Monthly Archives: September 2002

Thoughts on Pre-emptive War

The country impelled to strike first is the country where fear has come to control thought and action. or, it has ambitions of aggrandizement of one sort or another contrary to the accepted norms of international law and behavior which the world has tried hard to practice since the end of WWII. Such a country is not making rational decisions, regardless of how many supporters may be of similar opinions. The US Government is oversimplifying in the way that dictators and other governments throughout history have used to justify take overs of countries weaker than themselves. Invent a terrifying threat or over magnify one. Frighten your citizens to the point that they are willing to do whatever you say, and thus justify a war of conquest. The Bush administration goes beyond the pale in the name of an impossible “safety”. Even Teddy Roosevelt, President McKinley, and Hearst had “The Maine” as the excuse for their grab of the Philippines and Cuba (though who knows exactly how it was sunk). Though the truth was buried in a sea of yellow journalism, war was at least “justifiable” as a response to a perceived attack against the US. There was at least a concrete event that made our response seem justifiable. Where is the evidence that Iraq has attacked or is preparing to attack the USA? Where is the evidence that Iraq is actively supporting terrorists who support an attack on US interests? If it is a danger to its neighbors, have they asked for our help?

We and maybe the Iraquis should remember that the United States was occupier and ruler of the Philippines from 1898 until 1946, or almost 50 years. We have made no such long-term commitment anywhere in the world since. The occupation of Japan lasted 7 years. West Germany was occupied officially for 10 years. We withdrew from Vietnam defeated (though that wasn’t the explanation at the time) after 10 years. Bosnia was handed over to NATO and the diplomatic effort. Desert Storm lasted only a few months, and had the support and contributions of many allies. Our commitments appear to have been getting shorter and shorter.

Lots of other countries have or are said to be preparing weapons of mass destruction. Are we going to go to war against Pakistan, Lybia, Iran, North Korea, India, Russia, France, Great Britain, Israel because they have the potential know-how? Will they be next? Some of them not only have the know how but also the weapons themselves. Are we not ourselves possessors of weapons of mass destruction? What gives us the right to think that we are better than others who may not speak our language or believe the same things we do but have cultures far older and more experienced than ours? Has the Administration fallen into the trap of “Might makes Right”? Didn’t we learn from the collapse of the Soviet Union that the end never justifies the means? Could not other nations now be justified in banding together to attack us for our possession of weapons of mass destruction because we might possibly someday pose a threat to them?!

It seems to me that the preemptive strike doctrine is less a move toward a 21st century international order than a retreat into 18th ,19th and early 20th century ideas of world domination and colonial empire when wealthy powerful western nations grabbed vast sections of Africa and Asia by force, for trade and to subdue and convert the “natives” to our forms of Christianity.

We should be asking questions such as “Who gains what?” by a conquest of Iraq and search out the answers. Our oil interests might gain a reliable supply for awhile, until the terrorists recover from the shock and turn the entire Arab world into the deathly tangle that the Palestinians are now facing. Does an attack on Iraq foresee similar incursions into Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Jordan, Syria… The list will be endless.

It is nonsense to be blind to the effect that a conquest of Iraq will have on Muslim populations everywhere. What a great recipe for galvanizing all those who hate American power into action! We have learned to our sorrow how easily they outwit all our spying technical knowhow. Turning the US into a police state will not protect us from them as we repress their hopes in the name of our own culture and beliefs.

This issue is far more crucial to our national survival than the next election. The Democrats must wake up to the fact that this policy will ultimately be the seed of American downfall. The “Bully” always gets his comeuppance in the end. The Republicans will do well to remember that the effects of such a policy if accepted as the government wishes will last far beyond the next election and determine our economic and political fate far into the future.

A “pre-emptive” attack on Iraq will not make us safer. It will put us at far greater risk than we are now.