Rush to war must stop!

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January 2003

   Jimmy Carter said this at his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize: "War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other's children” (Detroit Free Press, 12/11/02, page 12A).

   Contrast the above with this assessment of our current foreign policy. "David Armstrong argued in a recent Harper's piece that the White House plan is 'for the United States to rule the world,' and to do so without having to answer to the rule of law” (“A Gangster Nation?”, US Catholic, December 2002, p 43).

   There is much evidence to support this view of our current foreign policy. Since George Bush has become our President, he has withdrawn from serious peacekeeping efforts in the Middle East and severed conversations with North Korea. He has rejected the Kyoto Protocols, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the Biological Weapons Convention. He has resisted signing an agreement with Russia to reduce deployed nuclear weapons.

   President Bush refused to treat Taliban and Al-Queda captives as prisoners of war and subject to international law. In May, he unsigned the treaty creating the International Criminal Court and told the world that American troops were not subject to this court.

   President Bush appears to have decided to wage war against Iraq without UN or allied support. He dismisses every statement that comes from Hussein or Iraq. He dismissed the 12,000 page report from Iraq before he had a chance to see what was in it!  He is minimizing the work of the inspection team in Iraq before their work is done. He refuses to give the UN inspectors the evidence he has supporting Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction so they can verify his claims. (Colin Powell seemed to indicate in late December that the US is now giving this information to the UN.) His plans to invade Iraq probably violate articles 41, 42, and 51 of the UN Charter. He keeps telling us that it is up to Hussein to avoid war. He insists that those who oppose him are unpatriotic. At the same time he is amassing troops in the Middle East for invasion in 2003.

   President Bush has repeatedly declared that the most dangerous rogue nations are those that: 

1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
2) ignore due process at the United Nations;
3) refuse to sign and honor international treaties; and
4) have come to power through illegitimate means.
Except for item 4, doesn't this describe the United States as well? Given the dubious resolution of the Presidential election in 2000, even item 4 could be argued favorably about President Bush. Why is there so little outrage about what our President is doing?

   Is Saddam Hussein a peace-loving friendly ruler of the US? Of course not! Has he violated the UN Charter himself? Of course! Has he committed atrocities against his own people? Without a doubt! Are those reasons enough for our President to wage a war against him? Absolutely not!

   The US is already waging war against Iraq. "Through the first four months of the year, U.S. and British forces struck Iraqi sites in the northern and southern no-fly zones just six times, while in the past four months they have launched about four dozen air raids…. Iraq and several major powers do not recognize the legitimacy of the zones." In other words, they are not part of any U.N. agreement. The war also includes a propaganda campaign. Seven times in the last three months aircraft dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in areas where planes struck warning Iraqis that "rebuilding defensive facilities would put their lives in danger." The leaflets also directed Iraqis to listen to U.S. broadcasts beamed into the country (The Washington Post , "Casualties of an Undeclared War", (12/22/02), A25).

   Chris Hedges spent 15 years as a foreign correspondent, covering conflicts in Central America, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Hedges says that, "Anybody who gets caught up in combat, even noncombatants, can get addicted to that rush, that sense of purpose that allows you to step outside the small daily concerns of your life and live for a great cause, to endow yourself with a kind of nobility. War is a drug - perhaps the most potent narcotic known to humankind." It is a "myth of glory, heroism, nobility" that is "sustained by the state, the entertainment industry, the press…. The biggest thing I understood is that war as it's portrayed in society is a lie" (Sojourners Magazine, "An Enticing Elixir", January-February 2003, 48).

   That lie is perpetuated by a language of patriotism, of exalting the United States and demeaning the enemy. When that happens, it becomes very difficult to find peaceful solutions. Have we gone too far down this road of patriotic excess and fervor?

   In the last few months the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Canadian Council of Churches, the US Catholic Bishops, the presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Church, the Church of the Brethren, and the president's own church - the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society - have called a preemptive war unjust ("Courage Under Fire", U.S Catholic, January 2003, 48).

   What further evidence is needed to oppose the President's call for war? Please oppose the war in Iraq. Call Rep. Dave Camp at (989) 631-2552, Sen. Carl Levin at (202) 224-6221, Sen. Debbie Stabenow at (202) 224-4822, and the President at (202) 456-1111. We must stop this mad rush to war!