baghdad that is not rooted in any loyalty to Saddam--quite the opposite, in fact. Though the subject was never broached in US or UK media to my knowledge, the Middle Eastern English-language press carried several reports in late April pointing to an alleged deal between the Pentagon and senior officials in Saddam's Republican Guard for the fall of Baghdad. According to this line, senior Ba'athists sold out Saddam and folded up their tents in exchange for a promise that these officials would receive both money and roles in the post-Saddam government--a pledge that, if it was indeed made, was later broken when the US occupation command announced that former Ba'ath functionaries would be barred from the government after all. A double-cross such as this could easily account for the ferocity of their role in the guerrilla resistance.

But is the story of a deal credible? On its face, yes. Two things to remember: Rumsfeld himself said at a briefing early in the war that the Pentagon was in touch with senior Republican Guard officers. And numerous reporters in Baghdad commented at the time of the fall that it was as if the entire government just failed to show up for work one day.

That is exactly what happened, as later news accounts demonstrated: One day the Saddam regime was going through its motions, and the next it was gone. Governments that spontaneously crumble don't operate that way; by all appearances the collapse was dictated from somewhere near the top of the Iraqi government food chain. [You can find more details and numerous links about the alleged deal in these Bush Wars posts: 4/15 [ ]; 4/21 [ ]; 4/25 [ ].]

Mark Phillips, CBS News, 6/12: US Mounts Major Iraq Offensive [ ]

Jason Burke, The Observer, 6/29: Why were six Britons left to die in an Iraqi marketplace? [,12239,987204,00.html ]

Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 7/20: Iraqi Shiites Protest in Formerly Calm Najaf [ 20CND-IRAQ.html?ex=1059364800&en=33596b350f964ca4&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE ]

37) The bidding process for Iraq rebuilding contracts displayed no favoritism toward Bush and Cheney's oil/gas cronies.

Most notoriously, Dick Cheney's former energy-sector employer, Halliburton, was all over the press dispatches about the first round of rebuilding contracts. So much so that they were eventually obliged to bow out of the running for a $1 billion reconstruction contract for the sake of their own PR profile. But Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root still received the first major plum in the form of a $7 billion contract to tend to oil field fires and (the real purpose) to do any retooling necessary to get the oil pumping at a decent rate, a deal that allows them a cool $500 million in profit. The fact that Dick Cheney's office is still fighting tooth and nail to block any disclosure of the individuals and companies with whom his energy task force consulted tells everything you need to know.

Bush Wars 4/11: Halliburton: $7 Billion for Starters [ ]

Bush Wars 5/12: Woolsey: Another Bushman With His Hand in the Till [ ]

Dan Ackman, Forbes, 7/9: Cheney Task Force Loses Place To Hide [ ]

Bloomberg, 6/17: Iraqi Oil Production Slowed by US Push to Oust Saddam's Men [ ]

38) "We found the WMDs!"

There have been at least half a dozen junctures at which the Bushmen have breathlessly informed the press that allied troops had found the WMD smoking gun, including the president himself, who on June 1 told reporters, "For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

Shouldn't these quickly falsified statements be counted as errors rather than lies? Under the circumstances, no. First, there is just too voluminous a record of the administration going on the media offensive to tout lines they know to be flimsy. This appears to be more of same. Second, if the great genius Karl Rove and the rest of the Bushmen have demonstrated that they understand anything about the propaganda potential of the historical moment they've inherited, they surely understand that repetition is everything. Get your message out regularly, and even if it's false a good many people will believe it.

Finally, we don't have to speculate about whether the administration would really plant bogus WMD evidence in the American media, because they have already done it, most visibly in the case of Judith Miller of the New York Times and the Iraqi defector "scientist" she wrote about at the military's behest on April 21. Miller did not even get to speak with the purported scientist, but she graciously passed on several things American commanders claimed he said: that Iraq only destroyed its chemical weapons days before the war, that WMD materiel had been shipped to Syria, and that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda. As Slate media critic Jack Shafer told WNYC Radio's On the Media program, "When you... look at [her story], you find that it's gas, it's air. There's no way to judge the value of her information, because it comes from an unnamed source that won't let her verify any aspect of it. And if you dig into the story... you'll find out that the only thing that Miller has independently observed is a man that the military says is the scientist, wearing a baseball cap, pointing at mounds in the dirt."

Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker, 6/16: Might and Right [ ]

Peter Beaumont et al, The Observer, 6/15: Iraqi mobile labs nothing to do with germ warfare [,2763,977916,00.html ]

Jack Shafer, Slate, 5/15: Miller's Double-Crossing [ ]

Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch, 4/25: The Case of Judy Miller [ ]

39) "The Iraqi people are now free."

So says the current US administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, in a recent New York Times op-ed. He failed to add that disagreeing can get you shot or arrested under the terms of the Pentagon's latest plan for pacifying Iraq, Operation Sidewinder (see #36), a military op launched last month to wipe out all remaining Ba'athists and Saddam partisans--meaning, in practice, anyone who resists the US occupation too zealously.

No links.

40) God told Bush to invade Iraq.

Not long after the September 11 attacks, neoconservative high priest Norman Podhoretz wrote: "One hears that Bush, who entered the White House without a clear sense of what he wanted to do there, now feels there was a purpose behind his election all along; as a born-again Christian, it is said, he believes he was chosen by God to eradicate the evil of terrorism from the world."

No, he really believes it, or so he would like us to think. The Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that Bush made the following pronouncement during a recent meeting between the two: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."

Oddly, it never got much play back home.

No links.


This was truly a collaborative effort from start to finish. It began with the notion of running a week-long marathon of Bush administration lies at my online Bush Wars column ( [ ]). Along the way my e-mail box delivered more research assistance than I've ever received on any single story. I need to thank Jeff St. Clair and the Counterpunch website (, which featured the Lies marathon in addition to posting valuable reportage and essays every day; I also received lots of lies entries and documentary links from BW readers Rob Johnson, Ted Dibble, and Donna Johnson, as well as my colleagues Mark Gisleson, Elaine Cassel, Sally Ryan, Mike Mosedale, and Paul Demko. Dave Marsh provided valuable editing suggestions.

I also found loads of valuable information through Cursor, Buzzflash, and, the three best Bush-news links pages on the Internet, and through research projects on the Bushmen posted at Cooperative Research ( [ ]), Whiskey Bar ( [ ]), and [ ].

But the heart of the effort was all the readers of Bush Wars who sent along ideas and links that advanced the project. Many thanks to Estella Bloomberg, Vince Bradley, Angela Bradshaw, Gary Burns, Elaine Cole, George Dobosh, Deborah Eddy, David Erickson, Casey Finne, Douglas Gault, Jean T. Gordon, Doug Henwood, George Hunsinger, Peter Lee, Eric Martin, Michael McFadden, George McLaughlin, Eric T. Olson, Doug Payne, Alan W. Peck, Dennis Perrin, Charles Prendergast, Publius, Michele Quinn, Ernesto Resnik, Ed Rickert, Maritza Silverio, Marshall Smith, Robert David Steele, Ed Thornhill, Christopher Veal, and Jennifer Vogel. And my apologies to anyone else whose e-mails I didn't manage to save.

City Pages Cover Story  Vol 24 Issue 1182 PUBLISHED 7/30/03

Go to All the President's Lies, part 1: Better Late Than Never [$517 ]

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

I write this to you in fear of my immortal soul

There is a site that has conveniently enumerated both friend and foe, the  This site has a page with "fan mail" from people who doesn't exactly share their viewpoints.  This page: .  One of the mails read like so, it's really a very good read:

I write this to you in fear of my immortal soul. Please tell this poor sinner how being anti-Bush is anti-American and thereby traitorous. I'm sure if I was as smart as you guys I could ignore the fact that being anti-Clinton wasn't traitorous and that Americans are required by the definition of democracy to have differing opinions, but it's all so confusing these days. Or is not agreeing with the administration a new rule? If so, who wrote it and what bill is it on? I'd like to look it up so I can show it to my friends and bring them over, too. I also would like some citing of specific instances of people - celebrities or otherwise - who have spoken out against soldiers, as I have yet to hear or read anything like that except from pro Bush people who only mention it in passing, as a given. I honestly didn't think, because I haven't seen or heard it, that anyone anywhere ever felt that way, but you seem to be swimming against a sea of it. I'm sure you have scads of examples to illuminate this evil with. I'd like to see some, please. And while I'm on the subject, let me applaud your denouncement of celebrities who don't deserve an opinion on politics because they have the public ear. I mean, the next thing you know, some ignorant plumber or mechanic or web designer or oil company CEO is going to think they have a right to an opinion and might even use it on TV or the Internet to try and win support for their way of thinking. Only by keeping an "official" mindset can this country truly focus on being pure, enviable and overpowering to all who differ from us. Oh! I'll also have to explain to my friends, once I show up in my jack boots for the first time, how the antiwar and peace movements, which the participants all believe to be supporting the lack of actual real-world death, actually is trying to save a murderous tyrant like Saddam Hussein and make him a hero. Please arm me with your gospel. When these "intellectuals" fire back at me that we should espouse faith in the democratic process that we claim to be the bastion of in the world, and that by tossing it aside when we don't get what we want from it we're hypocrites, rogues and imperialist tyrants, I'll need some actual facts to argue with. Thank you for your caring support in my defection. Fearing that having an opinion of my own and that opinion, contrasting the current administration's decisions almost straight across the board, has somehow made me hate America and what it stands for, I plead with you to set me straight. Please tell me that questioning the authority that represents me to the nation and the world at large is non-American and that I should shut up and do what I'm told. Please tell me that not following the people who cannot argue their side and instead rely on simple name-calling and label application of their perceived enemies when presented with actual facts is how a true American behaves. Please show me the enlightened pathway to total subservience to a man and his administration. And please, please, PLEASE fill me in on a simple, catchy thing to say that "proves" that all Americans should pledge allegiance to our Christian God no matter who they actually worship in their own time, with their own Constitutionally mandated freedom. I ask this- no, BEG this of you because you've convinced me. Your site's repeated use of the words "traitor", "un- American" and "support" have finally hammered home and scared me into believing you. The way you manage to bring up our soldiers being overseas while talking about people not supporting Bush, as though the two had anything to do with each other, is pure propaganda poetry and has finally confused me and muddled my brain so much that I've broken. I'm yours. Get somebody to wipe the drool off my lip and wrap a diaper around my bottom, because I have at long last been led to believe that Bush, America, God, patriotism, apple pie, Route 66, oil profits, unilateral vigilante-ism and support for the right wing are all the same thing. I have in my heart joined the catch-phrase spouting, hate and fear-filled people who believe with all their heart that might makes right and that anyone who disagrees with us is going to hell after they bear the brunt of our righteously indignant wrath. Thank you so much for being a true American and making sure our violence comes from the real world and not Hollywood, that our reproductive tendencies are repressed, that our air and water are polluted, that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and that the Iraqi people do not get to choose anything involving who rebuilds or runs their "new" country. You guys are the real patriots; the real soldiers in the war on intellect and independent thought. And that is why I have an appointment next Thursday for a full frontal lobotomy- so I can be just like you.

Hoping I don't have to add my name to your traitor list, Rick

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Human Rights Watch Letter to Donald Rumsfeld

Human Rights Watch Letter to Donald Rumsfeld
March 6, 2003

The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

We write to urge the long overdue release from the U.S. military facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba of all members of the Taliban armed forces held solely because of their participation in the war in Afghanistan as well as any civilians with no meaningful connection to al-Qaeda. Unless these detainees are prosecuted for a crime, there is no legal basis for their continued detention; the 1949 Geneva Conventions require their release and repatriation. Any detainee implicated in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or other criminal offenses, including acts of terrorism, should be prosecuted by courts that meet international fair trial standards.

We also urge the United States to comply with the requirements of international human rights law with regard to persons held at Guantánamo who were apprehended outside areas of armed conflict and have no direct connection to an armed conflict. For such persons, even if they are alleged to be terrorist suspects, the laws of war do not apply. Under well- established human rights law, the United States cannot lawfully hold these detainees without charges and without providing them access to legal counsel.

During previous armed conflicts, the United States has been a firm supporter of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, recognizing the importance of respect for international humanitarian law. In part, that is because the United States has recognized its interest in securing the maximum legal protection for its own soldiers and citizens should they be captured during armed conflicts  --  a consideration of particular relevance today as the United States prepares for a possible war with Iraq. Compliance with the Geneva Conventions as they apply to the detainees held at Guantánamo Bay is thus not only required because of the binding commitments undertaken by the United States when it became a party to the conventions; it is also consistent with national goals and self-interest.

Unlawful Continued Detention of Civilians

There have been numerous allegations that the detainees at Guantánamo include some civilians. In a December 22, 2002 article, the Los Angeles Times detailed the results of its investigation into the transfer of detainees from Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay. Citing U.S. intelligence sources in Afghanistan, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least fifty-nine detainees at Guantánamo had no meaningful ties to the Taliban or al- Qaeda. The names of these men  --  forty-nine Afghans and ten Pakistanis  --  appeared on a list of prisoners, prepared by U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan, who did not meet screening criteria for transfer to Guantánamo. According to the U.S. officials cited, some of these detainees included civilians such as farmers, taxi drivers, cobblers, a firewood vendor, and other laborers who had not taken up arms against the United States.

It is not uncommon for civilians to be apprehended during an armed conflict. Their brief detention while their civilian status is confirmed is often unavoidable. But the law does not permit the detaining power, in this case the United States, to simply hold such civilians as long as it chooses, for whatever reasons it chooses, and wherever it chooses.

Civilians typically qualify as ``protected persons'' under the Fourth Geneva Convention (Geneva IV, Art. 4). Under that convention, the United States is obliged to observe protections for civilians in the areas it occupies, which U.S. policy has interpreted as including ``areas through which troops are passing and even on the battlefield.'' (Department of the Army, The Law of Land Warfare, Field Manual 27-10, par. 352). According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary, ``Even a patrol which penetrates into enemy territory without any intention of staying there must respect the conventions in its dealing with the civilians it meets'' (ICRC, Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, p.60).

The Fourth Geneva Convention permits the United States as an occupying power to keep civilians in detention (``internment'') in only two situations: after prosecution before a properly constituted court, or for ``imperative reasons of security'' (Geneva IV, Art. 78). The United States has apparently not brought charges against any detainees at Guantánamo. It can therefore hold the civilian detainees only if a decision regarding the necessity of internment has been ``made according to a regular procedure,'' in accordance with the convention, including an appeal and a review every six months (Geneva IV, Art. 78). The decision regarding the necessity of internment cannot be made collectively; ``each case must be decided separately'' (ICRC, Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention, p. 367). The United States is also obliged to periodically review the necessity of continued internment (Geneva IV, Art. 78) and to release each interned person ``as soon as the reasons which necessitated his internment no longer exist'' (Geneva IV, Art. 132). In any case, unless the person is serving a prison sentence, internment shall ``cease as soon as possible after the close of hostilities'' (Geneva IV, Art. 133).

We are not aware that U.S. officials have made individual determinations according to a regular procedure (with right to appeal and periodic review) concerning the security threat posed by any protected person under its control. If, as the Los Angeles Times has reported, U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan determined that at least some of the civilians sent to Guantánamo had no meaningful connection to the Taliban or al-Qaeda, it is difficult to conceive how their detention could be considered ``imperative'' for national security.

The Bush Administration has not acknowledged that any civilians are detained at Guantánamo. Instead, it has claimed that all persons held at Guantánamo are ``unlawful combatants.'' However, if the United States had followed the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and its own military regulations with regard to combatants, it could have determined through individual tribunals whether civilians had been transferred from Afghanistan to Guantánamo and detained there without legal justification.

Under the Geneva Conventions, all combatants captured during an armed conflict must be treated as prisoners-of-war (POWs), unless a ``competent tribunal'' determines otherwise. Under the 1997 U.S. Army Regulation 190-8, a military tribunal convened to determine the status of persons captured during an armed conflict can decide whether the person is: 1) a POW; 2) retained personnel (e.g., a doctor or chaplain) who thus qualifies as a POW; 3) an ``innocent civilian who should immediately be returned to his home or released''; or 4) a ``civilian internee who for reasons of operation security, or probable cause incident to criminal investigation, should be detained.'' If such tribunals had been convened, any civilians detained by the United States would have had an opportunity to challenge their designation as a combatant. Presumably, they could have demonstrated  --  as they apparently did to U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan  --  that they had no meaningful connection to the Taliban or al- Qaeda. The problem is compounded by the transfer of such civilians from Afghanistan to Guantánamo; the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the deportation of protected persons from the territory in which they were apprehended ``regardless of [the] motive'' (Geneva IV, Art. 49).

It is unclear whether the revised screening procedures now in use in Afghanistan provide adequate safeguards against the detention and transfer to Guantánamo of civilians and certain captured combatants who should have been questioned and released in relatively short order. The Department of Defense should continually monitor the screening and evaluation of detainees to ensure it functions properly. The Los Angeles Times article describes an almost pervasive fear among U.S. security officials of releasing someone who, despite the absence of any evidence of terrorist links whatsoever, may later commit a terrorist act. The U.S. government has a duty to ensure that this fear does not result in depriving innocent persons of their liberty for many months, if not years.

Unlawful Detention of Certain Captured Belligerents

The United States lacks a legal basis to keep in custody members of the Taliban armed forces detained solely for their role as combatants engaged in an armed conflict with the United States. The Third Geneva Convention permits the United States to detain POWs without charge for the duration of the armed conflict in which they were captured. For these Taliban soldiers, that conflict  --  the war between the United States and the government of Afghanistan  --  has ended. Such Taliban soldiers confined at Guantánamo who are not being prosecuted criminally must be released.

As Human Rights Watch has repeatedly noted in correspondence and conversations with the Bush Administration, in times of war between states party to the Geneva Conventions (such as Afghanistan and the United States), Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention requires granting POW status to all captured members of the enemy's regular armed forces. This would include all captured members of the Taliban armed forces, as well as members of any militia that was part of those armed forces. When there is doubt as to whether any person captured in an international armed conflict is entitled to POW status, Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention requires that a ``competent tribunal'' be convened to make the determination on a detainee-by-detainee basis. Until now, the United States has never taken exception to this straightforward and appropriate rule: during the Gulf War, for example, more than one thousand Article 5 tribunals were convened.

The Bush Administration, however, has insisted that it would not consider any of the captured members of the Taliban armed forces to be POWs. This refusal is based on a strained and erroneous reading of the plain language of the Third Geneva Convention, as we have previously explained in our letter to you of May 29, 2002. Moreover, the refusal to grant POW status to Taliban soldiers is a dramatic change from the U.S. government's expansive interpretation of the convention's requirements in previous armed conflicts. For example, during the Korean War, the United States accorded Chinese and North Korean soldiers POW status even though those countries had not yet ratified the Geneva Conventions.

Human Rights Watch is of the view that the intent of the Third Geneva Convention  --  reflected in the language of Article 4  --  is to ensure that members of regular armed forces are granted POW status when captured. This interpretation is consistent with the overall aims of the Geneva Conventions, as well as ICRC commentary and past U.S. practice, and is in the long-term interests of the United States.

The POW designation has particular significance today because  --  at least since the formation of the Hamid Karzai government in June 2002  --  the United States is no longer at war with the Afghan government. Article 118 of the Third Geneva Convention requires that, at war's end, POWs who have not been convicted of a crime be released and repatriated. Ongoing fighting in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda and opposition forces is distinct from armed conflict with the Afghan government and provides no basis for continued detention of former Taliban soldiers.

Under the Geneva Conventions, if a combatant captured on the battlefield is not a POW, including persons labeled as ``non-privileged'' or ``unlawful'' combatants, they must be considered ``protected persons'' under the Fourth Geneva Convention. (Geneva IV, Art. 4.; see also The Law of Land Warfare, Field Manual 27-10, interpretation, par. 247 which states: ``[T]hose protected by Fourth Geneva also include all persons who have engaged in hostile or belligerent conduct but who are not entitled to treatment as prisoners of war.'') The U.S. regulations for military tribunals that determine the status of captured persons reflect this interpretation of the conventions as they call for a decision that the detainee is either a POW or a civilian.

As discussed above, now that the armed conflict with the Afghan government has ended, the Fourth Geneva Convention requires the immediate release of all protected persons detained solely because of their participation in that conflict. The Geneva Conventions permit the internment of any protected person only upon an individualized determination of imperative security grounds. Thus, even the failure to recognize the POW status of captured Taliban soldiers is no justification for their continued detention.

'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'

Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 by

'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'

Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.

TIM ROBBINS: Thank you. And thanks for the invitation. I had originally been asked here to talk about the war and our current political situation, but I have instead chosen to hijack this opportunity and talk about baseball and show business. (Laughter.) Just kidding. Sort of.

I can't tell you how moved I have been at the overwhelming support I have received from newspapers throughout the country in these past few days. I hold no illusions that all of these journalists agree with me on my views against the war. While the journalists' outrage at the cancellation of our appearance in Cooperstown is not about my views, it is about my right to express these views. I am extremely grateful that there are those of you out there still with a fierce belief in constitutionally guaranteed rights. We need you, the press, now more than ever. This is a crucial moment for all of us.

For all of the ugliness and tragedy of 9-11, there was a brief period afterward where I held a great hope, in the midst of the tears and shocked faces of New Yorkers, in the midst of the lethal air we breathed as we worked at Ground Zero, in the midst of my children's terror at being so close to this crime against humanity, in the midst of all this, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the naive assumption that something good could come out of it.

IMAGE TEXT:  Actor Tim Robbins speaks about his anti-war stance at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday, April 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

I imagined our leaders seizing upon this moment of unity in America, this moment when no one wanted to talk about Democrat versus Republican, white versus black, or any of the other ridiculous divisions that dominate our public discourse. I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields. I imagined leadership that would take this incredible energy, this generosity of spirit and create a new unity in America born out of the chaos and tragedy of 9/11, a new unity that would send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified. You will strengthen our commitment to justice and democracy by your inhumane attacks on us. Like a Phoenix out of the fire, we will be reborn.

And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.

In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

This past weekend, Susan and I and the three kids went to Florida for a family reunion of sorts. Amidst the alcohol and the dancing, sugar-rushing children, there was, of course, talk of the war. And the most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community, in their own life. Keep talking, they said; I haven't been able to open my mouth.

A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we are coming to the school play. They're not welcome here, said the molder of young minds.

Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer.

A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a T- shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down South as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist. Death threats have appeared on other prominent anti-war activists' doorsteps for their views. Relatives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. And my 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has recently been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes -- or, rather, scratches his column with his fingernails in dirt.

Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)

Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."

And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantánamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

I am sick of hearing about Hollywood being against this war. Hollywood's heavy hitters, the real power brokers and cover-of-the- magazine stars, have been largely silent on this issue. But Hollywood, the concept, has always been a popular target.

I remember when the Columbine High School shootings happened. President Clinton criticized Hollywood for contributing to this terrible tragedy -- this, as we were dropping bombs over Kosovo. Could the violent actions of our leaders contribute somewhat to the violent fantasies of our teenagers? Or is it all just Hollywood and rock and roll?

I remember reading at the time that one of the shooters had tried to enlist to fight the real war a week before he acted out his war in real life at Columbine. I talked about this in the press at the time. And curiously, no one accused me of being unpatriotic for criticizing Clinton. In fact, the same radio patriots that call us traitors today engaged in daily personal attacks on their president during the war in Kosovo.

Today, prominent politicians who have decried violence in movies -- the "Blame Hollywooders," if you will -- recently voted to give our current president the power to unleash real violence in our current war. They want us to stop the fictional violence but are okay with the real kind.

And these same people that tolerate the real violence of war don't want to see the result of it on the nightly news. Unlike the rest of the world, our news coverage of this war remains sanitized, without a glimpse of the blood and gore inflicted upon our soldiers or the women and children in Iraq. Violence as a concept, an abstraction -- it's very strange.

As we applaud the hard-edged realism of the opening battle scene of "Saving Private Ryan," we cringe at the thought of seeing the same on the nightly news. We are told it would be pornographic. We want no part of reality in real life. We demand that war be painstakingly realized on the screen, but that war remain imagined and conceptualized in real life.

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.) We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.

Sportswriters across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions of the Hall's president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob. It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice.

The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood. We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. (Applause.) And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.

We lay the continuance of our democracy on your desks, and count on your pens to be mightier. Millions are watching and waiting in mute frustration and hope - hoping for someone to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism.

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball. (Applause.)



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: 17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values

Published on Monday, April 7, 2003 by the Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Betrays Its Core Values

by Gunter Grass

BEHLENDORF, Germany -- A war long sought and planned for is now underway. All deliberations and warnings of the United Nations notwithstanding, an overpowering military apparatus has attacked preemptively in violation of international law. No objections were heeded. The Security Council was disdained and scorned as irrelevant. As the bombs fall and the battle for Baghdad continues, the law of might prevails.

And based on this injustice, the mighty have the power to buy and reward those who might be willing and to disdain and even punish the unwilling. The words of the current American president -- "Those not with us are against us" -- weighs on current events with the resonance of barbaric times. It is hardly surprising that the rhetoric of the aggressor increasingly resembles that of his enemy. Religious fundamentalism leads both sides to abuse what belongs to all religions, taking the notion of "God" hostage in accordance with their own fanatical understanding. Even the passionate warnings of the pope, who knows from experience how lasting and devastating the disasters wrought by the mentality and actions of Christian crusaders have been, were unsuccessful.

Disturbed and powerless, but also filled with anger, we are witnessing the moral decline of the world's only superpower, burdened by the knowledge that only one consequence of this organized madness is certain: Motivation for more terrorism is being provided, for more violence and counter-violence. Is this really the United States of America, the country we fondly remember for any number of reasons? The generous benefactor of the Marshall Plan? The forbearing instructor in the lessons of democracy? The candid self-critic? The country that once made use of the teachings of the European Enlightenment to throw off its colonial masters and to provide itself with an exemplary constitution? Is this the country that made freedom of speech an incontrovertible human right?

It is not just foreigners who cringe as this ideal pales to the point where it is now a caricature of itself. There are many Americans who love their country too, people who are horrified by the betrayal of their founding values and by the hubris of those holding the reins of power. I stand with them. By their side, I declare myself pro-American. I protest with them against the brutalities brought about by the injustice of the mighty, against all restrictions of the freedom of expression, against information control reminiscent of the practices of totalitarian states and against the cynical equations that make the death of thousands of women and children acceptable so long as economic and political interests are protected.

No, it is not anti-Americanism that is damaging the image of the United States; nor do the dictator Saddam Hussein and his extensively disarmed country endanger the most powerful country in the world. It is President Bush and his government that are diminishing democratic values, bringing sure disaster to their own country, ignoring the United Nations, and that are now terrifying the world with a war in violation of international law.

We Germans often are asked if we are proud of our country. To answer this question has always been a burden. There were reasons for our doubts. But now I can say that the rejection of this preemptive war on the part of a majority in my country has made me proud of Germany. After having been largely responsible for two world wars and their criminal consequences, we seem to have made a difficult step. We seem to have learned from history.

The Federal Republic of Germany has been a sovereign country since 1990. Our government made use of this sovereignty by having the courage to object to those allied in this cause, the courage to protect Germany from a step back to a kind of adolescent behavior. I thank Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, for their fortitude in spite of all the attacks and accusations, from abroad and from within.

Many people find themselves in a state of despair these days, and with good reason. Yet we must not let our voices, our no to war and yes to peace, be silenced. What has happened? The stone that we pushed to the peak is once again at the foot of the mountain. But we must push it back up, even with the knowledge that we can expect it to roll back down again.

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times



This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: 17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Do We Really Have Free Speech?

Do We Really Have Free Speech?

Charlotte Aldebron,
The following is a transcript of a speech given by 13-year-old Charlotte Aldebron in Augusta, Maine on April 19, 2003.

The invasion of Afghanistan, and now Iraq, has given me a big lesson in freedom of speech -- or, should I say, the difference between the idea of free speech and the reality of free speech. Yes, I can speak. But what does it matter if I have no place to speak? Or if I am ostracized? Or no one listens?

In early March, my social studies teacher switched the class topic to Iraq. He said Saddam Hussein's time to disarm was up. We had to get rid of him -- he was a brutal dictator who gassed his own people. I raised my hand. I said that the U.S. gave Saddam Hussein chemical weapons, and the CIA helped him find the targets to use them on. My teacher snapped back, "Actually, Charlotte, you're wrong." Then he turned away and refused to call on me again.

After the invasion, our class focused on combat. It was like a game: we got a hand-out on the Persian Gulf countries, called "The Players," we were given photos with short bios of top Iraqis, the team we had to beat. We got a map of the Gulf region with the size and location of all the armies, and the weapons each possessed; we read an article about the threat of Iraq using chemical weapons against our troops.

My mother complained to the principal and the Commissioner of Education that we were being taught to glorify war, admire military strategy, and objectify the killing and maiming of human beings. The Commissioner responded that each school's curriculum was its own business. The principal answered that he thought the social studies lesson plan was "balanced and comprehensive." Yes, my mom was free to speak -- in fact, she could scream her head off for all they cared. It wouldn't change a thing.

Meanwhile, in science, we had to answer questions like, "what are the advantages of biological weapons?" I said there weren't any advantages because biological weapons kill people. How can death be an advantage? I was asked to give two examples of biological weapons. I said one was the smallpox on blankets we gave to Native Americans to kill them. The other was E coli bacteria that have been found in McDonald's hamburgers. I said we could close the gap between the threat and the capability of biological weapons by signing the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention, and by hiring more meat inspectors. Somehow, our assignments never got corrected.

I should tell you that I am famous in some countries. My anti-war speeches have been translated into French, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Urdu, Bengali, and who knows what else. I have been featured in newspapers and on television and radio. A popular singer in Bombay read my speech at his sold-out concert. I've received over 3,000 emails.

But in my own community, I am invisible. The principal won't let me read my speeches in school. The local papers won't print them. When a Japanese TV crew came to do a story on me, the principal barred them from the school. When they interviewed my classmates on the street after school, the principal came running and angrily demanded that they not use the footage. Of course, they were filming when he did this and, of course, they used the footage. The Japanese know what a bad idea war is because they have suffered the horrible consequences of our nuclear bombs.

I get encouraging emails from around the world telling me not to despair even if my own town and teachers and friends ignore me.  Many say that I am very brave to speak out "in a country like the United States!" One such email was from a Japanese man who, at age 9, saw the two friends he was walking with in Honshu, on July 20, 1945, buried beneath the rubble of a building bombed by a P-51 Mustang fighter. He and his mother were miraculously spared. And there was the email from the Jordanian mother duct taping her windows with plastic sheeting to protect her children from possible chemical attack. And the Greek man whose parents were scarred for life by the Nazi occupation. And the Canadian who cannot understand calling human beings "collateral damage." And the man from Calcutta who hopes the warriors will come to their senses and put away their weapons. And the South Korean student who thinks it is wrong to sit at his desk and study when there are terrible crimes taking place. And the Iranian who cannot sanction the harming of innocents, even if they are the people of an "enemy" nation.

Because I am free to speak, these people have heard my voice and we have been able to share our desire for peace. Some of them live in countries where protesting is against the law. In the U.S., we are more subtle, we are more sophisticated. In the U.S., we can allow people to talk freely. We don't need to stifle speech to stifle dissent. We just have to block our ears

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

You are with us or against us

   ``* You are with us or against us.  In Germany if you were against Hitler and the Nazis you were subjected to tribunal "justice." Civil rights were discarded and many ended up in concentration camps.  In Bush's America, an unknown number of Arab detainees are being held in U.S. jails and the Guantánamo Naval Base.  They do not have access to legal representation.  Their resources are frozen, and the American public is assured that if they are charged they will have access to legal representation.  Though their actual numbers and identities were kept secret, we were told that these detainees were not American citizens.  Now we learn that an American citizen, Jose Padilla, is being held without legal counsel in a catch-22 situation that is worthy of a Joseph Heller plot.'' [ Hitler's Playbook: Bush and the Abuse of Power by W. David Jenkins and Sara DeHart July 4, 2002, at the end of this page: under the heading "Parallels Between Hitler's and Bush's Power Game Plan" ]

[Editorial comment by Leif Erlingsson:  Even voices highly critical to the indoctrination system are colored by it.  The above comment seems to imply that American citizens are somehow more worth than Arabs.  This is pure and simple racism.]

Defying Law, Bush Administration Locks Up Americans

The February 20, 2003 edition of the Daily Journal (LA's legal newspaper).  A login is required.  This can only be had by subscribing to any of a number of newspapers, see the site.

Defying Law, Bush Administration Locks Up Americans in U.S. Territory
By Erwin Chemerinsky

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration and the Ashcroft Justice Department have engaged in many practices that involve unprecedented violations of rights. Among the most troubling has been the claim of the authority to detain individuals without complying with the Constitution and without any semblance of due process. So far, the judiciary simply has deferred to the administration.

* Jose Padilla. The most egregious case involves Jose Padilla, an American citizen arrested at Chicago O'Hare Airport for planning to build a "dirty bomb." Although Padilla was arrested on May 8, 2002, no charges have been filed against him. Instead, the administration says that he can be held forever as an "enemy combatant."

On Dec. 4, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld Padilla's detention. Padilla v. Bush, 2002 WL 31718308 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2002). The court said that the government can detain a person as an enemy combatant so long as it shows "some evidence" in support of its action.

The claimed authority of the Bush administration is sweeping and enormously troubling. The administration says that it can hold an American citizen for a crime in the United States without complying with the provisions of the Bill of Rights.

The Framers of the Constitution were deeply distrustful of executive power and of the police. The Fourth Amendment provides that generally before a person is arrested, a neutral judge must find probable cause. The Fifth Amendment provides that before a person can be tried, an independent grand jury must indict the individual. The Sixth Amendment provides that before a person can be imprisoned, an impartial jury must convict.

The Bush administration says that none of these rights applies if it labels the person an enemy combatant. Yet there is no escape clause in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments that says that they don't apply when a person is called an enemy combatant rather than a criminal. Nor is there any provision in Article II of the Constitution, which defines presidential power, that gives the president the authority to suspend the Bill of Rights.

There is no precedent for the Bush administration's claim of authority. No Supreme Court case, and for that matter no case of any court in the United States, ever has upheld the government's authority to detain a person indefinitely without complying with the Constitution by labeling the individual an enemy combatant.

In the government's briefs, it has cited to only one Supreme Court case as authority for its position: Ex parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942). In Quirin, the court upheld the use of military tribunals for individuals who were apprehended entering the United States to commit acts of sabotage on behalf of Germany.

The opinion, however, did not mention a power for the government to hold people without any trial. There is an enormous difference between trying a person in a military tribunal, as in Quirin, and holding the person without any trial, as is the case with Padilla.

The Bush administration's position has no stopping point. Could those who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City been held without trial as enemy combatants? Could drug dealers with alleged ties to Colombian drug lords be held indefinitely as enemy combatants as part of the "war" on drugs?

Under the Bush administration's approach, the executive branch has virtually unlimited authority to hold people without constitutional protections by calling them enemy combatants.

The court in Padilla's case said that the government need only show "some evidence" to support its claim that an individual is an enemy combatant. There is no basis in American law for a "some evidence" standard as a basis for denying a person's liberty. It is a very flimsy basis for imprisoning a human being.

* Yaser Hamdi. Yaser Hamdi is an America citizen who was apprehended in Afghanistan, allegedly for fighting for the enemy. His situation is thus identical to that of John Walker Lindh. Like Lindh, Hamdi was brought to the United States. Hamdi is being held in a military prison in South Carolina. Unlike in Lindh's case, the U.S. government has filed no charges against Hamdi and claims that it can hold him forever as an enemy combatant.

Last summer, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court decision and held that Hamdi did not have a right to consult with an attorney. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 296 F.3d 278 (4th Cir. 2002). On Jan. 8, the 4th Circuit reversed a District Court order compelling the government to answer questions justifying the detention of Hamdi. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 2003 WL 60109 (4th Cir. Jan. 8, 2003). The court ruled that there is no basis for judicial review of detentions by the United States of U.S. citizens apprehended abroad and detained in the United States. The 4th Circuit said that courts must defer to executive power.

There is no precedent for the 4th Circuit's claim that an American citizen can be imprisoned in the United States without any access to the courts. The court's approval of unreviewable power to imprison a person is at odds with the most basic principles of the Bill of Rights.

* Guantánamo detainees. Almost 600 individuals are imprisoned at Guantánamo, some now for over a year. A story in the L.A. Times on Dec. 22, 2002, quoted top-level executive officials as admitting that the administration now knows that many are being held there by mistake. They now know that many did not participate in or have any information about terrorism. Nonetheless, the officials said that the plan was to hold these individuals indefinitely.

The administration's actions are in clear violation of international law. The Third Geneva Convention requires that there be a "competent tribunal" to determine who is a prisoner of war and who is an unlawful combatant.

Last spring, Secretary of State Colin Powell recognized this provision and said that all who were fighting for the Taliban are prisoners of war, whereas those fighting for al-Qaida are unlawful combatants. Powell acknowledged that international law requires a tribunal for determining the status of these individuals. Almost a year later, no tribunal has been convened.

Moreover, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the United States in 1992, states: "Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that the court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention." Article 9(4), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, 176. Also, the treaty provides that "[n]o one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention." Article 9(1), 999 U.N.T.S. 171. The United States approved these provisions, but the government clearly is ignoring them.

So far, the courts have been unwilling to review the administration's actions at Guantánamo. A petition for habeas corpus was filed in the District Court for the Central District of California pursuant to a statutory provision that allows a habeas petition to be brought on behalf of another. 28 U.S.C. Section 2242.

In November, the 9th Circuit affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the case on the ground that the petitioners lacked standing because they did not have a relationship with those being held in Guantánamo. Coalition of Clergy v. Bush, 310 F.3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2002).

Two other lawsuits were filed in District Court in the District of Columbia; one was brought by the Kuwaiti government on behalf of 12 Kuwaiti nationals, and the other was brought by citizens of Australia and the United Kingdom on behalf of relatives.

In Rasul v. Bush, 215 F.Supp.2d 55 (D. D.C. 2002) (the decision in the combined Kuwait and Australia cases), the court held that no court has jurisdiction to hear this claim based on Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950). In Johnson, the court ruled that federal habeas corpus was not available to German citizens who had been caught in Japan and were tried and imprisoned in China. The District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in Rasul in early December.

But Johnson does not support the claim that individuals can be imprisoned on U.S. territory with no due process. In Johnson, there was a trial; the Guantánamo detainees are being held with none. In Johnson, the government never brought the defendants to American territory; the military base at Guantánamo is American territory under the terms of the U.S. treaty with Cuba.

Imprisoning a human being is obviously a profound deprivation of freedom. The U.S. Constitution and international law require that it be exercised only subject to procedural protections. The Bush administration's claim that it can imprison a person without due process or judicial review is disturbing and unsupported by any judicial precedent. The courts must assert their basic role in ensuring that any person being imprisoned have some form of judicial review.

Erwin Chemerinsky is Sydney M. Irmas Professor of Public Interest Law, Legal Ethics and Political Science at the University of Southern California. He was one of the petitioners and co-counsel in the 9th Circuit in Coalition of Clergy.

© 2003 Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Showdown Nears Over Terrorism Detentions

Showdown Nears Over Terrorism Detentions,1,7388604.story?coll=la-home-headlines§ion=/printstory

  Showdown Nears Over Terrorism Detentions
  Abrupt transfer of a suspect from Peoria, Ill., to a brig sets up test case on post-9/11 jailings

  By Richard A. Serrano
  The Los Angeles Times

  Wednesday 16 July 2003

  WASHINGTON  --  One moment he was preparing for trial on relatively routine criminal charges in the nation's heartland and the next he was gone, designated an enemy combatant by President Bush and spirited away to a military brig in South Carolina.

  Government authorities want to hold Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri indefinitely, saying they believe he may be a "sleeper cell operative" working to settle foreign terrorists in the United States. But Al-Marri's lawyers say his abrupt transfer is unfair and deprives him of the protections of the U.S. court system.

  The dispute, headed for a showdown this month in a federal courthouse in Peoria, Ill., is being called a test case that could set the standard for how far the Justice Department, the Pentagon and, ultimately, the White House can go in detaining terrorism suspects in their efforts to protect the nation.

  Al-Marri, a 37-year-old native of Qatar, entered this country with his family on Sept. 10, 2001, the eve of the terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Before the year was out, he was arrested by FBI agents in central Illinois on charges of fraud and making false statements to authorities. He would have gone on trial in Peoria next Monday.

  Instead came a turn of events that not only triggered Al-Marri's removal to military custody but could foreshadow the fates of Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, U.S. citizens who also have been named enemy combatants. Al-Marri's case could also affect the government's prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen facing terrorism charges in federal court and who could be named an enemy combatant. Al-Marri declined to cooperate and plead guilty, choosing a jury trial in federal court. Then he was abruptly removed to a military brig, an imprisonment that could last as long as the war on terror.

  Defense attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Michael H. Mihm in Peoria to free Al-Marri, and a response from government attorneys is due today. Mihm is set to hear arguments from both sides July 28 before ruling.

  Al-Marri "may prove to be the test case," said Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, a private organization that analyzes military legal issues.

  "But it's a little like a legal Belmont Stakes as the various cases pull ahead or fall behind in the race to the Supreme Court," Fidell said. "We won't know for a while which will be the landmark case and which will be follow-ons."

  Jennifer K. Elsea, a legislative attorney with the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan organization that studies national legislation, said Congress' authorization of the enemy combatant statute was never intended to be invoked so broadly.

  When the war on terror began, Bush said no American citizens would be designated enemy combatants and that they would be tried in open court, with their constitutional rights protected.

  But that has not always been the case.

  John Walker Lindh is an American citizen from Northern California who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Following Bush's directives, he was returned to this country and prosecuted in federal court in Virginia, eventually pleading guilty.

  From there, the standard begins to blur.

  Hamdi too is an American, born in Louisiana, and he too was captured on the Afghan battlefield. But unlike Lindh, he was taken to Guantánamo Bay and, after his nationality was confirmed, he was named an enemy combatant and transferred to a Navy brig in Norfolk, Va.

  Padilla, accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb," is also an American citizen, born in New York and raised in Chicago. But unlike Lindh or Hamdi, he was arrested in this country, immediately named an enemy combatant and taken to the Navy brig at Charleston, S.C.

  The rule also has not been uniformly applied to foreigners.

  Richard Reid, a British citizen who attempted to bring down a transatlantic flight with a shoe bomb, was prosecuted in federal court in Boston and pleaded guilty there.

  The case of Moussaoui, suspected of being the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot, is in federal court in Virginia. Complications in the prosecutors' case stemming from Moussaoui's request to meet with a suspected Al Qaeda leader, however, have raised questions about whether the government should confer on him enemy combatant status. That leaves Al-Marri  --  a foreigner arrested in this country who was being prosecuted here but suddenly was shifted into military custody at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston.

  "The Bush administration has once again done an end-run around the criminal justice system," said Wendy Patten, U.S. advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "This kind of military detention has no place in a country committed to the rule of law."

  But the government strongly defends its transfer of Al-Marri.

  The president, in his June 23 declaration of Al-Marri as an enemy combatant, contended that he "is closely associated with Al Qaeda" and has been "engaged in conduct that constituted hostile and warlike acts, including conduct in preparation for acts of international terrorism."

  More important, the president said, Al-Marri "represents a continuing, present and grave danger to the national security of the United States, and detention of Mr. Al-Marri is necessary to prevent him from aiding Al Qaeda in its efforts to attack the United States or its armed forces, other governmental personnel, or citizens."

  Lawrence S. Lustberg of Newark, N.J., one of Al-Marri's attorneys, said his client lawfully entered the U.S. with his wife and five children to pursue a master's degree at Peoria's Bradley University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1991.

  The FBI arrested him on Dec. 12, 2001, on a material witness warrant and took him to New York as part their Sept. 11 investigation. According to Lustberg, Al-Marri "was held in solitary confinement, locked down without exercise or recreation and was under constant monitoring."

  He was indicted in New York on fraud and false statement charges. But the indictment was dismissed and a second grand jury indictment was obtained in Peoria, where he was charged with seven counts of making false statements to the FBI and identity fraud.

  Jan Paul Miller, the U.S. attorney in central Illinois, said Al-Marri lied about phone calls to a man in the United Arab Emirates believed to be associated with Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi. According to court records, Miller said, Al-Hawsawi is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Moussaoui case.

  Prosecutors in Washington and Illinois also have said that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Al Qaeda's operations chief now in U.S. custody, has identified Al-Marri as a conduit for helping Al Qaeda operatives get settled in this country for future attacks.

  In addition, prosecutors said Al-Marri's laptop computer held the numbers of hundreds of stolen credit cards that were to be used to fund terrorism, as well as anti-American literature.

  Lustberg, said he knows only that defense attorneys were preparing for a July 21 trial on the charges of false statements and fraud when suddenly, on June 23, everything changed.

  Lustberg said prosecutors went to court in Peoria and dismissed the charges against Al-Marri, then moved him to military custody in South Carolina.

  Lustberg said that because prosecutors dropped the case "with prejudice," they cannot reinstate the charges. He said if the defense can convince Mihm that Al-Marri does not meet the enemy combatant standard and that the transfer was improper, he should be released.

  Lustberg said he has had no luck getting in contact with his client, despite letters and phone calls to the Pentagon and Department of Justice. "They don't even respond," he said.

  Lustberg said that after Al-Marri was removed from Peoria, the local jail sent the defense team his Koran and prayer rug. They mailed it to the brig in South Carolina but, Lustberg said, "We don't even know whether that got to him either."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Mormonism And The American System

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, Chapter 29, p.306

Mormonism And The American System


        INHERENT RIGHTS. -- There are certain principles that are inherent in man, that belong to man, and that were enunciated in an early day, before the United States government was formed, and they are principles that rightfully belong to all men everywhere. They are described in the Declaration of Independence as unalienable rights, one of which is that men have a right to live; another is that they have a right to pursue happiness; and another is that they have a right to be free and no man has authority to deprive them of those God-given rights, and none but tyrants would do it. These principles, I say, are unalienable in man; they belong to him; they existed before any constitutions were framed or any laws made. Men have in various ages striven to strip their fellow men of these rights, and dispossess them of them. And hence the wars, the bloodshed, and carnage that have spread over the earth. We therefore are not indebted to the United States for these rights. We were free as men born into the world, having the right to do as we please, to act as we please, as long as we do not transgress constitutional law nor violate the rights of others.

        SOME LEGAL RIGHTS. -- Being organized, then, into a government such as it is -- that is, the name of a government, the name of a legislature, the name of a free people -- being organized as we are, what next? We are necessarily obliged to look after our affairs as men, our political affairs. Our mission to the world is a mission of peace. The gospel proclaims peace on earth and good will to man.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.306-307:

        THE POLITICAL MISSION OF THE SAINTS. -- Our mission is to call upon this nation and all nations to repent of their sins, of their lasciviousness, adulteries, fornications, murders, blasphemies, and of all dishonest and corrupt practices. But in this we use no force. Having laid these matters before them, they have their free will to receive or reject. . . . As politicians or statesmen they must at least give us the benefit of the Constitution and laws. These, as a portion of the body politic, we contend for as part of our political rights. We do not claim, nor profess, nor desire to interfere with any man's religion or conscience. We have nothing to do with their religion, nor they with ours. Religious faith or belief is not a political factor. The Constitution has debarred its introduction into the arena of politics; and every officer of the United States has pledged himself under a solemn oath to abide by and sustain that instrument, and not one of them can interfere with it [religion] without a violation of his oath. . . .

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.307:

        TO MAINTAIN HUMAN RIGHTS. -- Another thing God expects us to do, and that is to maintain the principle of human rights. . . . We owe it to ourselves as men, we owe it to our families, our children, and to posterity. We owe it to the lovers of freedom in this land, of which there are thousands, yea, millions, who despise acts of oppression and tyranny. We owe it to all liberty-loving men to stand up for human rights and protect human freedom, and in the name of God we will do it. . . .

        Joseph, the despised of his father's house, became their deliverer. Moses, the foundling and outcast of Egypt, became the deliverer and law-giver of Israel. Jesus, the despised Nazarene, introduced principles that revolutionized the moral ideas and ethics of the world. And it may not be among the improbabilities, that the prophecies of Joseph Smith may be fulfilled and that the calumniated and despised Mormons may yet become the protectors of the Constitution and the guardians of religious liberty and human freedom in these United States -- JD, 23:262-266, October 8, 1882.

        THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. -- I will tell you what I think about the Constitution. I have just the same opinion of it that Joseph Smith had, and he said it was given by inspiration of God. The men did not know this who wrote it. The men did not know it who adopted it. Nevertheless it is true. There is an embodiment of principles contained therein calculated to bless and benefit mankind.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.307-308:

        "What do you think about the government of the United States as a government?" I think it is a good deal ahead of most governments, but I think the administrators are apostatizing very fast from the principles that the fathers of this nation instituted. It has become quite a question nowadays, whether men can be preserved in their rights or not, whether men can worship God according to the dictates of their conscience or not, or whether we are living in a land of freedom or not. What is the matter? Why, they are like the religionists. How is it with them? They profess to believe in the Bible. They do believe it shut, but when you open it, they deny it. The people of this nation profess to believe in the Constitution. They do until it comes to be applied to the people, and then they do not. That is perhaps too broad a saying, but I will say there are many who feel like this -- not all by a long way. There are thousands and tens of thousands who are imbued with the same principles as were the framers of the Constitution and who desire to see human freedom perpetuated. . . .

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.308:

        We would say then in regard to religionists if you profess a religion be true to it. If you profess to believe in the Bible when shut, believe it when open, and practice its principles. We would say to men who profess so much loyalty and patriotism to the government, be true to your institutions, be true to the Constitution of the United States, as we say to all our people to be true to the same. We expect the Latter-day Saints to be so, and to be subject to law, to avoid lawlessness of every kind and interference with men's rights in any shape. -- JD, 22:295-296, October 9, 1881.

        THE FUNDAMENTAL LAW AND INHERENT RIGHTS. -- There is an inherent principle of right planted in the human bosom, which God has placed there and which man never could, can not now, nor ever will uproot -- principles of inherent right which all intelligent men, when they have sought for the truth with unbiased mind and desired sincerely to know, have invariably found. Governed by the principles of right, and uninfluenced by party, power, or wealth, there have always been men inspired by an infallible divine afflatus, who have recognized an innate, inalienable principle of justice and equity, in every age and among all nations, and the records of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, Romans, and more modern nations bear ample testimony to this fact. The principle of right is implanted in the human bosom and inherent in the human family, among all governments that have ever existed, and men of virtue, honor, and truth have always arrived at the same conclusions that we have.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.308-309:

        The founders of our government, under the inspiration of the Almighty, and goaded by an oppressive power, discovered the same elements, the same principles, the same ideas that we have, and enunciated those eternal principles and made them known to the world, -- "that all men are born free and equal and have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The founders of the French Republic, about the same time, made a declaration almost verbatim. It is the violation of the natural rights of man that has deluged the earth with blood in all ages. These principles were enunciated by Joseph Smith; he believed in them, so do we, in the right to think, in the right to speak, in the right to act, in the right to do all things that are right and good and proper, but not in the right to interfere with any other man's rights, any other man's religion, any other man's principles. These are our views. . . . The worst wish we have for the human family is that the principles enunciated in our Constitution may reverberate over the wide earth, and spread from shore to shore, until all mankind shall be free. -- JD, 14:267, December 17, 1871.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.309:

        THE CONSTITUTION: AN ENTERING WEDGE FOR A NEW ERA. -- It is true that the founders of this nation, as a preliminary step for the introduction of more correct principles and that liberty and the rights of man might be recognized, and that all men might become equal before the law of the land, had that great palladium of liberty, the Constitution of the United States, framed. This was the entering wedge for the introduction of a new era, and in it were introduced principles for the birth and organization of a new world.

        The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the Constitution of the United States was given by the inspiration of God. But good, virtuous, and holy principles may be perverted by corrupt and wicked men. The Lord was opposed by Satan; Jesus had his Judas; and this nation abounds with traitors who ignore that sacred palladium of liberty and seek to trample it under foot. Joseph Smith said they would do so, and that when deserted by all, the elders of Israel would rally around its shattered fragments and save and preserve it inviolate. But even this, good as it was, was not a perfect instrument. It was one of those steppingstones to a future development in the progress of man to the intelligence and light, the power and union that God alone can impart to the human family. -- JD, 21:31, April 9, 1879.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.309-310:

        THE CONSTITUTION. -- We believe that our fathers were inspired to write the Constitution of the United States, and that it is an instrument, full, lucid, and comprehensive; that it was dictated by a wise and foreseeing policy, and does honor to the heads and hearts of its framers; that it is the great bulwark of American liberty; and that the strict and implicit observance of which is the only safeguard of this mighty nation. We therefore rest ourselves under its ample folds.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.310:

        LEGISLATURES. -- We believe that all legislative assemblies should confine themselves to constitutional principles; and that all such laws should be implicitly obeyed by every American.

        THE RIGHTS OF MAN. -- We believe that all men should have a right to do good; a perfect freedom of action; and be protected in that right; "free trade and sailors' rights"; but that no man is free, or at liberty to do wrong, or transgress law.

        We believe that all men are responsible to God for their religious acts, and therefore ought to have perfect freedom of conscience.

        POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION. -- We believe that the president, governors, judges, and governmental officers ought to be respected, honored, and sustained in their stations; but that they ought to use their positions and power, not for political emolument, or party purposes; but for the administration of justice, and equity, and for the well being and happiness of the people.

        PARTIES AND POLITICS. -- We believe that legislators ought to be chosen on account of their intelligence, honor, integrity, and virtue; and not because they belong to some particular party clique.

        We believe that the high party strife, logrolling, wirepulling, and political juggling, and spoliation, are a disgrace to any politician; that they are beneath the dignity of an American, and disgraceful and humiliating, alike to the people and statesmen of this great republic.

        We believe that legislative enactments ought to be for the good of the whole, and not for any particular location or district; and that anything else is at variance with the spirit and genius of our institutions.

        We believe that although there is much to lament, and room for very great improvement, both in our executive, judiciary, and legislative departments, that we have the most liberal, free, and enlightened government in the world. . . . -- The Mormon, February 17, 1855.

        CALLING OF THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS. -- We are called of God to be an upright people, a virtuous people, an honorable people. We are called upon to maintain correct principles, and to introduce them among the peoples of the earth, and especially among the people of this nation. -- JD, 25:93, February 10, 1884.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.310-311:

        By and by, you will find they will tear the Constitution to shreds, as they have begun now. They have started long ago to rend the Constitution of our country in pieces; and in doing so they are letting loose and encouraging a principle which will react upon themselves with terrible consequences. For if lawmakers and administrators can afford to trample upon justice, equity, and the Constitution of this country, they will find thousands and tens of thousands who are willing to follow in their wake in the demolition of the rights of man, and the destruction of all principles of justice, and the safeguards of the nation. But we will stand by and maintain its principles and the rights of all men of every color, and every clime. We will cleave to the truth, live our religion, and keep the commandments of God, and God will bless us in time and throughout the eternities that are to come. -- JD, 26:38-39, December 14, 1884.

John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.311:

        APPEAL FOR AN ENLIGHTENED PUBLIC OPINION. -- We have no fault to find with our government. We deem it the best in the world. But we have reason to deplore its maladministration, and I call upon our legislators, our governors and president to pause in their careers and not to tamper with the rights and liberties of American citizens, nor wantonly tear down the bulwarks of American and human liberty. God has given to us glorious institutions. Let us preserve them intact and not pander to the vices, passions, and fanaticism of a depraved public opinion. -- JD, 23:65-66, April 9, 1882.

The following was added after the essay was already finished

Searching for a Christian Response to the War on Iraq

Theodore McDowell: Searching for a Christian Response to the War on Iraq    (A small number of missing period-space between sentences have been fixed in the below transcript -- lege)

February 12, 2003

Searching for a Christian Response to War

Iraq: a Call to Repentance and Resistance


        When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  Psalm: 32:3

The gag order of patriotism has silenced the authentic response of the Christian community to the impending unjust war against Iraq.  Christian apathy defaults to America's gospel of preemptive warfare which is preparing to bomb Iraq's civilization into Mesopotamian dust.  Twelve years of silence holds the church accountable for devastating the entire infrastructure of Iraq, deforming generations of Iraqi children with weapons containing depleted uranium, perpetuating the infanticide of sanctions, and cluster bombing civilians in no-fly zones.

The impending military action also symbolizes a spiritual terrorist attack by America on the very gospel of Christ.  Before a watching world, the Western Christian distorts into a grotesque parody of the crusader with the cross emblazoned on a tank or the missionary mopping up souls after a conquest.  The love of Christ is bent, motionless, incinerated in the rubble of "collateral damage".  In the aftershock of the B-52s, the wasted bones of silence will decay in the church, the weary columns of Iraqi refugees, and our catacomb hearts.  Without repentance, the narrative of the Christian community is reduced to the white noise of TVs and the desperate diversions of wealth.

In the palaces and reception halls, anthems and accolades will celebrate the powerful and the obedient as they gorge at a feast table of oil and empire.  The media will applaud the same puppet show previously performed in Indonesia, Chile, Afghanistan and most of the "Third World".  Meanwhile, in the refugee camps, terrorist networks, welfare lines, reservations and ghettos of the world, the poor and disenfranchised seethe in anger and resentment.

America's charmed existence, however, lacks the perspective of world history.  Power has a short shelf life.  The cross has a half-life of eternity.  Power decays into decadence which implodes like the bowels of Herod.  Powerlessness is the seed bed of renewal.  Every fortified gate and hanging garden ordains its own barbarian horde.  A remnant is prepared in wilderness.

Grace never promises global dominance.  Grace incarnates a spiritual kingdom within a broken world.  Christ still groans with power from the subversive suffering of the cross.  Silence still cradles the call to repentance.  The silence of the Lord's head bowing under the weight of our sins and our death.  The silence convulsing in the lungs of an Iraqi woman as she noiselessly rocks her child into death.

Within the deep tomb of culture, the gospel seems as foreign as the haunting calligraphy of the Arabic script.  The turning from a flag that is loved makes repentance seem violent, like the earth's plates grinding together on a fault line.  Under the weight of Iraqi children wasting into silence, forgiveness seems fast and furious like a sweeping storm that frees the crescent moon from clouds.  The desperate need for resurrection power makes the cross seems wildly creative, capable of transforming catacomb hearts into underground countercultures of peace.  The distinctive voice is renewed in radical revolution.  The unshackled voice must shout the war cry of nonviolence to the listening and the deaf, the powerful and the powerless, the flags and the body bags.  The creative voice must find a parable as incisive and convicting as Nathan's parable to a king.  Disciples cannot leave the Sanhedrin in silence.


In order to legitimately search for an authentic Christian response to the looming military attack, the flag must be unwrapped from the cross.  Perhaps-possibly-maybe, a reality exists beyond America that is larger and more complex than the slivers of information presented in press conferences, military briefings or sound bites on CNN.  A sovereign power demands allegiance, and that power does not reside in the Oval Office.

The official American narrative is driven into the consciousness of the culture on a daily basis.  We know the story by heart.  The tragedy of September 11, 2001 (9/11) changed the world forever.  America is now involved in a world-wide war on terrorism against shady terrorist networks, "Islamic militants" and rogue regimes.  Iraq is an imminent threat to the existence of America, the Middle East and the community of nations.  Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which he plans to use or provide to terrorist organizations.  Saddam Hussein has gassed his own people and other nations, invaded other countries and terrorized the people of his own country.  In the name of peace, America will disarm Iraq and institute a new democracy for the Iraqi people.

Before the bands and bombs drown out every dissenting voice, however, Christians should consider alternative narratives which are ignored by the mainstream press.  This information challenges the primitive "good versus evil" dichotomy currently being superimposed on a complex and far reaching conflict.  This information questions the sanctity of America's actions.


The 1991 Gulf War

The 1991 Gulf War inflicted apocalyptic destruction on Iraq.  The Medical Educational Trust in London published a study which estimated that up to 250,000 men, women and children died as a direct result of the war.  The ground attack included tanks and earthmovers bulldozing live Iraqi soldiers into trenches in the desert.  The relentless bombing also destroyed the civilian infrastructure, including power, sewage and water systems.  The US initially claimed that the 43 day bombing was confined to military targets and that any civilian damage was limited to "collateral damage".  A Washington Post article printed after the bombing campaign reported:

        Planners now say that their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance.  The worst civilian suffering, senior officers say, has resulted not from bombs that went astray but from precision-guided weapons that hit exactly where they were aimed-at electrical plants, oil refineries and transportation networks...  'What we were doing with the attacks on infrastructure was to accelerate the sanctions...If there are political objectives that the UN coalition has, it can say, 'Saddam, when you agree to do these things, we will allow people to come in and fix your electricity.  It gives us long-term leverage'....Said another Air Force planner: 'We're not going to tolerate Saddam Hussein or his regime.  Fix that, and we'll fix your electricity'.

After inspecting the damage, UN Under Secretary-General Martti Ahtisaari concluded: "most means of modern life support have been destroyed or rendered tenuous.  Iraq has for some time to come been relegated to a pre-industrial age, but with all the disabilities of post-industrial dependency on an intensive use of energy and technology."

The Betrayal of Iraqi Resistance

At the end of the Gulf War, President George Bush Senior encouraged "the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their hands and force Saddam Hussein to step aside."  The Kurds in northern Iraq and the Shiite population in the south responded to Bush's call and revolted against Saddam Hussein.  American forces, however, failed to support the uprising and watched Hussein's troops slaughter the resistance.  One report described American helicopters hovering over Hussein's helicopter crews as they poured kerosene on fleeing refugees and incinerated them with tracer fire.  Commentators and officials conclude that President Bush wanted a military coup, a junta, and not a popular uprising.

Ravaging Iraq with Weapons of Mass Destruction

During the Gulf War, reports confirm that Britain and the US used 300 to 800 tons of weapons with depleted uranium ("DU") and, in some cases, DU mixed with plutonium.  The Iraqi society is now suffering the "afterglow" of cancer, leukemia and birth defects, and the DU legacy will punish the population for generations.

The Infanticide of Sanctions

Economic sanctions have ravaged the Iraqi society for 12 years.  A 1999 UNICEF report found that the sanctions, combined with the destruction of infrastructure, resulted in the early death of more than 500,000 children between 1991 and 1998.  This death toll translates to an average of 5,000 childhood deaths each month.  The World Food Programme in 2000 reported that 800,000 Iraqi children are "chronically malnourished." Poor water quality and lack of sanitation have become the prime killer of children.  UNICEF stated in July 2001 that "Diarrhea leading to death from dehydration and acute respiratory infections, together account for 70 per cent of child deaths."  The major public health crisis is exacerbated by shortages of medical equipment, medicine and staff.

UN Security Council members have received repeated warnings of the humanitarian crisis caused by sanctions from UN officials, international agencies and the international community.  Warnings have come from "three Secretary Generals, many UN officials and agencies including UNICEF, WHO and WFP, and two Humanitarian Coordinators who have resigned in protest." For instance, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated in 2000 that "sanctions remain a blunt instrument, which hurt large numbers of people who are not their primary targets."

Since 1996, Iraq has been authorized by the UN to sell oil for food.  The oil-for-food program has simply perpetuated the infanticide under a veneer of humanitarian aid.  The program was intended to serve as a short term policy.  The UN Secretariat reported to the Security Council in 2000 that the humanitarian programme was never intended to meet all the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi population or to be a substitute for normal economic activity.  Also the programme is not geared to address the longer term deterioration of living standards or to remedy declining health standards and infrastructure.

In 1998, Denis Halliday, the first coordinator of humanitarian relief in Iraq, resigned after 34 years of service with the UN.  Halliday stated:

        I have been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide:  a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.  What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.  History will slaughter those responsible.

Halliday's replacement, Hans von Sponeck, also resigned in 2000.  "How long," he asked, "should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?" Sponeck described the oil-for-food program as providing the Iraqi population with $177 per person per year-50 cents a day-for all of the needs of each Iraqi citizen.

Numerous policy papers and studies issued by UN agencies and legal scholars have determined that the sanctions program violates international human rights and humanitarian laws.  In 1999, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights published a working paper which described sanctions as "unequivocally illegal" and stated that sanctions had caused a humanitarian disaster "comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decade."

Even government officials of Britain and the US have criticized the destructiveness of the program.  In 1999, 70 members of Congress signed a letter to President Clinton calling for and end to sanctions and "infanticide masquerading as policy."  In 2000, the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development issued a report which sharply criticized Britain's sanctions policies in Iraq.

Despite the intense pressure against the broad economic sanctions, Britain and the US have refused to consider any lifting of the sanctions.  The effectiveness of the oil-for-food program has been undercut by the British and US intentional policy of placing holds on goods and blocking contracts.  As of July 19, 2002, at least $5.4 billion in contracts were on hold.

While the US has actively sustained the sanctions program through its power and veto on the Security Council, public statements by US and British officials have ranged from denial to callous political calculations.  Brian Wilson, Minister of State at the British Foreign Office, told the BBC on February 26, 2001:  "There is no evidence that sanctions are hurting the Iraqi people."  In 1996, during an interview on 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright, then US Ambassador to the UN, was asked: "We have heard that half a million children have died is the price worth it."  Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price-we think the price is worth it."

Military Attacks

In addition to no-fly zone bombing operations, during the period from 1993 to 1998 the US and Britain carried out numerous aircraft and missile attacks on Iraq as well as covert operations.  One report catalogues the main actions on January 17 (42 cruise missiles) and June 26 (23 cruise missiles), 1993, September 3-4, 1996 (Operation Desert Strike)(44 cruise missiles), and December 16-19, 1998 (Operation Desert Fox) (hundreds of strike aircraft and cruise missiles).  In addition, CIA covert operations with Iraqi opposition groups have aimed at a coup.

The significant Desert Fox bombing unilaterally imposed by the Clinton Administration in 1998 further degraded the civilian infrastructure.  From an international law perspective, Desert Fox was criticized as an illegal action that violated the principles of the UN Charter.  From an ethical perspective, American journalists could not resist the life-imitating-art irony raised by the movie "Wag the Dog."

"No-fly" Death Zones

The unilaterally imposed no-fly zones patrolled by US and British planes have become death zones for the killing of civilians.  Even in 1999, the Wall Street Journal reported:

        After eight years of enforcing a no fly zone in northern Iraq, few military targets remain.  'We're down to the last outhouse,' one US official stated.  'There are still some things left, but not many.'

Families and children appear to fall into the category of leftovers.  UN officials have reported of civilian deaths in locations not even remotely near military targets.  The humanitarian motives asserted by the US for the no-fly zones are contradicted by the US/UK practice of discontinuing their patrols when Turkish troops enter northern Iraq to destroy Kurdish villages.  The US vilification of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire fails to mention that the no-fly zones are not sanctioned by any UN Resolution and are viewed by many officials and analysts as violating international law.

The Predestined Invasion and Occupation

The US led medieval-style siege of Iraq now is destined to end in invasion and occupation under President Bush's relentless push toward war.  The new slaughter will fill trenches with more bodies, demolish families as "collateral damage" and create humanitarian and refugee problems of tragic proportions.  The UN and Medact, a British charity of health professionals, projects 500,000 deaths and casualties resulting from hostilities and the aftermath of a conventional war.  ABC News has published an investigative report on an Air Force report entitled "PSAB CAOC Tiger Team: Interim Report." The report raises serious concerns about a public relations backlash from an expected high level of collateral damage and civilian deaths.  Further an open letter from 500 staff, students and alumni from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine urged the prime minister to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.  The medical professionals warned that the conflict could lead to hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians being killed.

A Confidential draft UN Document entitled "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios", projects a humanitarian crisis which relief resources are unprepared to adequately handle.  The following sample of findings suggests the magnitude of the crisis:

        (1)  "as many as 500,000 people could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injures".

        (2)  "It is estimated that the nutritional status of some 3.03 million persons countrywide will be dire and that they will require therapeutic feeding."

        (3)  "UNICEF estimates that some 39 percent of the population will need to be provided with potable water."

        (4)  "the outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions is very likely."

        (5)  In the southern governorate of Iraq the case load in immediate need of humanitarian need "would total 7.4 million."

        (6)  "It is estimated that there will eventually be some 900,000 Iraqi refugees requiring assistance, of which 100,000 will be in need of immediate assistance."

        (7)  "Health supplies to treat injuries for approximately 100,000.  Health supplies to treat the highly vulnerable for up to 1.23 million.  Health supplies to cater for the ongoing needs of 54.  million."

The Hardened Heart Of America

The twelve year war on Iraq exposes the hardened heart of America.  The imminent invasion represents the culmination of superpower politics designed to control the government, strategic location and oil of Iraq.  The Bush administration's two primary goals for the invasion are (1) to ensure free access and control over Iraq's magnificent oil resources and (2) to enshrine Bush's new doctrine of preemptive strike.

The World Oil Order

During Congressional testimony in 1999, General Zinni testified that the Gulf Region is a "vital interest" and the US "must have free access to the region's resources."  The National Energy Policy Development Group, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, indicated in May 2001 that US reliance on imported oil will increase dramatically by 2020 and Persian Gulf producers will be supplying 54-67% of world oil exports in 2020.  The Cheney report confirms that "by any estimation, Middle East oil producers will remain central to world oil security."  Cheney, in 1990 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, pointed out that whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a "stranglehold" not only on our economy but also "on that of most of the other nations of the world as well."

Iraq's oil is highly coveted because of huge supplies, high quality, and exceptionally low production costs yielding substantial profits.  Iraq has the world's second largest proven oil reserves, trailing only Saudi Arabia.

Industry experts predict that Iraq's oil wealth could rival that of Saudi Arabia once unexplored areas are developed by producers.  The high quality of the oil commands a premium on the market.  .  In addition, the US Department of Energy indicates that "Iraq's oil production costs are amongst the lowest in the world, making it a highly attractive oil prospect."

From a different angle, the historical maneuvering for dominance over Middle East oil reinforces the centrality of oil in the crisis.  Prior to the 1972 nationalization of Iraq's oil industry, US and British companies held a three-quarter share in Iraq's oil production.  After nationalization, Iraq turned to Russia and France for funds and partnerships.  Subsequent to the Gulf War, Iraq entered into contracts with Russian, French and Chinese companies to develop Iraqi oil fields, but sanctions prevented initiation of the projects.  The Bush invasion will shift production control away from these competing nations and back to the four largest oil companies in the world, two of which are owned by the US and two by Britain.  The Washington Post quoted former CIA director James Woolsey as stating:

        It's pretty straightforward.  France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq.  They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them.  If they throw their hat in with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them.

In a post-war military government imposed by Washington, the US-UK companies expect to gain contracts worth billions of dollars.  One industry source describes Iraq as a "boom waiting to happen...There is not an oil company in the world that doesn't have its eye on Iraq."

The New Colonialism of Preemptive Strikes

Drafts of the preemption strategy were developed before the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the doctrine became the national policy of the Bush administration after 9/11.  The preemptive strike concept is articulated in the September 2002 President's report entitled The National Security Strategy of the United States of America.  The report states "As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats [posed by dangerous technologies] before they are fully formed.  We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best."

International law experts comment that the doctrine raises fundamental questions about the scope of self defense principles under international law.  The right of self-defense is founded on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.  Traditionally Article 51 has been limited to defense in response to an actual attack by another nation.  Experts such as Thomas Franck, Director of the Center for International Studies at the NYU Law School, suggest that Article 51 allows for flexibility "where there is very clear evidence that an armed attack, having not yet occurred, is nevertheless imminent and would be overwhelming, and would make the awaiting of the armed attack disastrous for the attacked country."  The "imminent threat" principle explains Washington's attempts to link Iraq with Al-Qaeda and the public emphasis on weapons of mass destruction posing an imminent threat to the existence of the US.  Commentators caution, however, that the US may be pushing the doctrine beyond an "imminent threat" justification to address dangerous regimes before they become imminent threats.

Perhaps the greatest danger relates to America's overwhelming military superiority in the world and the potential use of the doctrine to promote unspoken strategic and political interests, such as control of oil.  In order to test the theoretical preemption doctrine within the facts of the first test case in Iraq, the "dissident" alternative narrative will be applied to Washington's publicly stated justifications for a preemptive strike against Iraq.  This analysis supplements the previous review of America's "unclean hands" during the twelve year conflict with Iraq and the damaging likelihood that oil is the heart of the issue.

Selling the War

The publicly stated reasons presented by the Bush administration for the invasion/occupation are propaganda to sell the war to the American public.  The stated reasons include disarming weapons of mass destruction (WMD), fighting the war on terrorism, establishing freedom and democracy in Iraq, enforcing UN Resolutions, and "regime change."

(A)  The Lord of WMD Accuses the Pauper of WMD

The justification based upon WMD, which is an essential foundation for a preemptive strike pursuant self-defense arguments under international law, rings hollow in light of (1) the UN inspectors' conclusions as of 1998 and current assessments that Iraq is not an imminent danger to the region or the US, (2) the US attitude toward current weapons inspections, (3) America's radical history of development and use of WMD, and (4) America's double standard applied to other countries in the Middle East and the world.

Scott Ritter, a chief UN weapons inspector for five years until 1998, asserts that the inspection process had resulted in Iraq being qualitatively free of WMD.  Ritter states:

        While we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified disarmament.  This figure takes into account the destruction or dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of production equipment, and the majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.

Ritter's conclusion is reinforced by current assessments of Iraq's threat to the region and the world.  A recent article indicates that even "Israeli defense officials have long dismissed demolished Iraq as a minor threat, even though it likely has between six and 18 old Scud missiles hidden away." The other Arab countries in the Middle East oppose military action and are not pushing for war based upon imminent security concerns.  Most Arab Muslims view America as a "hypocritical power because it tolerates (or even supports) the use of state terror by Israel against the Palestinians while making war against Baghdad for the same sort of behavior."

The Bush administration exhibits an impatient tolerance of the resumed weapon inspections and a determined effort to ensure that the process can only end in an Iraqi violation.  US public relation spins on the inspections and its dark attitude concerning even the possibility of Iraqi compliance suggest that the war has been preordained by the US.  Critics argue that the Bush administration has no intention of disarming Iraq through inspections.  The military buildup during the initial stages of inspections and the approved covert operations to overthrow Hussein reflect the irrelevance of the process except as a trigger for war.  An article in the Mirror/UK reports that Dr Richard Perle, a Bush security adviser, told British MPs that even a "clean bill of health" by Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.  The article adds "because Saddam is so hated in Iraq, it would be easy to find someone to say they witnessed weapons building."  On January 20, 2003, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell all delivered the message that a "smoking gun" was not needed to justify a war.  Rumsfeld stated:

        I think the test is not [weapons].  The test is, is Saddam Hussein cooperating...he's not doing that.  The President said time is running out and if the test is, are the Iraqis going to cooperate, that's something you're going to know in a matter of weeks, not in months or years.

The callous disregard and manipulation of the inspection process also is evidenced by several recent statements.  First, one official acknowledged that they had lost control of the public relations aspects of the inspection process.  Thus, it appears that PR truths will carry the day as opposed to inspection findings.  Second, military leaders say in private that a war in the heat of summer would be difficult to wage.  Thus, despite denials, Washington's urgency seems driven by war planning rather than the time required to adequately perform inspections.  Finally, an Arab-language newspaper in London reports that at least three top Iraqi weapons experts had been "subjected to pressures and offered financial incentives" to defect or cooperate with American intelligence officials.

The US government's retroactive outrage over Iraq's use of WMD during the 1980s seems less than candid in light of America's radical reliance on WMD.  An abbreviated history includes Hiroshima, Nagasaki, agent orange in Vietnam, supplying Iraq with WMD during the 1980s, spending billions of dollars a year on military weapons, and contaminating Iraq with DU weapons.  A government report entitled "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction" states: "The United States will continue to make clear that it reserve the right to respond with overwhelming force-including through resort to all of our options-to the use of WMD against the US" "All options" includes America's "conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities."  The report suggests that there are even circumstances where America reserves the right to use such weapons as "preemptive measures."

The US administration sounds worldwide alarm over possible WMD in Iraq while simultaneously ignoring larger WMD capabilities in countries such as India, Pakistan, and Israel.  This apparent double standard results in a cynicism that the coming war is another fake liberation.  Charles Pena, Senior Defense Policy Fellow of the Cato institute captures the distrust in the following statement:

        The Defense Department claims 12 nations with nuclear weapons programs, 13 with biological weapons, 16 with chemical weapons, and 28 with ballistic missiles as existing and emerging threats to the United States.  But only one of those countries sits atop the second largest oil reserves in the world.

The dangerous reality appears to be that the US, as the sole superpower, has assumed the right to assess each country's WMD capacity and categorize the country as a dangerous rouge regime or an ally within the friendly confines of the world community.

(B)  The Mantra of War on Terrorism

The war on terrorism mantra has replaced the defunct Cold War as the overarching rationale for US foreign intervention.  The beauty of the new policy is that the war on terrorism is an "unending" crusade against an undefined enemy which can lurk in any country selected by the US.  The threat of terrorism becomes the means of extending national security to authorize preemptive strikes, covert operations and US imposed regime changes.

The intervention in Afghanistan serves as a recent example of the war on terrorism quickly expanding to achieve geopolitical goals.  The originally expressed parameters of the Afghanistan invasion suggested a limited response to 9/11.  However, the facts on the ground reveal that the US expanded the operation.  The intervention installed a pro-West government, established strategically important military bases, renewed the construction of a much coveted natural gas pipeline, killed thousands of innocent civilians, tortured Taliban supporters stuffed in sealed cargo containers, contaminated parts of the country with DU, failed to capture the masterminds of Al Qaeda, and left the economy and infrastructure in shambles as the international community ignores the costly rebuilding of Afghanistan.

In terms of Iraq, the US has been unable to link Saddam Hussein's regime with Al Qaeda or the 9/11 tragedy.  Nevertheless, the administration plays on the fear engendered by 9/11 to link Saddam Hussein with shady terrorist networks which will use Iraq's WMD against the US.  It is hardly surprising that the world's support of the US in the aftermath of 9/11 has dissolved into anger and resentment at the perceived arrogance of the Bush administration and the "resource wars" inflicted on the Middle East.

The distrust of US intentions is so pervasive that many commentators suggest that Iraq is simply a stepping stone to a larger "great game" control of the Middle East.  The grab for oil theory suggests that control of Iraqi oil will drive a stake into the OPEC cartel and diminish Saudi Arabia's influence over the industry.  The political dominance theory suggests that the US desires to destabilize and remove the authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran in order to strengthen the US/Israeli interests in the region.

(C)  The Bully in the UN

International opinion increasingly questions the use of military power to enforce Security Council demands on Iraq while "numerous demands upon Israel, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Morocco remain conspicuously unmet."  There are "well over 90 UN Security Council resolutions that are currently being violated by countries other than Iraq."

The Bush administration often references Iraq's termination of inspections in 1998 as evidence of Iraq's violation of previous UN Resolutions.  In actuality, the weapons inspectors left Iraq in December of 1998 in preparation for Clinton's "Monicagate" bombing campaign in the same month.  In addition, Iraqi complaints in 1998 that the inspectors were spying for the US have been confirmed.  At one point, the Russian ambassador at the UN, Sergey Lavrov, remarked in the Council that "it was not possible to ask the [Iraq government] to cooperate and, at the same time, bomb their territory." Government statements during the 1990s reveal the callous truth that the US planned to block any success of the inspection/disarmament process and the subsequent lifting of economic sanctions unless Iraq implemented regime change.

The Security Council resolution on Iraq passed in 2002 required intense lobbying by the US.  The international community criticizes US strong-arm tactics within the UN.  The US is perceived as horse trading with nations in order to garner the necessary vote.  The "bribes" and "favors" offered by the US included assurances related to Iraqi oil.  The UN is considered spineless and irrelevant, but for reasons other than those threatened by President Bush during his campaign for the resolution.

(D)  Obedience is an Ally; Disobedience is a Rogue Regime

The promotion of democracy and crusade against rogue regimes are questionable justifications for the war in light of the US relationship with Saddam Hussein prior to the Gulf War and America's record of supporting oppressive dictators throughout the world.

Pre-Gulf War, the US supplied Saddam Hussein with military equipment and the material to develop WMD, actively supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and overlooked the gassing of Iranian troop and Kurds in his own country.  Saddam Hussein was only demonized as the "Beast of Baghdad" when the US desired to justify the Gulf War.

Noam Chomsky has presented the most thorough accounts of US military and covert operations to prop up, maintain and install ruthless dictators and regimes as long as the regime supported American interests.  A sample of countries includes Indonesia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran, El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Cambodia.   In sum, the definition of "rogue regime" does not appear to be based upon the regime's human rights record or the government's adherence to democracy.  Rather, a more accurate definition may be any government which is disobedient to the control of the US.  After summarizing America's history of intervention in various parts of the world, Noam Chomsky concludes: "Crimes are not of great consequence; disobedience is."

Stephen Gowan graphically states, "the impending all-out assault in Iraq is spinned as a 'war of liberation.' And there's a certain truth to the claim.  It will be a war that could liberate up to 500,000 Iraqis of their lives, according to the British healthcare group, Medact.  It will be a war that could liberate 200,000 Iraqis of their homes, and 10 million of their security against hunger and disease, according to a new UN report."


The war effort's hyper-patriotism mirrors the sin pattern of the Cold War.  Specifically, the mainstream media functions as an uncritical mouthpiece of US policy, public criticism is characterized as un-American, civil rights are restricted in the name of national security, immigration policies are used as a tool for broadly punishing immigrants even remotely connected to the "enemy", and the "enemy" is demonized and dehumanized.

After 9/11, the mainstream media has failed to provide the public with investigative or critical reporting on the war on terror.  The result is a media functioning solely as a vehicle for the administration's position, even when a government pronouncement is found to involve misinformation.  As a result, the public is vulnerable to the same media marketing used to sell the 1991 Gulf War.  President Bush Senior hired a public relations firm prior to the Gulf War and paid the firm over $10 million funded by the Kuwait government.  The public relations firm sold the war based upon lies, such as the high profile "incubator-killing babies" atrocities.  The atrocity was even trotted before Congress as testimony.

Criticism of current American policies is discredited as un-American.  Civil rights are restricted through mechanisms such as the Patriot Act.  The INS rounds up immigrants from the Middle East, keeps them in jail, often for extended periods of time, and imposes special registration procedures.  One article comments that "racial profiling is the domestic counterpart of Bush's new foreign policy based on preemptive strikes:  profiling and preemption work together to define the human targets of the 'war on terror.'"  The rigid patriotism, civil rights restrictions, and punitive immigration policies begin to mirror the abuses of McCarthyism.

Periods of heightened nation security spawn increased racism and prejudice.  During World War II, Japanese-Americans were carted off to detention camps.  The Cold War created hysteria over "reds" and "commies."  Edward Said, the respected Palestinian author, observes that "[t]he initial step in the dehumanization of the Other is to reduce him to a few insistently repeated simple phrases, images and concepts." "Mystification is everywhere." Said continues.  "Terror, fanaticism, violence, hatred of freedom, insecurity, and, of course, weapons of mass destruction:  these are the words we use to speak of the Arab world; they don't come up in relation to Israel, Pakistan, India, the UK or the US."  As a result, "the belief that 'we' must get them first is what frames and gives legitimacy to the war on terrorism and on Iraq."


The Christian community's response to twelve years of American atrocities in Iraq is characterized by a deafening silence.  Certainly leaders of denominations, churches and other Christian organizations are beginning to clarify and voice their positions as the war drums grow louder.  Despite the dialogue among Christian leaders, Christians sitting in the pews maintain an indifferent or fearful silence.

In order to break the silence at a grassroots level, it is necessary to thoughtfully examine the various positions taken by Christian leaders.  Most theological discussions adopt a position for or against the war based upon the "just war" doctrine, pacifism or other criteria.  A comprehensive Biblical response, however, requires an honest accountability for the US actions in Iraq.  Self-examination moves the believer beyond a theoretical pacifist or just cause approach to Spirit-driven repentance and forgiveness.  A face of suffering replaces the Other.  The sword drops from the hand when it must sever the life of 500,000 Iraqi people with individual faces.  In fact, the face of suffering calls the Christian to peacefully protest and resist America's war machine.

The Dissonant Voice of Christian Leaders

Fearful Demonization

Several high profile Christian leaders have engaged in a spiritual assault on Islam in response to 9/11 and global terrorism.  Franklin Graham characterized Islam as "very evil and wicked."  Pat Robertson stated that Muslims intend "to control, dominate, and if need be, destroy." Jerry Vines with the Southern Baptists called Muhammad a "demon-possessed pedophile."  Finally, Jerry Falwell told 60 Minutes that Muhammad was a terrorist.

While public rejection of this prejudice is essential, such thoughts permeate the church.  A theological cause may involve an overly black and white view that all religions other than Christianity are totally evil or Satanic.  These statements also may reflect a response of anger and fear to the 9/11 tragedy.  At a deeper level, the pervasiveness of this perspective in the pews may symbolize the deep rooted sin pattern of racism in the American culture.  Ellen Schrecker, in her book on McCarthyism, offers the following food for thought:

Americans have never suffered from a shortage of scapegoated aliens.  In its early years, native Americans and African slaves supposedly threatened the nation from within.  In the nineteenth century, the demonization had spread to Catholics and immigrants.  By the mid-twentieth century, Communists, a political minority, had supplanted the earlier racial, religious, and ethnic subgroups as the most common version of the subversive "other." Significantly, the language of demonization remains constant...  The enemy within is rarely human.   And always the situation is critical.  By 1948, Communism had become "a far greater threat to our existence than any other threat," so dangerous that if the United States "does not successfully cope with the Communist threat, then it need not worry about any other threat to the internal security of this nation, because it is not impossible that there will be no nation."  The same language, the same patterns of thought, pervade all these conceptualizations.  The dehumanizing of the supposed threat as well as the quasi-hysterical tone in which it is addressed are too similar not to have come from some common source.

A Methodist bishop challenges American Christians to confront our country's pride in technology and the efficiency of missiles as bordering on cultural idolatry.  "One way to test the power of idolatry is to ask who it serves and who is the victim.  Considering victims of stray bombs or the devastation wrought by those bombs as "collateral damage" of such a campaign dehumanizes them.  We fail, in this culture, to understand that our abstractions, if they are unmasked, have human faces."

Power Politics

Many responses cash-in on politics trumping Biblical analysis.  One example is a survey conducted and publicized by Stand For Israel.  Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, is the co-chairman of the organization.  The survey concludes that conservative Christians are the biggest backers of the Iraq war, with 69% of "evangelical" Christians favoring a war and 80% of the Christians identified as republican supporting military action against Iraq.

Additional survey information reinforces the conclusion that foreign policy responses within the Christian community may be driven more by politics than religion.  For instance, two-thirds of evangelical Christians supported Israel and their actions against Palestinian "terrorist." 56% of the supporters indicated that the decision was based upon political reasons and only 28% of the supporters selected theological reasons, such as end-time prophesies.

The implication of this survey is that many Christians are divorcing their view of violence and war from Biblical criteria.  "Born-again" war cries are rising from lungs filled with political air.  This approach lessens the impact of Biblical principles on the politically sensitive Bush administration.


The nonviolent, or pacifist, position opposes any violence, including the Iraq war, as contrary to the gospel.  Pacifism is a central doctrine in denominations such as the Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren and the Quakers.  The Catholic Church teaches that the only two legitimate Christian responses to war are nonviolence and just war.  The early church, as a distinct, minority community within a larger community, tended toward pacifism.  The analysis presented by theologian Stanley Hauerwas serves as an instructive example of this position.

As a prerequisite for a Christian response to the Iraq war, Hauerwas clarifies the need to differentiate the Christian response from the American people's response.  Failure to distinguish the kingdom of God from the kingdom of the world results in a Christian narrative muddied by American culture, hyped up patriotism, politics, emotionalism, nationalism and power.  The "we" encompassing an American Christian must be severed into "the American" and "the Christian."  The tendency to fuse God and America spawns wildly erratic and divergent positions on the war which often reflect the call of the flag rather than the call of the gospel.

The gospel, in the theology of Hauerwas, is a radically subversive call to a counterculture of the cross.  The church, as a community living out the power of Christ's suffering unto death, can only engage the violence of this world with nonviolent love.  The church becomes the manifestation of the kingdom of peace and an alternative kingdom within America.  The church's task is not primarily to provide guidance on political and foreign policy issues for a host country, but to be a living political and foreign policy that flows out of the community of the cross.

Hauerwas' writings wrestled with the implications of pacifism in the shadow of 9/11.  He concludes that 9/11 did not forever change the world.  Christ's death and resurrection forever changed history, the world and the cosmos.  He states: "The claim that September 11, 2001, forever changed the world is a claim shaped by the narrative of being an American.  As Americans we feel violated, vulnerable, fearful.  We hate those who have made us recognize our fear.  We hate the loss of security, the loss of comfort that comes from routine.  We want normality.  I think we are right to want all this, but we must remember that these desires-if we are Christians-must be shaped by our fear of God." As early as 1975, Hauerwas stated:  "Crucial to our ability to deal with life truthfully is having the skills to face moral tragedies without developing justifications that become policies of self-deception."

The power of the nonviolent position lies in its assumptions.  First, the Christian response must be inextricably tied to the gospel.  Second, the gospel cannot be revised or expanded to assuage our pain and modern angst in the presence of horrific and unexplainable violence.  Accommodation of God's truth to modern contingencies results in self-deception and deformity.  Third, the Iraq war and related war on terrorism must be narrated from the Christian perspective as opposed to the American context.

The overriding authority of the gospel provides common ground for Christian pacifists, Christian just war theorists, Christian ethicists and plain old Christians in the pews to dialogue meaningfully on the issue.  Resistance to accommodation avoids self-deception or other modifiers (such as political leanings and emotions) warping the Christian response.

The distinction between Christian narrative and American narrative broadens the Christian's perspective beyond the boundaries of the US.  9/11 has pulled Americans kicking and screaming into the rest of the world.  Iraqis and much of the rest of the "Third World" experience unimaginable suffering and squalor every day.  For these people, every day is 9/11.

Hauerwas' theology underlying nonviolence challenges the Christian church to examine its validity as a true, distinctive community.  For instance, many of the disenfranchised in American society have rejected Christianity as irrelevant or as perpetuating racial and economic inequality.  In response, the marginalized are discovering a more profound sense of community within Islam.  Similarly, to some extent the extreme patriotism after 9/11 exposes the failure of the church to offer a meaningful sense of community.

Pacifism is often criticized as irrelevant to the political process and ineffective in influencing social change.  Reinhold Niebuhr said, "Jesus was clearly a pacifist, but if we Christians are going to act for justice in the world, we have to leave pacifism behind, which means we have to leave Jesus behind when we come into the political arena."  This blanket criticism fails to recognize that pacifism does not equate to passivity.  Martin Luther King and Gandhi rocked their respective cultures with active nonviolence.  Gandhi stated: "Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will.  Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being."  Nonviolent Christians can participate in peace protests and other forms of social action, although, in Hauerwas' view, these actions take a backseat to the Christian community living up to its primary social purpose of manifesting the community of the cross.

The Just War Doctrine

The just war doctrine is the most common approach to examining the preemptive invasion of Iraq.  The analysis essentially is pacifism with exceptions.  A strong presumption in favor of peace and against war can only be overcome with extraordinarily strong reasons which meet established criteria.  The criteria developed over the centuries by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and other Christian theologians, include the following:

        Legitimate authority:  Legitimate authority requires a public act by a sovereign political authority.

        Just cause:  Just cause includes defense against wrongful attack, retaking something wrongly taken, or punishment of evil.  Historically, the classic justifications have been limited to defense against wrongful attack or the imminent danger of attack.

        Right intention:  The goal should be to bring about peace.  Prohibited intentions include personal or national enrichment, gaining territory or seeking glory.

        Reasonable chance of success:  This criterion requires the overall good of the military action to exceed the probable cost or harm of the action.

        Proportionality:  The use of force must be limited to legitimate military necessity and civilian casualties must be avoided.  Specifically, direct, intentional attacks on civilians is prohibited.

        Last resort:  All reasonable peaceful means of reaching a solution should be exhausted before beginning hostilities.

(A)  An Unjust War

A majority of Christian denominations and organizations currently conclude that the proposed Iraq war does not meet the criteria of a just war.  Opponents of the war include the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

The Catholic Church has been the most consistently vocal opponent of the war.  The Pope has issued repeated warnings against the war.  The US Catholic Bishops' 1993 statement entitled "The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace" provides a summary of key elements of the Church's teaching on war and peace, including the principles of the just war tradition.  One important additional criteria contained in the Catholic criteria which often is not explicitly identified in other descriptions is the concept of "comparative justice."  The 1993 summary states, "while there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumption against the use of force the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other."

The specific application of the just war theory by the Catholic Church to the Iraqi crisis is exemplified by a letter issued on November 14, 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (the "US Statement") and a statement by Pax Christi, UK dated June 21, 2002.

The US Statement emphasizes that a "preemptive, unilateral use of military force to overthrow the government of Iraq" fails to satisfy the test.  "Preventive uses of military force to overthrow threatening regimes or to deal with weapons of mass destruction" expand dramatically the traditional "just cause" principle without "clear and adequate evidence of imminent attack of a grave nature." With respect to "legitimate authority", a decision to go to war requires "compliance with US constitutional imperatives, broad consensus within our nation and some form of international sanction."  The standards of "probability of success" and "proportionality" raise significant concerns about imposing "terrible new burdens on an already long-suffering civilian population" and the possibility of provoking terrorist attacks.  The US Statement also indicates that force could bring incalculable costs for civilians in violation of civilian immunity and proportionality principles.  In "assessing whether 'collateral damage' is proportionate, the lives of Iraqi men, women and children should be valued as we would the lives of members of our own family and citizens of our own country." The US Statement ends with a call to pursue actively alternatives, such as replacement of broad economic sanctions with a military embargo and political sanctions.

The Pax Christi statement contains an equally strong condemnation of a preemptive strike against another sovereign nation as exceeding legitimate self-defense.  The document "deplores any military action that regards the deaths of innocent men, women and children as a price worth paying in fighting terrorists, since this is to fight terror with terror." Any fight against terrorists, the statement suggests, should be accomplished through police actions of arrest and trial under the international system of law.  "The so-called 'war on terrorism' is an act of political rhetoric that must be distinguished from a military campaign against a sovereign state.  It cannot be used to justify an attack on Iraq, and any offensive planned to counteract the perceived threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction should not be represented as a war against terrorists." The Pax Christi also identify the UN as the supreme authority with respect to an international war.

The letter issued by the World Council of Churches condemns "preemptive military strikes against a sovereign state under the pretext of the 'war on terrorism'" and urges the use on non-military measures.  The letter also raises "comparative rights" arguments.  The Council "deplores the fact that the most powerful nations of this world continue to regard war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy, in violation of both the United Nations Charter and Christian teachings." Further, "the people of Iraq have suffered enough under sanctions regime since 1991.  Inflicting further punishment on innocent civilians is not morally acceptable to anyone."  Finally, a war could fuel "the fires of violence that are already consuming the region" and "sow more seeds of intense hatred strengthening extremist ideologists."

A delegation of 13 religious leaders visited Iraq under the auspices of the National Council of Churches and issued a Press Statement on January 3, 2003.  The delegation concluded that they were opposed to the war for three reasons.  First, "a war against Iraq will make the US less secure, not more secure...We believe the entire region, including Israel and the United States will be at greater risk of terrorism if war takes place." Second, "widespread suffering and death will result for innocent people.  So-called 'smart bombs' do dumb things like missing targets and destroying homes, water and sewage treatment plants, schools, churches and mosques." Third, the delegation found a preemptive war "immoral and illegal."

The United Methodist Church has four Statements from the Book of Resolutions which are relevant to Iraq (276;277;306;318).  Statement 276 condemns the economic sanctions as "the most severe penalty ever imposed on any nation" with the burden of the economic sanctions falling on the shoulders of the Iraqi people.  Continuation of sanctions is "the moral equivalent to waging war against the civilian population."  The resolution calls for a lifting of economic sanctions and the continuation of military sanctions.  Resolution 277 opposes intervention into the affairs of other nations, especially the intervention of more powerful nations against weaker ones.  The resolution calls on all nations to monitor their own compliance with UN principles and international laws.  Resolution 306 opposes low-level conflicts often carried out by covert operations.  Resolution 318 addresses several issues such as disarmament.  In addition, the Methodists have issued strong public statements accusing the Bush administration of "unprecedented disregard for democratic ideals" and "a major and dangerous change" in US policy by establishing preemptive warfare.

The Policy on Iraq adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) represents a watered down approach.  The Policy contains seven actions, including recommendations to lift sanctions, exercise "restraint" in the contemplated military action, maintain safeguards such as military sanctions, initiate comprehensive efforts by all governments in the Middle East to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, direct the Iraqi government to redirect resources from military spending to civilian infrastructure and seek a negotiated solution based on diplomacy.  As compared to other statements, the Presbyterian policy stops short of opposing the war based upon a just war analysis.

(B) A Just War

While most denominations oppose the preemptive war, an influential portion of the Christian body, particularly within the "evangelical" community, conclude that the traditional just war theory is satisfied or that the theory must be expanded to address the realities of modern warfare and terrorism.  The best example of this position is an October 3, 2002, letter written to President Bush by five prominent, conservative Christian leaders-Richard Land, Dr.  Chuck Colson, Dr.  Bill Bright, James Kennedy, Ph.D, and Dr Carl Herbster.

The letter determines that Bush's policies concerning Saddam Hussein fall within the criteria of a just war.  The policy "concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause.  In a just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001."

With respect to the "just intent" requirement, the letter refers to President Bush's statement that "the United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people.  Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal."  The letter emphasizes the intent to defend freedom and freedom-loving people from state-sponsored terror and death.  The intent, according to the letter, is not to "destroy, conquer or exploit Iraq."

The analysis of the "last resort" principle concludes that Iraq has already rejected all other international attempts through a decade of refusing to disarm or cooperate with weapons inspections.  "They have not, and will not, do so and any further delay in forcing the regime's compliance would be reckless irresponsibility in the face of grave and growing danger."

The "legitimate authority" requirement is met by a declaration of war or a resolution of Congress.  UN approval is wise and prudent, but not necessary.  This view is supported with an analogy to President Kennedy's position concerning the Cuban missile crisis.

The requirements of limited goals and reasonable expectation of success are met by the stated policies of "disarming the murderous Iraqi dictator and destroying his weapons of mass destruction, while liberating the Iraqi people of his cruel and barbarous grip."  The principle of noncombatant immunity is summarily addressed with of vote of confidence "that our government, unlike Hussein, will not target civilians and will do all that it can to minimize noncombatant casualties."

The letter addresses "proportionality" with the argument that "not dealing with this threat now will only succeed in greatly increasing the cost in human lives and suffering when an even more heavily armed and dangerous Saddam Hussein must be confronted at some date in the not so distant future."  This argument is reinforced with an analogy to Hitler and the deaths that would have been avoided if the world had quickly confronted his threat.

This minority position has the ear of the Bush administration.  Colson describes a discussion with Donald Rumsfeld as follows:

The issue of whether a preemptive strike could be justified under the just war doctrine came up during a meeting I attended at the Pentagon last fall.  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked religious leaders to come and give him advice on whether the just war tradition was being applied to the war in Afghanistan.  During the meeting, I asked the secretary, "How would you justify a preemptive strike against Iraq?"  That led to a fascinating discussion about the administration's options in its prosecution of the war against terrorism.  Rumsfeld argued that the 1981 Israeli bombing of an Iraqi nuclear power plant suspected of producing material for nuclear weapons set a precedent that the US was prepared to follow.

The response of Mr. Colson, however, is more American than it is Christian.  Although this writer falls into the "evangelical" camp on most issues, with respect to Iraq the minority position shrouds the cross with the flag.

The October 3, 2002 letter attempts to satisfy a defensive war based upon invasions by Iraq of Iran in the 1980s (a war in which the US actively supported Iraq) and the invasion of Kuwait in 1991, Saddam Hussein's use of WMD against his own people in the 1980s (actions which were strategically overlooked by the US at the time) and Iraq's links with Al Qaeda (a claim which has since been dropped by the US).  The past events cited, however, do not support the traditional self defense prong of the test or the concept of an imminent threat.  In other comments, however, leaders such as Colson recognize that the preemptive war in Iraq requires an expansion of the traditional self-defense doctrine.  Colson argues that expansion of the doctrine is necessary because "waiting for the other side to shoot first is tantamount to committing national suicide.  This led to the idea of preemption." Without overwhelming evidence of imminent threat by Iraq, the expansion supported by Colson completely guts the protective criteria of the "just cause" principle.

The second principle of the doctrine, just intent, is met by the US goal of freedom from WMD and the freedom of the Iraqi people.  The US does not have "a quarrel with the Iraqi people."  In a subsequent article, Colson reinforces the prerequisite of "solid intelligence and goodwill of US and Western leaders."  Colson dismisses the possibility of any impure intent.  "I find it hard to believe that any President, aware of the awesome consequences of his decision and of the swiftness of second-guessing in a liberal democracy, would act so recklessly."  Any man who has traveled into the heart of darkness of the Nixon administration should recommend at least kicking the tires of "just intent" before endorsing an unprecedented preemptive war.  In fact, the administration's stated goal of "regime change" taints the intent analysis.  Jim Skillen of the Center for Public Justice suggests that comparing disarmament of an imminent threat with regime change is "similar to comparing neutralizing hostile tanks posed on the border to wiping out a government."  Skillen criticizes elements of the preemption doctrine as implying that "the US is now going to look at the whole world and make sure that no power can stand in its way and it will take preemptive action as necessary." In addition to the questionable validity of "regime change," it seems prudent for Christian leaders to consider the illegitimate intent of grabbing for oil resources.

The "last resort" and "legitimate authority" analysis in the October 3, 2002 letter hinge to a large extent on the appropriate role of the UN.  The letter characterizes UN approval as merely a "nice-to-have." The breaking mechanism of the UN, however, ensures that, at least within the halls of the UN, the US is not going against international opinion.  Such a check on unilateral action seems critical as the US moves into the unprecedented realm of preemptive warfare.  Similarly, the "last resort" concept turns on whether resumed inspections prove effective.  In the present context inspectors should be given ample time to complete inspections without pressure from the US to preordain the outcome.  Further, various church organizations have suggested less drastic containment mechanisms, such as the lifting of economic sanctions combined with a continued military sanction.

The letter presents a surface analysis of "limited goals" and "reasonable expectation of success."  The goal of disarmament and liberation of Iraq are far from sure outcomes.  The US plan for post-overthrow military governance by the US and continued presence for years reflects the extreme instability that will result from a "liberation." The Arab countries have reiterated time and time again that a continued presence by the US in a Muslim country will not be tolerated.  Thus, overthrow seems achievable given the overwhelming military power of the US, but the "freedom and peace" goal post-coup is a risky proposition.  As David Fromkin points out in a book on the Balkans conflict:  "The 1999 aerial bombardment of Serbiawas an action ..within the power of the United States to undertake.  But whether the remaking of Serbia is within our power is another question.  The trusteeship-for-Kosovo concept comes at the wrong time in history.  Regardless of our professed 'disinterestedness' and 'pure intentions', we will be imposing an international regime on a foreign population that will perceive that regime as imperialist-and it is too late for imperialism."

The reliance by the "evangelical" camp on US technology and restraint to ensure noncombatant immunity seems to reflect our cultural idolatry of America's sophisticated and precise weapons.  Colson's comments on this principle expose an unsteady analysis.  First, Colson expresses confidence in US restraint based upon the military's "commendable" precision targeting in Afghanistan and previous military engagements.  The reports of significant civilian casualties in our bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and in Iraqi no-fly zones contradict a naïve confidence in bombs which never think.  The revelations that the Gulf War bombing campaign constituted a direct violation of "noncombatant immunity" by targeting the civilian infrastructure suggests that the US should take a deep breath before carpet bombing Iraq.  Finally, recent reports by government and UN officials suggest significant civilian damages.  Perhaps more than a deep breath is needed.

Perhaps more troubling, other comments by Colson suggest a willingness to trade lives of the other for US safety.  In a commentary expressing whole-hearted approval of "fighting fire with fire" against terrorists by using nuclear weapons, Colson states:

The use of nuclear weapons and the death of civilians, however, could be justified if their use prevented even greater evils.  This was the rationale behind the use of atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where those bombs brought the war in the Pacific to an abrupt end, saving an invasion of Japan that would have resulted in more bloodshed, destruction, and suffering for soldiers and civilians than the bombs.  It was the same justification the Church embraced during the Cold War.

Even in his subsequent recantation of the Nagasaki example, Colson seems unable to see civilian casualties as real people with real faces.  Colson states:

        By any such use of weapons on our now would have to be aimed only at military targets.  Our intent must be clear, even if there are unintended civilian casualties.  Some Christian ethicists refer to this as the "double effect", in which a morally justifiable action has undesirable, even sometimes foreseeable, side effects-but never effects deliberately intended.  This means striking military targets with surgical precision, which, so far, this Defense Department has gone to great lengths to do.

"Unintended", "undesirable", "even sometimes foreseeable", and "side effects" seem a desperate sanitization of the death of the Other.

The evangelical analysis of the final just war doctrine, "proportionality," is most telling by its omissions.  The October 3, 2002 letter finds possible future terrorism with substantial cost of life as the determinative factor.  The letter, as well as other commentaries, omit any discussion of the significant loss of life and humanitarian crisis which is predicted by the UN.  The commentaries fail to acknowledge the suffering and deaths caused by economic sanctions maintained by the US in the face of international protest.  The comments omit the common concern that the war will actually increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks in retaliation to the invasion.  Instead, the threat of future use of WMD by Iraq or terrorists allows the chasing of undefined enemies to override more immediate and acute suffering inflicted by a preemptive war.

The letter exhibits a troubling demonizing of Saddam Hussein which is subtly extended to Muslims in general by commentators such as Chuck Colson.  The letter vilifies Hussein.  Saddam Hussein is a ruthless dictator, but many countries in Central America, Latin America and the Middle East might characterize Hussein as an "amateur" compared to the covert operations, coups and military attacks instigated by the US.

The subtle extension of the dehumanizing process to Muslims is exposed in comments by Chuck Colson.  In one commentary, Colson employs the superficial "clash of civilizations" paradigm to explain 9/11 as a battle of worldviews between the West and extreme Islam.  Colson then proceeds to draw the battle lines between Christianity and Islam in theological crayons of primary colors.  Islam's worldview is simplistically described as worshiping a God who is remote and utterly transcendent and as rejecting original sin.  "The Muslim's best hope of salvation is to eliminate non-Muslim influences and to advance Islam (by force, if necessary, for which there are heavenly rewards, as the terrorists believed)".  The rejection of original sin leads the Muslim to "seek the perfect society by strictly enforcing Islamic law."  The utopian perspective "has already brought tyranny and disaster, just as communist utopianism led to the tragic deaths of tens of millions in the former Soviet Union."  Colson concludes the poorly drawn caricature with a subtle suggestion that "although most Muslims are peace-loving, the Qur'an does speak of 'jihad'".  The terrorist lurks in every Islamic corner!

A second article discusses the impact and influence of Islam in the prisons.  Prisons are viewed as prime targets for "radical Islamists who preach a religion of violence, of overcoming oppression by 'jihad'" Colson makes a passing remark that most Muslims interpret jihad as an inner struggle before moving on to the radical jihad "invading our prisons."  "Those who take the Koran seriously," Colson states, "are taught to hate the Christian and the Jews; lands taken from Islam must be recaptured."  The ante is upped by jihad being "the only way one can be assured of Allah's forgiveness and eternal salvation."  The business man reading this opinion in the Wall Street Journal will put down the paper believing that "radical Islamists seek to turn criminals into terrorists."  Colson's simplistic approach to the prison issue is refuted by a recent article which focusing on other compelling reasons, such as the sense of community in Islam and the Islamic organizations' willingness to put their concern into practice with practical programs.

In contrast to the terrorism of jihad, "out of love for neighbor, then, Christians can and should support a preemptive strike, if ordered by the appropriate magistrate to prevent an imminent attack."  The only distinction between a love war and a holy war appears to be the color of the flag and the type of weapons used.

Another thread running through Colson's just war theory appears to be politics.  In 1999, Colson vigorously opposed the Clinton administration's campaign against Kosovo based upon a just war analysis.  The article referenced the moral difficulty in bombing a sovereign nation, alternative strategies to military action, and the evil caused by the bombing due to Milosevic's increased reign of terror.  A sound analysis, but drastically different than the current application to the Iraq war.  As one example, the current analysis brushes aside the moral difficulty expressed by many commentators, and Colson himself in 1999, to bombing a sovereign nation.  Saddam Hussein "forfeits his sovereign immunity", if he is "stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and acting in concert with terrorists." This reasoning suggests that the numerous countries stockpiling WMD and refusing to disarm, such as India, Pakistan, Israel, the UK, and the US, may have forfeited sovereign immunity.


The impending preemptive warfare in Iraq desecrates the sadness and sorrow of 9/11 with more mothers crying for their children lost in bombed out rubble.  The fear and vulnerability violently inflicted on the American culture by the 9/11 tragedy has trapped Americans in nightmare visions of terrorists lurking in every mosque and open air market of the Middle East.  The Other approaches without a face.  The Bush administration draws the face for us: today Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, tomorrow an ayatollah in Iran building a suspicious nuclear plant, a week from now ruthless sheiks in Saudi Arabia funding more terrorist networks, a month from now a belligerent general in North Korea refusing to disarm, a year from now a neighbor in a nice house who dares to question the global cop on the beat.

The flag hangs above the cross in every sanctuary.  Prayers deceive us that God is surely on our side.  The Christian curls up in the soothing deceits of "collateral damage," "surgical strikes," "preemption," and "weapons of mass destruction."  The soothing chant of coded words rocks us into a blackout free of nightmares, free of guilt.

There is no anesthesia in Iraq, no blackout, no nightmare, only the rotting terminal illness of sanctions, the mental rape of a mother as her child dies without medicine, the savage suicide of selling a wedding ring to buy food to live one more day, the unidentifiable incinerated remains of every emotion, the surgical strikes of foreign hell from above the clouds.

The twelve year siege of Iraq is unjust.  The preemptive war is unjust.  Tear off the honorific title of "war."  Tear it off and tell me what you see.

Theodore McDowell is a lawyer in Atlanta.  He can be reached at:

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.  Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Media control:
The Spectacular Achievements Of Propaganda,%20Noam%20-%20Media%20Control %20The%20Spectacular%20Achievements%20Of%20Propaganda.pdf


Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Noam Chomsky

A Seven Stories Press First Edition, published in association with Open Media.

Open Media Pamphlet Series editors, Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, including mechanical, electric, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Chomsky, Noam.
   Media control: the spectacular achievements of propaganda / Noam Chomsky.
   p. cm. --(The Open Media Pamphlet Series)
   ISBN 1-888363-49-5
   1. Propaganda.
   2. Propaganda--United States.
   3. Mass media--Political aspects.
   4. Mass media and public opinion.
   I. Title.
   II. Series.
   HM263.C447 1997
   303.375--dc21                        96-53580

Book design by Cindy LaBreacht

9 8 7 6 5

The role of the media in contemporary politics forces us to ask what kind of a world and what kind of a society we want to live in, and in particular in what sense of democracy do we want this to be a democratic society? Let me begin by counter-posing two different conceptions of democracy. One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free. If you look up democracy in the dictionary you'll get a definition something like that.

An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it's important to understand that it is the prevailing conception. In fact, it has long been, not just in operation, but even in theory. There's a long history that goes back to the earliest modern democratic revolutions in seventeenth century England which largely expresses this point of view. I'm just going to keep to the modern period and say a few words about how that notion of democracy develops and why and how the problem of media and disinformation enters within that context.


Let's begin with the first modern government propaganda operation. That was under the Woodrow Wilson Administration. Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform "Peace Without Victory." That was right in the middle of the World War I. The population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European war. The Wilson administration was actually committed to war and had to do something about it. They established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission which succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world. That was a major achievement, and it led to a further achievement. Right at that time and after the war the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Scare, as it was called, which succeeded pretty much in destroying unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought. There was very strong support from the media, from the business establishment, which in fact organized, pushed much of this work, and it was, in general, a great success.

Among those who participated actively and enthusiastically in Wilson's war were the progressive intellectuals, people of the John Dewey circle, who took great pride, as you can see from their own writings at the time, in having shown that what they called the "more intelligent members of the community," namely, themselves, were able to drive a reluctant population into a war by terrifying them and eliciting jingoist fanaticism. The means that were used were extensive. For example, there was a good deal of fabrication of atrocities by the Huns, Belgian babies with their arms torn off, all sorts of awful things that you still read in history books. Much of it was invented by the British propaganda ministry, whose own commitment at the time, as they put it in their secret deliberations, was "to direct the thought of most of the world." But more crucially they wanted to control the thought of the more intelligent members of the community in the United States, who would then disseminate the propaganda that they were concocting and convert the pacifistic country to wartime hysteria. That worked. It worked very well. And it taught a lesson: State propaganda, when supported by the educated classes and when no deviation is permitted from it, can have a big effect. It was a lesson learned by Hitler and many others, and it has been pursued to this day.


Another group that was impressed by these successes was liberal democratic theorists and leading media figures, like, for example, Walter Lippmann, who was the dean of American journalists, a major foreign and domestic policy critic and also a major theorist of liberal democracy. If you take a look at his collected essays, you'll see that they're subtitled something like "A Progressive Theory of Liberal Democratic Thought." Lippmann was involved in these propaganda commissions and recognized their achievements. He argued that what he called a "revolution in the art of democracy," could be used to "manufacture consent, " that is, to bring about agreement on the part of the public for things that they didn't want by the new techniques of propaganda. He also thought that this was a good idea, in fact, necessary. It was necessary because, as he put it, "the common interests elude public opinion entirely" and can only be understood and managed by a "specialized class "of "responsible men" who are smart enough to figure things out. This theory asserts that only a small elite, the intellectual community that the Deweyites were talking about, can understand the common interests, what all of us care about, and that these things "elude the general public." This is a view that goes back hundreds of years. It's also a typical Leninist view. In fact, it has very close resemblance to the Leninist conception that a vanguard of revolutionary intellectuals take state power, using popular revolutions as the force that brings them to state power, and then drive the stupid masses toward a future that they're too dumb and incompetent to envision for themselves. The liberal democratic theory and Marxism-Leninism are very close in their common ideological assumptions. I think that's one reason why people have found it so easy over the years to drift from one position to another without any particular sense of change. It's just a matter of assessing where power is. Maybe there will be a popular revolution, and that will put us into state power; or maybe there won't be, in which case we'll just work for the people with real power: the business community. But we'll do the same thing. We'll drive the stupid masses toward a world that they're too dumb to understand for themselves.

Lippmann backed this up by a pretty elaborated theory of progressive democracy. He argued that in a properly functioning democracy there are classes of citizens. There is first of all the class of citizens who have to take some active role in running general affairs. That's the specialized class. They are the people who analyze, execute, make decisions, and run things in the political, economic, and ideological systems. That's a small percentage of the population. Naturally, anyone who puts these ideas forth is always part of that small group, and they're talking about what to do about those others. Those others, who are out of the small group, the big majority of the population, they are what Lippmann called "the bewildered herd." We have to protect ourselves from "the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd". Now there are two "functions" in a democracy: The specialized class, the responsible men, carry out the executive function, which means they do the thinking and planning and understand the common interests. Then, there is the bewildered herd, and they have a function in democracy too. Their function in a democracy, he said, is to be "spectators," not participants in action. But they have more of a function than that, because it's a democracy. Occasionally they are allowed to lend their weight to one or another member of the specialized class. In other words, they're allowed to say, "We want you to be our leader" or "We want you to be our leader." That's because it's a democracy and not a totalitarian state. That's called an election. But once they've lent their weight to one or another member of the specialized class they're supposed to sink back and become spectators of action, but not participants. That's in a properly functioning democracy.

And there's a logic behind it. There's even a kind of compelling moral principle behind it. The compelling moral principle is that the mass of the public are just too stupid to be able to understand things. If they try to participate in managing their own affairs, they're just going to cause trouble. Therefore, it would be immoral and improper to permit them to do this. We have to tame the bewildered herd, not allow the bewildered herd to rage and trample and destroy things. It's pretty much the same logic that says that it would be improper to let a three-year-old run across the street. You don't give a three-year-old that kind of freedom because the three-year-old doesn't know how to handle that freedom.

Correspondingly, you don't allow the bewildered herd to become participants in action. They'll just cause trouble.

So we need something to tame the bewildered herd, and that something is this new revolution in the art of democracy: the manufacture of consent. The media, the schools, and popular culture have to be divided. For the political class and the decision makers they have to provide them some tolerable sense of reality, although they also have to instill the proper beliefs. Just remember, there is an unstated premise here. The unstated premise -- and even the responsible men have to disguise this from themselves -- has to do with the question of how they get into the position where they have the authority to make decisions. The way they do that, of course, is by serving people with real power. The people with real power are the ones who own the society, which is a pretty narrow group. If the specialized class can come along and say, I can serve your interests, then they'll be part of the executive group. You've got to keep that quiet. That means they have to have instilled in them the beliefs and doctrines that will serve the interests of private power. Unless they can master that skill, they're not part of the specialized class. So we have one kind of educational system directed to the responsible men, the specialized class. They have to be deeply indoctrinated in the values and interests of private power and the state-corporate nexus that represents it. If they can achieve that, then they can be part of the specialized class. The rest of the bewildered herd basically just have to be distracted. Turn their attention to something else. Keep them out of trouble. Make sure that they remain at most spectators of action, occasionally lending their weight to one or another of the real leaders, who they may select among.

This point of view has been developed by lots of other people. In fact, it's pretty conventional. For example, the leading theologian and foreign policy critic Reinhold Niebuhr, sometimes called "the theologian of the establishment, " the guru of George Kennan and the Kennedy intellectuals, put it that rationality is a very narrowly restricted skill. Only a small number of people have it. Most people are guided by just emotion and impulse. Those of us who have rationality have to create "necessary illusions" and emotionally potent "oversimplifications" to keep the naive simpletons more or less on course. This became a substantial part of contemporary political science. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Harold Lasswell, the founder of the modern field of communications and one of the leading American political scientists, explained that we should not succumb to "democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests." Because they're not. We're the best judges of the public interests. Therefore, just out of ordinary morality, we have to make sure that they don't have an opportunity to act on the basis of their misjudgments. In what is nowadays called a totalitarian state, or a military state, it's easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, and if they get out of line you smash them over the head. But as society has become more free and democratic, you lose that capacity. Therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear. Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state. That's wise and good because, again, the common interests elude the bewildered herd. They can't figure them out.


The United States pioneered the public relations industry. Its commitment was "to control the public mind" as its leaders put it. They learned a lot from the successes of the Creel Commission and the successes in creating the Red Scare and its aftermath. The public relations industry underwent a huge expansion at that time. It succeeded for some time in creating almost total subordination of the public to business rule through the 1920s. This was so extreme that Congressional committees began to investigate it as we moved into the 1930s. That's where a lot of our information about it comes from.

Public relations is a huge industry. They're spending by now something on the order of a billion dollars a year. All along its commitment was to controlling the public mind. In the 1930s, big problems arose again, as they had during the First World War. There was a huge depression and substantial labor organizing. In fact, in 1935 labor won its first major legislative victory, namely, the right to organize, with the Wagner Act. That raised two serious problems. For one thing, democracy was misfunctioning. The bewildered herd was actually winning legislative victories, and it's not supposed to work that way. The other problem was that it was becoming possible for people to organize. People have to be atomized and segregated and alone. They're not supposed to organize, because then they might be something beyond spectators of action. They might actually be participants if many people with limited resources could get together to enter the political arena. That's really threatening, A major response was taken on the part of business to ensure that this would be the last legislative victory for labor and that it would be the beginning of the end of this democratic deviation of popular organization. It worked. That was the last legislative victory for labor. From that point on -- although the number of people in the unions increased for a while during the World War II, after which it started dropping -- the capacity to act through the unions began to steadily drop. It wasn't by accident. We're now talking about the business community, which spends lots and lots of money, attention, and thought into how to deal with these problems through the public relations industry and other organizations, like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, and so on. They immediately set to work to try to find a way to counter these democratic deviations.

The first trial was one year later, in 1937. There was a major strike, the Steel strike in western Pennsylvania at Johnstown. Business tried out a new technique of labor destruction, which worked very well. Not through goon squads and breaking knees. That wasn't working very well any more, but through the more subtle and effective means of propaganda. The idea was to figure out ways to turn the public against the strikers, to present the strikers as disruptive, harmful to the public and against the common interests. The common interests are those of "us," the businessman, the worker, the housewife. That's all "us." We want to be together and have things like harmony and Americanism and working together. Then there's those bad strikers out there who are disruptive and causing trouble and breaking harmony and violating Americanism. We've got to stop them so we can all live together. The corporate executive and the guy who cleans the floors all have the same interests. We can all work together and work for Americanism in harmony, liking each other.

That was essentially the message. A huge amount of effort was put into presenting it. This is, after all, the business community, so they control the media and have massive resources. And it worked, very effectively. It was later called the "Mohawk Valley formula" and applied over and over again to break strikes. They were called "scientific methods of strike-breaking," and worked very effectively by mobilizing community opinion in favor of vapid, empty concepts like Americanism. Who can be against that? Or harmony. Who can be against that? Or, as in the Persian Gulf War, "Support our troops." Who can be against that? Or yellow ribbons. Who can be against that? Anything that's totally vacuous .

In fact, what does it mean if somebody asks you, Do you support the people in Iowa? Can you say, Yes, I support them, or No, I don't support them? It's not even a question. It doesn't mean anything. That's the point. The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything. They mean as much as whether you support the people in Iowa. Of course, there was an issue. The issue was, Do you support our policy? But you don't want people to think about that issue. That's the whole point of good propaganda.

You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. Its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something: Do you support our policy? That's the one you're not allowed to talk about. So you have people arguing about support for the troops? "Of course I don't not support them." Then you've won. That's like Americanism and harmony. We're all together, empty slogans, let's join in, let's make sure we don't have these bad people around to disrupt our harmony with their talk about class struggle, rights and that sort of business.

That's all very effective. It runs right up to today. And of course it is carefully thought out. The people in the public relations industry aren't there for the fun of it. They're doing work. They're trying to instill the right values. In fact, they have a conception of what democracy ought to be: It ought to be a system in which the specialized class is trained to work in the service of the masters, the people who own the society. The rest of the population ought to be deprived of any form of organization, because organization just causes trouble.

They ought to be sitting alone in front of the TV and having drilled into their heads the message, which says, the only value in life is to have more commodities or live like that rich middle class family you're watching and to have nice values like harmony and Americanism. That's all there is in life. You may think in your own head that there's got to be something more in life than this, but since you're watching the tube alone you assume, I must be crazy, because that's all that's going on over there. And since there is no organization permitted -- that's absolutely crucial -- you never have a way of finding out whether you are crazy, and you just assume it, because it's the natural thing to assume.

So that's the ideal. Great efforts are made in trying to achieve that ideal. Obviously, there is a certain conception behind it. The conception of democracy is the one that I mentioned. The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their roar and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like "Support our troops." You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think. Therefore it's important to distract them and marginalize them.

That's one conception of democracy. In fact, going back to the business community, the last legal victory for labor really was 1935, the Wagner Act. After the war came, the unions declined as did a very rich working class culture that was associated with the unions. That was destroyed. We moved to a business-run society at a remarkable level. This is the only state-capitalist industrial society which doesn't have even the normal social contract that you find in comparable societies. Outside of South Africa, I guess, this is the only industrial society that doesn't have national health care. There's no general commitment to even minimal standards of survival for the parts of the population who can't follow those rules and gain things for themselves individually. Unions are virtually nonexistent. Other forms of popular structure are virtually nonexistent. There are no political parties or organizations. It's a long way toward the ideal, at least structurally. The media are a corporate monopoly.

They have the same point of view. The two parties are two factions of the business party. Most of the population doesn't even bother voting because it looks meaningless. They're marginalized and properly distracted. At least that's the goal. The leading figure in the public relations industry, Edward Bernays, actually came out of the Creel Commission. He was part of it, learned his lessons there and went on to develop what he called the "engineering of consent," which he described as "the essence of democracy." The people who are able to engineer consent are the ones who have the resources and the power to do it -- the business community -- and that's who you work for.


It is also necessary to whip up the population in support of foreign adventures. Usually the population is pacifist, just like they were during the First World War. The public sees no reason to get involved in foreign adventures, killing, and torture. So you have to whip them up. And to whip them up you have to frighten them. Bernays himself had an important achievement in this respect. He was the person who ran the public relations campaign for the United Fruit Company in 1954, when the United States moved in to overthrow the capitalist-democratic government of Guatemala and installed a murderous death-squad society, which remains that way to the present day with constant infusions of U.S. aid to prevent in more than empty form democratic deviations. It's necessary to constantly ram through domestic programs which the public is opposed to, because there is no reason for the public to be in favor of domestic programs that are harmful to them. This, too, takes extensive propaganda. We've seen a lot of this in the last ten years. The Reagan programs were overwhelmingly unpopular. Voters in the 1984 "Reagan landslide," by about three to two, hoped that his policies would not be enacted. If you take particular programs, like armaments, cutting back on social spending, etc., almost every one of them was overwhelmingly opposed by the public. But as long as people are marginalized and distracted and have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments, people who said that they prefer social spending to military spending, who gave that answer on polls, as people overwhelmingly did, assumed that they were the only people with that crazy idea in their heads. They never heard it from anywhere else. Nobody's supposed to think that. Therefore, if you do think it and you answer it in a poll, you just assume that you're sort of weird. Since there's no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball. So you just stay on the side and you don't pay any attention to what's going on. You look at something else, like the Superbowl.

To a certain extent, then, that ideal was achieved, but never completely. There are institutions which it has as yet been impossible to destroy. The churches, for example, still exist. A large part of the dissident activity in the United States comes out of the churches, for the simple reason that they're there. So when you go to a European country and give a political talk, it may very likely be in the union hall. Here that won't happen, because unions first of all barely exist, and if they do exist they're not political organizations. But the churches do exist, and therefore you often give a talk in a church. Central American solidarity work mostly grew out of the churches, mainly because they exist.

The bewildered herd never gets properly tamed, so this is a constant battle. In the 1930s they arose again and were put down. In the 1960s there was another wave of dissidence. There was a name for that. It was called by the specialized class "the crisis of democracy." Democracy was regarded as entering into a crisis in the 1960s. The crisis was that large segments of the population were becoming organized and active and trying to participate in the political arena. Here we come back to these two conceptions of democracy. By the dictionary definition, that's an advance in democracy. By the prevailing conception that's a problem, a crisis that has to be overcome. The population has to be driven back to the apathy, obedience and passivity that is their proper state. We therefore have to do something to overcome the crisis. Efforts were made to achieve that. It hasn't worked. The crisis of democracy is still alive and well, fortunately, but not very effective in changing policy. But it is effective in changing opinion, contrary to what a lot of people believe. Great efforts were made after the 1960s to try to reverse and overcome this malady. One aspect of the malady actually got a technical name. It was called the "Vietnam Syndrome." The Vietnam Syndrome, a term that began to come up around 1970, has actually been defined on occasion. The Reaganite intellectual Norman Podhoretz defined it as "the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force." There were these sickly inhibitions against violence on the part of a large part of the public. People just didn't understand why we should go around torturing people and killing people and carpet bombing them. It's very dangerous for a population to be overcome by these sickly inhibitions, as Goebbels understood, because then there's a limit on foreign adventures. It's necessary, as the Washington Post put it rather proudly during the Gulf War hysteria, to instill in people respect for "martial value." That's important. If you want to have a violent society that uses force around the world to achieve the ends of its own domestic elite, it's necessary to have a proper appreciation of the martial virtues and none of these sickly inhibitions about using violence. So that's the Vietnam Syndrome. It's necessary to overcome that one.


It's also necessary to completely falsify history. That's another way to overcome these sickly inhibitions, to make it look as if when we attack and destroy somebody we're really protecting and defending ourselves against major aggressors and monsters and so on. There has been a huge effort since the Vietnam war to reconstruct the history of that. Too many people began to understand what was really going on. Including plenty of soldiers and a lot of young people who were involved with the peace movement and others. That was bad. It was necessary to rearrange those bad thoughts and to restore some form of sanity, namely, a recognition that whatever we do is noble and right. If we're bombing South Vietnam, that's because we're defending South Vietnam against somebody, namely, the South Vietnamese, since nobody else was there. It's what the Kennedy intellectuals called defense against "internal aggression" in South Vietnam. That was the phrase used by Adlai Stevenson and others. It was necessary to make that the official and well understood picture. That's worked pretty well.

When you have total control over the media and the educational system and scholarship is conformist, you can get that across. One indication of it was revealed in a study done at the University of Massachusetts on attitudes toward the current Gulf crisis -- a study of beliefs and attitudes in television watching. One of the questions asked in that study was, How many Vietnamese casualties would you estimate that there were during the Vietnam war? The average response on the part of Americans today is about 100,000. The official figure is about two million. The actual figure is probably three to four million. The people who conducted the study raised an appropriate question: What would we think about German political culture if, when you asked people today how many Jews died in the Holocaust, they estimated about 300,000? What would that tell us about German political culture? They leave the question unanswered, but you can pursue it. What does it tell us about our culture? It tells us quite a bit. It is necessary to overcome the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force and other democratic deviations. In this particular case it worked. This is true on every topic. Pick the topic you like: the Middle East, international terrorism, Central America, whatever it is -- the picture of the world that's presented to the public has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifice after edifice of lies upon lies. It's all been a marvelous success from the point of view in deterring the threat of democracy, achieved under conditions of freedom, which is extremely interesting. It's not like a totalitarian state, where it's done by force. These achievements are under conditions of freedom. If we want to understand our own society, we'll have to think about these facts. They are important facts, important for those who care about what kind of society they live in.


Despite all of this, the dissident culture survived. It's grown quite a lot since the 1960s. In the 1960s the dissident culture first of all was extremely slow in developing. There was no protest against the Indochina war until years after the United States had started bombing South Vietnam. When it did grow it was a very narrow dissident movement, mostly students and young people. By the 1970s that had changed considerably. Major popular movements had developed: the environmental movement, the feminist movement, the antinuclear movement, and others. In the 1980s there was an even greater expansion to the solidarity movements, which is something very new and important in the history of at least American, and maybe even world dissidence. These were movements that not only protested but actually involved themselves, often intimately, in the lives of suffering people elsewhere. They learned a great deal from it and had quite a civilizing effect on mainstream America. All of this has made a very large difference. Anyone who has been involved in this kind of activity for many years must be aware of this. I know myself that the kind of talks I give today in the most reactionary parts of the country -- central Georgia, rural Kentucky, etc. -- are talks of the kind that I couldn't have given at the peak of the peace movement to the most active peace movement audience. Now you can give them anywhere. People may agree or not agree, but at least they understand what you're talking about and there's some sort of common ground that you can pursue.

These are all signs of the civilizing effect, despite all the propaganda, despite all the efforts to control thought and manufacture consent. Nevertheless, people are acquiring an ability and a willingness to think things through. Skepticism about power has grown, and attitudes have changed on many, many issues. It's kind of slow, maybe even glacial, but perceptible and important. Whether it's fast enough to make a significant difference in what happens in the world is another question. Just to take one familiar example of it: The famous gender gap. In the 1960s attitudes of men and women were approximately the same on such matters as the "martial virtues" and the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force. Nobody, neither men nor women, were suffering from those sickly inhibitions in the early 1960s. The responses were the same. Everybody thought that the use of violence to suppress people out there was just right. Over the years it's changed. The sickly inhibitions have increased all across the board. But meanwhile a gap has been growing, and by now it's a very substantial gap. According to polls, it's something like twenty-five percent. What has happened? What has happened is that there is some form of at least semi-organized popular movement that women are involved in -- the feminist movement. Organization has its effects. It means that you discover that you're not alone. Others have the same thoughts that you do. You can reinforce your thoughts and learn more about what you think and believe. These are very informal movements, not like a membership organizations, just a mood that involves interactions among people. It has a very noticeable effect. That's the danger of democracy: If organizations can develop, if people are no longer just glued to the tube, you may have all these funny thoughts arising in their heads, like sickly inhibitions against the use of military force. That has to be overcome, but it hasn't been overcome.


Instead of talking about the last war, let me talk about the next war, because sometimes it's useful to be prepared instead of just reacting. There is a very characteristic development going on in the United States now. It's not the first country in the world that's done this. There are growing domestic social and economic problems, in fact, maybe catastrophes. Nobody in power has any intention of doing anything about them. If you look at the domestic programs of the administrations of the past ten years -- I include here the Democratic opposition -- there's really no serious proposal about what to do about the severe problems of health, education, homelessness, joblessness, crime, soaring criminal populations, jails, deterioration in the inner cities -- the whole raft of problems. You all know about them, and they're all getting worse. Just in the two years that George Bush has been in office three million more children crossed the poverty line, the debt is zooming, educational standards are declining, real wages are now back to the level of about the late 1950s for much of the population, and nobody's doing anything about it. In such circumstances you've got to divert the bewildered herd, because if they start noticing this they may not like it, since they're the ones suffering from it. Just having them watch the Superbowl and the sitcoms may not be enough. You have to whip them up into fear of enemies. In the 1930s Hitler whipped them into fear of the Jews and gypsies. You had to crush them to defend yourselves. We have our ways, too. Over the last ten years, every year or two, some major monster is constructed that we have to defend ourselves against. There used to be one that was always readily available: The Russians. You could always defend yourself against the Russians. But they're losing their attractiveness as an enemy, and it's getting harder and harder to use that one, so some new ones have to be conjured up. In fact, people have quite unfairly criticized George Bush for being unable to express or articulate what's really driving us now. That's very unfair. Prior to about the mid-1980s, when you were asleep you would just play the record: the Russians are coming. But he lost that one and he's got to make up new ones, just like the Reaganite public relations apparatus did in the 1980s. So it was international terrorists and narco-traffickers and crazed Arabs and Saddam Hussein, the new Hitler, was going to conquer the world. They've got to keep coming up one after another. You frighten the population, terrorize them, intimidate them so that they're too afraid to travel and cower in fear. Then you have a magnificent victory over Grenada, Panama, or some other defenseless third-world army that you can pulverize before you ever bother to look at them -- which is just what happened. That gives relief. We were saved at the last minute. That's one of the ways in which you can keep the bewildered herd from paying attention to what's really going on around them, keep them diverted and controlled. The next one that's coming along, most likely, will be Cuba. That's going to require a continuation of the illegal economic warfare, possibly a revival of the extraordinary international terrorism. The most major international terrorism organized yet has been the Kennedy administration's Operation Mongoose, then the things that followed along, against Cuba. There's been nothing remotely comparable to it except perhaps the war against Nicaragua, if you call that terrorism. The World Court classified it as something more like aggression. There's always an ideological offensive that builds up a chimerical monster, then campaigns to have it crushed. You can't go in if they can fight back. That's much too dangerous. But if you are sure that they will be crushed, maybe we'll knock that one off and heave another sigh of relief.


This has been going on for quite a while. In May 1986, the memoirs of the released Cuban prisoner, Armando Valladares, came out. They quickly became a media sensation. I'll give you a couple of quotes. The media described his revelations as "the definitive account of the vast system of torture and prison by which Castro punishes and obliterates political opposition." It was "an inspiring and unforgettable account" of the "bestial prisons," inhuman torture, [and] record of state violence [under] yet another of this century's mass murderers, who we learn, at last, from this book "has created a new despotism that has institutionalized torture as a mechanism of social control" in "the hell that was the Cuba that [Valladares] lived in." That's the Washington Post and New York Times in repeated reviews. Castro was described as "a dictatorial goon." His atrocities were revealed in this book so conclusively that "only the most light-headed and cold-blooded Western intellectual will come to the tyrant's defense," said the Washington Post. Remember, this is the account of what happened to one man. Let's say it's all true. Let's raise no questions about what happened to the one man who says he was tortured. At a White House ceremony marking Human Rights Day, he was singled out by Ronald Reagan for his courage in enduring the horrors and sadism of this bloody Cuban tyrant. He was then appointed the U.S. representative at the U.N. Human Rights Commission, where he has been able to perform signal services defending the Salvadoran and Guatemalan governments against charges that they conduct atrocities so massive that they make anything he suffered look pretty minor. That's the way things stand.

That was May 1986. It was interesting, and it tells you something about the manufacture of consent. The same month, the surviving members of the Human Rights Group of El Salvador -- the leaders had been killed -- were arrested and tortured, including Herbert Anaya, who was the director. They were sent to a prison -- La Esperanza (hope) Prison. While they were in prison they continued their human rights work. They were lawyers, they continued taking affidavits. There were 432 prisoners in that prison. They got signed affidavits from 430 of them in which they described, under oath, the torture that they had received: electrical torture and other atrocities, including, in one case, torture by a North American U.S. major in uniform, who is described in some detail. This is an unusually explicit and comprehensive testimony, probably unique in its detail about what's going on in a torture chamber. This 160-page report of the prisoners' sworn testimony was sneaked out of prison, along with a videotape which was taken showing people testifying in prison about their torture. It was distributed by the Marin County Interfaith Task Force. The national press refused to cover it. The TV stations refused to run it. There was an article in the local Marin County newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner, and I think that's all. No one else would touch it. This was a time when there was more than a few "light-headed and cold-blooded Western intellectuals" who were singing the praises of Jose Napoleon Duarte and of Ronald Reagan. Anaya was not the subject of any tributes. He didn't get on Human Rights Day. He wasn't appointed to anything. He was released in a prisoner exchange and then assassinated, apparently by the U.S.-backed security forces. Very little information about that ever appeared. The media never asked whether exposure of the atrocities -- instead of sitting on them and silencing them -- might have saved his life.

This tells you something about the way a well-functioning system of consent manufacturing works. In comparison with the revelations of Herbert Anaya in El Salvador, Valladares's memoirs are not even a pea next to the mountain. But you've got your job to do. That takes us toward the next war. I expect, we're going to hear more and more of this, until the next operation takes place.

A few remarks about the last one. Let's turn finally to that. Let me begin with this University of Massachusetts study that I mentioned before. It has some interesting conclusions. In the study people were asked whether they thought that the United States should intervene with force to reverse illegal occupation or serious human rights abuses. By about two to one, people in the United States thought we should. We should use force in the case of illegal occupation of land and severe human rights abuses. If the United States was to follow that advice, we would bomb El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Damascus, Tel Aviv, Capetown, Turkey, Washington, and a whole list of other states. These are all cases of illegal occupation and aggression and severe human rights abuses. If you know the facts about that range of examples, you'll know very well that Saddam Hussein's aggression and atrocities fall well within the range. They're not the most extreme. Why doesn't anybody come to that conclusion? The reason is that nobody knows. In a well-functioning propaganda system, nobody would know what I'm talking about when I list that range of examples. If you bother to look, you find that those examples are quite appropriate.

Take one that was ominously close to being perceived during the Gulf War. In February, right in the middle of the bombing campaign, the government of Lebanon requested Israel to observe U.N. Security Council Resolution 425, which called on it to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from Lebanon. That resolution dates from March 1978. There have since been two subsequent resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon. Of course it doesn't observe them because the United States backs it in maintaining that occupation. Meanwhile southern Lebanon is terrorized. There are big torture-chambers with horrifying things going on. It's used as a base for attacking other parts of Lebanon. Since 1978, Lebanon was invaded, the city of Beirut was bombed, about 20,000 people were killed, about 80 percent of them civilians, hospitals were destroyed, and more terror, looting, and robbery was inflicted. All fine, the United States backed it. That's just one case. You didn't see anything in the media about it or any discussion about whether Israel and the United States should observe U.N. Security Council Resolution 425 or any of the other resolutions, nor did anyone call for the bombing of Tel Aviv, although by the principles upheld by two-thirds of the population, we should. After all, that's illegal occupation and severe human rights abuses. That's just one case. There are much worse ones. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor knocked off about 200,000 people. They all look minor by that one. That was strongly backed by the United States and is still going on with major United States diplomatic and military support. We can go on and on.


That tells you how a well-functioning propaganda system works. People can believe that when we use force against Iraq and Kuwait it's because we really observe the principle that illegal occupation and human rights abuses should be met by force. They don't see what it would mean if those principles were applied to U.S. behavior. That's a success of propaganda of quite a spectacular type.

Let's take a look at another case. If you look closely at the coverage of the war since August (1990), you'll notice that there are a couple of striking voices missing. For example, there is an Iraqi democratic opposition, in fact, a very courageous and quite substantial Iraqi democratic opposition. They, of course, function in exile because they couldn't survive in Iraq. They are in Europe primarily. They are bankers, engineers, architects -- people like that. They are articulate, they have voices, and they speak. The previous February, when Saddam Hussein was still George Bush's favorite friend and trading partner, they actually came to Washington, according to Iraqi democratic opposition sources, with a plea for some kind of support for a demand of theirs calling for a parliamentary democracy in Iraq. They were totally rebuffed, because the United States had no interest in it. There was no reaction to this in the public record.

Since August it became a little harder to ignore their existence. In August we suddenly turned against Saddam Hussein after having favored him for many years. Here was an Iraqi democratic opposition who ought to have some thoughts about the matter. They would be happy to see Saddam Hussein drawn and quartered. He killed their brothers, tortured their sisters, and drove them out of the country. They have been fighting against his tyranny throughout the whole time that Ronald Reagan and George Bush were cherishing him. What about their voices? Take a look at the national media and see how much you can find about the Iraqi democratic opposition from August through March (1991). You can't find a word. It's not that they're inarticulate. They have statements, proposals, calls and demands. If you look at them, you find that they're indistinguishable from those of the American peace movement. They're against Saddam Hussein and they're against the war against Iraq. They don't want their country destroyed. What they want is a peaceful resolution, and they knew perfectly well that it might have been achievable. That's the wrong view and therefore they're out. We don't hear a word about the Iraqi democratic opposition. If you want to find out about them, pick up the German press, or the British press. They don't say much about them, but they're less controlled than we are and they say something.

This is a spectacular achievement of propaganda. First, that the voices of the Iraqi democrats are completely excluded, and second, that nobody notices it. That's interesting, too. It takes a really deeply indoctrinated population not to notice that we're not hearing the voices of the Iraqi democratic opposition and not asking the question, Why? and finding out the obvious answer: because the Iraqi democrats have their own thoughts; they agree with the international peace movement and therefore they're out.

Let's take the question of the reasons for the war. Reasons were offered for the war. The reasons are: aggressors cannot be rewarded and aggression must be reversed by the quick resort to violence; that was the reason for the war. There was basically no other reason advanced. Can that possibly be the reason for the war?

Does the United States uphold those principles, that aggressors cannot be rewarded and that aggression must be reversed by a quick resort to violence? I won't insult your intelligence by running through the facts, but the fact is those arguments could be refuted in two minutes by a literate teenager. However, they never were refuted. Take a look at the media, the liberal commentators and critics, the people who testified in Congress and see whether anybody questioned the assumption that the United States stands up to those principles. Has the United States opposed its own aggression in Panama and insisted on bombing Washington to reverse it? When the South African occupation of Namibia was declared illegal in 1969, did the United States impose sanctions on food and medicine? Did it go to war? Did it bomb Capetown? No, it carried out twenty years of "quiet diplomacy." It wasn't very pretty during those twenty years. In the years of the Reagan-Bush administration alone, about 1.5 million people were killed by South Africa just in the surrounding countries. Forget what was happening in South Africa and Namibia. Somehow that didn't sear our sensitive souls. We continued with "quite diplomacy" and ended up with ample reward for the aggressors. They were given the major port in Namibia and plenty of advantages that took into account their security concerns. Where is this principle that we uphold? Again, it's child's play to demonstrate that those couldn't possibly have been the reasons for going to war, because we don't uphold these principles. But nobody did it -- that's what's important. And nobody bothered to point out the conclusion that follows: No reason was given for going to war. None. No reason was given for going to war that could not be refuted by a literate teenager in about two minutes. That again is the hallmark of a totalitarian culture. It ought to frighten us, that we are so deeply totalitarian that we can be driven to war without any reason being given for it and without anybody noticing Lebanon's request or caring. It's a very striking fact.

Right before the bombing started, in mid January, a major Washington Post-ABC poll revealed something interesting. People were asked, If Iraq would agree to withdraw from Kuwait in return for Security Council consideration of the problem of Arab-Israeli conflict, would you be in favor of that? By about two-to-one, the population was in favor of that. So was the whole world, including the Iraqi democratic opposition. So it was reported that two-thirds of the American population were in favor of that. Presumably, the people who were in favor of that thought they were the only ones in the world to think so. Certainly nobody in the press had said that it would be a good idea. The orders from Washington have been, we're supposed to be against "linkage," that is, diplomacy, and therefore everybody goose-stepped on command and everybody was against diplomacy. Try to find commentary in the press -- you can find a column by Alex Cockburn in the Los Angeles Times, who argued that it would be a good idea. The people who were answering that question thought, I'm alone, but that's what I think. Suppose they knew that they weren't alone, that other people thought it, like the Iraqi democratic opposition. Suppose that they knew that this was not hypothetical, that in fact Iraq had made exactly such an offer. It had been released by high U.S. officials just eight days earlier. On January 2, these officials had released an Iraqi offer to withdraw totally from Kuwait in return for consideration by the Security Council of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the problem of weapons of mass destruction. The United States had been refusing to negotiate this issue since well before the invasion of Kuwait. Suppose that people had known that the offer was actually on the table and that it was widely supported and that in fact it's exactly the kind of thing that any rational person would do if they were interested in peace, as we do in other cases, in the rare cases that we do want to reverse aggression. Suppose that it had been known. You can make your own guesses, but I would assume that the two-thirds would probably have risen to 98 percent of the population. Here you have the great successes of propaganda. Probably not one person who answered the poll knew any of the things I've just mentioned. The people thought they were alone. Therefore it was possible to proceed with the war policy without opposition.

There was a good deal of discussion about whether sanctions would work. You had the head of the CIA come up and discuss whether sanctions would work. However, there was no discussion of a much more obvious question: Had sanctions already worked? The answer is yes, apparently they had -- probably by late August, very likely by late December. It was very hard to think up any other reason for the Iraqi offers of withdrawal, which were authenticated or in some cases released by high U.S. officials, who described them as "serious" and "negotiable." So the real question is: Had sanctions already worked? Was there a way out? Was there a way out in terms quite acceptable to the general population, the world at large and the Iraqi democratic opposition? These questions were not discussed, and it's crucial for a well-functioning propaganda system that they not be discussed. That enables the chairman of the Republican National Committee to say that if any Democrat had been in office, Kuwait would not be liberated today. He can say that and no Democrat would get up and say that if I were president it would have been liberated not only today but six months ago, because there were opportunities then that I would have pursued and Kuwait would have been liberated without killing tens of thousands of people and without causing an environmental catastrophe. No Democrat would say that because no Democrat took that position. Henry Gonzalez and Barbara Boxer took that position. But the number of people who took it is so marginal that it's virtually nonexistent. Given the fact that almost no Democratic politician would say that, Clayton Yeutter is free to make his statements.

When Scud missiles hit Israel, nobody in the press applauded. Again, that's an interesting fact about a well-functioning propaganda system. We might ask, why not? After all, Saddam Hussein's arguments were as good as George Bush's arguments. What were they, after all? Let's just take Lebanon. Saddam Hussein says that he can't stand annexation. He can't let Israel annex the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, in opposition to the unanimous agreement of the Security Council. He can't stand annexation. He can't stand aggression. Israel has been occupying southern Lebanon since 1978 in violation of Security Council resolutions that it refuses to abide by. In the course of that period it attacked all of Lebanon, still bombs most of Lebanon at will. He can't stand it. He might have read the Amnesty International report on Israeli atrocities in the West Bank. His heart is bleeding. He can't stand it. Sanctions can't work because the United States vetoes them. Negotiations won't work because the United States blocks them. What's left but force? He's been waiting for years. Thirteen years in the case of Lebanon, 20 years in the case of the West Bank. You've heard that argument before. The only difference between that argument and the one you heard is that Saddam Hussein could truly say sanctions and negotiations can't work because the United States blocks them. But George Bush couldn't say that, because sanctions apparently had worked, and there was every reason to believe that negotiations could work -- except that he adamantly refused to pursue them, saying explicitly, there will be no negotiations right through. Did you find anybody in the press who pointed that out? No. It's a triviality. It's something that, again, a literate teenager could figure out in a minute. But nobody pointed it out, no commentator, no editorial writer. That, again, is the sign of a very well-run totalitarian culture. It shows that the manufacture of consent is working.

Last comment about this. We could give many examples, you could make them up as you go along. Take the idea that Saddam Hussein is a monster about to conquer the world -- widely believed, in the United States, and not unrealistically. It was drilled into people's heads over and over again: He's about to take everything. We've got to stop him now. How did he get that powerful? This is a small, third-world country without an industrial base. For eight years Iraq had been fighting Iran. That's post-revolutionary Iran, which had decimated its officer corps and most of its military force. Iraq had a little bit of support in that war. It was backed by the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, the major Arab countries, and the Arab oil producers. It couldn't defeat Iran. But all of a sudden it's ready to conquer the world. Did you find anybody who pointed that out? The fact of the matter is, this was a third-world country with a peasant army. It is now being conceded that there was a ton of disinformation about the fortifications, the chemical weapons, etc. But did you find anybody who pointed it out? No. You found virtually nobody who pointed it out. That's typical. Notice that this was done one year after exactly the same thing was done with Manuel Noriega. Manuel Noriega is a minor thug by comparison with George Bush's friend Saddam Hussein or George Bush's other friends in Beijing or George Bush himself, for that matter. In comparison with them, Manuel Noriega is a pretty minor thug. Bad, but not a world-class thug of the kind we like. He was turned into a creature larger than life. He was going to destroy us, leading the narco-traffickers. We had to quickly move in and smash him, killing a couple hundred or maybe thousand people, restoring to power the tiny, maybe eight percent white oligarchy, and putting U.S. military officers in control at every level of the political system. We had to do all those things because, after all, we had to save ourselves or we were going to be destroyed by this monster. One year later the same thing was done by Saddam Hussein. Did anybody point it out? Did anybody point out what had happened or why? You'll have to look pretty hard for that.

Notice that this is not all that different from what the Creel Commission when it turned a pacifistic population into raving hysterics who wanted to destroy everything German to save ourselves from Huns who were tearing the arms off Belgian babies. The techniques are maybe more sophisticated, with television and lots of money going into it, but it's pretty traditional.

I think the issue, to come back to my original comment, is not simply disinformation and the Gulf crisis. The issue is much broader. It's whether we want to live in a free society or whether we want to live under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism, with the bewildered herd marginalized, directed elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring with awe the leader who saved them from destruction, while the educated masses goose-step on command and repeat the slogans they're supposed to repeat and the society deteriorates at home. We end up serving as a mercenary enforcer state, hoping that others are going to pay us to smash up the world. Those are the choices. That's the choice that you have to face. The answer to those questions is very much in the hands of people like you and me.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Impeachable Offenses

Belva Ann Prycel | Impeachable Offenses

     Impeachable Offenses
     by Belva Ann Prycel
     The Lincoln County Weekly

     Friday 08 August 2003

     This week as President Bush and his closest advisors altered stories in an ongoing effort to deflect blame about "intelligence failures," I am reminded of a quote by Oliver North from his Iran-Contra testimony, "I was provided with additional input that was radically different from the truth. I assisted in furthering that version."

     One cannot help but ask if these false and terrifying depictions of Iraq's destructive capabilities were really the products of intelligence failures, or if they were part of an ongoing and systematic policy on the part of those at the very head of government.

     Thirty years ago during the Watergate hearings, investigators asked the simple question: "What did the president know and when did he know it?" A more appropriate question to ask today might be "Why didn't the president know before going to war what common people marching in streets all over the world knew?"

     For those with Internet, BBC, and world news access, the information about forged Niger uranium documents, UN inspector's assessments on Iraq's unlikely chemical and biological capabilities, the CIA pronouncements that Iraq did not constitute a significant threat, the International Atomic Energy Agency position that no evidence existed of an Iraqi nuclear program, the absence of our CIA finding any credible links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, were all known among many citizens before Bush single-mindedly took the country to war.

     Despite this, the president and his advisors repeatedly proffered in speeches and public appearances discredited information and hyped rhetoric linking Iraq to terrorism and 9/11. "Weapons of mass destruction" figured most prominently in arguing to the American people that there was an absolute necessity for ending UN inspections and waging a preemptive attack upon Iraq. This unsubstantiated argument was so persuasive that by the time the invasion began, fully 72 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, without a shred of credible evidence to support such a claim.

     Now we are engaged in counting the dead, assessing blame, looking at huge financial burdens, and considering the ongoing loss of young American lives in an unwelcome occupation of Iraq. What is becoming increasingly clear is that if the president and his closest advisors knowingly lied in making the case for a preemptive war based on Iraq constituting an imminent threat to the security of the United States, this is assuredly an impeachable offense of the highest order of magnitude, manifestly greater than the constitutional abuses of Dick Nixon or the sexual lying of Bill Clinton.

     We can unfortunately be assured that the Republican-controlled House and Senate will never allow an investigation of this president or his advisors, despite a truckload of incriminating evidence leading straight to the front door of the Oval Office. This leaves us, as citizens, to make assessments on our own without benefit of Congressional hearings or testimony on those who mislead us. In this effort, we can note however, that among those with something to hide, the administration's actions speak louder than words.

     Most revealing and scarcely reported, is the crucial change that the Bush Administration initiated in the intelligence community, one which has had severe implications for our constitutional processes and national credibility. Always seeking to demonize Saddam, it appears that sometime in 2002 the tight cabal surrounding the president became increasingly dissatisfied with the CIA and other intelligence data which did not support their hawkish view on Iraq.

     To address this, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Special Plans (OSP) within the Pentagon. As Seymour Hersch and other investigative journalists have reported, this small group of OSP analysts was charged with finding evidence of what Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld postulated, and what our intelligence agencies did not endorse; namely that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda and that Iraq had enormous arsenals of chemical, biological, and possibly nuclear weapons that threatened the United States.

     The OSP group relied heavily on data gathered by the exiled Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi, a character whose veracity and integrity were strongly doubted by the CIA and who had little respect from the Iraqi people, but who was nevertheless hand-picked by the Bush Administration to head any new Iraqi regime. (Chalabi had been, among other shady business deals and improprieties, convicted of a $7 million bank fraud in Jordan.)

     Unfortunately it appears that Chalabi and the OSP office of the Pentagon became the primary source of the questionable "intelligence" accepted by the Bush White House. The CIA and the State Department were virtually eliminated from the loop.

     According to W. Patrick Lang, former chief of Middle East Intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the OSP and the president's advisors manipulated and "cherry-picked the intelligence information to build a case for war."

     The OSP provided largely unverified information, but it was the only information the administration wanted to hear. Further, it requires a rather enormous suspension of judgment to believe that George Bush knew nothing of these activities by the Vice President and his closest advisors.

     Now Americans and the rest of the world know the truth: that the president took this country to war based on "faulty intelligence." But what does this really mean? It means the country was likely intentionally misled, and this is a prosecutable offense. It is a prosecutable offense because when a president takes the oath of office, he swears to "uphold the Constitution of the United States."

     Manipulation or deliberate abuse of national security intelligence data is "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It is also a violation of federal criminal law and the anti-conspiracy statute which considers it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose. "

     Richard Nixon faced impeachment for misusing the CIA and the FBI, a serious abuse of presidential power. George Bush and his administration apparently manipulated and misrepresented intelligence to get Congress to authorize, and the public to support, a preemptive war to take control of Iraq.

     For those who would give George Bush some largely undeserved latitude, let's be clear that this was not a benign act with no victims and no ongoing consequences. This was not a personal impropriety, a sexual tryst or a stain on a blue dress. This was a stain upon American democracy.

     Thousands of innocent Iraqis died and many continue to suffer in a lawless war-ravaged country. Millions of civilians, including American servicemen and women are exposed to the health hazards of depleted uranium from U.S. missiles. Every day, more young soldiers die as Iraqis make sitting ducks out of American troops. The cost of war and a long occupation rises into the hundreds of billions of dollars, while our country faces a depleted treasury and deficits as far as the eye can see.

     This is demonstrably a misdeed of monstrous proportions. A huge, costly, and deadly lie was foisted on the American public and the Congress. The credibility of the United States was severely damaged and the constitutional powers of the presidency abused.

     George Walker Bush deserves impeachment. He deserves impeachment and removal from the office he was never elected to hold. Those who have paid the ultimate price with their lives demand no less. Our democracy demands no less. As citizens, we must clamor for the justice and accountability which our leaders would like to avoid. We must not forget.

     _ _ _

     Belva Ann Prycel is a resident of Alna, Maine.

© Copyright 2003 by

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

We Stand Our Ground

William Rivers Pitt | We Stand Our Ground

     Editor's Note | I delivered the following comments as the keynote speaker at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in San Francisco. - wrp

     We Stand Our Ground
     By William Rivers Pitt
     t r u t h o u t | Perspective

     Sunday 10 August 2003

     I must begin by saying that standing here before you is, simply, one of the greatest honors of my life. I have never served in the armed forces in any capacity. My father, however, did. He volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1969. The changes that war wrought upon him have affected, for both good and ill, every single day of my life. Vietnam did not only affect the generation that served there. It affected the children of those who served there, and the families of those who served there. That war is an American heirloom, great and terrible simultaneously, handed down from father to son and from mother to daughter, from father to daughter and from mother to son. The lessons learned there speak to us today, almost thirty years hence.

     Let me tell you a quick story about my father. His call to the freedom bird came while he was still out in the field. He arrived at Dulles Airport to meet my mother still dressed in his bush greens, still wearing the moustache, with the mud of Vietnam still under his fingernails and stuck inside the waffle of his boot sole.

     A few days earlier, he had come across a beautiful old French rifle. It was given to him by a Vietnamese friend, a former teacher with three children who had been conscripted permanently into the military. My father managed to bring this rifle home with him, and sent it on the flight in the baggage hold along with his duffel.

     My father and my mother stood waiting at the baggage claim for his things to come down. The people there - and this was 1970, remember - backed away from him as if he was radioactive. They knew where he had just come from. If the greens were not a giveaway, the standard issue muddy tan he and all the vets wore upon return from Vietnam was. When the rifle came down the belt, not in a package or a box, just laying there in all its reality, the crowd was appalled and horrified. My mother and father looked at each other and wondered what these people were thinking. What did they think was happening over there? What did they think it is that soldiers do? Did they even begin to understand this war, and what it meant, what it was doing to American soldiers, to the Vietnamese soldiers like my father's friend, and to the civilians caught in the crossfire?

     The looks on those people's faces there said enough. The answer was no. They didn't know, and apparently didn't want to know. Now, thirty three years later, we are back in that same place again, fighting a war few understand that is affecting soldiers and civilians in ways only those soldiers and civilians can truly know. Ignorance, it seems, is also an American heirloom to be passed down again and again and again.

     Many of you know, far better than I do, what my father felt that day in Dulles. That is why I am honored to speak to you tonight. If the American people fully knew what this war in Iraq was really about, if they fully knew what it means today to be a soldier in that part of the world, they would tear the White House apart brick by brick. If the people had but a taste of the horror and the lies, they would repudiate this administration and all it stands for. The don't know, because they have been fed a glutton's diet of misinformation and fraud. Changing that is why we are here.

     The first of August saw a very interesting article published in the Washington Post. The title was, "US Shifts Rhetoric On its Goals in Iraq." The story quotes an unnamed administration source - I will bet you all the money in my wallet that this "source" was a man named Richard Perle - who outlined the newest reasons for our war over there. "That goal is to see the spread of our values," said this aide, "and to understand that our values and our security are inextricably linked."

     Our values. That's an interesting concept coming from a member of this administration. We make much of the greatness and high moral standing of the United States of America, and there is much to be proud of. The advertising, however, has lately failed completely to match up with the product.

     Is it part of our value system to remain on a permanent war footing since World War II, shunting money desperately needed for human services and education into a military machine whose very size and expense demands the fighting of wars to justify its existence?

     Is it part of our value system to lie to the American people, to lie deeply and broadly and with no shame at all, about why we fight in Iraq?

     Is it part of our value system to sacrifice nearly three hundred American soldiers on the altar of those lies, to sacrifice thousands and thousands and thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq on the altar of those lies?

     Is it part of our value system to use the horror of September 11 to terrify the American people into an unnecessary war, into the ruination of their civil rights, into the annihilation of the Constitution?

     Is it part of our value system to use that terrible day against those American people who felt most personally the awful blow of that attack?

     Is striking first part of our value system?

     Is living in fear part of our value system?

     It is not part of my value system. It never will be.

     This new justification for our war in Iraq is yet another lie, an accent in a symphony of lies. The values this administration represents play no part in the common morality of the American people, play no part in the legal and constitutional system we adore and defend. One of the worst things ever to happen to this country was allowing the people within this administration to use words like "freedom" and "justice" and "democracy" and "patriotism," for those good and noble words become the foulest of lies when passing their lips.

     For the record, the justification for war on Iraq was:

     The procurement by Iraq of uranium from Niger for use in a nuclear weapons program, plus 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agents - 500 tons, for those without calculators, is one million pounds - almost 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, several mobile biological weapons labs, and connections between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda that led directly to the attacks of September 11.

     None of these weapons have been found. The mobile weapons labs - termed "Winnebagoes of Death" by Colin Powell - turned out to be weather balloon platforms sold to Iraq by the British in the 1980s. The infamous Iraq-al Qaeda connection has been shot to pieces by the recently released September 11 report. And the Niger uranium claim was based upon forgeries so laughable that America stands embarrassed and ashamed before the judgment of the world. This is all featured on the White House's website on a page called 'Disarming Saddam.' The Niger claims, specifically, have yet to be removed.

     Lies. Lies. All lies.

     That Washington Post story, however, reveals a deeper truth here. Now that the original and terrifying claims to justify this war have been proven to be utterly and completely phony - Niger recently asked for an apology, by the way - the administration is falling back upon the justification for war that these men have been formulating for years and years and years.

     They call it Pax Americana, a plan to invade Iraq, take it over, create a permanent military presence there, and use the oil revenues to fund further wars against virtually every nation in that region. This we call bringing our "values" over there. Norman Podhoretz, one of the ideological fathers of this group of neoconservatives who now control the foreign policy of this nation, described the process as "The reformation and modernization of Islam." That's a pretty fancy phrase. I am a Catholic, and can therefore call it by its simpler name: Crusade. We know all about those.

     This is the Project for a New American Century, the product of a right-wing think tank that, in 1997, was considered so far out there that no one ever thought its members would ever come within ten miles of setting American policy. One broken election, however, vaulted these men into positions of unspeakable power. Their white papers, their dreams of empire at the point of the sword, have become our national nightmare, and the nightmare of the world. I speak of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Lewis Libby, and the rest of these New American Century men who have taken our beloved country and all it stands for it and thrown it down into the mud.

     You will note that I did not name George W. Bush, for blaming Bush for the gross misadministration of this government is like blaming Mickey Mouse when Disney screws up. He is not in charge. Truman said "The buck stops here," and so we point to Bush as a symbol of all that has gone wrong. But he is not in charge. These other men, these New American Century men, have delivered us to this wretched estate, and by God in Heaven, there will be a reckoning for it.

     But is it all ideology for these men? Of course not. There is the payout. Have you ever heard of a company called United Defense, out of Arlington, Virginia? Let me introduce you. United Defense provides Combat Vehicle Systems, Fire Support, Combat Support Vehicle Systems, Weapons Delivery Systems, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, and Combat Support Services. Some of United Defense's current programs include:

     The Bradley Family of Fighting Vehicles, the M113 Family of Fighting Vehicles, the M88A2 Recovery Vehicle, the Grizzly, the M9 ACE, the Composite Armored Vehicle, the M6 Linebacker, the M4 Command and Control Vehicle, the Battle Command Vehicle, the Paladin, the Future Scout and Cavalry System, the Crusader, Electric Gun Technology/Pulse Power, Advanced Simulations and Training Systems, and Fleet Management. This list goes on and on, and includes virtually everything an eternal war might need.

     Who owns United Defense? Why, the Carlyle Group, which bought United Defense in October of 1997. For those not in the know, the Carlyle Group is a private global investment firm. Carlyle is the eleventh largest defense contractor in the US because of its ownership of companies making tanks, aircraft wings and other equipment. Carlyle has ownership stakes in 164 companies which generated $16 billion in revenues in the year 2000 alone. The Carlyle Group does not provide investment or other services to the general public.

     Who works for the Carlyle Group? George Herbert Walker Bush works for the Carlyle Group, has been a senior consultant for Carlyle for some years now, and sits on the Board of Directors. This company is profiting wildly from this war in Iraq, a tidy gift from son to father.

     And then, of course, there is Dick Cheney's Halliburton, profiting in the millions from the oil in Iraq. Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root, is also in Iraq. Their stock in trade is the building of permanent military bases. Here is your permanent military presence in Iraq, and all for an incredible fee. Cheney still draws a one million dollar annual check from Halliburton, what they call a 'deferred retirement benefit.' In Boston, we call that a paycheck.

     Pax Americana. That which President Kennedy spoke so eloquently and specifically against when he said, "What kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced upon the world by our weapons of war." This is now the rule of law for this nation. It must be stopped, and we must be the ones to stop it.

     This is America. At bottom, America is a dream, an idea. You can take away all our roads, our crops, our people, our cities, our armies - you can take all of that away, and the idea will still be there as pure and great as anything conceived by the human mind. I do very much believe that the idea that is America stands as the last, best hope for this world. When used properly, it can work wonders.

     That idea, that dream, is in mortal peril. You can still have all our roads, our crops, our people, our cities, our armies - you can have all of that, but if you murder the idea that is America, you have murdered America itself in a way that ten thousand September 11ths could never do. The men and women within this current administration are murdering the idea that is America with their Patriot Acts, their destruction of civil liberties, their lies, their daily undermining of even the most basic tenets of decency and freedom and justice that we have tried to live up to for 227 years.

     That, and that alone, should be enough to get you on your feet with your fist in the air, whether or not you believe we have any chance of stopping all this. We may not win, but we damned well have to fight them. If we don't, we are the traitors some would say we are.

     When you stare into the obsidian darkness of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, it stares back at you. The stone of the monument is jet black, but polished so that you must face your own reflected eyes should you dare to read the names inscribed there. You are not alone in that place.

     You stand shoulder to shoulder with the dead, and when those names shine out around and above and below the person you see in that stone, you become their graveyard. Your responsibility to those names, simply, is to remember.

     Remember what that dream, that idea that is America, is supposed to be. Never forget it. Never let your children forget. Hand it down, generation after generation, because it is the most valuable heirloom we all possess. If we lose it, we have lost everything.

     When all else fails, I fall back on the words of the extraordinary anti-war activist, Daniel Berrigan. A friend of Berrigan's, Mitchell Snyder, was for years an advocate and activist for the homeless in Washington DC. Snyder became despondent over the fact that his government could spend billions on bombs and planes and guns, but could not seem to find the money to help the homeless. Snyder became so despondent that he committed suicide. Daniel Berrigan penned these lines in memory of Snyder, and it is in these lines that I find my hope and strength when the darkness creeps too close.

     Some stood up once, and sat down
     Some walked a mile, and walked away
     Some stood up twice, then sat down, "I've had it" they said,
     Some walked two miles, then walked away. "It's too much," they cried.
     Some stood and stood and stood.
     They were taken for fools,
     They were taken for being taken in.
     Some walked and walked and walked.
     They walked the earth,
     They walked the waters,
     They walked the air.
     "Why do you stand," they were asked, "and why do you walk?"
     "Because of the children," they said,
     "And because of the heart,
     "And because of the bread,"
     "Because the cause is the heart's beat,
     And the children born
     And the risen bread."

     The cause is the heart's beat. This cause is my heart's beat. It is yours. May it be there for all time, until that day comes when we can, once again, stand in awe and pride before our flag and our government and our nation, when we can once again revel in the rescued dream that is America.

     Until then we are at the barricades, and on the streets, and in the faces of all those who would spend the precious blood of our men and women on lies and profit and greed. The obsidian darkness of that memorial demands this of us. The golden ideals of this nation demands this of us. The laws of our forefathers demands this of us. Most importantly, we demand this of ourselves.

     They can take nothing from us that we are not willing to give, and we are not willing to give this great nation up. Let them be warned. We stand our ground.

     Thank you.

     _ _ _

     William Rivers Pitt [ ] is the Managing Editor of He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq [ qid=1055796595/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-6365635-6776664?v=glance&s=books ]," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence [ qid=1055796595/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-6365635-6776664? v=glance&s=books ]," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism [ qid=1058768896/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/103-6365635-6776664? v=glance&s=books ]," available in August from Context Books.

© Copyright 2003 by

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles

A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles

  A Debate Over U.S. 'Empire' Builds in Unexpected Circles
  By Dan Morgan
  The Washington Post
  Sunday 10 August 2003

  At forums sponsored by policy think tanks, on radio talk shows and around Cleveland Park dinner tables, one topic has been hotter than the weather in Washington this summer: Has the United States become the very "empire" that the republic's founders heartily rejected?

  Liberal scholars have been raising the question but, more strikingly, so have some Republicans with impeccable conservative credentials.

  For example, C. Boyden Gray, former counsel to President George H.W. Bush, has joined a small group that is considering ways to "educate Americans about the dangers of empire and the need to return to our founding traditions and values," according to an early draft of a proposed mission statement.

  "Rogue Nation," a new book by former Reagan administration official Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Washington-based Economic Strategy Institute, contains a chapter that dubs the United States "The Unacknowledged Empire." And at the Nixon Center in Washington, established in 1994 by former president Richard M. Nixon, President Dimitri K. Simes is preparing a magazine-length essay that will examine the "American imperial predicament."

  The stirrings among Republicans are still muted. Most in the GOP -- as well as a large number of Democrats -- support bigger military budgets and see no alternative to a forceful U.S. role abroad. But those leading the debate say it is, at the very least, bringing in voices across the ideological spectrum for a long overdue appraisal of what the nation's role should be.

  After World War II, the United States was instrumental in setting up a web of international economic, military and political organizations founded on American principles of democracy and free markets. To combat communist influence, real or imagined, the United States also used covert operations to undermine or topple governments in Iran, Guatemala, Congo, Chile and other countries.

  While U.S. influence was vast, many scholars deny that it constituted an "empire," which the dictionary defines as a group of countries or territories under a single sovereign power.

  The U.S. invasion of Iraq with few allies may be the immediate cause of heightened interest in the topic of empire. But there is broad agreement that the United States' drift toward empire -- if it has occurred -- long predates the Bush administration.

  According to Christopher A. Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, which espouses libertarian views, the United States should have faced this issue when the Soviet Union collapsed.

  "That's when we should have had a discussion," he said. "Instead, we maintained all our Cold War commitments and added new ones, without much of a debate at all."

  The United States retained its worldwide network of spy satellites, ballistic missile submarines and aircraft carriers, and stationed several hundred thousand troops in dozens of countries. After dipping sharply in the early 1990s, the military budget began rising after Bill Clinton was reelected president in 1996.

  Between the end of the Cold War and the start of the current presidency, the U.S. military intervened in Panama, Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo. In Panama and Haiti, the United States ousted dictators and installed its handpicked successors. In Somalia, a humanitarian mission to protect relief supplies for famine victims became a hunt for a warlord that led to U.S. deaths and withdrawal. In the former Yugoslavia, the United States intervened on humanitarian grounds but has remained to keep order and provide civic stability.

  Preble considers the U.S. ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan a legitimate response to the terrorist threat after Sept. 11, 2001. But the longer the United States remains in Afghanistan and Iraq, he says, the more it looks like an "occupier" -- a term associated with imperial powers.

  For ideological conservatives, the United States' vast global commitments should pose a difficult philosophical dilemma, Preble said. "You cannot be for a system of limited government at home and for maintaining military garrisons all over the world," he said.

  Not so, say many "neoconservatives," members of an amorphous political group that has its origins in the defection of left-wing Democrats to the GOP during the Cold War. Neoconservatives tend to favor the use of U.S. power to spread American political values, preempt hostile nations' ability to threaten the United States with weapons of mass destruction, and rebuild nations in America's image.

  Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has put forward the idea of a U.S. "empire of liberty" to spread democracy around the world. On National Public Radio's "Diane Rehm Show" last month, Boot called for a doubling of U.S. military spending to carry out America's global commitments.

  The label of empire does not bother William Kristol, a neoconservative leader and editor of the Weekly Standard magazine. "If people want to say we're an imperial power, fine," he has stated.

  There are echoes of President John F. Kennedy -- and of the more zealous elements of President Woodrow Wilson's foreign policy -- in the neoconservative vision, said Ivo H. Daalder, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kennedy pledged in his 1961 inaugural address to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Wilson believed World War I could "make the world safe for democracy."

  But Daalder said there is a key difference. Kennedy and Wilson believed in the benefits of working through international organizations, while neoconservatives want the United States to act alone. "They're democratic imperialists," Daalder said of the neoconservatives.

  Oxford University historian Niall Ferguson, author of "Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power," says the United States should stop denying its imperial role and study the good the British Empire did in spreading prosperity and progressive thought in the 19th and 20th centuries. Ferguson recently took the pro-empire case before a packed auditorium at the American Enterprise Institute, where he debated scholar Robert Kagan on the proposition, "The United States is and should be an empire." At the conclusion, the audience was polled and rejected the proposition.

  Broadening this debate is the goal of the infant Committee for the Republic, whose members include Gray; former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles W. Freeman Jr.; Stephen P. Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development in New York; William A. Nitze, son of Paul Nitze, the Reagan administration's top arms control negotiator; and John B. Henry, a Washington businessman and descendant of Revolutionary War patriot Patrick Henry. Members have met over lunch and are drafting a manifesto. A draft of the mission statement says, "America has begun to stray far from its founding tradition of leading the world by example rather than by force."

  Henry said the group may set up a nonprofit organization and could sponsor seminars examining how imperial behavior weakened earlier republics, such as the Roman Empire. "We want to have a great national debate about what our role in the world is," Henry said.

  James M. Lindsay, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, says the United States veered away from the founders' notion of avoiding foreign entanglements more than a century ago, when it went to war with Spain in 1898. "America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy," a book by Lindsay and Daalder, finds parallels with the past in the foreign policy disputes taking place inside the Bush administration.

  After World War I, Wilson fought for U.S. membership in the League of Nations but was outmaneuvered by Senate Republicans led by Henry Cabot Lodge (Mass.). Wilson and Lodge wanted the United States to exercise power overseas, but Lodge feared the league would limit the United States' freedom of action.

  Lindsay sees some of the same conflicts in the dispute between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and "aggressive nationalists" in the Bush administration led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. The nationalists, Lindsay contends, "believe that killing bad guys is the way to create democracy, not building institutions."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Personal Notes to the Recipient

. . .

/ Leif Erlingsson

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

A version of the present article suitable for email can be downloaded here:  the_facts.txt

Additional reading: Resources


Copyleft © 2003 Leif Erlingsson or author.

Updated 27 October 2003