"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Saturday, October 09, 2004

While Criticizing Implementation, Kerry Endorses Bush’s Unilateralist Agenda

Democratic nominee John Kerry’s foreign policy speech at New York University has been widely hailed as a long-overdue effort to place some daylight between himself and President Bush regarding Iraq. In his September 20 address, the Massachusetts senator appropriately took the president to task for launching the war prematurely, mishandling the occupation, misleading the American public regarding the deteriorating situation on the ground, and pursuing policies that have weakened America’s security interests.

However, the speech also contained a number of disturbing elements regarding how Kerry would handle Iraq as president and why he voted to authorize the invasion in the first place. More disturbingly, Kerry’s speech appears to endorse the Bush administration’s efforts to undermine the United Nations and international law and its penchant for unilaterally imposing American military force in contravention of international norms.

Despite Kerry’s belated acknowledgement that the war was a mistake, he insists that now “we must do everything in our power to complete the mission...[and] get the job done.” This sounds disturbingly familiar to the line we heard during the late1960s and early 1970s by supposed “moderates” who argued that, while we should never have become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict, “now that we’re there, we need to stay and finish the job.”

The nearest thing Kerry seems to offer in terms of a withdrawal strategy is the Iraqi equivalent of “Vietnamization,” encouraging the government that Washington installed in Baghdad to train more Iraqis to kill Iraqis so as to minimize the number of American casualties. Kerry says it could take about four years to complete the process, which is the same amount of time between Richard Nixon’s inauguration as president in January 1969 and the Paris Peace Agreement in January 1973, among the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War. Kerry, then, is essentially proposing four more years of war. One can only think of John Kerry as a young veteran in 1971 testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asking “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Kerry has long emphasized that he could bring in allies to help the United States fight this bloody urban insurgency, citing the Bush administration’s arrogant and dismissive treatment of allies regarding U.S. policy toward Iraq. Kerry, however, has shown the same kind of arrogance: when the newly elected government of Spain announced last spring that it would fulfill its longstanding promise to withdraw its forces from Iraq unless the mission was placed under the United Nations, Kerry responded by saying, “I call on Prime Minister Zapatero to reconsider his decision and to send a message that terrorists cannot win by their act of terror.” To Kerry, apparently, if a government insists that there be a UN mandate in place before they participate in the occupation of a foreign country, they are sending the wrong message to terrorists.

While a President Kerry would indeed probably have greater respect among most foreign leaders than President Bush, the main problem in getting help in Iraq at this point is not a matter of personal style or diplomatic acumen, but the failure of the policy itself.

In bowing to growing demands that he come out against war, Kerry has begun to rewrite history to justify his earlier pro-war stance: For example, Kerry claims that under the circumstances present in October 2002, when he and his congressional colleagues made the fateful decision to grant President Bush unprecedented war-making authority, “any president would have needed the threat of force to act effectively.” Kerry went on to say that, “The idea was simple: We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.”

This is an extraordinarily misleading statement, however. Saddam Hussein had finally agreed to unconditional unfettered United Nations inspections as demanded by the UN Security Council on September 16, nearly four weeks prior to Kerry’s vote authorizing the U.S. invasion.

Similarly, Kerry claims that, had he been president, he would not have invaded Iraq. Yet when President Bush launched the invasion in March 2003, Kerry supported him, even backing a Republican-sponsored resolution which declared that the U.S. Senate “commends and supports the effects and leadership of the president… in the conflict with Iraq.”

Dismissing the UN

In any case, the fact remains that he joined the majority of his Senate colleagues in granting President Bush the right to invade Iraq at whatever time and under whatever circumstance he so chose, a decision he defends to this day. Despite the disastrous consequences of that vote, Kerry insisted during his NYU speech that “Congress was right to give the president the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable.”

Why, though, was it up to the president of the United States to “hold Saddam Hussein accountable?” The dispute regarding the destruction of Iraq’s proscribed weapons, delivery systems, and weapons programs and the ability of UN inspectors to verify these actions was never between Iraq and the United States; it was between Iraq and the United Nations. It was therefore up to the UN Security Council, not any individual member state, to hold the Iraqi regime accountable. Kerry, however, arrogantly insists--the UN Charter not withstanding--that the U.S. government alone has the right to decide how and under what circumstances regimes being challenged by the United Nations should be dealt with.

In fact, Kerry joined the Republicans in voting down a substitute amendment proposed by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin that would have authorized the use of force against Iraq if it was sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. It was the UN Security Council that had imposed these demands on the Iraqi regime in the first place and threatened Iraq with serious consequences if continued in non-compliance. However, Kerry joined the Republicans in insisting instead that President Bush should be able to launch an invasion on his own without Security Council authorization.

Ironically, when U.S. allies have defied UN Security Council resolutions, Kerry has defended them. For example, he has supported Israel’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, which Israeli forces seized in June 1967, despite a series of UN Security Council resolutions demanding that Israel rescind its annexation (such as resolutions 262 and 267). He has also endorsed the rightist Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s efforts to colonize large sections of the West Bank, despite a series of resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from these illegal settlements (such as resolutions 446, 452, 465, and 471).

Thus, in John Kerry’s world, the United States alone can decide which United Nations Security Council resolutions to enforce and how they are enforced. No less than President Bush, Kerry seeks to effectively overturn the post-World War II international system based upon the rule of law and collective security in order to forcibly impose a Pax Americana.

Despite the ways Kerry and his supporters might want to spin it, the Democratic nominee--like President Bush--is a militarist and a unilateralist quite willing to undermine the authority of the United Nations in order to assert American hegemony in that oil-rich region.

Indeed, the only thing more dangerous than electing John Kerry president of the United States would be to re-elect George W. Bush.

(Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco. He is Middle East editor of the Foreign Policy in Focus Project and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).)

Fact and Fiction in Foreign Policy: Misleading Foreign Policy Statements Made by the Candidates in the Vice Presidential Debate

Foreign Policy In Focus www.fpif.org

The list below contains what I consider to be the sixteen most misleading statements made by Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards during the foreign policy segment of their debate of October 5, followed by my critiques. This is a resolutely non-partisan analysis: eleven of the misleading statements cited are from Cheney and five are from Edwards. The quotes are listed in the order in which they appear in the transcript.

1. Cheney: “Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad;…and he had an established relationship with al Qaida.”
At the height of Iraq’s support for Abu Nidal, during the mid-1980s, the Reagan administration dropped Iraq from its list of states sponsoring terrorism in order to transfer arms and technology to Saddam Hussein’s regime that would have otherwise been illegal. Iraq was put back on the list immediately following its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, despite evidence that Iraq’s support for international terrorism had actually declined. Abu Nidal’s group had been largely moribund for more than a decade when Saddam Hussein had him killed in his Baghdad apartment in 2002.

Despite seemingly desperate efforts by the Bush administration to find a working relationship between the secular Baathist government of Saddam Hussein and the Islamist al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden, no credible links have been established. Indeed, recent reports from the 9/11 commission, the Central Intelligence Agency and other credible sources have gone on record denying that any evidence of such a relationship exists.

2. Edwards: “Saddam Hussein needed to be confronted. John Kerry and I have consistently said that. That’s why we voted for the resolution.”
Saddam Hussein’s regime was already being confronted through the United Nations Security Council, which had imposed strict sanctions upon the country and had overseen the disarmament of that country’s chemical weapons; its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs; and its offensive delivery systems. There was no need and no legal right for Kerry and Edwards to authorize President Bush to unilaterally take military action, since the dispute regarding the destruction of proscribed weapons and weapons systems and access for UN inspectors was not between Iraq and the United States but between Iraq and the United Nations. Earlier the same day that Kerry and Edwards voted to give President Bush such unprecedented authority to unilaterally invade a foreign country, they both voted against a similar resolution granting President Bush the power to use military force if it was authorized by the UN Security Council. This underscores the willingness of the Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees to defy the United Nations Charter and to project American military power unilaterally regardless of international law.

“Global Tests” for Military Action
3. Cheney: “We heard Senator Kerry say the other night that there ought to be some kind of global test before U.S. troops are deployed preemptively to protect the United States.”
In reality, during the first presidential debate—as well as on many other occasions—Kerry has made clear that he would not give any foreign government the right to block the United States from moving preemptively against a perceived threat. Kerry has emphasized, however, that he would make a far more serious effort than has the current administration to demonstrate to the international community that such use of force was for a legitimate reason.

Kerry’s Record on Military Spending
4. Cheney: “In the mid-’80s, he [Kerry] ran on the basis of cutting most of our major defense programs.”
John Kerry’s 1984 race for the U.S. Senate was not based upon “cutting most of our major defense programs.” He did support a bilateral verifiable treaty with the Soviet Union to freeze the testing, development and deployment of new nuclear weapons and delivery systems, a proposal which—according to public opinion polls at that time—was backed by a sizeable majority of Americans. Kerry also opposed some costly weapons programs which independent strategic analysts argued were unnecessary for America’s defense needs while he supported many other weapons programs. In any case, these issues were never the basis of his campaign.

Afghanistan and El Salvador
5. Cheney: “We’re four days away from a democratic election, the first one in history in Afghanistan. We’ve got 10 million voters who have registered to vote, nearly half of them women. That election will put in place a democratically elected government that will take over next December. We’ve made enormous progress in Afghanistan, in exactly the right direction, in spite of what John Edwards said two and a half years ago. He just got it wrong.”
In Afghanistan, vote-buying, intimidation, and the enormously disproportionate resources allocated to pro-government candidates raise serious questions as to how democratic these upcoming elections will be. Currently, there are more Afghan males registered to vote than there are eligible Afghan male voters; duplicate voting cards are commonplace and can be sold on the open market. The regime, which lacks solid control of much of the country outside the capital of Kabul, was largely hand-picked by the United States. The ongoing violence and chaos in the country, along with extremely high rates of illiteracy, raise serious questions as to whether the Western-style election the United States is trying to set up will have any credibility among the Afghans themselves. Edwards’ concerns about the growing power of opium magnates and war lords—casually dismissed by Cheney—are actually quite valid.

6. Cheney: “Twenty years ago we had a similar situation in El Salvador. We had—guerrilla insurgency controlled roughly a third of the country, 75,000 people dead, and we held free elections. I was there as an observer on behalf of the Congress. The human drive for freedom, the determination of these people to vote, was unbelievable. And the terrorists would come in and shoot up polling places; as soon as they left, the voters would come back and get in line and would not be denied the right to vote. And today El Salvador is a whale of a lot better because we held free elections.”
First of all, the United States was not supporting freedom in El Salvador twenty years ago. According to the United Nations Truth Commission and independent human rights organizations, the vast majority of those killed in El Salvador during this period were civilians murdered by the U.S.-backed junta and its allied paramilitary organizations.

Secondly, the Salvadoran elections Cheney observed in the 1980s were not free elections. The leading leftist and left-of-center politicians had been assassinated or driven underground and their newspapers and radio stations suppressed. The election was only between representatives of conservative and right-wing parties.

Thirdly, despite threats from some of the more radical guerrilla factions, there were very few attacks on polling stations.

Fourthly, people repeatedly lined up to vote because they were required to. Failure to get the requisite stamp that validated the fact that you had voted would likely get one labeled as a “subversive” and therefore a potential target for assassination.

Lastly, El Salvador finally did have free elections in 1994, only after Congress cut off aid to the Salvadoran government and the peace plan initiated by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias—which was initially opposed by the Republican administrations then in office in Washington—was finally implemented.

Supporting the Troops?
7. Cheney: “You voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment, the fuel, the spare parts and the ammunition and the body armor.”
Edwards and Kerry have voted on successive administration requests to provide equipment, fuel, spare parts, and ammunition and body armor for U.S. occupation troops in Iraq, rejecting calls by opponents of the U.S. invasion and occupation to cut off funding so the troops can come home. They did vote against a particular funding bill by the administration based primarily on the administration’s insistence that it be funded by increasing the federal deficit. Kerry and Edwards instead voted for an identical measure—which failed to win a majority –that allocated the same amount of money to the occupation but would have funded it by reducing recently-enacted tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

Coalitions in Question in Wars Against Iraq in 1991 And 2003
8. Edwards: “What we know is that the president and the vice president have not done the work to build the coalition that we need—dramatically different than the first Gulf War.”
The senior President Bush was indeed able to build a broader coalition than his son, but that was because the 1991 war against the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait was very different than the 2003 war to impose a U.S. occupation of Iraq. While strong arguments can be made against the 1991 Gulf War, the use of forces was legally sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, consistent with the UN Charter and the international legal consensus that supports such collective security against such clear acts of aggression as Iraq’s 1990 invasion, occupation, and annexation of Kuwait. By contrast, the 2003 war against Iraq was an unmitigated act of aggression in direct contravention of the United Nations Charter and basic international legal principles going back for nearly a century. The failure to build a broader coalition, then, was not based upon the Bush administration’s lack of diplomatic acumen; even the more erudite Kerry could not have built such a coalition simply because the international community recognized that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal and unjustified.

9. Cheney: “You made the comment that the Gulf War coalition in ‘91 was far stronger than this. No. We had 34 countries then; we’ve got 30 today.”
The U.S.-led 1991Gulf War coalition included more than twice as many non-American troops, all of which were assembled prior to the launching of the war in January 1991. By contrast, troops from all but four members of the current coalition arrived after U.S. forces had marched on Baghdad, toppled the Iraqi regime and began the occupation. Their role is ostensibly that of peace keepers and the vast majority of these forces serve in non-combat roles.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein
10. Cheney: “Let’s look at what we know about Mr. Zarqawi... He set up shop in Baghdad, where he oversaw the poisons facility up at Khurmal, where the terrorists were developing ricin and other deadly substances to use.”
First of all, the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his followers were not based in Baghdad, but in the far northeastern corner of the country inside the Kurdish safe havens established by the United Nations in 1991, well beyond the control of Saddam’s government. The only evidence the Bush administration has been able to put forward linking the al-Zarqawi terror network to the Iraqi capital was a brief stay that al-Zarqawi had in a Baghdad hospital at the end of 2001, apparently having been smuggled by supporters into the country from Iran and smuggled out days later.

Secondly, not only was the Khurmal area in Kurdish areas far outside of Saddam’s reach, but journalists who visited the supposed poisons factory within hours of it being identified by Bush administration officials from satellite photos found nothing remotely resembling such a facility. U.S. Special Forces that seized control of the area weeks later came to a similar conclusion.

Finally, Zarqawi and his followers established a presence in Baghdad only after U.S. forces overthrew the Iraqi government in March 2003.

Iraq, Libya, and Iran
11. Cheney: “One of the great by-products, for example, of what we did in Iraq and Afghanistan is that five days after we captured Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya came forward and announced that he was going to surrender all of his nuclear materials to the United States, which he has done.”
First of all, in 1998, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that Iraq’s nuclear program had been completely dismantled. When IAEA inspectors returned in the fall of 2002 as part of UN Security Council resolution 1441, they reported that there were no signs that the program had been revived. Despite this, the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew the Iraqi government. As a result, Qaddafi presumably recognized that unilaterally giving up his nuclear weapons program and allowing in international inspectors to verify it does not necessarily make you any less likely to be invaded by the United States.

Secondly, the agreement had been in the works for a number of years, largely as a result of a British-led diplomatic effort. That the announcement came five days after Saddam Hussein was arrested was sheer coincidence.

12. Edwards: “The reality about Iran is that Iran has moved forward with their nuclear weapons program on their watch. They ceded responsibility to dealing with it to the Europeans.”
The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran nearly twenty-five years ago and, during the 1990s, unilaterally imposed sanctions on that country, openly called for the government’s overthrow and funded groups dedicated to that purpose. All of these initiatives took place under Democratic administrations. By contrast, the Europeans—despite outspoken criticism of certain Iranian policies and restricting certain arms and technology transfers—have maintained normal diplomatic and trade relations. It should not be surprising, then, that the Europeans have had to take the lead in resolving the current standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel and Palestine
13. Edwards: “If Gaza’s being used as a platform for attacking the Israeli people, that has to be stopped. And Israel has a right to defend itself.”
While it is true that some militant Palestinian groups have used the Gaza Strip as a base for lobbing shells into civilian areas of Israel, the Israeli armed forces have similarly used Israel as a platform for attacking civilian areas of the Gaza Strip. Indeed, far more Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip have been killed by attacks launched from Israel than have Israeli civilians in Israel been killed from attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. Does this mean that Palestine therefore also “has a right to defend itself” by launching a major military incursion into nearby Israeli population centers with widespread killings of unarmed civilians and massive destruction of civilian property as Israel has been doing? Apparently not, since Edwards and Kerry clearly have different standards regarding the use of force depending upon a particular government’s relations with the United States. Given that Secretary of State Powell that very afternoon criticized the disproportionate nature of the ongoing Israeli military response, Edwards is clearly placing the Democratic ticket to the right of the Bush administration.

14. Edwards: “They don’t have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don’t have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.”
Palestinian president Yasir Arafat has repeatedly called for a resumption of substantive peace negotiations, but the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon has refused. Arafat has called for a peace settlement along the lines proposed by President Clinton in 2000, which culminated with the signing of the Geneva Initiative in December 2003 by leading Israelis and Palestinians. The agreement calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories it conquered in the 1967 war (with minor and reciprocal border adjustments), a shared Jerusalem as the co-capital of Israel and Palestine, the resettlement of Palestinian refugees from what is now Israel in the new Palestinian state or other Arab countries, and strict security guarantees for Israel, including the disarming of Palestinian militias. Sharon, by contrast, has categorically rejected such an agreement.

While Arafat’s rule has been corrupt and autocratic and he has been ineffective in stopping terrorism by radical Palestinian groups, his positions on the outstanding issues in the peace process is far more moderate than those of the Israeli government. Arafat certainly has blood on his hands, but no more than does Sharon, widely recognized as a war criminal for his role in major atrocities against Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian civilians in previous years. In any case, Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinians and Sharon is the elected leader of the Israelis. By refusing to include one of the two major parties in the peace process, Edwards and Kerry are effectively foreclosing any realistic prospects for a negotiated peace.

15. Cheney: “In respect to Israel and Palestine, the suicide bombers, in part, were generated by Saddam Hussein, who paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. I personally think one of the reasons that we don’t have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we’ve had in the past is because Saddam is no longer in business.”
Saddam Hussein did provide money to a small Palestinian faction known as the Arab Liberation Front which passed it on to some families of terrorists killed in suicide bombings. Money was also given to families of other Palestinians killed in the fight against Israel, such as militiamen shot while defending Palestinian towns under Israeli siege and unarmed teenagers shot during demonstrations. The vast majority of the funding for Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups responsible for suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism in recent years has come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, governments supported by the United States. In any case, the families of suicide bombers normally have their homes destroyed by Israeli occupation forces in retaliation for the terrorist attacks, and $25,000 does not come close to recouping their losses.

16. Cheney: "The president stepped forward and put in place a policy basically that said we will support the establishment of two states. First president ever to say we’ll establish and support a Palestinian state next door to Israelis.”
The Bush administration has endorsed Sharon’s plan to annex up to half of the West Bank into Israel and leave the remaining Palestinian areas divided into a series of non-contiguous cantons surrounded by Israel. This would give the Palestinians barely 12% of historic Palestine. Furthermore, according to this plan, Israel would have control over all border crossings, the air space, and the water resources, with an unrestricted right to militarily intervene in Palestinian areas at any time. This would no more constitute a viable “state” than did the infamous Bantustans of apartheid South Africa.

For More Analysis from Foreign Policy In Focus:
While Criticizing Implementation, Kerry Endorses Bush's Unilateralist Agenda
By Stephen Zunes (October 5, 2004)

Attacks Against World Court by Bush, Kerry and Congress Reveal Growing Bipartisan Hostility to International Law
By Stephen Zunes (August 2004)

Democratic Party Platform Shows Shift to the Right on Foreign Policy
By Stephen Zunes (August 5, 2004)

The Disappointing Selection of John Edwards, A Foreign Policy Hawk
By Stephen Zunes (July 16, 2004)

The Influence of the Christian Right on U.S. Middle East Policy
By Stephen Zunes (June 2004)

Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War
Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus (June 2004)

Iraq One Year Later
By Stephen Zunes (March 2004)

Misleading Rhetoric in 2004 State of the Union Address
By Stephen Zunes (January 21, 2004)

Stephen Zunes is professor of politics and chair of the peace & justice studies program at the University of San Francisco. He serves as Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus project and is the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).

You Have to Have a Human Being Before You Can Get Human Stem Cells.

Ron Reagan and the Stem Cell Research Issue .. Is it really what it has been made out to be??

I want to talk to you about an idea, a concept - the underlying moral principles that drive ideas. My deep concern about our nation is that there is radical confusion, not just in the population in general, but in the church in particular, about how to do moral thinking. One of the most immediate examples of such a thing is the area of embryonic stem cell research and cloning. You know that Congress is debating right now whether to allow human cloning or not, and whether to allow the cloning of embryonic stem cells for research. Actually those are both the exact same issue.

There has been an attempt to obfuscate (confuse) the issue morally, an attempt to draw a distinction between a blastula (the earliest stages of human development) and the later stages, as if in the first case you don’t have human beings and in the second you do. People will say that is not a human being, that is just an embryo or that is just a blastula. You know, when you think about it, friends, there are many, many kinds of embryos. Embryo is not a thing — it is a stage. It is like saying a ten-day-old, or an adolescent, or a youngster. It does not tell you anything about the thing except for its level of development. It could be a young dog, or it could be a young parakeet, or it could be a young human being. It could be a fish embryo, it could be a dog embryo, it could be a human embryo. You see, embryo, or blastula, or blastocyst are just terms to describe this earliest stages of development where stem cells are present; these are just words that identify a stage of the development of a thing. It does not give you any information as to what that thing is that is developing.

To say that an embryo goes from an embryo after a certain level of development into a human being is to create a kind of category error, it is mixing terms. It is kind of like saying this thing went from a ten-day-old to a young rabbit. A ten-day-old what? Well, a ten-day-old baby rabbit into a young rabbit. These are terms that represent two different categories of things. To be clear about these things, we have to acknowledge that distinction. So when we say embryo, we are talking about a stage of development, we are not talking about the thing.

The question is what kind of embryo is it? And in this case the embryos are human embryos, the blastula are human blastula. You have to have a human being before you can get human stem cells. So, this discussion about the legitimacy of cloning for the stem cells versus cloning to create a human being, is a rationally confused distinction. There is no difference. You cannot get human embryonic stem cells but from a human embryo. So, you must create a human being first in its embryo stage, which then is either allowed to grow into subsequent stages, fetus, newborn, adolescent, etc., or is destroyed before it can begin to develop into other stages and is then cut up an used for body parts. But it still is what it is when it is destroyed — a human being in a blastula stage.

The problem with this issue has to do with a challenge in trying to weigh means and ends. I have an article from the LA Times from March 6, 2002. Midway through the first section under "The Nation" is a compelling photograph of actor Christopher Reeve appearing on Capitol Hill with Senator Edward Kennedy and California Senator Diane Feinstein because he spoke before the senate in favor of what is called "therapeutic cloning" - cloning for disease research. That is, cloning to produce this young embryo that is then divided up and not allowed to grow to further stages. My point here is that there is no significant (pardon me for the use of this word, but it is the right word to use here) ontological difference (I’ll explain in a moment); there is no ontological difference between therapeutic cloning and cloning to create a human being.

Ontology has to do with the nature of existence or the being itself. The question "What is that thing?" is an ontological question. What is the essence of its existence? The question with embryonic stem cell research is whether the distinction between therapeutic cloning and cloning to create a human being is meaningful. As I mentioned earlier, therapeutic cloning must first create a human being before it has human stem cells to be used for that purpose.

Christopher Reeve's story is dramatic, of course. Christopher Reeve, the actor, the handsome Adonis, human perfection prior to his accident. Superman. A tremendous actor, actually. Good looking, healthy, and then he, after a horse accident that broke his neck, became a quadriplegic. There is some question as to whether therapeutic cloning might be able to produce a therapy that will help regenerate broken spines, or bad spinal columns, and the like, so that Christopher Reeve might be able to be healed. Now, I don’t know that he is holding out for himself, but he is certainly thinking about others like him.

This is a powerful picture, and it goes along with the point that we have made many times in the past. If you want to have a moral impact on an issue, use pictures for their moral impact. Now, the important thing, of course, is you are not just using pictures for impact, but you are using pictures to go along with a good argument. This is the way we argue against abortion. You see the impact here. He has shown us himself to argue his case. Here is this dramatic moment where Christopher Reeve shows up, and everybody knows the way he was, they see the way he is. They see his indomitable spirit. They see him arguing for the use of cloning for the purpose of producing medicines that will help people in his circumstance. It has a powerful emotional impact.

I will tell you what is troubling me about this. Those of us who opposed embryonic stem cell research do not realize the good that can come from this kind of experimentation. We have to have a quadriplegic paraded before us to soften our stony hearts so that we would realize what is really at stake here. Open your eyes. In fact, the article opens up with this statement: "His 13-year-old daughter at his side, Hollywood director Jerry Zucker lamented the fact that Congress might pass a law ‘stopping us from trying to save my daughter’s life.’" Apparently, his daughter has an affliction that might be healed by embryonic stem cell research. So he sees these actions as merely hard-hearted actions that are just meant to hurt people. The same thing with Christopher Reeve. Don’t you guys get it? Wake up! Are you so callus that you don’t see the good that can be done from therapeutic cloning?

My answer is, we get it! That’s not the issue. Here is our lesson for today. The whole question that we are faced with in this is whether the ends justify the means. That’s it. It is a question of means-and-ends relationship. And the whole question of ultimate ends, the benefits, all of the good things that might come out of embryonic stem cell research justify whatever means is necessary.

By the way, I am just granting that for the sake of argument because it is not clear that all these good things will come out of embryonic stem cell research. And it is also not clear if stem cell research can produce good results that there are not other less morally questionable means of getting those same results. Granting all of that, let’s just say this is the only way to do it and this will cure all these diseases. That does not settle the question because the whole question of ultimate ends is completely irrelevant without a clear answer to the question of means. As you know, a noble end, in this case healing or preventing debilitating disease, is only moral given the means that we use to get there. What do we have to do to get to this thing?

There are two extremes on this, and one extreme is from our side. And people say things that turn out to be not helpful. On the one hand, we have to avoid statements like, The ends never justify the means. Think about that statement for just a moment. You don’t believe that. The ends never justify the means? Well, that’s not what we mean. As stated, this is not a helpful moral guideline because there is always a relationship between means and ends. Certain means are justified by some ends but not by others. And whether a certain means is justified or not, whether the method you use to get what you want is right or not, depends entirely on what it is you are trying to get. So you can’t say the ends never justify the means. You have to ask whether the ends in this circumstance do justify the means in this circumstance. There is a relationship there.

For example, killing may not be a justifiable means to get a seat on the bus. Killing - that’s the means. Well, obviously, those ends do not justify the means. But what if the same means here — killing - was to accomplish a different end, that is, maybe to save someone else’s life. You have a child under attack and you use lethal force to stop this lethal attack on a child’s life. There you have the same means, killing, but you have a different end. In the first case it was getting a seat on the bus, but in the second the means does justify the end. So whether a certain means is justifiable or not depends entirely on what it is you are trying to accomplish. And when the circumstances change then the moral equation changes with it. Now, some people are uncomfortable when I say it that way. They say, that is relativism. That is situational ethics. This is not situational ethics and this is not relativism if one clearly understands what those terms mean.

Situational Ethics is a proper noun. It is a specific kind of ethical system developed by a man named Joseph Fletcher. And Joseph Fletcher is not a relativist; he was an absolutist. The absolute rule he believed was that you should always do the loving thing. The circumstance determine what is loving in any given situation. I am not advocating that. I am advocating that you must look at the situation itself before you can know what proper and appropriate objective or absolute moral principle applies. All moral decision making is situational in that sense. Is killing right? Well, it depends. Not to get a seat in the bus, but killing arguably is right in self-defense. Do you see the relationship there?.

Relativism is when the moral claim is relative, not to the circumstances themselves, but is relative to the subject. It's also called subjectivism. In the same circumstances, different subjects have different moral rules. If you and I are in the exact same situation, I could say that one course of action is right for me, but an opposite course of action could be right for you. The only thing that is changed is you and I. That is relativism.

All truth claims of any kind are always relative to the circumstances - you have to know which rule to apply in any given circumstance. We have to be careful to be aware that when we are making moral judgments with regards to means and ends, it is not enough to simply dismiss alternatives with the statement, The ends never justify the means. Oftentimes, the ends do justify the means. You have to look more closely. But, on the other hand, we cannot simply look at noble goals and act as if that is all that matters.

We cannot just trot out people in wheelchairs before the Senate in place of a moral argument. Of course, it is a noble end; no one is taking exception with that. This question is what do we have to do to get the ends that you have in mind? It isn’t that people like us just want sick people to stay sick. We are callous and hard and need to see more handicapped people wheeled around in wheelchairs and more Alzheimer’s patients to finally melt our cold hearts. No, that is not what is going on. The key here to the means and ends discussion is in weighing the means and the ends to see if there is proportionality.

We just have to ask the question whether the ends justify the means in this case. As I stated, there always is a relationship between the means and ends. We have to look at each individual case. We cannot just blanket it and say the ends never justify the means because sometimes they do. But do they, in this particular case?

In the case of embryonic stem cell research, arguably, a human being is being sacrificed for her body parts so that someone else can survive or get healthy. Our view is about what is the price we have to pay to reach that end. It may be the case that human beings are sacrificed for other people’s benefit. Even with those noble ends, it should be clear to see that it is just simply wrong to take the life of one innocent human being to improve the health of another, or even to save that person’s life. Now, sometimes we may choose to sacrifice our own lives to save the life of someone else. That is called heroism, but heroism is not required morally and we ought not be forced to jeopardize our lives on behalf of others. Certainly when we do that, if we choose to, that is morally commendable. But in this case, we are not talking about that. We are talking about children, human beings, who do not have the capability of giving such consent, but are being sacrificed on behalf of others. Simply put, we do not carve up infants for their body parts to save the lives of other children. Or, in the Apostle Paul’s words, we don’t do evil that good may come.

Back to the main point. The good ends are desired by everyone. We don’t need Christopher Reeve to convince us of that. But we must face this question: What is it that you are asking us to do to accomplish this noble end? And it brings us back once again to the pivotal issue, what is the unborn? A human being. Well, that is what needs to be discussed, not the good that can come from stem cell research. What is the embryo? The stem cells? The blastula? The blastocyst? Because as I mentioned, human embryos don’t become human beings; they already are human at a particular stage of development. That is the issue. We aren't against embryonic stem cell research per se; we are against killing human embryos to use their stem cells. That is the issue we have to focus on.

Parading handicapped people before us misses the point. We’re just as concerned about these handicapped people as others. In fact, we would also campaign that you cannot take the life of these handicapped people because they are handicapped. You cannot remove the feeding tube. In Christopher Reeve’s own book that he wrote, Still Me, he said that he realized that even though he'd lost the use of his body that he was still the same person. And if he is intrinsically valuable before the accident, he is intrinsically valuable after the accident. We acknowledge that intrinsic value. He is not instrumentally valuable because he is formerly Superman. He is valuable because he is a human being made in the image of God. And if that is the case, then his value is the same as all other human beings made in the image of God, regardless of their size, their level of development, their environment, or their degree of dependency. As it turns out, the blastula, the embryo, is a human being that is just smaller, more dependent, in a different location, and less developed than a Christopher Reeve. It's valuable because of what it is, not how it can be used.

Here is a commentary "First Test in the Biotech Age — Human Cloning", Wednesday, March 6, L.A. Times. Do we have the will and the wisdom to say no? ask William Crystal and Jeremy Rifkin, with regards to human cloning." I am going to read a bit of what they have written here because I think it really captures some moral consistency and moral clarity. First they argue for a moral rule and then specify its application, rather than simply looking at the application and saying, that is a great application so the moral rule does not matter. It’s another way of putting the means and ends discussion, and the relationship of the two.

They write, "With regards to this brave new world prospect here, will we be content to frame the discussion in the old terms of religion versus science, or pro-life versus pro-choice? Or are we willing to see that the debate is over two distinct views of human life and the good society?" I think they have nailed it.

"On the one side are the utilitarians. These are the ones who basically see cloning life in terms of markets and patents and progress. On the other side are those who believe in the intrinsic value of human life. They mention for various reasons, but whatever their rationale, religious or otherwise, this is what they believe. They all share a respect for the human and the natural and oppose efforts to reduce human life in its various parts and stages to the status of mere research tools and manufactured products. The utilitarians argue that the potential medical advances of harvesting stem cells from cloned human embryos for medical research justifies going ahead. However, those of us to hold to the intrinsic value of life believe that creating embryonic clones for research and eventually for the creation of spare body parts if unethical. Even though, we strongly support continued research on adult stem cells which has proved promising in recent clinical trials."

This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl.

A Song For President Bush

As published in the Irish Times
(To be sung to the tune of "If you're
happy and you know it, clap your hands"):

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are frisky,
Pakistan is looking shifty,
North Korea is too risky,
Bomb Iraq.

If we have few allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think someone has dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

It's "pre-emptive non-aggression," bomb Iraq.
Let's prevent this mass destruction, bomb Iraq.
They've got weapons we can't see,
And that's good enough for me,
'cause it's all the proof I need.
Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think Saddam's gone mad,
With the weapons that he had,
(And he tried to kill your dad),
Bomb Iraq.

If your corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain't easy,
And your manhood's getting queasy,
Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might knows not our borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We'll call it treason,
Let's make war not love this season,
Even if we have no reason
Bomb Iraq.

Duelfer's 'Dual-Use' Conjectural Intent

The Source Duelfer Didn't Quote

The head of the Iraq Survey Group knows regime change was the aim

During this week of American election debates, Charles Duelfer, the former deputy executive chairman of the UN weapons inspectors and current head of the CIA's Iraq Survey Group, delivered to Congress his much-anticipated report on Iraq's WMD capabilities. Among his controversial conclusions is that, contrary to pre-war assertions by both the George Bush administration and Tony Blair's government, Iraq had neither stockpiles of WMD nor dedicated programmes for the manufacture of WMD. Duelfer's report did note that Iraq maintained so-called "dual-use" facilities (those with legitimate civilian and/or military functions, but which could be configured for proscribed use), but his ISG has found no evidence that any such conversion had taken place.
One would expect the ISG's conclusions to take the wind out of the sails of those who repeat the mantra that Iraq was a grave and growing threat. But Duelfer has provided a convenient escape from such criticism, by concluding that Saddam Hussein in fact fully intended to convert his "dual use" factories into WMD production facilities once UN weapons inspectors left. In one fell swoop, Duelfer has provided the ideal cover for the justification of the war.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, was quick to note that Saddam was, according to the ISG report, "a gathering threat that needed to be taken seriously, that it was a matter of time before he was going to begin pursuing those weapons of mass destruction". The UK foreign secretary, Jack Straw, commenting on the report from Baghdad, was likewise quick to jump on the notion of intent. "Where this report breaks new ground," Straw said, "is by producing extensive new evidence showing that Saddam did indeed pose a threat to the international community ... The world is a safer place without him."

There are, however, several problems with this finding - first and foremost the notion of legality, especially in light of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's comments that the US-led invasion of Iraq represented a violation of the UN charter and international law. Bush and Blair have argued that because the Iraqi government had failed to comply with previous security council resolutions regarding Iraq's obligation to disarm, the right of enforcing these resolutions is implicit.
Duelfer's report slams the door on that line of thinking, since it is now clear that Iraq had in fact disarmed in compliance with security council resolutions. One of the tragic ironies of the decision to invade Iraq is that the Iraqi WMD declaration required by security council resolution 1441, submitted by Iraq in December 2002, and summarily rejected by Bush and Blair as repackaged falsehoods, now stands as the most accurate compilation of data yet assembled regarding Iraq's WMD programmes (more so than even Duelfer's ISG report, which contains much unsubstantiated speculation). Saddam Hussein has yet to be contradicted on a single point of substantive fact. Iraq had disarmed; no one wanted to accept that conclusion.

Charles Duelfer has to date provided no documentation to back up his assertion regarding Saddam's "intent". Nor has he produced any confession from Saddam Hussein or any senior Iraqi official regarding the same. What has been offered is a compilation of hearsay and conjecture linked to unnamed sources whose identities remain shrouded in secrecy.

There is one source I am certain will not be quoted in Duelfer's report - a former officer in Saddam Hussein's intelligence service, who was interviewed by the ISG repeatedly in the summer of 2003. Given the ongoing violence in Iraq today, this officer, who is well known to me, has asked that his name not be published. From 1992 until 2003, he headed a branch of Iraqi intelligence responsible for monitoring the work of the UN weapons inspectors. His office intercepted their communications, and recruited spies among their ranks in Baghdad, Bahrain, New York and elsewhere.

The mission of this intelligence unit was to discern the true intent of the UN weapons inspectors. Conventional thinking would hold that this was being done so that Iraq might better hide its WMD stockpiles. The Iraqi officer has long denied this, stating that instead his job was to find out why the UN refused to accept the Iraqi version of events, and to determine if the UN weapons inspectors were operating inside Iraq for purposes other than the disarmament.

This officer claims to have intercepted conversations between Charles Duelfer, during the time he served as deputy executive chairman of the UN inspection teams, and senior US government officials, in New York and Baghdad, where a US agenda (supported by the British) for removing Saddam Hussein was discussed. I can confirm that such discussions frequently took place.

According to this officer, after 1995 UN weapons inspectors were blocked by Iraq only when their actions were determined by the Iraqi government to represent a direct threat to the president of Iraq, a reality the intercepted Duelfer conversations and ongoing CIA efforts to mount a coup d'etat would seem to underscore.

Duelfer is not an unbiased observer in this matter. For this reason alone, his ISG report must not be allowed to hide its findings behind a wall of secrecy. Far from showing the intent of Saddam Hussein to keep WMD, I believe a full review of all material relevant to the ISG's report will instead portray a dictator whose only desire was to retain his hold on power in the face of a US government which intended to do anything, including violate international law, to prevent this.

The US Congress and British parliament should insist on a full declassification of the ISG report, as well as the sources used to compile it. During this critical time in both our nations' histories, with the war in Iraq playing such a central role in the selection of America's next president as well as the political future of Britain's prime minister, the American and British people deserve to know the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, about the casus belli that collectively got us into the ongoing quagmire that is Iraq today.

· Scott Ritter was a UN weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998 and is the author of Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America.

The Guardian

Zarqawi: Mythological Creature

How US fuelled myth of Zarqawi the mastermind

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist leader believed to be responsible for the abduction of Kenneth Bigley, is 'more myth than man', according to American military intelligence agents in Iraq.

Several sources said the importance of Zarqawi, blamed for many of the most spectacular acts of violence in Iraq, has been exaggerated by flawed intelligence and the Bush administration's desire to find "a villain" for the post-invasion mayhem.

Zarqawi fuels his ambition with the release of a video of the beheading of Nick Berg
US military intelligence agents in Iraq have revealed a series of botched and often tawdry dealings with unreliable sources who, in the words of one source, "told us what we wanted to hear".

"We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about Zarqawi as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq," the agent said.

"Back home this stuff was gratefully received and formed the basis of policy decisions. We needed a villain, someone identifiable for the public to latch on to, and we got one."

The sprawling US intelligence community is in a state of open political warfare amid conflicting pressures from election-year politics, military combat and intelligence analysis. The Bush administration has seized on Zarqawi as the principal leader of the insurgency, mastermind of the country's worst suicide bombings and the man behind the abduction of foreign hostages. He is held up as the most tangible link to Osama bin Laden and proof of the claim that the former Iraqi regime had links to al-Qa'eda.

However, fresh intelligence emerging from around Fallujah, the rebel-held city that is at the heart of the insurgency, suggests that, despite a high degree of fragmentation, the insurgency is led and dominated not by Arab foreigners but by members of Iraq's Sunni minority.

Human intelligence about Zaqawi is minimal
Pentagon estimates have put the number of foreign fighters in the region of 5,000. However, one agent said: "The overwhelming sense from the information we are now getting is that the number of foreign fighters does not exceed several hundred and is perhaps as low as 200. From the information we have gathered we have to conclude that Zarqawi is more myth than man. He isn't in the calibre of what many politicians want to believe he is.

"At some stage, and perhaps even now, he was almost certainly behind some of the kidnappings. But if there is a main leader of the insurgency he would be an Iraqi. The insurgency, though, is not nearly so centralised to talk of a structured leadership."

Military intelligence officials complain that their reports to Washington, are largely being ignored. They accuse the Pentagon of over-reliance on electronic surveillance and aerial and satellite reconnaissance carried out for the CIA.

In recent weeks American military command in Iraq has claimed a series of precision air strikes on targets in Fallujah identified by the CIA as housing known associates of Zarqawi.

It has denied that there were any civilian casualties, despite television footage showing dead and wounded women and children being pulled from the rubble of flattened homes.

Some US military spies maintain that this is evidence of continued dependency on technology over old-fashioned human intelligence.

Both President George W Bush and Tony Blair have, to varying degrees, conceded that intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programme was misleading. But both continue to maintain that the continued violence since Saddam was ousted is because Iraq is now the front line in the war on terrorism.

Yet it now seems that the intelligence on which such claims are based is haphazard, scanty and contradictory.

Adrian Blomfield