|We all knew the war was wrong but why? We all knew the peace movement wouldn’t stop the war but what did we expect and what do we expect now?
Jonathan Schell of The Nation referred to last winters peace rallies as “the “World’s Other Superpower”. I was present at the February 15 rally in Dallas, Texas and what I saw was hopeful. I had spent the previous day making homemade signs to hand out to empty handed peace-mongers. “Stop the White Men of Mass Destruction/Weapons of Mass Distraction”, “War is for Terrorists”, “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” and “War Prevents Peace” just to name a few. I was awakened by Bush’s fraudulent election and the pendulum hit me hard on September 11.
One morning before work I was watching CNN (at the time I didn’t know any better) and Paula Zahn had a guest. It was this little old man who was calling the United States a rogue nation. I was completely flabbergasted; I had never heard a comment like that in the press. Anyways, the little old man was plugging his book 9/11 and I checked it out. Turned out to be a prominent activist and controversial linguist, Noam Chomsky (he has a theory that human language capabilities are predetermined and are a biological component of what he calls the “language faculty”). The book is good material for anyone who is objective enough to be honest with their applications of morals and principles. I have found myself engulfed in a fountain of knowledge on the subject. The Intelligence Age has had its pros and cons, but that’s another story. So, this set the stage for a deep and philosophical journey into politics, humanity, psychology, history and even myself.
As events kept unfolding with each new drama (and of course I kept noticing the mainstream media goose-stepping around the topics and at times silencing criticism altogether) and the jingoism was becoming more and more aggravating I started noticing a trend. The pendulum that flung me to the center turned out to be affecting others as well. Before I go on I want to point out that there are so many factors on so many levels that are constantly changing and which define who, where, when and what we are. For every action there is a reaction: The Physics of Sociology. There are those who have gone further to the right, way out in left field and a considerable people like myself who have found there way to the moral center. We do not choose sides we choose life for all. Every dream, experience, nightmare or thought is completely centered on others or our relationship with others. The whole point of our existence is the relationship we foster with others. There is an infinite amount of choices and these choices hold consequences. From this fundamental truism we construct morals, principles, virtues and law. However, none of these things mean anything if we are not consistent in our exercise of proclaimed passions. I am speaking of hypocrisy.
The peace movement that is building has had a peak, February 15. But, it is still here and people are still paying attention and active. I have noticed an attitude of “why bother, the war is over?” but we can see through that defeatist attitude. It is not over. The War Machine is still on and more dangerous than ever. You do not need to be an expert or a college graduate to know this. The world is unprecedented in its distribution in wealth, military and economic wealth. We know now through declassified documents that the Cold War was a sham. Soviet strength was grossly distorted so the Kennedy Administration could garner public support for huge defense (or should we say offense) spending at a time when the very fabric of our society was at torn ends of racial equality. Since the end of the Cold War the US has made it clear that it will not allow its power to be challenged. If this means using state terrorism in countries to control resources we do not need or use just so we can dominate another countries market (Middle East oil to mention one example) or to place nuclear weapons in space to protect American interests, what’s next? Intelligent weapons that can tell the difference between civilians and the enemy (smart bombs and love bullets or freedom fries and liberty cabbage)? Or could it tell the difference between a pharmaceutical plant (Sudan) from weapons manufacturing facility?
It is these types of issues that should point out very clearly (especially a “democratic” society that cherishes it’s freedoms so much that we will bomb the hell out of anyone our leaders say is a threat) that our peace movement should not have been narrowly focused on Iraq like some have done.
I would like to point out some interestingly stubborn facts about Iraq that have been almost unmentioned in the “debate” before I go on to why the movement needs to be broader.
First, Iraq was created out of the Paris Peace Talks. Great Britain, Germany, France and Russia agreed on dividing the Ottoman Empire for their own self-interests and not the will of the indigenous people (but has any foreign power?). They promised the locals independent states if they revolted against the Sultan and they did. Palestine (this is the birth of the Israel/Palestine conflict and a story for another time), Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were born. Great Britain occupied Iraq and with oddly comparative rhetoric to those from the current Bush Administration, promised the Iraqis liberation, control of their society and a new prosperous future. The British would even be so kind to use the Iraqi resources to reconstruct Iraq (through the form of taxes, oil was not the concern at the time). Well, the Iraqis did not take well to foreign occupation and taxes and revolted against the new occupier as well. So Winston Churchill decided to do periodical bombardments of civilians (the first time in history) and even considered using leftover nerve gas from WW1 but was pressured not to. The British continued to occupy Iraq for about 20 years.
Second, recent declassified government documents from the George Washington University National Security Archive show massive amounts of US propaganda targeted to Iraq. It was so blatant that the people of Iraq resented it because they knew it had nothing to do with their lived and everything to do with American interests.
Third, in the 6 Day War Iraq showed its opposition to Israel’s occupation of Arab land (I recommend Moshe Sheratt’s personal diary as a source to the real Israeli planning of that conflict. It is as revealing as the Pentagon Papers). So in 1967 the US classified Iraq as terror supporting country. So what does one do when a government opposes you? You arm its military in a coup de tat or something along those lines. It is interesting that that is when the Ba’ath Party came into power and in 1970 a prominent General took office of Vice President; Saddam Hussein. It was not till 1982 that the US took Iraq off of its “terror supporting” list, though documents clearly show there was an ongoing relationship being fostered. Once the Shah fell in 1979 Saddam Hussein seized power of Iraq and declared a war on Iran, isn’t that ironic (don’t you think?)?
Fourth, it was our support along with Great Britain that allowed Iraq the capabilities to create WMD and use against the Iranians on “almost a daily basis”. It was Donald Rumsfeld who personally met with Saddam to warmly greet him and discuss business (not the illegal use of WMD).
Fifth, in regards to the supposed terrorism link between Iraq and Al Qaida, where is the evidence? Lets get some background on the relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Saddam had spent the past 30 years fighting Islamic fundamentalism (remember the Iran-Iraq war that we funded, both sides!) and bin Laden had even been willing to put aside his anger for US forces in Mecca and Medina to allow time for the Americans to defeat Saddam (and when we stayed after the war Osama called for his version of Jihad and not the real jihad which literally means “to struggle”). So the link is very questionable and just does not hold up without evidence.
Sixth, the claim could not be our love of human rights (especially when you look at the condition we have left Afghanistan in for the second time!) and Hussein’s contempt. We share some responsibility for the Iran-Iraq War, the attack on the Kurds in 1988, the crushing of the rebellion in 1991 and the sanctions that took too many lives. Also, what about the other brutal leaders we support? Does Uribe, Mubarak, Sharon, the Saudi Royal family or China not count? I am all for getting rid of these styles of leadership but the real issue is how. We need in depth debates about our policies and not just rhetoric thrown around to silence dissent (“support our troops” for one, other than the moral support I lend all human beings and the taxes I pay for them; Why should I support them? What they are doing is following orders that are illegal, unjustified and immoral. The Geneva Convention does bind soldiers to disobey unlawful orders. Look at Yesh Gvul, the Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories).
The last point, Iraq does not have the industrial capacity to withstand a weapons program on the level in which we have accused. If you have not read or heard Dr. Blixs and Dr. El baradeis speech to the UN on March 7, 2003 then you should. They pointed out that the industrial capacity, infrastructure and realistic capabilities of still possessing or restarting a weapons program are simply not there. Ground penetrating radar, air/vegetation/water and land samples, satellite imagery, comparing of documents and no-notice searches of complexes turned up no evidence. So let us think rationally. They do not have the places to store or create the weapons, there is no evidence of existing weapons being found, no delivery systems and to top it off the Niger claim was based off a fraudulent document. You can be the skeptic and can you decide. Though, I would suggest checking out Scott Ritter’s speech to the Iraqi parliament (a truly modern historic document) and his interview with William Rivers Pitt if you haven’t already.
Okay, with that over with let’s quickly turn to how I feel this movement should proceed. We should further define our position. We must stand against the hypocrisy and lies of not just our government but all governments and institutions whose sole role in the world is to concentrate power and not the good will of mankind. We must accept responsibility for our position in the world. As Americans we own a huge portion of responsibility in regards to international and domestic conflicts that our tax money is poured into. Also, it is our civic duty to keep these thugs-in-office in check. Bush may have been “appointed” but we allowed him to be. We must be “moral agents” in this world of immorality and war mongering. This movement has got to grow beyond one conflict. We are one world and one race and it is outrageously stupid to allow leaders to manufacture conflicts in which we the people pay all of the costs. Conflicts that no one wants but those who instigate and provoke them seem to be the same people denouncing these conflicts (one sided and usually to justify their violence). When we open our minds to the truth of what is going on around us then this movement will start to blossom. But, until then we must all do our share in fostering an environment where the truth can be heard and tolerated. Resist jingoism in all its forms!
- The United States has always opposed any sign of Arab nationalism or independence, partly for its own imperial reasons and partly because its unconditional support for Israel requires it do so -- Edward Said
- We have to think about this awful thing that happened on September 11. We need to feel deeply for the victims and the families. But we also need to learn from it -- Howard Zinn
- The United States has sowed in the Middle East and South Asia very poisonous seeds. These seeds are growing now. Some have ripened and others are ripening. An examination of why they were sown, what has grown, and how they should be reaped is needed. Missiles won’t solve the problem -- Eqbal Ahmad
- Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions --
Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials
- I have been meditating on the long chain of false events and hostilities we have invented, and on the many clashes we have provoked which cost us so much blood, and on the violations of law by our menall of which brought grave disasters and determined the whole course of events and contributed to the security crisis -- Moshe Sheratt, Prime Minister of Israel from 1953-1955, writing in his personal diary on the covert operations Israel carried out on neighboring Arab countries in order to provoke an attack
- The importance of securing international peace was recognized by the really great men of former generations. But the technical advances of our times have turned this ethical postulate into a matter of life and death for civilized mankind today -- Albert Einstein
-Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong have governed my life: The longing for love, the search for knowledge and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind - Bertrand Russell
But the point is, what was the need to develop this huge international terrorist network involving mercenary states? It’s that the US government couldn’t intervene directly whenever it wanted to anymore, so it had to do it in what amounted to quite inefficient ways -- Noam Chomsky
- The only antidote to ward off self-destruction and the indiscriminate use of force is humility and, ultimately compassion -- Chris Hedges
- The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics -- George Orwell
A Real Texan’s Reflections on the Iraq War And the Peace Movement
By Michael McGehee
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 10 May 2003.