Let’s exit the make-believe world of pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by, economic upturn just around the corner, sovereignty and democracy blooming in Baghdad, bad guys on the run, a firm hand on the tiller, freedom for America. There are some things we know, and they call for changes.

   9.11 took place on GW Bush’s watch.

The Cheney-Rumsfeld group gave terror little time between 20 January and 11 September 2001. Bush did nothing in response to the warning in the 6 August President’s Daily Brief.

   GW Bush has squandered America’s reputation for law, decency, and collaboration with allies, and squandered the sympathetic good will which flowed to America after 9.11.

Only with the willing support of all friends of liberty can we contain, reduce, and quell terror.

   Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere, the White House practiced torture—and may still.

GW Bush personally approved designating ‘enemy combattants’. There is no category ‘enemy combattant’ in international law. Then the claim that the captives, because they were in ‘Cuba’, were beyond the reach of US courts, denial of legal counsel, holding without charges, and then interrogation under torture: all of these undermine the principles most basic to the Constitution and law of the United States.

Did GW Bush stand up and say hooding, forcing prisoners to endure heat and cold, stripping prisoners naked, shackling them in harsh positions, and other techniques of ‘interrogation’ were wrong and must be stopped? Absolutely not. Instead, the White House produced memoranda justifying that conduct. These are tortures, plain and simple, the work of GW Bush’s agents, in our name.

   GW Bush won Congress’s 10-11 October 2002 Iraq war authorization by claiming there were threats to the United States which did not exist.

On the most important question a President confronts—to make war or not—the evidence that war is necessary must be compelling. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the US public, were led to imagine that Iraq could pass weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, posing an imminent threat. We now know that there was no convincing evidence to that effect.

We also know that senior White House officials, especially Vice-President ‘Dick’ Cheney, cultivated the impression that Iraq and al-Qaida worked together, and led many Americans to believe that Iraq had a part in the 9.11 attacks. We know, and the 9.11 Commission confirms, that there were no significant ties between Iraq and al-Qaida.

   The White House deliberately prevented the UN inspectors from finishing their work in Iraq.

The Cheney-Rumsfeld group openly disparaged the UN inspection process. The inspectors were finding that US ‘leads’ led nowhere.

   The 19 March 2003 attack on Iraq launched a ‘war of choice’, not a war of necessity.

The old-fashioned word ‘aggressor’ is the correct word to describe a country which launches a ‘war of choice’. The GW Bush White House wrapped its move in the phrase ‘preemptive war’, claiming that it was acting to ward off an otherwise inevitable attack. It sought to give the impression such an attack was or could be imminent, but we now know they had no evidence at all that Iraq was about to attack, or to give WMD to anyone else.

And like every war, the 19 March 2003 Iraq War has meant death, wounding, destruction, disruption, chaos, and fear, all tracable to GW Bush and his crowd, in our name. [Saddam’s treacheries, however vicious, were not done in our name.]

   The GW Bush war on Iraq is an illegal war.

For good reasons international lawyers have distinguished a ‘preemptive war’ from a ‘preventive war’. The White House war on Iraq is properly termed a ‘preventive war’, one which addresses threats in the longer term. International law accepts that a country with persuasive evidence that it is about to be attacked may go first, denying the state which intended to attack the advantage of striking first. That is a true preemptive war. But a ‘preventive war’, undertaken because a government believes that sometime in the future it will be attacked and that time is not on its side, is not authorized, because any country at all could make such a claim, and any country at all could therefore claim that it was making war legally.

White House statements that its war on Iraq was justified by UN resolutions are fatuous. The question of war was properly before the UN Security Council. The Security Council did not authorize war. Resolution 1441 did not create an automatic right for the United States to do whatever it chose. Resolution 1441 received a unanimous vote because members, including Permanent Members with a right to veto, believed that the issue had to come back to the Security Council, for what was called the “second resolution”, before war could be authorized. When the United States and Britain went back to the Security Council they could not muster the nine votes needed to pass a “second resolution”, but they went to war anyway.

   Then—unsound ‘necessity’ and illegality aside—the war launched on 19 March 2003 was misconceived, a grotesque blunder of imagination, driven by senior officials now shown to have had no sense of Iraqi society, no sense how an invader and occupier would be greeted. In short, this was the work of ignorant men, and women, striving to impose their illusions on others in the name of desire.

As it dawned on America that there was no “Mission Accomplished” on 1 May 2003, Washington insiders pointed out that the Department of Defense had pointedly ignored pre-war work by the Department of State to gather sound advice about the aftermath of attack and what social and civil difficulties would be faced. There was no lack of warning. It should not be forgotten that the Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki, warned against going to war with such a small force, but Rumsfeld belittled him and dismissed his objections.

   GW Bush and Cheney-Rumsfeld policies are in salient respects similar to those of Israeli Likudists, crippling any chance that the United States be a credible voice for democracy in the Middle East.

GW Bush has aligned US policy with that of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, abandoning even the appearance of even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. The White House is oblivious to the cruel ironies in its adoption of Israel as an ally in the ‘war on terror’. It adopts Israeli methods in Iraq, insisting on the unfortuate necessity of civilian deaths and maimings.

   The White House is drawn magnetically to coercion and intimidation and secrecy, in ways and to degrees that threaten American constitutional freedoms and liberties.

Examples are abundant. Cheney’s Energy Task Force, collecting industry input behind closed doors. Holding hundreds and hundreds of detainees after 9.11, refusing even to name their names. Winning Congressional assent to invasive expansions of wiretap and search, including searches which many believe—this writer believes—violate Fourth Amendment rights. Seeking to be able to track every communication sent from one person to another in the United States. Creating a secret ‘no-fly’ list, which violates the requirement that punishment be imposed only after a due process judicial hearing; and which is so absurd in its reach that it trapped—repeatedly—Senator Edward Kennedy and Congressman John Lewis. Other secret lists and dossiers. Video surveillance. Barring US travel abroad to a country which Europeans and Canadians may freely visit.

❄ CONCLUSIONS.   The GW Bush Administration, in office now since 20 January 2001, has compiled an extraordinary record of incompetence and dangerous actions. It has failed to pursue al-Qaida with all relevant means at its disposal, turning its resources instead against Iraq. It has stretched the US military dangerously thin. It has done the work of Osama bin Laden, creating the conditions for al-Qaida recruitment for another decade at the least. It has practiced a dismal policy with respect to Palestine. Its domestic policies aid the rich and the corporations, and work against the poor and the elderly. Its policies savage environmental gains. And above all it admits none of its prodigious wrongs, insisting instead that tax cuts for the rich and the ‘war on terror’ are signs of strength, determination, and will.

The GW Bush crowd, and Republicans in Congress who support White House policy, are an unsound and dangerous lot. They should be voted out of office, their policies reversed, and the light of public scrutiny, accountability, and long-standing protections of law restored.


[Bruce’s Blog: 2004.09.14. Post: Bxx Short Link p=52. Front Door Index: http://blog.learnworld.com/. Permalink: http://www.learnworld.com/BRUCE/uncategorized/❄-what-we-know/]

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