the Brink of War
President, Nuclear Age Peace
February 14, 2003
We are on the brink of a war that will undoubtedly be
disastrous for the people of Iraq, and likely even more
so for the people of the United States. Listening to
President Bush's rhetoric, one has the feeling that it is
Hate Week in Orwell's 1984.
Surely, Saddam Hussein is a dictator who has committed
atrocities in the past. Surely, the American people can
be aroused to hate Saddam. These are the buttons that are
being pushed by Bush and his militant advisors who are
eager for war.
As Bush raises shrill charges against Hussein, US
troops take up their positions on his orders surrounding
Iraq. According to Bush, "Saddam has the motive and the
means and the recklessness and the hatred to threaten the
But exactly what motive could he have?
Self-destruction? The desire to see himself and his
country destroyed? On the contrary, his motivation seems
to be to hold off a war by allowing free access in his
country to the United Nations weapons inspectors.
But still Saddam is easy to hate, and the Bush
administration is pressing for a war. "The United
States," says Bush, "along with a growing coalition of
nations, is resolved to take whatever action is necessary
to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime."
But how exactly is Saddam threatening us? What exactly
are we defending against? These are among the questions
that go unanswered by the administration and the media as
Bush pushes for war.
In fact, the Iraqi regime has been largely disarmed.
It will be a fairly easy target for the US military with
its crushing might, a far easier target of attack than
Sometimes in the flurry of administration invective,
it is difficult to remember that it is the United States
that has an arsenal of 10,000 nuclear weapons and Iraq
that has none, or that it is the US military that is
surrounding Iraq and that Iraq has not actually made any
threat against the US.
Neither the Bush administration nor the American media
has paid much attention to the consequences of a US
attack to "disarm" Saddam. They do so at their peril and
at the peril of the American people because the
consequences will be grave.
The consequences will include the deaths of many
innocent Iraqi civilians and young American troops. They
will include increased hatred of the US throughout the
Arab world, and a corresponding rise in terrorism. They
will include the undermining of the international law of
war and of the United Nations. The global economy could
be sent into a tailspin, and there will potentially be
serious adverse effects on the environment.
This war will cause major rifts in the Western
alliance. It will provide a precedent to other leaders
who want to solve international conflicts by means of
preemptive unilateral wars. It will encourage the
proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass
destruction in countries likely to be threatened by the
US in the future.
In the end, it will be the American people who will
pay the heaviest price for Bush's ill-considered war. We
will be the victims of future acts of terrorism and our
civil liberties will continue to be diminished as power
is concentrated in a dictatorial president.
We should not lose track of the fact that George Bush
was not elected. He was selected by a small group of
conservative justices on the US Supreme Court. This makes
it even more tragic that he is leading our country into a
Nelson Mandela, one of the great moral leaders of our
time, recently expressed his sense of the Bush
administration's policies: "It is a tragedy what is
happening, what Bush is doing in Iraq. What I am
condemning is that one power, with a president who has no
foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to
plunge the world into a holocaust."
Only the American people can stop this war, and only
if they act now in overwhelming numbers.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace
He is the co-editor with Richard Falk of The Iraq
Crisis and International Law.
TFF & the author 2003
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