"Will nations never devise a more rational umpire of differences than force? Are there no means of coercing injustice more gratifying to our nature than a waste of the blood of thousands and of the labor of millions of our fellow creatures?"
— Thomas Jefferson
America’s finest young women and men are being maimed and killed every day in Iraq in an illegal war intentionally started by our illegitimate president. Bush’s war crimes have victimized thousands of Americans, and he is extorting more than a billion dollars a week from us to finance his crime spree.
In just the last two years, Bush has spent almost six and a half billion dollars on thousands of projects in Iraq by the Corps of Engineers, while slashing millions from its budget to protect New Orleans. He has sent thousands of National Guard troops from Louisiana and Mississippi to fight his illegal war in Iraq, depriving those states of the emergency resources they needed to cope with Hurricane Katrina. His criminality and bungling stupidity directly caused the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans in those states.
What has Bush’s war accomplished? He has ordered the imprisonment of American citizens without trial or access to counsel, and he has established concentration camps where torture of prisoners is approved and condoned in violation of international law.
In Iraq, Bush has turned a hated dictator into a hero for millions in the Middle East, and the poor Iraqi victims, of whom more than 100,000 have been killed, increasingly resist our occupation. For every "insurrectionist" we kill there now, we create three "terrorists" who will threaten us here in the future.
A civil war between religious factions is shattering the national integrity of Iraq. The new central government is powerless, and its military and police have been infiltrated by local militias, who murder and imprison their opponents without fear of punishment.
The "insurrection" will continue to intensify; hundreds more flag-draped coffins will be secretly flown home in the middle of the night; thousands more of our youth will be maimed and emotionally crippled for life; Iraq will become an anti-democratic theocracy; we will lose the will to fight; and Bush will once again strut around claiming victory in the face of defeat.
Then, not only will the poor and oppressed people of Iraq continue to hate us with just cause, but we will have lost whatever respect and credibility we have left in the community of human civilization. This is stupid in the extreme!
This is not the first time we have engaged in a war that has proven to be a mistake, nor will it be the last unless we find a better way to defend ourselves against real or imagined threats to our national security.
An Alternative To Stupid Wars
Since World War II and the Korean War, the United States has repeatedly deployed its military into other countries in a series of undeclared wars. These wars have resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, widespread destruction of the targeted nations’ infrastructure, and extensive civilian casualties. None of these wars produced any lasting political advantage.
Can we learn from our experience over the past 50 years and draw upon our collective wisdom? If we are honest with ourselves, the only logical conclusion is that waging military wars against other nations and their innocent people is not only immoral in some cases, but downright foolish in most.
America’s dispute is often with some petty despot who poses a far greater risk of harm to his own citizens and neighbors than to us. Why then should we throw away the lives of our youths, waste billions of our dollars slaughtering and immolating thousands of the dictator’s innocent victims, while earning their hatred for generations to come?
Why not adopt a national policy of avoiding war against other nations and their innocent people as a matter of principle? We should outlaw war unless our country is directly invaded.
Instead, to confront the danger posed by foreign dictators who threaten to physically injure our citizens or seriously harm our national interests, we should adopt an alternative policy based upon a law enforcement model in which we declare the dictator, personally, to be an outlaw. (The word outlaw comes from the Old Norse Ã£tlagr for someone who was outlawed or banished as a punishment. An outlaw was outside the protection of the law; his property was seized by the crown; and he could be killed without recrimination.)
We can use Iraq as an example, even though a majority of us have now concluded that we were cursed by a president who corruptly misled us into believing that Saddam Hussein ever posed a substantial risk of harm to our national interests.
Based upon deceptive evidence, and although more than half of us had serious misgivings about it, Congress empowered Bush to wage all-out war against the Iraqi people on behalf of all of us. At a time when we were enduring a massive economic recession, Bush gained the power to waste billions and billions of our hard-earned tax dollars, better spent in other ways, to bomb Iraq and Saddam’s victims back into the Stone Age.
What if, instead, we had been blessed with an enlightened president who had wisely presented the case against Saddam to Congress and (assuming there was a true threat) was able to prove that Saddam actually represented a serious danger to our national interests? If convinced by the evidence, Congress could have passed a resolution declaring Saddam to be an outlaw.
Congress could have directed the president to file a lawsuit against the "government" of Iraq in the World Court of Justice in The Hague. Congress could have authorized the use of reasonable force and other legitimate means to secure the personal appearance of the outlaw at the World Court to defend his "government" against the charges. In essence, Congress could have issued an arrest warrant to take Saddam into custody and to arrest his dangerous behavior.
What then? Would we have expected the president to run over and personally kick in Saddam’s door, toss him against the wall and frisk him? Certainly not the cowardly president we are cursed with. No, one of the things professional police officers have learned the hard way is that it is bad tactics to immediately rush an armed and barricaded suspect.
A lot of brave cops and innocent people died unnecessarily before the law enforcement profession learned to take as much time as necessary to secure the premises, bring in the S.W.A.T. team, turn off the utilities, clear the neighborhood, engage in negotiations, and obtain the release of hostages.
Only when all else fails and only when delay increases the risk of harm to the hostages, do professional police officers fire in the tear gas, toss the flash-bang grenades, and storm the premises. Innocent people and brave officers may still die, but at least decisions to use deadly force are made in a reasoned and deliberate manner pursuant to established policy and only after all other alternatives fail.
Would an outlaw war model work? Would it be a smarter policy? We will never know unless we try it. Shouldn’t we have taken the time to make a better case for intervention to ourselves, our allies, the United Nations and, most importantly, to the poor people of Iraq and others in the Middle East?
We had the technological ability to bomb the Iraqi people with audio and video tapes, take over their airwaves, and spam their computers with e-mails, not to spread false propaganda, but to reassure them they had more to fear from Saddam than from us.
We should have demonstrated our respect for the antiquity of the Iraqi culture, recognized their individual desire to protect their families, and sought to reassure them that we wanted to avoid harm to them and their institutions.
We should have reassured the Iraqi people we were not interested in their oil wealth, only to ensure it was used for their welfare, not for building palaces for Saddam.
Relying upon international and Islamic law and appealing to their common sense, we should have asked the people of Iraq to stand aside from the outlaw who had seized power over them and to let us help them to free themselves from his domination.
Wouldn’t it have been money well spent to offer a substantial individual reward, generous financial aid, and the elimination of economic sanctions to the surviving Iraqi government that deposed the tyrant? Wouldn’t it have been a far better investment than the billions we have already wasted and the billions more to come?
Should push come to shove, the armed elements of our Defense Department continue to be the mightiest military force in history and the most effective in the world today. Surely, the brilliant military planners in the Pentagon could have conceived and created a myriad of plans and actions to keep Saddam on the ropes, personally, until such time as he gave up, his own henchmen sold him out, or when a few brave volunteers had to go in and "arrest" him, and what he was doing, taking the outlaw into custody, dead or alive.
Building upon a smart instead of a stupid war policy, wouldn’t we (and the United Nations) be in a better position in the future to cope with violent dictators and unstable nations? Shouldn’t we at least consider the alternative?
Each war sows the seeds of hatred from which the next is grown, and wars will continue so long as we kill and injure human beings by choice in our efforts to impose our political will upon others.
We must break the cycle of hatred if we are to ever win the war against terrorism. We are the only nation whose citizens have the freedom and institutions to control its military and which has the power to remove dangerous foreign outlaws without causing the deaths of their innocent victims and the destruction of their victim’s means of existence.
Irrespective of the motivations of those who purport to lead us, we the ordinary people of the United States abhor war and the slaughter of innocents. We are not war criminals, and we cannot abide the commission of crimes under the guise of self defense.
We have an obligation to humanity to demonstrate our compassion, strength and imagination, and we have a duty to our children to avoid wasting their lives and futures in senseless wars when we can better accomplish our political aims by other means.