Peace Porridge #29: 27 August 2002|
Three Ways to Wage War - and One to Wage Peace
"The Mysterious Stranger"
Domestically, Support for an invasion is down to little more than 50% from a high of almost 75%. Brent Scowcroft and Dick Armey are the latest republicans to speak out in opposition to invasion. Some democrats like Dennis Kucinich have been extremely vocal in opposition to war, but unfortunately, the democratic leadership has been severely lacking in both honesty and courage.
The Bush "chickenhawks" appear to be backing down on invasion, but lets be clear about their motives. It's not because of the zillions of good reasons like: It will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Iraq which has already killed over a million. It will lead to environmental degradation of a planet which is under severe stress, and very likely close to ecological collapse. Like the 1991 Persian Gulf War, it will almost certainly involve mass exposures to environmental toxins by both U.S. combatants and Iraqi civilians and combatants, killing and sickening hundreds of thousands or even millions. Like every recent war, it will almost certainly involve the use of new and more horrific weapons, maybe even tactical nuclear weapons. It will breed more enemies of the U.S. who eventually, like last September 11, will find a way to attack us with our own weapons. It will add to regional and worldwide instabilities with unpredictable results; not to mention the total unpredictability of war where short term winners often become long term losers.
None of the above seem to bother the war-makers. They are backing down from invasion simply because of the ground swell of opposition both at home and abroad. The world is fed up with an illegitimate U.S. administration which thinks might makes right and that it can make war whenever it wants, wherever it wants, and on whomever it wants. This "loud little handful," with a few exceptions such as Colin Powell, is made up of "chickenhawks," who "shout for war" while having no knowledge of it. People who would stay safely at home while ordering others to death and destruction.
The chief "chickenhawk" is George W. Bush, himself. During the Vietnam War, he secured a soft job (probably with daddy's help and influence) in the Texas Air National Guard, far from Vietnam. Even then, he seems to have disappeared and gone AWOL for an extended period of time. Dick Cheney is number two chickenhawk. He could have fought in Vietnam, but got a deferment. He had "other priorities than military service."
Among the loudest of the "loud little handful" are deputy secretary Paul Wolfowitz and his advisor Richard Perle. Neither have any military experience. Of Perle's shouts for war, senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a Vietnam combat veteran, remarked, "Maybe Mr Perle would like to be in the first wave of those who go into Baghdad."
Other prominent Bush "chickenhawks" are: John Ashcroft (Attorney General), Don Evans (Commerce Secretary), Spencer Abraham (Energy Secretary), Elliot Abrams (State Dept), Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas (stop the count and screw the Constitution), republican congressional leaders Trent Lott, and Tom Delay (I volunteered for Vietnam, but all the spots were taken by minorities), and of course Rush Limbaugh, who missed the Vietnam War because of anal cysts. Check them all out at Chickenhawks.
But, don't think that these "chickenhawks" consider peace as a viable alternative to invasion. The dispute among policy makers is over how best to continue waging the 12 year old war against Iraq. Peace is not even a factor in this equation.
Besides invasion, war strategies bandied about include "containment" and "regime change." These are falsely touted as being safer and more humane than outright invasion. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Containment" and "regime change" are war, veiled in a very thin disguise. "Containment" is a code word for sanctions combined with low level bombing and the continuous threat of escalation, exactly what the U.S. has been doing since 1991. UNICEF conservatively estimated in 1999 that approximately 5,000 children under the age of five die in Iraq each month of sanctions. Extrapolating to the present this yields about 700,000 young children dead from sanctions. But even if the true figure is as low as 100,000 as some claim, this killing of innocent children is nothing short of war, barbarism, and gross violations of the most basic human rights. By far the largest killers of children in Iraq are water-borne diseases. Deliberate bombing of water treatment facilities during the 1991 Persian Gulf War degraded Iraq's water quality. For 11 years, sanctions have blocked the rebuilding of the water treatment infrastructure, and the electricity sector which powers pumps and other vital water treatment equipment. Thomas Nagy's article, "The Secret Behind the Sanctions" , leaves little doubt that this massive attack on Iraqi children was premeditated and deliberate.
"Regime change" is a code phrase for covert CIA sponsored coup d'etat or proxy war involving the U.S. in a supporting role. The phrase evokes a picture of change in government leaving most civilians relatively untouched. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. To my knowledge, CIA sponsored "regime change" has never once benefitted the people of the target country. Here are just a few examples.
CIA sponsored "regime change" in Chile in 1973 led to years of brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet who is now wanted in Spain and other countries for war crimes and gross human rights violations.
During the 1980's the U.S. made war on Nicaragua by training, arming and giving support to several bands of terrorists known collectively as Contras. In 1990, Nicaraguans acquiesced to "regime change," voting in the U.S. backed candidate for president. In exchange the U.S. disbanded its Contra army. The result of this "regime change" is that Nicaragua, which was well on its way in 1985 to becoming the second country (after Cuba) in Latin America to provide universal primary education and childhood vaccinations, is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Last April, the Venezuelan people were so angered by the CIA backed coup which nearly deposed elected president Hugo Chavez, that the U.S. had to call off the coup and allow Chavez to return. "Regime Change" is unlikely to be any more palatable to Iraqis then it was to Venezuelans. Regime change is simply war by non-traditional means.
Peace, unfortunately, is not even mentioned by the policy makers. Last month the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on Iraq. Chairman Joseph Biden (D-DE) had neither the courage nor the honesty to call one single advocate of peace to testify before the Committee.
Waging peace is left to NGOs, organizations like Veterans for Peace, which through its Iraq Water Project, has been trying to heal the wounds of war by rebuilding water treatment plants which have been destroyed by war or rendered inoperable by sanctions. Veterans for Peace opposes war in all its forms and states, "We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once, at a time in our lives, so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it." Veterans for Peace has vowed to continue rebuilding Iraqi water treatment plants until sanctions are lifted and the war is over.
Another NGO that wages peace is Voices in the Wilderness. Voices has led 48 delegations to Iraq to bear witness to the devastating affects of war and sanctions on the Iraqi people, and to deliver medicines and school supplies to the beleaguered Iraqi people. In the event of invasion, Voices vows to establish a permanent U.S. peace presence in Iraq.
Anti-war activist, Bert Sacks, has been fined $10,000 by the U.S. Treasury Dept. Office of Foreign Assets Control for traveling to Iraq with Voices and bringing medicines to Iraqi children. Bert refuses to pay the fine. Instead, through Voices, he is raising $10,000 to send more medicines to Iraq.
It is ordinary people, working through peace organization like Veterans for Peace and Voices in the Wilderness who are courageously putting themselves on the line and turning the tide away from invasion and war. Let's keep up the pressure. Let Congress and the Bush administration know that no kind of war is acceptable. There will be peace, not because the "chickenhawks" allow it, but because we, the people, demand it.
"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days govern ments had better get out of their way and let them have it."
U.S. president and general