Without let, the United States continued to bully its way to war, in the process, bribing one opponent—Turkey—with American taxpayers’ funds and thus attempting to suppress and subvert a democratic vote passed in a democratic congress; threatening another—Russia—with the loss of oil “rights” in a conquered Iraq; and generally dictating the terms of debate, including to frame as a moral failure any opposition in the Security Council to an invasion of a prostrate Iraq.
Amidst this chilling swagger, one thing became clear: The Russians got it. The Germans got it. The French got it. The Canadians got it, and many British and European people got it. Even Hollywood, in its invincible ignorance, was able to grasp why the war Washington and Whitehall were about to wage was unjust.
What does this say about most of the nation’s pundits, who never stopped licking their chops for war? What does it say about those who supported conquering and occupying a sovereign member of the international community? They’ve lost their moral and intellectual moorings. They’re even dumber, and certainly far more politically corrupted and co-opted, than the likes of the bug-eyed bovine Susan Sarandon.
Iraq had not attacked in 12 years and was not poised to attack the U.S. or its neighbors.
To attack Iraq was to launch a purely offensive, non-defensive war. This flouts the Christian duty to do no harm to one’s neighbors. It flouts the Jewish teachings, which instruct Jews to robustly and actively seek justice. It flouts “Just War Theory,” developed by great Christian minds like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine. It flouts the libertarian axiom, which prohibits aggression against non-aggressors.
And it flouts what the Founding Fathers provided.
A limited, constitutional republican government, by definition, doesn’t, cannot, and must never pursue what Mr. Bush is after, and what paleoconservative Gladden J. Pappin called “a sort of twenty-first-century Manifest Destiny.” The fact that it does, can, and is intent on spreading global democracy by death and destruction indicates how limitless, unconstitutional, and dictatorial American government truly is.
I’m no pacifist. While I don’t condone the lingering American presence in Afghanistan, and while I doubt the abilities of the U.S. military to contain al-Qaida there, I supported going after bin Laden’s group in that country. That was a legitimate act of retaliation and defense, accommodated within St. Augustine’s teachings, whereby a just war is one “that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects.”
Al-Qaida was responsible for the murder of 3,000 Americans. The Taliban openly succored the organization and its masterminding leadership. Mr. Bush had asked the hosting Taliban to surrender bin Laden and his gang. The Taliban refused, insisting on defending their murderous guests.
The impending attack on Iraq also flunked the criterion for a preemptive war, facilitated in St. Augustine’s idea of the “just cause,” whereby it’s permissible to attack someone who would otherwise shortly and imminently attack you.
The Israeli Six-Day War is a good example of a legitimate preemptive war. (Although, to be accurate, Jordan initiated the first strike.) Before Israel proceeded to deal them a debilitating blow, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon had divided their labor in stepping up raids into Israel’s territory, shelling her farms and villages, amassing troops on her borders, signing a pact, kicking UN monitors out of the Sinai, and blockading Israel’s main shipping route to Asia.
Notwithstanding Colin Powell’s multimedia presentation of circumstantial and speculative bunkum, there was no evidence that Iraq was positioned to pounce as Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt were; nor that Iraq recently posed a “real and imminent” danger to the U.S. or her neighbors. The Bush administration continued, however, to mount a blitz of Goebbels-worthy misinformation in order to discredit the thorough job the inspectors were doing.
In the 2,000 kilometers he crisscrossed in three weeks of searching for nuclear development activities, in the 75 facilities examined, in 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites, including 21 newly discovered sites, Hans Blix’s colleague, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, met with an “overall deterioration” and disrepair in Iraqi infrastructure. There was no trace of North Korean or Iranian-style firing up of production. In his account, ElBaradei did make polite mention of an investigation into reports (spread by the U.S.) regarding Iraq’s uranium transactions: They were “not authentic,” he wrote. The American power-worshipping chattering classes (and networks) had concealed that the reports were forgeries!
Blix’s own cautious report details no evidence of “mobile production units” for weapons of mass destruction. The units Collin Powell warned of turned out to be mobile food-testing laboratories. Iraq’s improving, although still less than optimal, cooperation was certainly not a legitimate cause for war.
As a counterweight to “Just War Theory,” which places excess faith in the motives of public authorities, Americans have the Founding Fathers.
In his pre-war National Press Conference, however, Bush showed he hadn’t a clue what was and what was not constitutional. After claiming his job was to protect America, and that this was the essence of his crusade, Bush immediately contradicted himself: “There’s a lot more at stake than just American security… freedom is at stake,” he said, going on to indicate his plan to “deal with” totalitarianism wherever it presents itself.
James Madison predicted this craven and wicked propensity: “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it,” he wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1798.
Duly, The Founders vested war powers not with the executive but with Congress! The framers entrusted the declaration of war to the legislature so as to avoid what we’ve seen play out. What The Founders could not have foretold, given their own scruples, is the cowardly abnegation by this legislature. This Congress, like many before it, simply surrendered authority to the president, sans debate, thus forsaking the people.
©By ILANA MERCER
March 12, 2003