101 Reasons Not to Go to War with Iraq

by Alton Miller, who served as Press Secretary to Mayor Harold Washington, teaches “Politics and the Media” at Columbia College Chicago. He is also a member of PCG’s Board of Directors. His other commentaries are also available online.

  1. It’s not moral. War can never be a moral act, not even as a “last resort.” In the best case, war is a necessary evil. What is the moral difference between a crusade and a jihad?
  2. A war on Iraq would not qualify as a just war, conforming to a set of principles that have evolved among civilized societies. A just cause should not be confused with a
    just war.
  3. A war on Iraq for the purpose of “regime change” would not be a legal war under international law. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or
    political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with
    the Purposes of the United Nations.”
  4. Bombing of civilian populations is a form of terrorism even more abhorrent than low-tech terrorist street bombings of innocents. This has been so ever since the first instance of “strategic” bombing
    (coincidentally, in Iraq, in 1917 by the British), up to the devastating bombing of Afghanis in our efforts to destroy Al Qaeda, and our continuing bombing
    into Iraq over the past ten years.
  5. Preemptive war” is anti-American. The concept was made infamous by Adolf Hitler, who claimed his aggression was necessary, to prevent attacks on Germany.
  6. Killing fleeing conscripts in a “turkey shoot” like the one that ended the 1991 Gulf War, another likely feature of a new war in Iraq, is un-American, and will certainly take a postwar psychological toll on the combatants who participate in such repugnant acts,
    and on their families.
  7. War without a new, specific U.N. resolution based upon evidence of Saddam’s continued non-compliance with U.N. demands would undermine the U.N. and the ideal of a world system based on lawful principles.
  8. War now would reaffirm ugly precedents in U.S. Constitutional law. The U.S. Congress has earned disrespect for its abdication of responsibility for declaring war. The shame is mitigated only by the fact that Bush has not yet rendered their abdication effective, by waging war without a
  9. War always has corrosive effects on Constitutional rights. It brings out the worst in presidents, vice-presidents, and attorneys general who are tempted to take Nixonian shortcuts.
  10. The war mentality is providing the rationale for U.S. assassinations,
    like the one in Yemen in early November, making us all complicit in extra-judicial “terminations with extreme prejudice,” of not only unindicted suspects but also their friends and acquaintances.
  11. Saudi Arabia, not Iraq, is the homeland of Osama and most of his 9-11 suicide squad: “The U.S. warmly supports the royal kleptocracy next door in Saudi Arabia, fully as totalitarian, if not
    quite as violent, as Saddam’s government. Any non-Muslim and most women would
    probably prefer living in Iraq,” points out the conservative National
    , in an antiwar editorial.
  12. War propaganda threatens to corrupt U.S. media. The Pentagon announced last
    February that it had created the “Office of Strategic Influence” to promote the war on terrorism. Though they quickly backpedaled, we were reminded that truth is the first casualty of war. We recall the reports of atrocities in Kuwaiti hospitals, from a “witness” who turned out to be the daughter of the Saudi ambassador to Washington; she had no connection with the hospital. It was later revealed that she had been professionally coached by the Hill and Knowlton PR firm.
  13. The PR component is integral, not peripheral, and blurs public awareness of the facts. In the first Gulf war, “Hill & Knowlton produced dozens of video news releases (VNRs) at a cost of well
    over half a million dollars, but it was money well spent, resulting in tens of millions of dollars worth of ‘free’ air time. The VNRs were shown by eager TV news directors around the world who rarely (if ever) identified Kuwait’s public relations (PR) firm as the source of the footage and stories.” So write John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton.
  14. Internationally, too, PR techniques, propaganda, and intelligence operations are replacing diplomacy and genuine culture-to-culture outreach in our dealings with other nations, a process war
    will accelerate.
  15. War will also accelerate our drift toward empire, increasingly the subject of
    popular discourse, cover articles in magazines, learned journal articles.
  16. In a war on Iraq we’ll lose friends all around the world. That’s true generally.
  17. War on Iraq would have serious consequences in Turkey, where sympathy for 9-11 has faded and antiwar
    protests reinforce polls that show not only opposition to war on Iraq, but also that only 30% support America’s war on terrorism.
  18. War plans are alienating the French public, where 75% believe that
    “the main reason the United States would go to war with Iraq would be ‘because the U.S. wants to control Iraqi oil.'” A L’Humanité poll published Jan. 17 tracks antiwar sentiment: “Asked by the CSA
    polling agency whether they would support US intervention in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, 66 percent of those who responded said they were opposed, up from 58 percent in a poll conducted in August.” We read reports this morning(Jan. 21) that France will not only oppose immediate military action, but will seek “to mobilize the European Union to avert a war against Iraq.”
  19. The British are not with us. In the wake of massive demonstrations in the U.K.
    (200,000 in London last September, and antiwar sentiment has been growing), Prime Minister Tony Blair has softened in his unqualified support for U.S. war aims: “A survey conducted [in September] found that 69 percent of Britons felt that Mr. Blair was too supportive of US policy toward Iraq.” A Jan. 15 BBC poll asked, “Has the government proved the case for a war with Iraq? 81% said no. Just 19% said yes.” A poll reported today(Jan. 21) “shows that opposition to a war has risen steadily from 37% in October to 47% now.”
  20. Pakistanis are against war on Iraq. In a recent poll, 70% of the Pakistani public said they hold an unfavorable view of our
    country. A Yankee war would fuel the fires of Islamist extremists there who, should an unstable government fall, could inherit Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
  21. War on Iraq is bad for the people of Bali, Tunisia, Mombasa – and for tourists to those and other world sites where “soft targets” await vindictive terrorists.
  22. War will selectively, profoundly disrupt the lives of more than a million family members across the United States. The Pentagon says “up to 250,000 troops may be
    mobilized for the invasion of Iraq. An additional 265,000 members of the National Guard and Reserve, roughly as many as were called up during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, may also be activated.”
  23. War will create new terrorists. “9-11” has been described as an unintended consequence of the 1991 Gulf War. Certainly, experts agree, Osama has little genuine interest in the plight of Palestinians or other Mideast issues. Osama’s stated casus belli and recruitment tool was the U.S. violation
    of sacred Saudi soil.
  24. Arms inspectors are saying that Iraqi officials have granted completely open access to every site, are permitting the questioning of Iraqi scientists, and are otherwise in compliance with U.N. Resolution 1441.
  25. A war with Iraq would be very costly. “Informal estimates by congressional staff and Washington think tanks of
    the costs of an invasion of Iraq and a postwar occupation of the country have been in the range of $100 billion to $200 billion. If the fighting is protracted, and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein blows up his country’s oil fields, most economists believe the indirect costs of the war could be much
    greater,” according to various reports.
  26. A subsequent occupation would be even more costly.”This war could cost over a trillion dollars, and no one should think that we’re going to be able to use Iraqi oil to pay for it,” writes Thomas L. Friedman in the New
    York Times.
  27. Occupation of Iraq would be a disaster. “You ought to see a therapist if you want to occupy Iraq,” says political scientist Charles A. Kupchan“It’s just the last place I would want to set up shop. The whole region is deeply anti-American. They’ll probably be dancing in the streets for 24 to 48 hours and then they’ll take up sniper positions. That’s where I think things could go wrong with barracks exploding, etc. If that were to happen, at the end of the day it would cause us to pull in our horns and cause Americans to say, ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?'”
  28. Postwar trials will prove embarrassing for American officials and corporate executives, as we hear testimony from Iraqi officials whose war crimes were committed under U.S. tutelage – in the 1980’s when Saddam was our ally/client fighting Iran.
  29. The
    rationale for preemptive strikes and the war against terror gives the Chinese a free hand to “preempt” “terrorists” in their own sphere of interest.
  30. It gives the Russians a rationale to deal preemptively with Chechens and other
  31. It gives the Turks a precedent in dealing with their Kurds.
  32. In fact, it so violates established precedents and principles of international law that it sets back the progress of the past 60 years of U.N. development.
  33. The war policy is tainted by politics. War hype was postponed until the weeks immediately prior to the November 2002 elections. The explanation from White
    House chief of staff Andrew Card: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new
    products in August.”
  34. U.S. policy vis-à-vis Saddam has been dominated by a clique of hawks (the
    Wolfowitz-Perle-Cheney “cabal” in the Pentagon), whose agenda has not been publicly aired and subjected to evaluation or Congressional debate.
  35. “Many Pentagon generals reportedly disagreed with their civilian bosses on the immediacy of the Iraqi threat.” Since August the brass have gotten in line, but it’s hard to erase images like the one painted by retiring Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni who scoffed at the idea of plans for democracy that depend upon exiled Iraqis: “There are congressmen today who want to fund the Iraqi Liberation Act, and let some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London gin up an expedition. We’ll equip a
    thousand fighters and arm them with $97 million worth of AK-47s and insert them into Iraq. And what will we have? A Bay of Goats, most likely.”
  36. Brent Scowcrofthas argued against precipitous military action in Iraq.
  37. “Already, the preparations for war are distracting Washington from the task of rebuilding
    Afghanistan,” as Michael Massing writes in The Nation.
  38. And from the ongoing violence in the Middle East.
  39. War is also providing cover for political abuse here at home. When licenses to
    administration cronies for drilling in Alaska can be wrapped up in a “patriotic” agenda, we know we’re near the bottom of the barrel.
  40. The plight of the cities, and the economic problems afflicting all 50 states, also
    take a back seat when the country goes to war.
  41. An unjustifiable preemptive war will be opposed by a majority of Americans. “Only about three-in-ten Americans say they would favor war in Iraq if no weapons program is discovered, even if there is no proof that Iraq is not hiding weapons,” according to a poll
    by the Pew Charitable Trust reported last week.
  42. War will evoke massive antiwar rallies, further straining citizens’ relationships with local authorities, and further draining city budgets.
  43. The talk of a “perpetual war,” so reminiscent of Orwell’s novel, 1984, suggests a willingness to accept a long-term suspension of civil rights, looser reins on Federal prosecutors, and more secret tribunals.
  44. A “perpetual war” would also tend to institutionalize paramilitary practices on the part of police departments who will have to develop new routines for handling civil disobedience.
  45. A war on Iraq, obsessively occupying U.S. attention, will encourage other world states
    with scores to settle, to settle them now while world attention is focused
  46. Despite claims that they are stalling or lying, in fact Saddam’s officials appear to be
    complying with every request from U.N. inspectors.
  47. There is no evidence justifying a war. The Bush administration has claimed to have it but they have not produced it – either to make their case to the American public or (as far
    as we know) to guide U.N. arms inspectors who have asked for it. Only this week (Jan. 14) did chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix announce that some materials “from several sources” have become available.
  48. So far, the evidence formally presented has been a 50-page dossier British Prime
    Minister Tony Blair, presumably fortified if not supplied by U.S. intelligence,
    which was treated disdainfully by liberal and conservative critics alike:
    “While there was limited support for the prime minister’s position that
    ‘the threat [presented by Saddam Hussein] is serious and current,’ most
    commentators felt that the dossier failed to put forward a compelling case for
    military action in Iraq. Unusually in Britain’s adversarial journalistic
    culture, feelings about the dossier were even strong enough to unite editorial
    writers from different ends of the political spectrum.”
  49. There is no identifiable connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. In fact, the Islamist fundamentalists are mortal enemies of the secular Iraqi Bathists.
  50. Absent real evidence, the administration has shown its willingness to fudge facts:
    Rumsfeld’s “bulletproof
    ” showing an Al Qaeda-Iraq link turned out to be riddled with
  51. Instead of accepting the burden of proof, U.S. policy has put Iraqi officials in the
    position of proving a negative. It has the same logic as that of an inquisitor
    who threatens to tighten the thumbscrews with every denial. “The inspections have yet to uncover compelling evidence of banned weapons programmes, but the United States has said they are designed as a test of cooperation with a U.N. disarmament resolution rather than an effort to find hidden arms.”
  52. War plans are based on a dishonest history of arms inspections. Scott Ritter, the former chief
    UN weapons inspector in Iraq says, “The politics of fear have clouded the collective judgment of
    the people of the United States to the point where we, unfortunately, are willing
    to accept at face value almost any allegation of wrongdoing on the part of Iraq
    without first demanding to know the factual basis of such an allegation.”
  53. The 1990s arms inspectionswere”in the end corrupted by those who chose to use the unique access … to deliberately provoke a crisis that, in turn, was used to justify the
    continuation of economic sanctions,” Ritter says.
  54. Ritter also charges that inspectors left in 1998, “not because the Iraqis kicked them out, but
    rather that they were ordered out by former executive chairman of the weapons
    inspection regime Richard Butler under pressure from the United States and
    without the permission of the Security Council, in order to clear the way for a
    military aggression in December 1998.”
  55. Desert Fox: Its mission was “To strike military and security targets in Iraq that
    contribute to Iraq’s ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver weapons of
    mass destruction.” But Ritter claims that “the vast majority of the
    more than 100 targets bombed by the United States and Great Britain during
    Desert Fox had nothing to do with weapons production capability, but rather the
    leadership and security establishments of the government of Iraq and that the
    precision in which these targets were bombed was due in a large part due to the
    information gathered by weapons inspectors.”
  56. Those “chemical warheads” that recent headlines are screaming about are bogus.
  57. Purported weapons factorieshave turned out to be nonfunctional and often in ruins.
  58. A nuclear weapons program is “very expensive and readily detectable.”The gas centrifuge facilities “emit gamma radiation, as well as many other
    frequencies. It’s detectable. Iraq could not get around this.”
  59. Two of the three types of “nerve agents” formerly made in Iraq – Sarin
    and Tabus – “have a shelf life of five years. Even if Iraq had somehow
    managed to hide this vast number of weapons from inspectors, what they’re now
    storing is nothing more than useless, harmless goo.”
  60. Iraq’s capability for developing the third type, VX (about which Iraqis lied to inspectors
    repeatedly) was destroyed by inspectors in 1996. The above three points are
    detailed in War on Iraq, by
    William Rivers Pitt with Scott Ritter, which explains that the weapons inspections during the 1990s were effective.
  61. “Contrary to popular mythology, there’s absolutely no evidence Iraq worked on smallpox,
    Ebola, or any other horrific nightmare weapons the media likes to talk about
    today,” according to the same
  62. Iraqis made anthrax, “weaponized” it, then “lied about this capability for some time…. Finally they admitted it, and we blew up the plant [in 1995]…. Liquid bulk anthrax, even under ideal storage conditions, germinates in three years, becoming useless… Iraq has no biological weapons today, because both the anthrax and the botulinum toxin are useless. For Iraq to have biological
    weapons today, they’d have to reconstitute a biological manufacturing
    base.” (same source.)
  63. Saddam has not been able to replace what inspectors destroyed during the ’90s. “They’d have to
    start from scratch, having been deprived of all equipment, facilities and research. They’d have to procure the complicated tools and technology required through front companies. This would be detected. The manufacture of chemical weapons emits vented gases that would have been detected by now if they
    existed. We’ve been watching, via satellite and other means, and have seen none of this. If Iraq was producing weapons today, we’d have definitive proof, plain and simple.” (same source.)
  64. “The idea that Iraq can suddenly pop up with a long range missile is ludicrous… they
    can’t conduct tests indoors. You have to bring rockets out, fire them on test stands. This is detectable. No one has detected any evidence of Iraq doing this.” (same source.)
  65. Under pressures of an actual shooting war, Gestapo-type spying would become even more
    customary and acceptable here in the “homeland.” Already, our government is “chipping
    at the wall that has existed for nearly three decades between domestic
    law enforcement and international intelligence gathering.”
  66. There is no clear
    and imminent danger
    , and so no compelling reason to move precipitously.
  67. The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago (among many other religious and faith-based coalitions) has petitioned Bush to avoid war on Iraq. Their
    letter, “an unprecedented, unanimous call,” was signed by Chicago’s
    Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, and reflects the “opinion
    across a broad spectrum of society, ” according to the Council’s executive
  68. Pope John Paul II has
    added his plea for peace and the solidarity of all peoples within a framework of international law. The Vaticanhas repeatedly asserted its opposition to war in Iraq.
  69. Chicago’s City Council has
    passed a resolution against the war, joining dozens of other cities, and making
    Chicago the largest U.S. municipality to do so.
  70. Our plans for a war on Iraq are in conflict with the American values we teach our
    children. I will never forget how disillusioned I was as a kid when it was my
    beloved President Eisenhower, and not that nasty Premier Khruschev, who turned
    out to be the liar in the U2 incident. How are young Americans supposed to
    reconcile preemptive war with what they’ve been taught about our country’s
  71. Arab-Americans
    will suffer if we go to war. Wars tend to demonize. The “war on
    terror” has already done some damage; a wide-scale war will make things
  72. There is no Mideast support for unilateral U.S. action. Only the cover of U.N.
    authorization will permit the leaders of Arab states to defy the strong antiwar
    public sentiment.
  73. The “branding” of the “Axis of Evil,” – dumbing down U.S.
    foreign policy –has put Iran (a potential ally against Saddam) on notice that
    they might be next, in a widening Persian Gulf war.
  74. Jordan has said it will not cooperate with U.S. forces moving on Iraq.
  75. The Islamist extremist movement in Saudi Arabia, enraged by another U.S. war with Iraq, would become increasingly problematical for the monarchy, especially if
    they yield to U.S. pressure to cooperate.
  76. Bahrain,
    which hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters, is a wary ally: last spring thousands marched to protest
    U.S. policy, and in the ensuing violence a man was killed outside the American Embassy.
  77. There is serious concern that a war will result in a protracted civil war among Iraqi
    Shiites in the south, Sunnis in the center, and Kurds in the north.
  78. A war justifies security measures that would otherwise appear warped and weird, putting
    foxes in the hen house, like asking Henry
    to head the investigation of
    9-11, or John Poindexter to head the Pentagon’s
    new Information Awareness Office.
  79. The example of North Korea reminds us that even when bad people acquire nuclear capability, we have
    response options other than war.
  80. If Saddam were to possess weapons of mass destruction, a war on Iraq might make
    him more, not less, likely to use them in desperation in the twilight of a
    dying regime – a conclusion of Can Saddam Be
    Contained? History Says Yes
    , by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen
    M. Walt.
  81. Containment worked against the original “evil empire,” which had
    “verifiable” nuclear capability and a history of aggression. Why
    shouldn’t it work against Saddam?
  82. A war justifies political actions that would otherwise be condemned as downright
    corrupt, like sneaking liability protection for Eli
    , and other special interest legislation, into the Homeland Security
  83. While Bush chases Saddam, who is chasing Osama?
  84. A war to free Iraqis from their dictator would not only be unburdened by any serious
    democratic principles – it would be a parody of principles. Our troops are
    being based in anti-democratic absolute monarchies. The state religion in Saudi
    Arabia is Wahhabi Islam –
    the Islamist extremists who gave us Osama bin Laden.
  85. History is not on our side: Kissinger’s refusal to provide his client list is a
    reminder of the “B.C.C.I. affair — a scandal that itself figures in the
    tangled history of Saudi/Al Qaeda money laundering,” as Frank Rich has
    written in the New York Times.
  86. We are told that we are at war, but we are not asked to make the sacrifices
    that war entails. We should beware this “war on the cheap,” which
    smacks of war-as-entertainment. We still haven’t recovered from the last time
    we fought a decade-long war on a pretext, without public accountability.
  87. Regime change? We have no right. Saddam is a vicious tyrant, but nobody elected us
    sheriff of the world. It is not our right to depose or assassinate leaders of
    other countries, and it’s not a good precedent to propose.
  88. The White House’s anti-Saddam animus reeks of a private agenda that has nothing to do with the
    stated reasons for war. “As early as Sept. 12 [that is, the day after 9-11] Rumsfeld argued that the
    United States should take advantage of the terrorist attacks to go after Iraq’s
    Saddam Hussein immediately,” according to journalist Bob Woodward in Bush at
  89. It’s hard to think of a long-lasting consequence of 9-11 that would please Osama bin
    Laden more than a Western crusade, led by the “Great Satan,” against
    an Arab nation.
  90. Bush’s disinformation campaign is contaminating public discourse: According to a Pew
    last October, 80% of us believe that Saddam “already possesses
    nuclear weapons or could soon obtain them,” and “two-thirds think
    Saddam had a hand in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
  91. Bush’s disinformation campaign insults our intelligence: The Chicago Tribune‘s
    conservative columnist Steve Chapman writes that “someone
    in the administration managed to sell The Washington Post a story that Iraq
    recently shipped nerve gas to al Qaeda. This is hard to believe on its face –
    since it assumes that Hussein would shun cooperation with al Qaeda until the
    moment when the world’s attention is fixed on him and he is most likely to be
    caught … Once the Post story broke, an unidentified U.S. intelligence official
    interviewed by The Financial Times dismissed it: ‘I can’t give you any morsel
    of information that supports this.'”
  92. Another insultto our intelligence: “You’re with us or you’re against us.”
  93. Those who oppose Bush’s war plans have also had their patriotismquestioned.
  94. Like the drunk looking for his keys under the light, instead of where he dropped
    them, a “war on terrorism” is apparently easier to fight against a
    government and a population, than it is to hunt down Osama and his gang. Under
    cover of the “war on terrorism,” a number of other agenda items might
    also be within reach, if we’re distracted enough, or patriotic enough, to
    follow illogical rationales unquestioningly. They range from the merely hilarious
    – to fight terrorists, we must drill for oil in the Alaskan wilderness – to the dirt serious incarceration of aliens and citizens without grand juries or trials.
  95. History is not on our side: The distinguished Indian writer Arundhati Roy writes in The Guardian
    that the year Saddam gassed thousands of Kurds, “the US government
    provided him with $500 million in … The next year, after he had successfully
    completed his genocidal campaign, the US government doubled its subsidy to $1
    billion. It also provided him with high-quality germ seed for anthrax, as well
    as helicopters and dual-use material that could be used to manufacture chemical
    and biological weapons.”
  96. The arrogance of unelected take-charge minions: The Pentagon’s Richard Perle, on a propaganda tour, outraged many in Britain by saying, “Neither George W. Bush nor Mr. Blair
    will be deflected by Saddam’s diplomatic charm offensive, the feckless
    moralising of ‘peace’ lobbies or the unsolicited advice of retired
    generals.” (quoted in the London
    Daily Telegraph
  97. A war on Iraq would wreak havoc on oil markets and financial markets worldwide.
  98. War would likely trigger a new recession. Columnist Robert Samuelson writes of
    various scenarios, “In the worst case, Iraq badly damages other oilfields.
    Production drops by at least 5 million barrels a day, out of a total global
    consumption of 77 million barrels a day. Oil prices hit $80 a barrel… In the
    worst case [unemployment] goes to 7.5 percent.” …
  99. We don’t need a war to be rid of Saddam Hussein – and I’m not talking about
    assassination. “The U.S. should back the formation of an international
    ” writes the editor of Middle East Report, “under UN or
    independent auspices, to indict Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants for war
    crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Iran-Iraq War, during
    the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds in 1987-88, and both during and
    since the Gulf War.”
  100. A number of other creative plans are circulating, including that of the Iraqi
    exile Faleh A. Jabar who writes in the current issue of The Progressive that we should “threaten Saddam with indictment…give him an alternative for safe passage
    at the same time [to] create a crack in the ruling class-clan… demand that [his
    top aides] leave the country with him [but name them and limit the number to
    encourage a coup by the rest]… and sweeten the deal by offering a mini-Marshall
    plan… provided power was transferred to a civilian, interim government.”
  101. Intellectuals and artists are against war on Iraq. Okay, this is my personal indulgence, and it’s why there are 101 reasons – you can take it or leave it. My personal favorite opposition comes
    from the novelist John Le Carré.

A Plea From A Veteran To Stop The War

This is a personal message from Sean Bell (03.01.28)

A new war for oil is about to begin. The lives of non-combatants are being targeted (the Pentagon is planning to launch 800 cruise missiles – each able to sink ships and topple buildings – into Baghdad within a 48 hour period. This is double what we used in the 40 days of the first Gulf War. Baghdad is populated with over 5 million civilians). The use of nuclear weapons is once again being contemplated by the only country that has ever used such annihilating power. Believe me when I tell you that this is no game. This is no movie. We are not the good guys in this scenario, should events unfold as they are being attempted by this administration. This will be murder on a massive scale for a reason most know to be a lie by a leader most did not vote for, and one which most are often equating to the most fanatical tyrants we’ve read about in our school history books.

Tonight’s state of the Union will be a moment in the history of our nation and world that shapes the rest of our lives. Should the United States of America act out in a preemptive first strike attack on the sovereign nation of Iraq, a series of events could very likely unfold causing such turmoil and destabilization that blow back and terrorists attacks here at home can be guaranteed.

911 was a moment of awakening for many. And for those who lost families on that day, they found another new awakening – their own government refused to conduct an independent investigation into the attacks. How and why would this happen? And when those family members would not stop and demanded an investigation as to why so much went so very wrong with our defensive strategies which should have stopped the last plane – Bush assigned Henry Kissinger, a poster child of secrecy and lies and a war criminal under indictment in several countries, to conduct the investigation.

As Albert Einstein once said, “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”, and as a former infantry Marine who knows first hand the desire to want to wipe out threats to our friends and family, such acts mostly hurt the innocent, and never have created a stable world worthy of justifying those acts. But the larger picture is rarely understood to most. The same very wealthy people and corporations who influence our political process with legalized bribes (soft money and pacs just to name a few) also avoid war for themselves and their family, letting the poorer members of society do their dirty work. Many in our current administration stand to make huge profits from this war – probable cause for the murder to take place by any reasonable account. Dick Cheney, through his own company Halliburton, has already been profiting from the last Gulf War. This will be no different. There is serious money to be made from this very sick business. Those reasons are the real motivation for those who use the flag and patriotic images and sound bytes designed to appease the largest segment of society based on a PR campaign of polls and research, and surround themselves in large rooms with other like minded people – safe from the scrutiny of the real public. As Marine Corps legend Smedley Butler noted at the end of his very long career when he ws able to step back and recount his own actions as a military leader, “War is a racket!”

May you live in exciting times. This is true especially for our time now. We all work hard. We all want fun and good things for us, our family and those we care about. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who have come before us have made sure that we are able to live like we do today. I tell you those many people living under Hussein’s brutal dictatorship want the same as us. Many in our country have found ways to manipulate our own ability to form educated opinions simply by controlling the media outlets where most of us obtain our information. It is sad but true that often, it is the questions that are not being asked, that could lead to some real answers.

I can not sit by, and have not been able to for several years now, watching those who exploit and push for war, while they also undercut readily available solutions to permanently avoid war, without doing something in my power to fight it. We are a powerful country. But are we acting as a just and moral leader in the world? It is your country. Your taxes support these policies. The actions our nation takes will have consequences – whether it be reduced civil liberties, terrorist blow back, plundered social programs including education, medical and health benefits, heightened military presence in your lives, or many other likely possibilities.

America has been able to pull through difficult times only because of the mass amount of people who took a public stand and made an example to demand something that they should have never had taken from them. But things have been taken from us. Many haven’t realized it because a lot of what has been occurring has been shielded by the corporate news. In this case, being on a winning team does not equate to being on the right team.

Keep in mind, if we attack Iraq, it will be a dramatic shift of policy our nation has never taken. It will set as an example for other countries to point to this moment in time as justification for their first strike attacks in the name of preventative security. Our politicians are failing miserably at their jobs because they are beholden to the special interests that placed them in office to begin with. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets around the globe against this war. If you didn’t see it on the news or if it was presented as insignificant, it was no accident. War sells. War is profitable. War kills the innocent. War is a racket!

Sean Bell

Sean Bell is a Gulf War era infantry Marine vet
and recently co-founded a San Diego Chapter of the Veterans for Peace .
Please pass this on to those who you think might use it to help stop this damn war!

Sean Bell


“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy
of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic
words and the violent actions of the bad people, but the
appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our
generation will have to repent not only for the words and
acts of the children of darkness, but also for the fears
and apathy of the children of light.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On the War with Iraq: Some Thoughts

by William Mahedy

Fellow Vets,

Colin Powell presented no new evidence, but persuasively argued that Hussein possesses WMD, is trying to develop them, is a tyrant, etc. Conceding that this is all true, the questions still remain 1. Is war the lesser of two evils? 2. Is war in this case a last resort? I think the answer to both questions is still a resounding “No..” That for me is the kernel of the case against this war.

Thoughts on Bush and the race toward war. There is a long standing theological problem here. Bush, reportedly a devout Christian, has, I think completely bought into what scholars call American civil religion. He–and a lot of Americans–also seems to be Manichean in thinking: this was an ancient philosophy which held, among other things that the universe is divided into good light and evil darkness. We, as a nation, of course represent good and our opponents evil. This means literally that we are completely good, our enemies thoroughly evil. We can do no wrong, they can do no right–in politics, war or anything else. Manicheans also disparaged sex.

Perhaps that’s why the Bushies revile Clinton so profoundly.

Bush, and a lot of other people, are messianic in thinking as well. The Bible talks about “Shalom,” the beautiful Hebrew word which means the “peace” which God alone will bring about in God’s own time. But that peace is not here yet and we are still on the way towards it. We are left with what one scholar calls “Pax,” the Latin word for peace which means “peace of a sort, minimization of conflict, compromise, trade-offs, the absence of war. It calls for prudence, negotiation, it is temporary and shifting.” It’s the best we can do at present with human nature as it is. The just war tradition deals with this, but it’s not good enough for the messaianists.

Bush and a lot of our fellow Americans also buy into what scholars call “American civil religion.” Ever since John Winthrop’s “City on the Hill” speech to the colonists in 1630, we have believed we are the chosen people. This theme runs throughout American life and literature. There is a concomitant idea that war is the means of our greatness (the Revolution, Civil War, WWII being high points).

In an increasingly secular age, American democracy itself, rather than Christianity, subtly became that to which we evangelize the world.

Enough Americans buy into this stuff to make it very dangerous especially at historical moments like this one. American civil religion and its myth of war took a serious drubbing in Vietnam but it seems to be back again in a most virulent form. From my perspective this stuff is very dangerous. As an ordained Christian minister, I also think it is a form of idolatry.

A Marine Captain Protests The War

bey John C. Dowell (Commentary submitted to the NCTimes)

I have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution and that implies a duty to act when the Constitution is being ignored.

Our commander in chief is directing this nation toward war. He has disrupted the lives of many families here in San Diego County and we are not the only place where that is the case. He is preparing to attack a sovereign country based upon what they might do with what they might have.

There is a major problem here. Our Constitution requires that Congress declare war, and that has not been done. A sniveling resolution about Iraq, like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, is not a declaration of war.

Korea and Vietnam were not congressionally declared wars and were therefore improper. The president is assuming for us the role of world policeman and that is not a legal or proper role.

This is a serious subject of major consequence and it gives us the opportunity to show the world how this country operates. I am publicly opposing the president. I do not fear government retaliation and I am not concerned about losing my government pension, earned with more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, which included about 12 unaccompanied deployments and Vietnam.

If we want to get this country on the right track, if we want to operate by the rule of law, if our Constitution makes any difference to us, we must start doing something about it.

Protest. Write and call your representative. Write and call the President. Get informed and get involved.

Before the fighting starts, it is our duty to question our government.

After the fighting starts, it is our duty to support our troops.

If the president decides to ignore the Constitution and attack Iraq, I will still oppose him but I will publicly support our troops because to do otherwise would be giving aid and comfort to an enemy.

There is a time for everything. The time for protest is now.

Let’s do it right. Let’s stop this undeclared war before it starts. There are other ways to deal with Saddam Hussein, and we can win the war on terrorism —- but not this way. Desirable ends never justify illegal and improper means.

This effort is dedicated to my cousin Marty Hunt, who was killed in Vietnam.

How many of you would like to experience the loss of a family member, a friend, a colleague or any fellow citizen in a war that Congress did not and should not declare and therefore is not legal or proper? Obviously, no one wants that.

Thank you for reading what it is my duty to communicate. Please give it some thought.

John C. Dowell of Oceanside retired as a captain from the U.S. Marines.


VFP Letter To Military Command

Letter addressed to:

General Richard B. Myers, Chairman, USAF;
General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, USMC
Admiral Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations
General Michael W. Hagee, Commandant USMC
General John P. Jumper, Chief of Staff, USAF
General Erick Shineski, Chief of Staff, USA

United States Unified Combatant Commanders:
General James L. Jones, USMC, US European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, USN, US Pacific Command, Honolulu, Hawaii Admiral E.P. Giambastiani, USN, US Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, VA General James T. Hill. USA, U Southern Command, Miami, Florida General Tommy R. Franks, USA, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida General Ralph E. Eberhart, USAF, US Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado General Charles R. Holland, USAF, US Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida General John W. Handy, USAF, US Transportation Command Scot Air Force Base, Illinois Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr., USN, US Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska

February 13, 2003

Dear Gentlemen,

Veterans For Peace is an organization whose members have served with honor in the armed forces of the United States of America. Among our members we count decorated veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.

Many served during two, and in several instances, three of these wars. Two of our members are recipients of the Medal of Honor, dozens received Silver and Bronze Stars for valor in combat, and hundreds were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action. One of our members was a POW for over seven years in the Hanoi Hilton.

We learned the horrors of war through our military experience and we want the killing stopped. We believe it is not just enough to be against war, we must also work against war and that is the purpose of our organization.

We, like you, know the world is a dangerous place and that our military forces are necessary for our defense. We realize that you too have seen and do not want war. War must only be the option of last resort.

We believe the war against Iraq that the US government is planning and preparing for is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and customary international law. The judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg noted, “Resort to war of aggression is not merely illegal, but is criminal.”

The principle of renunciation of the use or threat of force is now one of the fundamental principles of international law and, as such, is stated with the utmost clarity in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which imposes definite obligations on states participating in international affairs. States are bound in their international relations to renounce “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the UN”.

The US seeks to justify a pre-emptive strike on Iraq on the basis of self-defense. Article 51of the UN Charter permits the use of force by a state to repel an armed attack or a substantial and immediate threat to the national security of the state until the Security Council exercises jurisdiction. The threat which permits the use of force is somewhat elastic but it must be an immediate, specific threat to US national security and not a general threat to the Gulf region or a possible future threat. The legality of pre-emptive self-defense has been rejected on the basis that use of force to deter future use of force constitutes punitive rather than defensiv action. If the US fails to gain Security Council approval for war, the US is bound by Article 51 and may not lawfully, unilaterally take military action.

It is clear that the planned massive attack on Iraq is not based upon self-defense. Iraq has not attacked the US nor does Iraq constitute an immediate and specific threat to US national security. We are not apologists for Saddam Hussein but we believe there are ways to deal with his regime without the resort to a war of aggression. Other countries and many Americans have suggested reasonable and safe alternatives.

We members of VFP remember well our military service. We swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We were informed of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the conviction and punishment of soldiers for following illegal orders. We were taught that we must not follow an illegal order. US military leadership must not only know and teach the obligations of international law but must respect and follow them.

You are in high military positions and you have awesome responsibilities under our Constitution and international law. We believe you are honorable men. We respectfully and urgently urge that you do the right thing in this terribly difficult situation. Clearly your duty is to not engage in the political leaderships’ illegal war. Many veterans will support you if you refuse to participate in an illegal war and we believe that you can successfully use your high positions to warn the American people and you will be supported.

If you fail your sworn duty to the Constitution and international law by engaging in an illegal war against Iraq, we fear the US will become a rogue nation that will believe in and act on the principle that might is right to the great dishonor of all our professed values and to the great discredit of all who served in the armed services of the US so that their children and future generations could live in peace and freedom.

With great urgency,
David Cline

National President
Veterans For Peace

The War Against Ourselves

An interview with Major Doug Rokke (originally published in May 2003)

Doug Rokke has a PhD in health physics and was originally trained as a forensic scientist. When the Gulf War started, he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has made him a passionate voice for peace, traveling the country to speak out. The following interview was conducted by the director of the Traprock Peace Center, Sunny Miller, supplemented with questions from YES! editors.

QUESTION: Any viewer who saw the war on television had the impression this was an easy war, fought from a distance and soldiers coming back relatively unharmed. Is this an accurate picture?

ROKKE: At the completion of the Gulf War, when we came back to the United States in the fall of 1991, we had a total casualty count of 760: 294 dead, a little over 400 wounded or ill. But the casualty rate now for Gulf War veterans is approximately 30 percent. Of those stationed in the theater, including after the conflict, 221,000 have been awarded disability, according to a Veterans Affairs (VA) report issued September 10, 2002.

Many of the US casualties died as a direct result of uranium munitions friendly fire. US forces killed and wounded US forces.

We recommended care for anybody downwind of any uranium dust, anybody working in and around uranium contamination, and anyone within a vehicle, structure, or building that’s struck with uranium munitions. That’s thousands upon thousands of individuals, but not only US troops. You should provide medical care not only for the enemy soldiers but for the Iraqi women and children affected, and clean up all of the contamination in Iraq.

And it’s not just children in Iraq. It’s children born to soldiers after they came back home. The military admitted that they were finding uranium excreted in the semen of the soldiers. If you’ve got uranium in the semen, the genetics are messed up. So when the children were conceived-the alpha particles cause such tremendous cell damage and genetics damage that everything goes bad. Studies have found that male soldiers who served in the Gulf War were almost twice as likely to have a child with a birth defect and female soldiers almost three times as likely.

Q: You have been a military man for over 35 years. You served in Vietnam as a bombardier and you are still in the US Army Reserves. Now you’re going around the country speaking about the dangers of depleted uranium (DU). What made you decide you had to speak publicly about DU?

ROKKE: Everybody on my team was getting sick. My best friend John Sitton was dying. The military refused him medical care, and he died. John set up the medical evacuation communication system for the entire theater. Then he got contaminated doing the work.

John and Rolla Dolph and I were best friends in the civilian world, the military world, forever. Rolla got sick. I personally got the order that sent him to war. We were both activated together. I was given the assignment to teach nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare and make sure soldiers came back alive and safe. I take it seriously. I was sent to the Gulf with this instruction: Bring ’em back alive. Clear as could be. But when I got all the training together, all the environmental cleanup procedures together, all the medical directives, nothing happened.

More than 100 American soldiers were exposed to DU in friendly fire accidents, plus untold numbers of soldiers who climbed on and entered tanks that had been hit with DU, taking photos and gathering souvenirs to take home. They didn’t know about the hazards.

DU is an extremely effective weapon. Each tank round is 10 pounds of solid uranium-238 contaminated with plutonium,neptunium, americium. It is pyrophoric, generating intense heat on impact, penetrating a tank because of the heavy weight of its metal. When uranium munitions hit, it’s like a firestorm inside any vehicle or structure, and so we saw tremendous burns, tremendous injuries. It was devastating.

The US military decided to blow up Saddam’s chemical, biological, and radiological stockpiles in place, which released the contamination back on the US troops and on everybody in the whole region. The chemical agent detectors and radiological monitors were going off all over the place. We had all of the various nerve agents. We think there were biological agents, and there were destroyed nuclear reactor facilities. It was a toxic wasteland. And we had DU added to this whole mess.

When we first got assigned to clean up the DU and arrived in northern Saudi Arabia, we started getting sick within 72 hours. Respiratory problems, rashes, bleeding, open sores started almost immediately.

When you have a mass dose of radioactive particulates and you start breathing that in, the deposit sits in the back of the pharynx, where the cancer started initially on the first guy. It doesn’t take a lot of time. I had a father and son working with me. The father is already dead from lung cancer, and the sick son is still denied medical care.

Q: Did you suspect what was happening?

ROKKE: We didn’t know anything about DU when the Gulf War started. As a warrior, you’re listening to your leaders, and they’re saying there are no health effects from the DU. But, as we started to study this, to go back to what we learned in physics and our engineering-I was a professor of environmental science and engineering-you learn rapidly that what they’re telling you doesn’t agree with what you know and observe.

In June of 1991, when I got back to the States, I was sick. Respiratory problems and the rashes and neurological things were starting to show up.

Q: Why didn’t you go to the VA with a medical complaint?

ROKKE: Because I was still in the Army, and I was told I couldn’t file. You have to have the information that connects your exposure to your service before you go to the VA. The VA obviously wasn’t going to take care of me, so I went to my private physician. We had no idea what it was, but so many good people were coming back sick.

They didn’t do tests on me or my team members. According to the Department of Defense’s own guidelines put out in 1992, any excretion level in the urine above 15 micrograms of uranium per day should result in immediate medical testing, and when you get up to 250 micrograms of total uranium excreted per day, you’re supposed to be under continuous medical care.

Finally the US Department of Energy performed a radiobioassay on me in November 1994, while I was director of the Depleted Uranium Project for the Department of Defense. My excretion rate was approximately 1500 micrograms per day. My level was 5 to 6 times beyond the level that requires continuous medical care.

But they didn’t tell me for two and a half years.

Q: What are the symptoms of exposure to DU?

ROKKE: Fibromyalgia. Eye cataracts from the radiation. When uranium impacts any type of vehicle or structure, uranium oxide dust and pieces of uranium explode all over the place. This can be breathed in or go into a wound. Once it gets in the body, a portion of this stuff is soluble, which means it goes into the blood stream and all of your organs. The insoluble fraction stays-in the lungs, for example. The radiation damage and the particulates destroy the lungs.

Q: What kind of training have the troops had, who are getting called up right now-the ones being shipped to the vicinity of what may be the next Gulf War?

ROKKE: As the director of the Depleted Uranium Project, I developed a 40-hour block of training. All that curriculum has been shelved. They turned what I wrote into a 20-minute program that’s full of distortions. It doesn’t deal with the reality of uranium munitions.

The equipment is defective. The General Accounting Office verified that the gas masks leak, the chemical protective suits leak. Unbelievably, Defense Department officials recently said the defects can be fixed with duct tape.

Q: If my neighbors are being sent off to combat with equipment and training that is inadequate, and into battle with a toxic weapon, DU, who can speak up?

ROKKE: Every husband and wife, son and daughter, grandparent, aunt and uncle, needs to call their congressmen and cite these official government reports and force the military to ensure that our troops have adequate equipment and adequate training. If we don’t take care of our American veterans after a war, as happened with the Gulf War, and now we’re about ready to send them into a war again-we can’t do it. We can’t do it. It’s a crime against God. It’s a crime against humanity to use uranium munitions in a war, and it’s devastating to ignore the consequences of war.

These consequences last for eternity. The half life of uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years. And we left over 320 tons all over the place in Iraq.

We also bombarded Vieques, Puerto Rico, with DU in preparation for the war in Kosovo. That’s affecting American citizens on American territory. When I tried to activate our team from the Department of Defense responsible for radiological safety and DU cleanup in Vieques, I was told no. When I tried to activate medical care, I was told no.

The US Army made me their expert. I went into the project with the total intent to ensure they could use uranium munitions in war, because I’m a warrior. What I saw as director of the project, doing the research and working with my own medical conditions and everybody else’s, led me to one conclusion: uranium munitions must be banned from the planet, for eternity, and medical care must be provided for everyone, not just the US or the Canadians or the British or the Germans or the French but for the American citizens of Vieques, for the residents of Iraq, of Okinawa, of Scotland, of Indiana, of Maryland, and now Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Q: If your information got out widely, do you think there’s a possibility that the families of those soldiers would beg them to refuse?

ROKKE: If you’re going to be sent into a toxic wasteland, and you know you’re going to wear gas masks and chemical protective suits that leak, and you’re not going to get any medical care after you’re exposed to all of these things, would you go? Suppose they gave a war and nobody came. You’ve got to start peace sometime.

Q: It does sound remarkable for someone who has been in the military for 35 years to be talking about when peace should begin.

ROKKE: When I do these talks, especially in churches, I’m reminded that these religions say, “And a child will lead us to peace.” But if we contaminate the environment, where will the child come from? The children won’t be there. War has become obsolete, because we can’t deal with the consequences on our warriors or the environment, but more important, on the noncombatants. When you reach a point in war when the contamination and the health effects of war can’t be cleaned up because of the weapons you use, and medical care can’t be given to the soldiers who participated in the war on either side or to the civilians affected, then it’s time for peace.

For more information on DU, see the WISE Uranium Project, www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/; the National Gulf War Resource Center, www.ngwrc.org; or Veterans for Common Sense, www.veteransforcommonsense.org. Sunny Miller’s interview was originally broadcast on WMFO (Boston) in November 2002 and is available for re-broadcast at www.traprockpeace.org.