When I look at the history of the US in it’s armed conflicts since the second world war, it leads me to believe that not only are we a rouge nation, but we are a warmongering nation. The last time we were attacked by a foreign nation was December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. I believe the previous time that we were attacked was when the Spanish sunk the Maine in Havana around 1896. If we compare the number of times we’ve been aggressively attacked with the number of times we’ve engaged in armed conflict since the second world war, we get a rather obscenely lopsided set of numbers.
Just in my lifetime we had the Korean Conflict, the apparent intent being to save South Korea from communism. Was that our job? North and South Korea weren’t even separate countries until after the second world war. And the same dynamic applies to Vietnam. One country until after the second world war, and then forces external to the country (France and the US) split the country in two. In both cases the purpose of our involvement was to deny the people of those countries a right to self-determination because we knew better than they did what was best for them. The same applies to what went on in Cuba when Fidel Castro became it’s leader. They never in any way threatened us and we black listed and blockaded them - leading among other things to the Cuban Missile Crisis. We couldn’t allow them self government. Also true of Nicaragua and several other Latin American countries. And if we look at our interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, or wherever, in no situation were we or our ‘national security’ in any way attacked or threatened with attack. I don’t believe that we’ve made an actual declaration of war since WWII. That is supposed to be the criteria which allows us to engage in armed conflict. A declaration of war is required by the US Congress before we go to war. What’s going on in this picture?
I know that some people, perhaps millions of Americans, would say “What about 9/11?” The obvious response to that is: “What nation attacked us on that date?” From that perspective, I don’t doubt that had Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, been found to have been born in Iraq instead of Montana, Wyoming, or whatever state it was, we’d have gone to war with Iraq blaming it, the Middle East, and the Muslim religion for that horrifying event, instead of treating the incident as a civil crime by a small group of individuals which is what it was. The same should have been true for 9/11. It should have been treated purely as a horrifying criminal act by individuals, or an organization of individuals, Al Quaida, without creating rhetoric about war or ‘declaring war” which Bush did and Congress did not.
There is no nation at war with us. Bush seems to be verifying that by not knowing how to fight back or against whom to fight back. Instead he’s opted to bomb Afghanistan, initiate an unnecessary war with Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction, and fabricate an unsubstantiated relationship between Iraq and Al Quaida. (Note that the current rhetoric is no longer about weapons of mass destruction, but about deposing Hussein.) And now the axis of evil rhetoric which ensures that we can continue our enormous deficit producing defense budget expenditures. Saddam Hussein has been in two wars since he took over Iraq leadership, Iran and the Gulf War. Neither of which he managed to win, and according to Bush senior was bombed back into the stone age. He is now much weaker than he was before or during either of those conflicts. Israel states they don’t see him as a current danger to them. It’s difficult to imagine what reason he could fabricate to attack anyone at all beyond his internal problems with the Kurds. And we have Bush quoted by his own national security advisor as saying the only move Hussein could make to preclude war is voluntary exile. Again, what is going on in this picture? And just how ludicrous must our international machinations be when we have North Korea developing nuclear weapons which they are now using as a negotiations tool to increase their leverage in extracting foreign aid from us!
The current axis of evil rhetoric being used to define Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and apparently anyone who happens to disagree with us, is obviously designed to make a direct connection to the axis of the second world war and the basic evilness of Hitler. My recollection is that Hitler actively invaded and took over several other European countries. It now appears that through the administration rhetoric, the news media and especially CNN, we are marketing the concept of justified war.
This rhetoric appears to be designed for two primary reasons: one, to keep us as a nation in a constant state of anxiety and fear, and two, to justify our aggressive interventions throughout the world. Have you duct taped up your house against immanent terrorist attacks? Whoops we’re up to orange alert again! Fighter planes and helicopters over DC to protect it! Oops that was based on an unsubstantiated lie from an informer to whom the FBI failed to give a lie detector test. Are you sufficiently scared to accept a continued string of justifiable minimal risk wars and such grotesque defense budget numbers as $393,000,000 for this year? That’s more than all the other industrialized nations combined and more than all of our spending on services combined. Meanwhile we’re badgering the UN members that have been our allies to simply shut up and do as they are told.
I’m finding increasing difficulty hanging on to the belief that our federal administration is well intentioned and acting in what they believe is the best interest of the country and just happen to see things differently than I do. When I recall the official definition of terrorism* I question that they are well intentioned. So, I gather, do the overwhelming majority of our allies and the several millions of people throughout the world including the US, England, Italy, Indonesia, Australia who have been demonstrating against what is now being called Bush’s war. And we’re supposed to believe that he’s getting the bad guys and thereby making the world safe. It is glaringly evident that his current approach has the obvious likelihood of increasing, not decreasing terrorist attacks against us.
What other way is there to confront or dispute such overwhelming military might? We’ve reduced the world to a simple either/or choice: total subservient compliance to our desires or clandestine covert terrorist acts. I take an example of our military might from a book I’m currently reading called The Tunnels of CuChi. It’s a factual book about our war with Vietnam, which gives highly deserved credibility to the bravery and courage of our US fighting forces in that war, and also the courage of the Vietnamese people, against whom they were fighting. Some of the statistics in the book give a succinct capsulized example of our military might, and that was thirty five years ago - before smart bombs and the like. In one month one single battalion of the US 25th infantry division fired no less than 180,000 shells into the Cu Chi district averaging 4500 shells daily. In one month throughout South Vietnam we fired about a trillion bullets, (not a billion, a trillion) 10 million mortar rounds, and 4.8 million rockets. And this was just the beginning of the war before Lyndon Johnson stepped it up.
I see now that we have, however, won Bulgaria over to our way of seeing things. Ahah, another security council vote for us. And Spain who’s prime minister Aznar wants Spain to become a major player, a more prominent voice on the international stage. On the other hand, the parliament of Turkey, our ally since WWII, earlier voted against allowing US troops to base there and use their country as a launch point against Iraq’s northern border. We, in response, promised to withdraw our fifteen billion dollars in foreign aid to them. It seems they were trying to bargain us up from 15 billion to 30 billion, and when we would only go up to 26 billion their parliament voted ‘no’.
Finally, in his speech to the nation this evening, President Bush stated the reasons we have to go to war with Iraq are: "Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction he might share with terrorists, has a history of hating America, and is a destablizing force in the middle east." Can't the same be said of the US? "George Bush has weapons of mass destruction, has enable other countries (including Iraq) to develop these, has a history of hating opponents, and is a destabilizing force in the world?"
From his memoirs, President Eisenhower mused on the true purpose of the French and British going to the United Nations in 1956 during the Suez crisis. "Was it, we wondered, a sincere desire to negotiate a satisfactory peaceful settlement (as the British insisted) or was this merely a setting of the stage for eventual use of force in Suez? We were apprehensive." Ike would is surely turning over in his grave at what is going on today.
Is all this representative of what most Americans want? Does this represent the will of the people? Is this the foreign policy that represents our core values? Do we really believe that we’re saving the world from evil? Is this the most appropriate use of our enormous resources in the interest of world peace? And if your answer to those five questions are ‘no’, what do we do? How do we acquire meaningful input into the direction and behavior of the government that represents us?
To close on a note of hope, Dr. Robert Muller, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN, and now Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Peace in Costa Rica recently said.
"I am so honored to be alive at such a miraculous time in history. I am so moved by what's going on in our world today. Never before in the history of the world has there been a global visible public viable open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war. The whole world is now having this critical and historic dialogue, listening to all kinds of points of view and positions about going to war or not going to war. In a huge global public conversation, the world is askind: is war legitimate? is war illegitimate? is there enough evidence to warrant attack? and many other questions.
"All this is taking place in the context of the UN Security Council, the body that was in 1949 for exactly this purpose. Yes, troops are being moved, yes warheads are being lined up, yes the aggressor is angry and upset and spending a billiong dollars a day preparing to attack. But at this point, as yet not one shot has been fired, one life lost. As yet there is no war, it's all a conversation. The largest peace demonstrations in the history of the world are taking place and we are not at war. Most peace demonstrations in recent history took place when a war was already waging.
"So this is a miracle, this is what waging peace looks like. There is a global dialoque looking deeply, profoundly, and responsibly as a global community at the legitimacy of the actions of a nation that is desparate to go to war."
*The official definition of terrorism as found in the U.S. code and army manuals and elsewhere is:
“Terrorism is the calculated use of violence to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature through intimidation, coercion or instilling fear.”
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