A Voice of Reason in This Season of Fear

by Glen Motil (Marine Corps Gulf War Veteran for Peace and Social Justice)

Allow me to attempt a voice of reason in this season of fear. The following is an article by Bush’s National Security Adviser, Dr. Condi Rice, and probably sheds light on the argument that Bush will make to the American people next week to justify his oil war. There is a lot of information I was not aware of– such as examples of nations that voluntarily disarmed. A tactic anti-war advocates can use to counter this argument is to inquire as to what was done differently in those other countries that wasn’t done in Iraq (or what was done to Iraq, that wasn’t done to the other countries– like devastating war, purposeful deceit and manipulation, and genocial sanctions).

I picked out the paragraph below as an example of the Bush administration’s consistent attempt to cause war-hysteria at every turn over so-called “weapons of mass destruction (WMD).” It is my belief, and this has been confirmed in talks by former Marine officer, Gulf War veteran and UN weapon’s inspector Scott Ritter, that most of the items the U.S. includes in its list of WMDs are terrible, and the world should be rid of them, but they are hardly reliant or, excuse me for the cynical term, “cost-effective.” Ritter points out that there is no doubt that nuclear and radio-active weapons are unquestionably WMDs, but there is no indication that Iraq has these. The U.S. on the other hand, has many of these and has used them in every conflict (Iraq, Serbia, and Afghanistan) since the end of the Cold War, in the form of cancer causing radioactive depleted uranium shells, and of course is the only nation to have used the nuclear bomb to target and kill an innocent civilian urban population. Ritter also makes the case that a battalion full of U.S. Marines with M-16s machine guns at the ready is a far less expensive and effective WMD than any chemical or biological agent. The brutal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq have been a far more effective weapon of mass destruction than any bombing campaign or amphibious assault, Ritter reminds us.

So let’s take a close look at Dr. Rice’s rhetorical skill and craft:

“Last week’s finding by inspectors of 12 chemical warheads not included in Iraq’s declaration was particularly troubling. In the past, Iraq has filled this type of warhead with sarin – a deadly nerve agent used by Japanese terrorists in 1995 to kill 12 Tokyo subway passengers and sicken thousands of others. Richard Butler, the former chief United Nations arms inspector, estimates that if a larger type of warhead that Iraq has made and used in the past were filled with VX (an even deadlier nerve agent) and launched at a major city, it could kill up to one million people. Iraq has also failed to provide United Nations inspectors with documentation of its claim to have destroyed its VX stockpiles.”

Notice that, depending on the text here alone, the warheads found were empty and did not even contain sarin. Sarin, as terrible as it is, may only cause a minimal amount of fatalities (12 in the case of the Tokyo subway, and this in a relatively controlled environment, i.e. a metal box, not the open air) and when used in a missile, that missile would nearly have to fall on the victim’s lap. So even if they found the actual sarin, which even Rice admits as being “in the past,” this is hardly a weapon of “mass destruction,” and it would hardly be worth the cost of keeping such a weapon around, let alone implementing it. Once again, for the price of a cartridge of rounds, the DC Sniper did more damage than sarin gas can ever do. Several hundred to possibly thousands more people die from lack of affordable health care in the U.S. than would ever fall victim to a anthrax attack. This, however, gets little media attention so people must suffer silently.

In the next sentence, Dr. Rice performs a classic “slip and slide” of logic. She introduces the possibility of a larger missile that Iraq used to have that may be able to carry VX nerve agent and can possibly kill a million people in one hit. Well, this may be true, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the canisters found, and NO sarin was found, let alone VX. Classic fear mongering, classic strawman targeting, and NOT a basis for war. Vaccinations? Small Pox? It’s a bugaboo, a chimera. Speculation is not grounds for a single American soldier to drop a single drop of blood. Speculation is a very poor excuse for displacing millions, killing hundreds of thousands and thumbing our noses at the rule of law. Any war justification would require at bare minimum that Iraq not only has these deadly weapons, but has a clear intent to use them against the United States directly, without provocation, in the very near future, and then only after ALL diplomatic options have broken down. This is a tough (perhaps impossible) burden of proof, but the use of violence demands such a burden. As Noam Chomsky reminds us, those who do not want war need no justification for their stance, it is those who desire war who must make their case.

The rest of Dr. Rice’s article alludes to potential general concerns but does not point out any specific real threat. She makes the not so difficult case that the Iraqi government lies. So what? All governments lie. Secretive, brutal dictatorships especially lie. Stalinist Russia lied time and again, but that did not make the argument for the first strike of a world war. No, we had summits, we had treaties with the Soviets, and the Soviet Union finally imploded under the weight of its own internal contradictions. North Korea just admitted to its lies. We know diplomacy will work there. Most people are aware that United States government lies to its own people (Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, etc.). So you prove that Saddam Hussein lies to maintain his grip on power. It doesn’t make it right, and this is not an arguement of defense or justification, but which government doesn’t lie?

For a person of Dr. Rice’s intelligence to make the shady argument and misuse of logic as was pointed out above is tantamount to a lie itself. Until our own government ceases to do the same, we have no moral authority to demand that others do. If Iraqi lies have a direct harmful effect on the health and well-being of the people of our nation, than we must prove this before an International Court. But the same goes for other nations who accuse the U.S. of lies.

So when a scholar of impeccable talent and intellectual skill such as Dr. Rice makes such a case, what are we to make of her motives? Why does she want to scare Americans into supporting this war, a war against a relatively defenseless nation that she must know, is absolutely avoidable, and unnecessary?

Voices from the Bush administration have made it clear this week that they don’t seek a way to avoid war. After nearly one million citizens and workers demonstrated on U.S. soil against the war this past weekend, nearly all major religions having denounced Bush’s plans, and several ally governments having publically announced their opposition, Bush still intends to have his war.

One of those unnamed, unaccountable “high government officials” was quoted in an LA Times article Wednesday saying that if there is any possibility that the U.N. Security Council would vote against military action, then the U.S. would not even bother going to the Security Council as, in some minds, it would make the U.S. look worse if its actions were not endorsed officially, than if it did not even seek such an endorsement. Now that both Germany and France seem to be taking that stand, the U.S. will probably bypass the U.N. completely, making this action a unilateral, “preemptive” war and a direct violation of the U.N. Charter, the Nuremberg Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and consequently, Article Six of the United States Constitution. The Bush team will have placed the United States beyond the pale of civil nations, and we will find ourselves literally at odds with the world at a time when we need friends more than ever. The U.S. military will find itself in the pricarious position of defending a policy last proclaimed by Nazi Germany. This policy was rightly denounced at the Nuremberg trials.

Make no mistake, this is what they plan to do. They spelled it out in the “Bush Doctrine” released in September (*see below), which changes U.S. policy from one of inter dependence towards integration and mutual cooperation to one of world domination. This is not rhetoric, it is a fact. See the document for yourself.

So, what to do about Saddam Hussein? If we are serious about our eagerness to see the Iraqi people liberated (i.e. experiencing democratic reforms), than we know what to do. The only true liberation is self-determination, and this must be recognized first and foremost.

We should do the same thing that we should do for all people living under tyranny: stop supporting terrorism and militarism and start supporting nonviolent democratic resistance movements and elements within those nations. Fund clean air, clean water, nutrition, shelter and health care initiatives in those nations. Support the International Criminal Court and prosecute all war criminals. All easier said than done, but far easier to control than the unpredictable effects of a war, and the basis is on helping people, not killing them. The first step in this effort in regards to Iraq is the lifting of economic sanctions and the military occupation of Iraqi air-space by British and U.S. forces(the so-called “no-fly zones”), the removal of U.S. troops from the Middle-East and withdrawal of support for Israel until they end the occupation and cease “planting” settlements in Palestinian territories.

This is a start.

I urge everyone to consider just what this war will mean. Remember the shock, the terror, anger and the loss of innocent human life of 9/11? Remember the generation-long quaqmire and horror of Vietnam? Well, imagine twenty 9/11s and three Vietnams happening to the U.S. within a 40 day period. This is what Bush is trying to justify doing to another people. And this is a people who already lost over one half million children over a period of ten years from a U.N. weapon of mass descruction.

I think here is the way for us to get behind the ball and not merely dodge what comes at us. We have to get to the heart of the Bush administration’s deception. The world has come around and now the majority of American citizens are slowly coming to the realization that we are not alone and we do not choose to live in fear, emotionally and spiritually enslaved to the men of violence and greed. I long for the disarmament of the world and the liberation of Americans from their addiction to war. Until then,


Glen Motil
Poet & Essayist
Marine Corps Gulf War Veteran for Peace and Social Justice

(*) The “Bush Doctrine” was officially set as policy in this document: The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002

Especially of concern:

“V. Preventing Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons of Mass Destruction.” This section sets the policy and makes the case for preventative war: something rightly and roundly condemned at the Nuremberg trials when the Nazis tried to use it as a defense.

“IX. Transform America’s National Security Institutions to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities of the Twenty-First Century.” This section explicitly states that the U.S. will not allow any other nation to equal its own military might (i.e. implied policy of U.S. military global domination), against the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and consequently the U.S. Constitution. But worse than this, all empires are despised, and empires eventually suffer a terrible fall. Is this what we want to be?

The doctrine makes its case as if it was a response to the terrorist atrocities of 9/11. In actuality, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell have been developing and trying to sell this doctrine since the end of the Cold War. Rice and Rumsfeld chipped in to make what was once considered an absurdity into our new reality. This document along with the USA PATRIOT act and the new Department of “Homeland” Security will have a deleterious effect on each and every one of us who truly love democracy, human rights and freedom.

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