"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

Monday, January 03, 2005

Sans True Humanitarian Jimmy Carter...hmmmm?

Duck Kofi Now It's Three On One

to lead tsunami charity drive

Bush’s father, Clinton
tell NBC region needs money, not supplies

NBC News and news services
Updated: 5:32 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2005WASHINGTON - President Bush named former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush to lead a nationwide charitable effort Monday for victims of the south Asian tsunami. The former rivals agreed that the best thing Americans could do was to donate money, which they said was needed desperately to pay for one of the largest humanitarian campaigns ever mounted.

“The greatest source of America’s generosity is not our government," the president said at a news conference at the Roosevelt Room, with his two predecessors at his side. “It’s the … heart of the American people.”

“In the coming days, Presidents Clinton and Bush will ask Americans to donate directly to reliable charities already providing help to tsunami victims,” he said. “I’ve asked the former presidents to solicit contributions both large and small.”

Bush ordered that U.S. flags fly at half-staff all week in sympathy for “the victims of a great tragedy,” particularly the many thousands of dead and orphaned children.

Later Monday, Bush, accompanied by Laura Bush and the former presidents, paid brief visits to the embassies of the four nations hit hardest by the disaster — Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

’92 opponents join forces

In a joint interview with NBC News, both former presidents said the visits drove home the enormity of the challenge in south Asia.

At the Thai Embassy, the elder Bush said, “there was one who had lost her mother and father and sister, and then under one tree there was a little rubber duck and a little fish. You know, it all symbolizes the children that are hurting.”

While they said they recognized that that Americans might want to donate supplies like food, water or clothing, both men said what was needed was money.

“Give cash to one of these established organizations,” Bush said, directing donors to the Freedom Corps, the federal volunteerism agency his son created in 2002.

Clinton said: “The American people have already done a fabulous job coming up with lots of money and lots of in kind contributions. ... If you give money — even if it is a small amount of money — it will aggregate up, and they will send it to the aid agencies on the ground, and they will spend it right there for what is most needed.”

The announcement of the charity drive came as the White House has been scrambling to repair an image battered at home and abroad by perceptions that U.S. aid lagged behind that of other countries — especially in light of the outpouring of support for America from other countries immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But Clinton defended the administration, telling NBC’s David Gregory: “This country has a very good record in emergency disasters like this. ... President Bush has already committed $350 million [and] says there will be more.”

The elder Bush acknowledged that some critics had accused Washington of stepping up its relief effort to “elevate the standing of the United States, but that is not why we are doing it. This is not why President Clinton and I are involved in it.”

“This is one of those things where you just follow the ‘do-right rule’ and hope it works out,” Clinton added. “If the United States is seen as being on the side of building that kind of world, a world where our common humanity means more than our differnces, then that will be good, but that isn’t why we should do it. We ought to do it because they need help, and we are doing it because it is the right thing to do.”

The president is waiting to hear back from a delegation he dispatched to the region to assess what more the U.S. government could do. That team, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president’s brother, arrived in the region Monday.

NBC News and news services
Updated: 5:32 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2005WASHINGTON
NBC’s David Gregory and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

On the Forthcoming Election in Iraq

The hypocrisy of the Bush administration is limitless: when George W. Bush and his buddies boast about the forthcoming election in Iraq as an achievement of the civilizing mission that they supposedly took upon themselves in bringing democracy to backward Muslims, they sound like a boss boasting about having raised the wages of the workers in his factory as an illustration of his eagerness to improve their living standard, when, in reality, the raise was imposed on him by the workers going on strike.

The fact of the matter is that democracy has never been more than a subsidiary pretext for the Bush administration in its drive to seize control of the crucially strategic area stretching from the Arab-Persian Gulf to Central Asia, a pretext ranking after others such as Al-Qaida or the WMD. Most of the vectors of US influence in this area are despotic regimes, from the oldest ally of Washington and most antidemocratic of all states, the Saudi Kingdom, to the newest allies, the police states of such post-Soviet Mafia-like republics as Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan, operating through such great champions of democracy as generals Mubarak of Egypt and Musharraf of Pakistan.

Washington favors elections only if and when they are most likely to be won by its henchmen. When Arafat, facing Bush and Sharon's challenge to his legitimacy, suggested holding elections in the Palestinian territories, the proposal was categorically rejected, since it was clear he would win overwhelmingly, as the Palestinian people would vote for him in defiance of Israel and the US. It is only after his death that they accepted that elections be held, not without heavily interfering in the process, intimidating another candidate into withdrawal, harassing others, and campaigning blatantly for the man of their choice -- as did Blair, who paid Abu Mazen visit for this purpose.

True, elections were organized in Afghanistan, but only because there were no real stakes: the Taliban and other anti-US forces were prevented from participating, and no Afghan warlord would have risked antagonizing the US seriously for the sake of winning a position as nothing more than a representation of US authorities in Kabul. The Afghan warlords know that their control of their fiefdoms is much more effective and unfettered than Karzai's control over the capital, which is the only piece of real estate where he exerts some kind of power, by proxy. They accepted him for "president" a second time through a mockery of elections in the same way that they accepted him the first time through their horse trading with Washington before the fall of Kabul -- though he was a non-entity in terms both of social basis and military force, his collaboration with the CIA being his "credentials." Karzai was accepted precisely because he was perceived as no real threat to any of the warlords.

A parallel does not exist in Iraq. There the US occupation has been faced from the start with a power-vacuum that its invasion created, aggravated by Bremer's neocon-inspired move to dismantle whatever remained of the Baathist power apparatuses. Apart from the de facto autonomous Kurdish area in the North, there were no warlords in Iraq with any real power. Thus Washington faced the "democracy paradox" (Huntington), created by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Arab Iraqis were -- and are even more now -- hostile to US control of their land, and hence any truly representative democratically elected government would seek to get rid of the occupation.

This "paradox" led to another: the US, the standard-bearer of democracy, which had altruistically occupied Iraq to bring the benefits of democracy to backward Muslim people, tried to postpone as far as possible the prospect of holding elections and to replace them with appointed bodies and a US-designed permanent constitution. This is what Proconsul Bremer sought to impose in June 2003, only a few weeks after the end of the invasion. He was countered by none other than one of the most traditionalist members of Iraq's Muslim Shia hierarchy, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani. The confrontation between the two men escalated until the Ayatollah called for demonstrations to impose democratic elections on the occupiers: in January 2004, huge numbers of people poured into the streets of several Iraqi cities, especially in the Shia areas, with hundreds of thousands shouting "yes to election, no to designation."

To be sure, the Ayatollah had his own motivations, which were no more a "pure," "Jeffersonian" (as they like to say in Washington) attachment to democracy than Bush and Bremer's were. His calculation was simple: the Shia constitute the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi population, almost two-thirds, and yet they have always been downtrodden by various kinds of despotic rulers. Instituting an electoral mechanism would allow the Shia to legitimately dictate the fate of the country. The electoral process is the best channel through which the Shia can exert their majority rights and sort out the balance of forces among them at one and the same time -- since there is no more or less unified Shia political movement in Iraq comparable to what existed in Iran under Khomeini's leadership. Sistani -- who never adhered to Khomeini's doctrine of velayat-e faqih ("leadership of the jurisprudent," a formula pointing to the pyramid-like rule of the Shia quasi-clergy) -- would still see to it that the laws and regulations of the country conform to Islamic rules (the Shariah, his own most rigorist fatwas, etc.). On this issue, too, Sistani is intransigent.

Bremer had to backtrack, for fear of facing a massive anti-US pro-democracy insurgency that would have ruined the last pretext for Washington's occupation of Iraq. Through a face-saving mediation by the UN, Bremer, and his bosses in Washington, agreed reluctantly to hold elections no later than the end of January 2005. (The UN envoy was none other than Lakhdar Brahimi, who as a member of the military-backed government supported the interruption of the electoral process in Algeria in 1992, when the Islamic Salvation Front was about to win a majority of seats.) The Bush administration thereby bought itself several months in order to devise a way out of its dilemma.

Had the elections been organized in the first months following the invasion, as Sistani insisted, they would have taken place in a much more orderly, all-embracing and therefore legitimate fashion. Washington would have been faced with an indisputably legitimate government asking it to withdraw its troops from Iraq. To prevent that from happening, Bremer argued hypocritically that there were no available electoral lists and that it would take a long time to prepare them. Sistani replied that the food-rationing lists and cards established under UN supervision were perfectly suitable for the purpose. The occupation forces eventually agreed, but with a delay of more than one year, during which time the situation in Iraq deteriorated to its present tragic condition.

In a sense, the US occupation produced this deterioration -- whether deliberately or not, it is difficult to tell, though the most likely scenario is that, once again, the apprentice-sorcerers in Washington have gotten results they were not consciously seeking. Having accepted to hold elections, Washington went into a thorough revision of its policies in Iraq: a vicious onslaught against the most prominent rebellious forces in the country -- the Fundamentalist-Nationalist-Baathist alliance in the Sunni city of Fallujah, as well as the Shia Fundamentalist movement of Moqtada al-Sadr -- in order to try to strengthen its hold on the country. The neocons' buddy Chalabi was replaced with the CIA-collaborator Allawi as the key Iraqi US stooge, and a farcical "transfer of sovereignty" was organized surreptitiously on June 28, 2003. Allawi tried to play it tough, proclaiming a state of emergency, reinstating the death penalty, etc. and, above all, endorsing with his very transparent Iraqi cover the continuing onslaught by US forces.

The attempt at crushing Moqtada al-Sadr's movement culminated in the Shia city of Najaf. Sistani, after having let the young al-Sadr reach a situation where he was on the verge of a crushing and bloody defeat, obviously in order to tame him, intervened to stop the US onslaught and thereby confirm his unchallengeable leadership of the Shia community. The second assault on Fallujah, in the immediate aftermath of the US elections, seemed to make no sense. The US occupation could not have any illusion -- at this point in time -- about its ability to stop the violence in the country by resorting to such violent means. Instead, there is serious reason to believe that the real purpose was precisely to aggravate the chaotic conditions in Iraq in order to diminish the legitimacy of the outcome of the January 30 elections.

Washington's duplicity could not be more blatant: on the one hand, Bush and his Iraqi official stooges state their firm commitment to hold the elections on time; on the other, Allawi's "party" joined a coalition of Saudi/Wahhabi-linked Sunni groups in demanding the postponement of the elections. The Iraqi Sunni "president" echoed staunch US allies in the region, like the Saudi and Jordanian monarchies, in warning of an Iranian conspiracy to get hold of Iraq as a major step toward establishing a "Shia crescent" stretching from Lebanon to Iran, a new version of the "axis of evil," more formidable than even Bush's original one. The Saudi/Wahhabi-linked Muslim Brotherhood, the key component of which is its Egyptian branch, denounced the elections under the guise that they are to be held under occupation. Its Iraqi branch, the Islamic Party, after having registered for the elections, announced its withdrawal, and joined the Sunni "Council of Muslim ulamas" in denouncing the elections in advance.

The fact is that the sharp increase in the level of violence fostered by the US occupation's own onslaughts jeopardized greatly the likelihood of a meaningful turnout of electors in the areas where the Sunni mixture of Fundamentalist-Nationalist-Baathist forces is active. Therefore, whatever their intentions, the Sunni forces proclaiming their withdrawal from the electoral race, are just acknowledging the fact that the major part of their potential electorate will very probably stay cautiously at home on the day of elections. Not that the Sunni population is politically convinced of the need to "boycott" the elections: earlier polls had shown them to be massively willing to enjoy, like their fellow citizens, this first pluralistic election after decades of despotism in their country. But they have been definitely frightened by deadly threats from various "resistance" groups into shunning the elections.

The so-called Iraqi resistance is a heterogeneous conglomerate of forces, many of them purely local. For a major part, these are people revolted by the heavy-handed occupation of their country, fighting against the occupiers and their armed Iraqi auxiliaries. But another segment of the forces engaged in violent actions in Iraq is composed of utterly reactionary fanatics, mainly of the Islamic Fundamentalist kind, who make no distinction between civilians, Iraqis included, and armed personnel, and resort to horrible acts, like the decapitation of Asian migrant workers and the kidnapping and/or assassination of all kinds of persons who are in no way hostile or harmful to the Iraqi national cause. These acts are being used in Washington to counterbalance the effect of the legitimate attacks against the US troops: the task of presenting the "enemy" as evil is thus made very easy.

This means, incidentally, that any unqualified support for the "Iraqi resistance" as a whole in Western countries, where the antiwar movement is badly needed, is utterly counter-productive as much as it is deeply wrong (when paved with good political intentions). There should be a clear-cut distinction between anti-occupation acts that are legitimate and acts by so-called "resistance" groups that are to be denounced. One very obvious case in point are the sectarian attacks by Al-Zarqawi group against Shias. This being said, it has been clear until now that the most fruitful strategy in opposing the occupation is the one led by Sistani, and that attempts at derailing the elections and de-legitimizing them in advance can only play into the hands of the US occupation.

Those most active in trying to derail the elections are not really concerned by the fact that they will be held under continuing occupation. After all, the history of decolonization is full of instances of elections or consultations held under occupation as major steps toward independence and the evacuation of foreign troops. For many years, the Palestinians have been fighting for the right to hold elections under Israeli occupation. This argument is a thin disguise for the fear of holding elections on the part of forces who know that they are condemned to be in a minority or to be completely marginalized in free elections. (This also holds true for Allawi, whose total lack of popularity would be expressed in the outcome of any fair elections, though he is compelled to act according to his mandate and cannot state openly his true wishes.)

To this is added the argument of the likes of Zarqawi, recently endorsed by Bin Laden: the elections are impious because they are held under "positive," i.e. man-made, law, whereas the only "legitimate" elections are those held under the rule of the Shariah. The utterly reactionary character of this argument needs no comment. But the truth is that there is a common ground here between Bin Laden and Sistani: both of them believe that the Shariah should be the main, if not unique, source of legislation. The difference is that Bin Laden, aside from being much more fanatical, is dedicated to his crazy belief that he could achieve victory through terrorist violence, whereas Sistani -- who warned the UN and others against any consecration of the regulations introduced by the occupation (for example, through referring to them in a UN resolution) -- wants to secure control of power through elections first, in order to have the parliament elaborate a constitution and laws to his taste.

The real mood of the Shia population and their view of the elections was pretty well expressed in a report by Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid, commenting on the main Shia popular neighborhood of Baghdad:

"Shiite empowerment is just one facet of the clerical campaign, and it is usually couched in coded language. More common are visceral appeals to an electorate that has grown fatigued and disillusioned with the carnage of war... At one end of the road, banners promised a new era of stability with the vote. At the other, they cast the election as the surest way to end an occupation that has grown increasingly unpopular. 'Brother Iraqis, the future of Iraq is in your hands. Elections are the ideal way to expel the occupier from Iraq,' one white banner proclaimed. 'Brother Iraqi, your vote in the elections is better than a bullet in battle,' an adjacent sign read" (December 7, 2004).

The electoral slate prepared under the auspices of Sistani, the "Unified Iraqi Coalition," encompasses the broadest range of Shia forces, from Chalabi (definitely a "man for all seasons") to al-Sadr (who tries actually to hedge his bets: while having people of his entourage on the unified slate, he states that he won't personally "enter the political game"). The slate gives pre-eminence to the pro-Iranian "Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq." To its credit, this list took pains to include Sunni, Kurdish and Turkmen candidates, including tribal leaders, so as not to be a sectarian slate -- though it is being labeled as such by the media. The list will certainly receive an overwhelming majority of the votes if the elections proceed on January 30. This will give way to a Parliament and a government in which Shia Fundamentalist forces, more or less friendly with Iran, are hegemonic. A central item in the program of the coalition, which says it will assert the "Islamic identity" of Iraq, is to negotiate with the occupation authorities a date for the withdrawal of their troops from the country.

What will Washington do after the January 30 elections? It is difficult to predict. The Bush administration has a clear strategic objective: securing control of Iraq for the long haul. But Washington does not know how to achieve this goal or how to reconcile it with the forecast result of the elections, which an anonymous senior official residing in Baghdad's Green Zone aptly described to the New York Times as a "jungle of ambiguity" (December 18, 2004). One scenario, which has been greatly facilitated by the behavior of the occupying forces, is the one that many neocons came to favor after the collapse of their illusions about securing control of Iraq "democratically": a de facto, if not de jure, carving up of the country along sectarian lines (Israel's favored scenario from the beginning).

In order to retain control of the land, Washington could very well resort to the well-tried imperial recipe of divide and rule, taking the risk of setting Iraq on the devastating fire of a civil war -- both sectarian (Shia v. Sunni) and ethnic (Arab v. Kurd). The way in which the US occupation is letting the situation deteriorate between Kurds and Arabs in the North, without trying earnestly to broker a compromise that would be satisfactory to all, as well as the way it has dealt with the issue of the elections fostering tensions between Shia and Sunnis, is very revealing in that regard.

This grave danger will keep hanging over the heads of the Iraqi people unless the situation quickly reaches a point where Washington's objective would shift to getting out of Iraq at short range and at minimal cost and damage to US interests. For that point to be reached, the combination of pressure from the Iraqi people from within and pressure from the antiwar movement abroad -- above all in the US -- is indispensable. This means that the most urgent task outside of Iraq is to supplement the January 30 elections, and the legitimate actions of resistance to the US occupation and its allies in Iraq, with building as widely and effectively as possible for the March 19 global antiwar demonstration.

Gilbert Achcar is the author of The Clash of Barbarisms and Eastern Cauldron, both published by Monthly Review Press in New York. Thanks to Anthony Arnove for his kind editing of this piece.

Secret Meeting, Clear Mission: 'Rescue' U.N.

United Nations - The meeting of veteran foreign policy experts in a Manhattan apartment one recent Sunday was held in strict secrecy. The guest of honor arrived without his usual retinue of aides.

The mission, in the words of one participant, was clear: "to save Kofi and rescue the U.N."

At the gathering, Secretary General Kofi Annan listened quietly to three and a half hours of bluntly worded counsel from a group united in its personal regard for him and support for the United Nations. The group's concern was that lapses in his leadership during the past two years had eclipsed the accomplishments of his first four-year term in office and were threatening to undermine the two years remaining in his final term.

They began by arguing that Mr. Annan had to refresh his top management team, and on Monday he will announce that Mark Malloch Brown, 51, the widely respected administrator of the United Nations Development Program, will become Mr. Annan's chief of staff, replacing Iqbal Riza, who announced his retirement on Dec. 22.

Their larger argument, according to participants, addressed two broad needs. First, they said, Mr. Annan had to repair relations with Washington, where the Bush administration and many in Congress thought he and the United Nations had worked against President Bush's re-election. Second, he had to restore his relationship with his own bureaucracy, where many workers said privately that his office protected high-level officials accused of misconduct.

In the week after the session, Mr. Annan sought and obtained a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the nominee for secretary of state. United Nations officials said afterward that it was an encouraging meeting.

The apartment gathering on Dec. 5 came at the end of a year that Mr. Annan has described as the organization's "annus horribilis." The United Nations faced charges of corruption in the oil-for-food program in Iraq, evidence that blue-helmeted peacekeepers in Congo had run prostitution rings and raped women and teenage girls, and formal motions of no confidence in the organization's senior management from staff unions.

Just days before the gathering, Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who is chairman of a subcommittee investigating the oil-for-food program, had brought criticism of the United Nations to a boil by calling for Mr. Annan's resignation.

The meeting also occurred at a moment when the United Nations faces major institutional challenges: the Jan. 30 balloting in Iraq that United Nations electoral experts helped set up; the preliminary report late this month of the oil-for-food inquiry led by Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman.

Now, the Asian tsunami is testing the organization's capacity for coordinating aid on a global scale.

The meeting was held in the apartment of Richard C. Holbrooke, a United States ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton.

Others in attendance were John G. Ruggie, assistant secretary general for strategic planning from 1997 to 2001 and now a professor of international relations at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Leslie H. Gelb, a former president of the Council on Foreign Relations; Timothy E. Wirth, the president of the United Nations Foundation, based in Washington; Kathy Bushkin, the foundation's executive vice president; Nader Mousavizadeh, a former special assistant to Mr. Annan who left in 2003 to work at Goldman Sachs; and Robert C. Orr, the assistant secretary general for strategic planning. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations from 1998 to 2003, was invited but could not attend.

"The intention was to keep it confidential," Mr. Holbrooke said. "No one wanted to give the impression of a group of outsiders, all of them Americans, dictating what to do to a secretary general."

He described the group as people "who care deeply about the U.N. and believe that the U.N. cannot succeed if it is in open dispute and constant friction with its founding nation, its host nation and its largest contributor nation."

"The U.N., without the U.S. behind it, is a failed institution," he said.

None of the participants would discuss the remarks that were made in any detail. "Secret advice, such as it is, is effective to the extent that it is kept that way," Mr. Ruggie said.

But one participant, who requested anonymity, said Mr. Annan remained quiet throughout the session and made no promises - nor was he asked to - at its end.

"He sat in silence and made no effort to defend himself," the participant said. "He was taking it all in. It wasn't a conversation, it was much more of a, 'Here is the situation, here are the choices on what you can do.' "

Mr. Holbrooke said that the talk, while unalloyed, was not confrontational. "There was nothing adversarial about it," he said. "Kofi knew he was in a meeting with people who cared deeply about him and about the institution."

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Annan said he felt the session had been "supportive and helpful," but said it was just one of many such meetings he had been holding. "I've been talking to lots of people here and abroad and within my own organization planning ahead for the next two years," he said. "It was part of that process. We did discuss how to improve relations with Washington."

One of the members of the group had prepared for the session by finding out if the Bush administration was siding with those in Congress who were calling for Mr. Annan's resignation or whether it would support his resolve to stay in office until the end of his term in December 2006.

The official, a onetime senior government figure in Washington with close ties to the Bush administration, said he concluded that "they were not going to draw the sword against Kofi."

"Everyone I talked to, including the White House, said that if Kofi was going to go, it was going to be by the hand of the Volcker report, not by the hand of the Bush administration," the official said.

As for the staff's unhappiness with Mr. Annan's inner circle, Mr. Ruggie said: "I think there is a genuine concern in the building that senior management is not held accountable for their decisions, for bad judgments, for poor performance, and that must change. The Secretary General missed an opportunity at the end of the first term to re-energize his top team as an American president would do, for example."

Ms. Bushkin said of Mr. Annan: "My perception of what's happening is that he is preparing himself for the last two years, he's looking at his own leadership style and what it's going to take to get the job done. The last two years may require different skills in the people around him."

One top adviser who may be leaving is Kieran Prendergast, the under secretary for political affairs since 1997, who diplomats say is under consideration for the post of special envoy to the Middle East, which was vacated by Terje Roed-Larsen.

Mr. Annan also has the opportunity to place new people in two other jobs that have become open coincidentally with the departures of Catherine Bertini, the under secretary general for management, and Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, the organization's controller.

The speakers also faulted the United Nations for the state of its public communications. "Throughout the building there is fairly low morale, which stems from the lackluster way in which the institution and the secretary general's office have responded to the oil-for-food charges," Mr. Ruggie said.

He continued, "The attackers of the U.N. for too long have had a free ride in exaggerating the magnitude of the problem, sometimes deliberately distorting the facts, escalating their accusations and demands for his resignation, and frankly the response on the part of the U.N. has been inept."

Warren Hoge
The New York Times

Monday 03 January 2005

Bring Them Home - Sooner Rather Than Later

USA Today founder Al Neuharth's New Year's Resolution that we should support the troops in Iraq by bringing them home has stirred up a hornet's nest, according to Editor & Publisher Magazine which, after describing Neuharth's Dec. 22 Christmas column, was inundated with hate mail.

The E&P staff wrote that Neuharth said if he were eligible to serve in Iraq, "I would do all I could to avoid it." Neuharth also wrote in his weekly column for the paper that America's New Year's Resolution should be to bring the troops home "sooner rather than later."

Neuharth, who is 80, recalled his duty as an infantryman in France, Germany and the Phillipines during World War II as "highly moral." But he said that troops floundering around in the bloody Iraqi mess today were, like those in Vietnam, thrust into an "ill-advised adventure by an unwise commander-in-chief," and should be brought home post-haste.

The vitriolic response was immediate, and got the attention of editor Greg Mitchell, who said E&P's little four-paragraph article "drew more letters than virtually any story we have ever posted."

Mitchell made the strange conclusion that the vicious responses to Neuharth's commentary (opinion) were mostly a result of Americans increasingly hating or distrusting the press.

Although "hate" is a bit strong, it is true that as more Americans rouse from their stupor and begin to compare what the mainstream US media says is happening both here and abroad with what is actually happening -- it's easy to see that they have ample reason to distrust the entire Fourth Estate.

Mitchell did say, however, "Apparently, it is now an act of treason to offer an editorial opinion on the Iraq war that goes against the conventional wisdom."

I agree that this uproar is primarily about stifling any sound of criticism or dissent. And, it's frightening that, for some Americans, the "conventional wisdom" is for the rest of us to just shut the hell up and allow our uniformed citizens to make the ultimate sacrifice in peace -- and honor.

Our duty is to be there, waving our flags, when they are shuttled back to the US under cover of darkness, boxed up and ready to be buried. For those Americans, that seems to be the only definition of "patriotism."

To give you an idea of this particular mindset, here are just a few extracts from some of the letters published in E&P on Dec. 29...

Frank Butash, West Hartford, CT.: “Apparently it's easier to run with jackals than to stand up for your country when it needs support.”

Kenneth Genest: “They had two of these in World War 2. One was called Tokyo Rose and the other Axis Sally. Their job was to discourage the American soldiers. I see they have one now at USA Today.”

Jerry Martin, San Francisco, CA.: “Yet another self-defeating fool with a large bank account shoots himself in the foot. Their dissent equals treason. The terrorists got him just like all the other rich liberals who side against our victory. They forget that wars end, and then the country takes stock of who was where. I encourage the fool to keep mouthing against our victory over the Muslim jihad, he'll pay the social price in the end.”

Peter Kessler: “And as for the good war, WW II, the lefties were four-square for that one. Yes sir, they were saving the USSR, Stalin and Communism. It's sad we didn't join Hitler until he wiped out the USSR. Alger Hiss and the Uptown Daily Worker (The New York Times) be damned. I see you've joined the club. Well, you're probably a founding member.”

Joe McBride, Fort Dodge, Iowa: “Mr. Neuharth, thanks to you and your ignorance the terrorists are probably booking their flights to the U.S. now! If we pull out of Iraq with the job unfinished the terrorists will be bombing McDonalds, and blowing up malls and schools here, killing our innocent men, women and children.”

Craig Wood, Waianae, Hawaii: “Today's press undermines our troops and supports our enemies. They convince parents that supporting your President is dangerous. They concentrate their ire on any fight that involves the United States and ignore all others. Like the sex scandal in the Congo with United Nations forces…. But, let some Army private put panties on an Iraqi's head and all hell brakes (sic) loose.”

Duggan Flanakin, Austin, Texas: “Neuharth should be tried for treason along with a lot of other blowhards who should be spending their energies condemning the barbarism of our enemies, the same people who destroyed the Twin Towers.“

Mel Gibbs: “The Patriot Act will put both of you (Neuharth and Mitchell) on trial for treason and convict and execute both of you as traitors for running these stories in a time of war and it should be done on TV for other communist traitors like you two to know we mean business. This is war and you should be put in prison NOW for talking like this. Who the hell do you people think you are? You give aid and comfort to our enemies and aid them in murdering our proud soldiers. You people are a disgrace to America. Your families should be put in prison with you, then be made to leave and move to the Middle East ...This is a great Christian nation and god wants us to lead the world out of darkness with great leaders like President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Communists like Al and Greg will soon be in prison and on death row for your ugly papers. We won the election and now you are mad. We own America and all the rights, you people are trash, go back to Russia and Africa and take your friends with before we put you on death row after a fair trial.”

Ah, yes. Good ol' Mel Gibbs -- giving Neuharth and Mitchell a choice of Lone Star punishment for exercising their right of free speech. For daring to criticize the commander-in-chief, they and their families can either go to prison and then move on out to the Middle East -- or they and their friends can walk the long, green mile on death row -- er, after a fair trial, of course.

One man who knows full well how this could play out is Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu was interviewed by Arlene Getz for Newsweek's Dec. 30 issue from his home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

When Getz asked him about Iraq, Tutu said, "Any normal human being ought to be feeling considerable outrage and deep, deep, deep hurt for so-called ordinary [Iraqi] people. We hardly ever hear about what the casualties have been on that side. How I wish that politicians could have the courage and the humility to admit that they have made mistakes. President Bush and Prime Minister [Tony] Blair and whoever supported the invasion ought to at least have the decency to say [they] went into this war because [they] were given the wrong reasons for going to war."

Tutu also commented that most Americans didn't seem to worry too much about the number of American soldiers who have died since Bush claimed the war had ended.

He recalled that during the recent election campaign he was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., and was "shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there (in Fla) that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you."

Think about that. Those who dare criticize the commander-in-chief will be attacked. This is, in my opinion, the most important -- the most critical -- reason we must not be silenced. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Al Neuharth, and proclaim that our 2005 New Year's Resolution is -- Bring Them Home.

Sooner rather than later.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a columnist/regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at rsamples@sirinet.net

© 2004 Sheila Samples

The Question of Torture: Open letter to Alberto Gonzales

More than 200 American religious leaders

An Open Letter to Alberto R. Gonzales
Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Gonzales,

We, the undersigned religious leaders, greet your nomination to be Attorney General of the United States with grave concern.

As a self-professed evangelical Christian, you surely know that all people are created in the image of God. You see it as a moral imperative to treat each human being with reverence and dignity. We invite you to affirm with us that we are all are made in the image of God every human being. We invite you to acknowledge that no legal category created by mere mortals can revoke that status. You understand that torture — the deliberate effort to undermine human dignity — is a grave sin and affront to God. You would not deny that the systemic use of torture on prisoners at Abu Ghraib was fundamentally immoral, as is the deliberate rendering of any detainee to authorities likely to commit torture.

We urge you to declare that any attempt to undermine international standards on torture, renditions, or habeas corpus is not only wrong but sinful. We are concerned that as White House counsel you have shown a troubling disregard for international laws against torture, for the legal rights of suspected "enemy combatants," and for the adverse consequences your decisions have had at home and abroad.

How could you have written a series of legal memos that disrespected international law and invited these abuses? How could you have justified the use of torture and disavowed protections for prisoners of war? How could you have referred to the Geneva Conventions as quaint and obsolete. We fear that your legal judgments have paved the way to torture and abuse.

We therefore call upon you
To denounce the use of torture under any circumstances;
To affirm, with the Supreme Court, that it is unconstitutional to imprison anyone designated as an "enemy combatant" for months without access to lawyers or the right to challenge their detentions in court;
To affirm the binding legality of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war;
And to reject the practice of "extraordinary rendition," at home and abroad, by which terrorists suspects are sent to countries that practice torture for interrogation.

We believe, as you do, that the United States must be an example of moral leadership in the world community. However, the events at Abu Ghraib have gravely compromised Americas moral authority. We ask that you commit yourself as Attorney General to repairing that damage by articulating and enforcing legal policies that reject the use of torture, embrace and advance standards of international law, and honor the dignity of all of Gods creation.

With prayers for wisdom and grace,
[Affiliations noted for identification only]

Dr. George Hunsinger, Church Folks for a Better America
Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Aux. Bishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
C. Rene Padilla
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President, Chicago Theological Seminary
Jim Wallis, Editor, Sojourners
Rev. Timothy McDonald, African Amer. Ministers Council & First Iconium Baptist
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB
The Rev. John E. Denaro, Episcopal Migration Ministries
James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Romal Tune, African American Ministers Council
Iftekhar Hussain, Secretary General, American Muslim Society of the Tristate Area
The Rev. Julio Torres
The Rev. Frank Morales, St. Marks Church
Glen Stassen, Fuller Theological Seminary
Dr. Rubn Rosario Rodrguez, St. Louis University
Rev. Peter Laarman, Progressive Christians Uniting
Dr. Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Director, Faith Voices Institute and Lift Every Voice!
Stanley Hauerwas, The Divinity School of Duke University
Dave Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
Pastor Amaury Tan-Santos, American Baptist Churches
Charles Rooney, Catholics for the Common Good
Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Temple Shalom
Rev. Steven C. Baines, People For the American Way Foundation
Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs
William Werpehowski, Center for Peace and Justice Education, Villanova University
Elsie McKee, Ph.D., Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Pastor, Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn, NY
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Westmont College
Dr. M. Douglas Meeks, The Divinity School, Vanderbilt University
The Rev. Dr. Christian T. Iosso, Scarborough Presbyterian Church
Rev. Kenneth Samual, Victory Church, Atlanta, GA
Rev. Theophlus Caviness, Greater Abyssinia, Cleveland, OH
Rev. A.W. Howard, Baltimore, MD
Rev. Violete Dease, Abyssinian Baptist, Harlem, NY
Rev. Robert Shine, Baracha Baptist, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Clarence Pemberton, New Hope Baptist, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. James Sampson, First Mount Zion, Jacksonville, FL
Rev. Michael Harrison, Union Baptist, Youngstown, OH
Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina, Chicago, IL
Rev. Olen Arrington, Second Baptist, Kenosha, WI
J. Ross Wagner, Princeton Theological Seminary
Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary
The Rev. Dr. John McEntyre, PCUSA
The Rev. C. Clifton Black, Dept. of Biblical Studies, Princeton Theological Seminary
Barbara Levatich
Geffrey B. Kelly, La Salle University
Robert DeFina, Villanova University
Prof. Ellen Charry Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Bryan Langlands, St. Luke UMC, Sanford, NC
E. Glenn Hinson, Professor Emeritus, Baptist Theological Seminary
Rev. Muriel Burrows, Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church
Anne Gibbons, Associate Chaplain and Director of SERVE, Lynchburg College
The Rev. Robert Moore, Coalition for Peace Action & Peace Action Education Fund
The Rev. Robert L. Livingston. United Church of Christ
Rev. Patricia Daley
William Stacy Johnson, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Douglas King
Dr. Alexander J. McKelway
Rev. James M. Collie, Presbytery of Santa Fe
Rev. Theresa F. Latini
The Rev. Fleming Rutledge
Todd Cioffi, Princeton Seminary
Jacqueline Lapsley, Princeton Seminary
Brian K. Blount, Princeton Theological Seminary
Dr. Deborah van Deusen Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
The Rev. Dr. Laura Delaplain (UMC)
Catherine Keller, Theological School of Drew University
The Rev. Dr. Gary Wehrwein
Ftr. Lawrence H. Kaiser
Victoria J. Furio
Sr. Betty Obal, SL, UN NGO Representative, Loretto Community
Rev. Gloria H. Albrecht, Ph.D. (Presbyterian Church, USA)
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Sally Osmer, Director at The Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton
Cherith Fee Nordling, Director of Christian Formation, Calvin College
Rev. Richard Broderick
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assoc. (Past President)
Rev. Ann Marie Coleman, Co-Senior Minister of University Church
Rev. Don Coleman, Co-Senior Minister of University Church
The Rev. Lisa Keppeler
(The Rev.) Geo. Anthony Hoeltzel
The Rev. Dr. Frank J. Alagna
The Rev. Dr. Peregrine L. Murphy
The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell, Church of the Holy Apostles
The Rev. Ralph E Fogg
The Rev. Carol R. Fox
The Rev. Chloe Breyer, St. Mary's Manhattanville
Lois Malcolm, Luther Seminary
The Reverend Canon Brady J. Vardemann, Episcopal Diocese of Montana
Dr. Mark S. Burrows, Andover Newton Theological School
Dr. Barbara DeConcini, American Academy of Religion
Rev. Vicky A. Fleming
The Reverend K. Dennis Winslow, St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Rabbi Nancy Flam, Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Rev. Dr. Betty Jane Bailey
Rev. Dr. J. Martin Bailey
Kathryn L. Johnson, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Rev. Joan LaLibert, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
The Rev. Barbara J. Haddon, Pastor First Presbyterian Church
Rev. Donald F. Hanchon
Rev. Paul Feuerstein
The Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Starr King School for the Ministry
John Cobb, Claremont School of Theology (Emeritus)
Matthew Freeman, Assistant Minister, Asbury United Methodist Church
Rev. Jophn Soderberg
Rev. Dave Weissbard, Senior Minister, The Unitarian Universalist Church
Walter Lowe, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
Dr. Frederick R. Trost, Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ
Sarah Craig Freeman, Assistant Minister at Asbury United Methodist Church
Bonnie Jones Shinneman
Bishop Charles Wesley Jordan
The Rev. Prof. Harold R. Bronk, Jr., Grace Episcopal Church
The Rev. Chuck Kramer
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund
Rev. Dawson Tunnell
Frank Kromkowski
Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Graduate Theological Urban Studies, Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education
Daniel L. Migliore, Princeton Theological Seminary
Suzie Armstrong, Vice President, The Interfaith Alliance
Rev. Dr. Amy Laura Hall
Professor, Duke University Divinity School
Jason Byassee, Assistant Editor, Christian Century
Creston Davis, Fellow of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
David W. Reid, Publisher, Vital Theology
Jason Byassee, Assistant Editor, Christian Century
Scott Bader-Saye, Dept. of Theology/Religious Studies, University of Scranton
Dr. Brigid Curtin Frein, Department of Theology, University of Scranton
Joel James Shuman, Department of Theology, King's College
Dr. R. David Kaylor, Davidson College (emeritus)
Dr. Teresa Whitehurst
Deanna A. Thompson, Ph.D., Chair & Associate Professor of Religion, Hamline University
Richard Fenn
The Rev. Joicy Becker-Richards, Director of Educational Media, Princeton Theological Seminary
Richard V. Pierard, Stephen Phillips Professor of History, Gordon College
Rabbi Alana Suskin, Congregation Adas Israel
Rev. Dr. James E. Fitzgerald, Minister for Mission and Social Justice, The Riverside Church
Sondra Wheeler, Martha Ashby Carr Professor of Christian Ethics, Wesley Theological Seminary
Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson
Dr. George F. Regas, The Regas Institute
Dr. Charles Hunter, Presbyterian Minister, Parish Associate at the Oak Cliff Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas
Charles Raynal, Director of Advanced Studies, Columbia Theological Seminary
Rev. Victor Aloyo, Jr.,Director of Vocations, Princeton Theological Seminary
Mark A. Chancey, Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University
The Rev. Gary R. Weaver
Julie M. Hill
Rabbi Brian Walt, Rabbis for Human Rights/ North America
Creston Davis, Fellow of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Scott R. Gansl, president, World Congress of GLBT Jewish Organisations: Keshet Ga'ava
Rabbi Dr. Andrew Vogel Ettin, Wake Forest University and Temple Israel
Dr. S.M. Ghazanfar, Professor of Economics University of Idaho
Tony Kushner
Alicia Ostriker
Rabbi Suzanne Griffel
Rabbi Laura Geller, Los Angeles
Rabbi Douglas E. Krantz
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Dr. A.S. Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad, Africana Islamic Institute
Dana Regan, First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR
Rev. Dr. William G. Brockman
Mohammed Kaiseruddin, President, Muslim Community Center, Chicago
Bob Morris
Therese M. Becker, Department of Spiritual Care University of Chicago Hospitals
Rabbi Neil Kominsky, Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley
Helga Scow Stern
Chuck Currie, United Church of Christ Seminarian, Central Pacific Conference UCC
Marshall L. Meadors, Jr. Bishop in Residence Candler School of Theology Emory University
Rabbi Avi Winokur, Society Hill Synagogue
Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Riverside Language Program
Dr. Nan Gefen, President, Chochmat HaLev
Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, Berkeley, CA
Donald W. Shriver, President Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives
Rev. Jay R. Newlin, OSL, Pastor Jenkintown United Methodist Church
Rev. Melody C. Porter, First United Methodist Church of Germantown
Ruth Messinger
Anne Ewing
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbinic Chair, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Rabbi Hillel Cohn
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer, Claremont, California
Rabbi Howard A. Cohen, Congregation Beth El
The Rev. Meg A. Riley, Unitarian Universalist Association
Rev. David Wesley Brown
Dr. Tarunjit Singh, Secretary General World Sikh Council - America Region
Dr. S. Huw Anwyl, Senior Minister & CEO Shepherd of the Hills Church
Rev. Dexter Lanctot
The Rev. James F. McIntire, MDiv, JD, The United Methodist Church of Bala Cynwyd
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
Eric Mount, Centre College (Rodes Professor Religion Emeritus)
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Sound Vision Foundation
Rev. Robert G. Coombe Pastor: Union United Methodist Church
Rabbi Dennis Beck-Berman Past President, OHALAH: Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal
Elizabeth Memel, Ojai, CA
Rabbi Michael Lerner, The TIKKUN Community
Rev. Dr. Albert M. Pennybacker, Chair/CEO, Clergy and Laity Network
Haim Dov Beliak
The Very Rev. Dr. Ann J. Broomell, Dean Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Susan Cole
Michael Kinnamon The Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission and Peace, Eden Theological Seminary
Dr. Juanita Jartu Jolly, Agape Christian Tabernacle
Rev. Charlene F. Gaspar, Gladwyne United Methodist Church
Rabbi Laurence L. Edwards, Congregation Or Chadash
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim Magazine
Rev. Al Krass, Philadelphia Area Interfaith Peace Network
The Rev. Patricia Pearce
Paul H. Sherry
Rev. Kaye Edwards, Director of Family and Children's Ministries, Disciples of Christ

To add your name as a signer, write —

You Break It, You Pay For It

So let's be absolutely clear: The United States, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry of WTO and IMF conditions, followed by elections designed to transfer as little power to Iraqis as possible. This is what famed Argentine writer Rodolfo Walsh, writing before his 1977 assassination by the military junta, described as "planned misery." And the longer the United States stays in Iraq, the more misery it will plan.

So it turns out Pottery Barn doesn't even have a rule that says, "You break it, you own it." According to a company spokesperson, "in the rare instance that something is broken in the store, it's written off as a loss." Yet the nonexistent policy of a store selling $80 corkscrews continues to wield more influence in the United States than the Geneva Conventions and the US Army's Law of Land Warfare combined. As Bob Woodward has noted, Colin Powell invoked "the Pottery Barn rule" before the invasion, while John Kerry pledged his allegiance to it during the first presidential debate. And the imaginary rule is still the favored blunt instrument with which to whack anyone who dares to suggest that the time has come to withdraw troops from Iraq: Sure the war is a disaster, the argument goes, but we can't stop now--you break it, you own it.

Though not invoking the chain store by name, Nicholas Kristof laid out this argument in a recent New York Times column. "Our mistaken invasion has left millions of Iraqis desperately vulnerable, and it would be inhumane to abandon them now. If we stay in Iraq, there is still some hope that Iraqis will come to enjoy security and better lives, but if we pull out we will be condemning Iraqis to anarchy, terrorism and starvation, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children over the next decade."

Let's start with the idea that the United States is helping to provide security. On the contrary, the presence of US troops is provoking violence on a daily basis. The truth is that as long as the troops remain, the country's entire security apparatus--occupation forces as well as Iraqi soldiers and police officers--will be exclusively dedicated to fending off resistance attacks, leaving a security vacuum when it comes to protecting regular Iraqis. If the troops pulled out, Iraqis would still face insecurity, but they would be able to devote their local security resources to regaining control over their cities and neighborhoods.

As for preventing "anarchy," the US plan to bring elections to Iraq seems designed to spark a civil war--the civil war needed to justify an ongoing presence for US troops no matter who wins the elections. It was always clear that the Shiite majority, which has been calling for immediate elections for more than a year, was never going to accept any delay in the election timetable. And it was equally clear that by destroying Falluja in the name of preparing the city for elections, much of the Sunni leadership would be forced to call for an election boycott.

When Kristof asserts that US forces should stay in Iraq to save "hundreds of thousands of children" from starvation, it's hard to imagine what he has in mind. Hunger in Iraq is not merely the humanitarian fallout of a war--it is the direct result of the US decision to impose brutal "shock therapy" policies on a country that was already sickened and weakened by twelve years of sanctions. Paul Bremer's first act on the job was to lay off close to 500,000 Iraqis, and his primary accomplishment--for which he was just awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom--was to oversee a "reconstruction" process that systematically stole jobs from needy Iraqis and handed them to foreign firms, sending the unemployment rate soaring to 67 percent. And the worst of the shocks are yet to come. On November 21, the group of industrialized countries known as the Paris Club finally unveiled its plan for Iraq's unpayable debt. Rather than forgiving it outright, the Paris Club laid out a three-year plan to write off 80 percent, contingent on Iraq's future governments adhering to a strict International Monetary Fund austerity program. According to early drafts, that program includes "restructuring of state-owned enterprises" (read: privatization), a plan that Iraq's Ministry of Industry predicts will require laying off an additional 145,000 workers. In the name of "free-market reforms," the IMF also wants to eliminate the program that provides each Iraqi family with a basket of food--the only barrier to starvation for millions of citizens. There is additional pressure to eliminate the food rations coming from the World Trade Organization, which, at Washington's urging, is considering accepting Iraq as a member--provided it adopts certain "reforms."

So let's be absolutely clear: The United States, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry of WTO and IMF conditions, followed by elections designed to transfer as little power to Iraqis as possible. This is what famed Argentine writer Rodolfo Walsh, writing before his 1977 assassination by the military junta, described as "planned misery." And the longer the United States stays in Iraq, the more misery it will plan.

But if staying in Iraq is not the solution, neither are easy bumper-sticker calls to pull the troops out and spend the money on schools and hospitals at home. Yes, the troops must leave, but that can be only one plank of a credible and moral antiwar platform. What of the schools and hospitals in Iraq--the ones that were supposed to be fixed by Bechtel but never were? Too often, antiwar forces have shied away from speaking about what Americans owe Iraq. Rarely is the word "compensation" spoken, let alone the more loaded "reparations."

Antiwar forces have also failed to offer concrete support for the political demands coming out of Iraq. For instance, when the Iraqi National Assembly forcefully condemned the Paris Club deal for forcing the Iraqi people to pay Saddam's "odious" debts and robbing them of their economic sovereignty, the antiwar movement was virtually silent, save the dogged but undersupported Jubilee Iraq. And while US soldiers aren't protecting Iraqis from starvation, the food rations certainly are--so why isn't safeguarding this desperately needed program one of our central demands?

The failure to develop a credible platform beyond "troops out" may be one reason the antiwar movement remains stalled, even as opposition to the war deepens. Because the Pottery Barn rulers do have a point: Breaking a country should have consequences for the breakers. Owning the broken country should not be one of them, but how about paying for the repairs?

Naomi Klein

An “Affirmative Measure” to Help Prevent the Commission of War Crimes by the Bush Administration

“In the U.S., activists can draw on the immensely powerful tradition of disobedience to unjust law that motivated people such as the abolitionists, Henry David Thoreau, the Quakers, and the Berrigan Brothers. Indeed, this kind of resistance might be the key to stopping not only the imperial drive but also the rush to restrict political liberties and democracy. [It is] necessary to resist the imperial writ nonviolently by invoking a higher law.”

-- Walden Bello1


United States officials are conducting a war of aggression against the people of Iraq. Under their orders, the U.S. government has killed tens of thousands of civilians, maintained a tyrannical occupation, tortured prisoners, and abused internationally recognized human rights. These acts constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of the Geneva conventions.

The Bush administration plans to continue this conduct in Iraq and is threatening similar action against other countries as well. Indeed, it asserts its right to ignore any international obligation it decides is not in accord with its own definition of national interest.

All Americans have a responsibility under U.S. and international law to take “affirmative measures” to bring these crimes to a halt. This discussion paper presents one possible “affirmative measure” for consideration: A public statement pledging to encourage and support resistance to draft registration and military activities that violate international law.

At the height of the Vietnam War, thousands signed a similar statement, A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority. Several of those involved, including Dr. Benjamin Spock and Rev. William Sloan Coffin, were prosecuted in part for their role in the Call. The Call and the subsequent trial played a significant role in the development of opposition and resistance to the Vietnam War.

A draft of a possible call to resist Bush administration crimes is appended to this discussion paper.

The Legal Responsibilities of States and Individuals

In the “Age of Absolutism,” European rulers asserted a monopoly of power within their realms. States, as the Italian legal theorist Bartolus put it, were "independent associations not recognizing any superior." Under such a doctrine, states were the sole judge of the legality of their acts. The sovereign was deemed free to initiate war for "reasons of state." Rulers had no legally binding responsibilities to anyone but themselves and God. A version of this view was incorporated in the Treaty of Westphalia, and it has generally been referred to as the Westphalian conception of sovereignty.2

In the aftermath of World War II, a very different conception of national sovereignty was incorporated in the United Nations Charter. As the famous opening words of the Charter put it, "We the peoples of the united nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" will ensure that "armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest."

Under the UN Charter, nations could not legally engage in war without authorization of the United Nations except to repel a direct attack.3 The Security Council was given "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."4 Subsequent international agreements extended international law to include a wide range of human rights, environmental concerns, and other responsibilities.

The UN Charter gave the five "permanent members" a veto in the Security Council. As a result, UN peacekeeping has only been possible where the great powers agreed to act together. The UN has been unable to force the permanent members to meet their responsibilities under the Charter. In practice, the great powers have largely ignored those responsibilities, continuing to act on the basis of "reasons of state." Such action has often been justified on the grounds of morality and/or self-defense; sometimes it has even been justified by citing UN resolutions, even though no UN resolution authorized the use of force.

Since World War II there has been a historic struggle to implement the interpretation of national sovereignty articulated in the UN Charter, that is, sovereignty limited by international law. An editorial at the outset of the U.S. attack on Iraq noted that “Much of the world, including the other great powers, has entered a postnational understanding of global governance on questions of world order. France, Germany, Russia, China, and other world powers are now committed to international rules forbidding the unilateral use of force and to a form of consensual global governance.”5 Columbia University historian Anders Stephanson observed that in the 1990s “there was an enormous expansion of law or lawlike procedure on an international scale.”6 Bush administration doctrine aims to undo the commitments made in the UN Charter and the progress made in fulfilling them and revert instead to a Westphalian view that the state (or at least the U.S.) has no obligations under international law.

Under the Westphalian doctrine, individuals had no legal obligations higher than those to their own sovereign state. Drawing on the principles of the UN Charter, however, the War Crimes Tribunals at Nuremburg and Tokyo established the responsibilities of individuals to oppose their own states if they engaged in illegal acts.

U.S. chief counsel to the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, noted that, for the first time, powerful nations had agreed upon "the principle of individual responsibility for the crime of attacking the international peace.” The War Trials Agreement represented an important step forward in "fixing individual responsibility of warmongering, among whatever peoples, as an international crime." It also represented a step forward in "recognizing an international accountability for persecutions, exterminations, and crimes against humanity when associated with attacks on the peace of the international order."7

The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal stated the doctrine of individual responsibility even more explicitly. “Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes.”

People in many countries have found themselves to be citizens of a state that conducts wars of aggression, kills civilians, tyrannizes occupied territories, and tortures prisoners. The actions of France in Algeria, Britain in the Falklands, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; Russia in Chechnya; India in Kashmir, Israel in Palestine, Syria in Lebanon, and Iraq in Kuwait all put their citizens at risk for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. U.S. actions in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among other places, have put U.S. citizens at similar risk.

Such criminal acts have often been conducted by legally recognized states and governments. Since the days of Adolph Hitler, the governments conducting such actions have often been legally elected. Neither established legitimacy nor popular election obviates the responsibilities of governments to obey international law nor the responsibility of their citizens to halt their government’s criminal acts.

Bush Administration Crimes

The doctrine of the Bush administration embodies a return to the pre-UN Charter concept of the right of states to do whatever they choose based on "reasons of state."

The Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy asserts that the U.S. “will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively” and by “convincing or compelling states” to accept their “responsibilities.”8

President Bush emphasized this approach in his debate with John Kerry. Ridiculing Kerry’s concern with support from other countries, he stated, "My attitude is, you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure. ... I'll never turn over America's national security needs to leaders of other countries."9

The Bush administration has fulfilled doctrine with acts. The evidence is overwhelming that top U.S. officials are now engaged in a pattern of lawlessness that violates both U.S. and international law.

The U.S. attack on Iraq was a violation of the UN Charter. Article 1, Section 4 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.” United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated shortly before the attack that the Charter is “very clear on the circumstances under which force can be used. If the U.S. and others were to go outside the Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter.” After the U.S. attack he stated that the invasion of Iraq “was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”10

The U.S. occupation of Iraq constitutes an illegal continuation of the illegal U.S. attack on Iraq in violation of the UN Charter. U.S. operations in Iraq constitute a continuation of this illegal occupation, even if conducted under the cover of a puppet regime. So does the plan to create permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.11

The United States and its supporters in Iraq have killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.12 Bombing, assaults on residential neighborhoods, destruction of mosques and hospitals, and shooting of unarmed civilians are portrayed regularly in the press and the media. The Bush administration currently plans to continue the policies that have led to this slaughter of the innocent.

Authorized agents of the U.S. government have committed torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere around the globe. Those responsible for this torture have gone largely unpunished and the policies and doctrines that justified it remain in place.

The U.S. government is defying the Geneva Conventions as a matter of policy. It holds captives in secrecy without disclosing their existence to the International Red Cross; spirits them across borders; denies them due process of law; and engages in cruel, brutal, and humiliating treatment of prisoners.13

In support of their illegal international polices, U.S. officials are engaged in violations of human rights against both citizens and non-citizens abroad and at home. They seize and lock up those they deem a threat without due process of law, hold them incommunicado, and treat them with abuse in violation both of international norms and of the U.S. Constitution.

These acts are sometimes attributed to a few “rogue” individuals acting on their own. But extensive evidence indicates that they actually result from policies enacted at the highest levels of the military and governmental chain of command.

These acts are sometimes justified in terms of protecting Americans, fighting terrorism, and bringing democracy to oppressed nations. Regardless of whether such claims are sincere or self-serving, they cannot justify war crimes. Nor can the undoubted fact that crimes are also being committed by insurgents and others in Iraq. As Justice Jackson put it at Nuremberg, “No grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."14

The United Nations Charter, the Geneva conventions, and other treaties made under the authority of the United States are the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. The repeated violation of them, and the perpetuation of policies that authorize their continuing violation in the future, establish that U.S. government officials are not acting as the legal embodiment of the U.S. government but rather as illegal, unconstitutional usurpers.

What American can claim that he or she lacks knowledge of these crimes? They are reported in detail in the daily newspapers and shown in full color on the nightly news. The Bush administration openly proclaims its intent to continue and even expand them. How then do we meet our responsibility to take "affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes"?

“Affirmative Measures” Against Past Wars

There is a long tradition of resistance to state warmaking. For hundreds of years, religious pacifists have refused to participate in war and have often gone to prison as a result. Henry David Thoreau went to jail for refusing to pay taxes for the U.S. war against Mexico. Eugene Victor Debs went to prison for a speech denouncing World War I. Many French soldiers refused to fight in the Algerian war. The famous "Declaration on the Right to Insubordination in the War in Algeria"--better known as the "Manifesto of the 121"--publicly defended the morality of their "resistance to public authority." Proclaiming “There is a limit!” hundreds of Israeli soldiers were jailed for refusing to participate in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the 1987 attack on the first Palestinian intifada.

The Vietnam War saw diverse "affirmative measures" by Americans to halt the war. They included legal activities like popular education, mass demonstrations, and electoral campaigns. They also included acts that defied government authority, such as draft resistance, disorderly mass confrontations, civil disobedience, and refusals to obey within the military.

One initiative that may be relevant today is the 1967 Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority. This was a statement that was initially signed by well-known cultural, religious, and intellectual figures, who were then joined by thousands of others.

The Call challenged the legality of the Vietnam War and the legitimacy of the government that was pursuing it. It argued that the war was unconstitutional and illegal because it was not declared by Congress as required by the U.S. Constitution; violated the obligation under the UN Charter to settle disputes peacefully; and violated the Geneva Conventions of 1949 that outlawed as war crimes many of the activities the U.S. military was conducting in Vietnam. It called them "actions of the kind which the United States and the other victorious powers of World War II declared to be crimes against humanity for which individuals were to be held personally responsible even when acting under orders of their governments and for which Germans were sentenced at Nuremberg to long prison terms and death."

The Call asserted "a legal right and a moral duty to exert every effort to end this war, to avoid collusion with it, and to encourage others to do the same." It described various forms of resistance, including refusal by those in the armed forces to obey specific illegal and immoral orders, application for conscientious objector status, refusal of induction, organizing further resistance in the military, and seeking sanctuary outside the United States. It stated that "each of these forms of resistance against illegitimate authority is courageous and justified."

The Call went further, stating that "We will continue to lend our support to those who undertake resistance to this war. We will raise funds to organize draft resistance unions, to supply legal defense and bail, to support families and otherwise aid resistance to the war." The advocacy of draft resistance was illegal under the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, which made it a crime to "counsel, aid and abet" those subject to the draft to "neglect, fail, refuse and evade service in the armed forces." Merely signing the Call could therefore be construed as a violation of the Selective Service law.

The Call stated the belief that the actions it advocated were legal. But it added that "In any case, we feel that we cannot shrink from fulfilling our responsibilities." The call was published in the New Republic and the New York Review of Books over the signatures of well-known writers, scholars, and other public figures. Some of its initiators gathered draft cards at draft resistance meetings and then delivered them to the Department of Justice as evidence of “crimes” of resistance.

The Justice Department brought charges against Spock, Coffin, Marcus Raskin, Mitchell Goodman, and draft resistor Michael Ferber. It accused them of conspiracy in “counseling, aiding, and abetting” young men to avoid and resist the Selective Service System. After a highly publicized trial, most were convicted. At his post-sentencing press conference, Dr. Spock said the war “violates the United Nations Charter, the Geneva accords, and the United States’ promise to obey the laws of international conduct. It is totally, abominably illegal.” When a Federal appeals court overturned the conviction due to prejudiced rulings by the judge, the Justice Department unexpectedly dropped the charges.

The Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority had a significant impact on the growth and development of the antiwar movement. According to one knowledgeable antiwar activist, “It may have been the single most important statement during the Vietnam War.” It “gave a lot of resisters a lot of courage” and was “a huge influence” for the political “cover” and “the sense of energy, synergism it created within the resistance movement.”15

The Call put the authority of highly respected intellectual and religious leaders behind the young draft resisters. The risk that thousands took by signing the statement led many others to consider their own responsibilities to take "affirmative measures" to end the war. It challenged the legality of a war that had been legitimated by the fact that it was conducted by a popularly elected president and acquiesced to by Congress. What became known as the Spock-Coffin trial was front-page news, helping move the moral, legal, and political issues raised by the antiwar movement from the margin to the mainstream.

While it is impossible to measure precisely the impact of such actions, the statement of Admiral Thomas Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Nixon administration, deserves consideration: “The reaction of the noisy radical groups was considered all the time. And it served to inhibit and restrain decisionmakers.” The movement “had a major impact” in both “the executive and legislative branches of the government.”16

A Possible “Affirmative Measure” Today

A statement similar to A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority might provide one way that Americans can meet their responsibility to take "affirmative measures" to halt Bush administration crimes. Such a statement might include an indictment of Bush administration doctrine and actions as crimes under national and international law. It might include a statement of individual and shared responsibility for halting those crimes. And it might include some kind of advocacy that could itself be construed as a violation of U.S. law--were not U.S. officials themselves pursuing a criminal policy. A draft of such a statement is appended to this discussion paper.

The law on the basis of which Spock, Coffin, et al were prosecuted remains on the books. Section 462 (a) of the Military Selective Service Act provides fines and imprisonment for anyone who "knowingly counsels, aids, or abets another to refuse or evade registration or service in the armed forces." While there is currently no draft, the requirement to register with the Selective Service remains, and therefore it remains a crime to counsel, aid, or abet refusal to register.

Several other forms of advocacy might also be construed as illegal. These include support for resistance in the military; for “whistleblowing” by public officials; for refusal of public officials to implement domestic political repression; and for public nonviolent actions designed to obstruct U.S. military operations. The Patriot Act includes a number of restrictions on advocacy that might also be relevant.

While at present there is not a large movement resisting the draft, there are a growing number of resisters within the military. The Pentagon says more than 5,500 military personnel have deserted since the war started in Iraq. 60 Minutes interviewed numerous resisters who said, “conscience, not cowardice, made them American deserters.”17 Marine reservist Stephen Funk was tried by the military for desertion for refusing to fight in the Iraq war. He stated, “In the face of this unjust war based on deception by our leaders, I could not remain silent. In my mind that would have been true cowardice. ... I spoke out so that others in the military would realize that they also have a choice and a duty to resist immoral and illegitimate orders.”18 A call to aid, counsel, and abet such acts of duty might be deemed illegal by the Bush administration, but it would be defensible as an affirmative measure to prevent the commission of their crimes.

What This “Affirmative Measure” Might Achieve

There is surely no reason to think that such a call can in itself end the Bush administration's aggression against the Iraqi people, let alone put the U.S. on the path of conformity with international law. That will take a multifaceted and multinational movement of historic proportions. The question is whether such a call might contribute significantly to the development of such a movement. There are several ways it might do so.

Much of the criticism of the Bush administration has focused on poor execution of diplomatic and military policy. But such criticisms are an inadequate basis for a social movement that requires personal commitment and willingness to make small or large sacrifices. The proposed approach puts opposition to Bush administration policy on a principled basis of respect for international law. It puts the focus on the fundamental moral and legal arguments against the Bush administration’s doctrine and the policies and actions that flow from it.

The Bush administration claims the right to act as it will on the basis of its democratic election by the American people. The proposed approach directly challenges the legitimacy of that claim by asserting the illegality of its actions.

The Bush administration claims the moral high ground, portraying itself as the upholder of good against the forces of evil in the world. Meanwhile, it has not been held accountable in any way for the killing of civilians, torture of prisoners, and other immoral acts for which it is responsible. The proposed approach defines the Bush administration's responsibility for immoral, illegal actions as the central issue.

In contrast to statements that are simply assertions of opinion, the willingness of signers to assume a degree of risk indicates their seriousness. It calls on others to consider their responsibilities. It encourages others to overcome their own fears.

A variety of other affirmative measures might be stimulated by such a call. Religious, educational, and other leaders might be encouraged to come out forcefully against Bush administration crimes. Journalists and government officials with access to suppressed information about Bush administration policies might be encouraged to reveal it. Local civil disobedience efforts might lead to many local trials in which the illegality of U.S. government actions could be asserted.

The struggle against Bush administration lawlessness is unlikely to be a short one. The proposed approach creates a basis for a sustained opposition that is not dependent on quick victories. People whose action is based on meeting their responsibilities are likely to persist even if they are not immediately effective, because taking such affirmative measures is in itself a successful fulfillment of their duties. Such action is likely to encourage more and more people to act over time. Every new atrocity and every act of repression will provide a new reason to join the resistance.

The proposed approach demands not only a change in Iraq policy, but a commitment by the U.S. to conform to international law in the future. It will strengthen support for international norms everywhere and make all governments more accountable for meeting them. It is a step toward creating a world in which all nations can be forced--by their own people and by the rest of the world--to meet their responsibilities. Its ultimate goal is not only to halt the U.S. aggression against the Iraqi people, but to develop means to bring nations, starting with the U.S., under the constraints of international law, now and in the future.

The American public has a strong and continuing belief that all nations, including the U.S., are subject to international law. According to a 2004 poll sponsored by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, for example, “Majorities of the public and leaders do not support states taking unilateral action to prevent other states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, but do support this action if it has UN Security Council approval. They also both reject preventive unilateral war, but endorse a country’s right to go to war on its own if there is strong evidence of an imminent threat. Strong majorities of the public and leaders also believe the United States would need UN Security Council approval before using military force to destroy North Korea’s nuclear capability.”19 A call to hold the U.S. accountable to international law can appeal to such beliefs.

There is no way to predict how the U.S. government will choose to respond to such a call. The Justice Department brought conspiracy charges against initiators of the Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority and their allies. The show trial that resulted undoubtedly increased support for the antiwar movement and did little to intimidate resistors. The Bush administration might simply ignore a similar effort today. Alternatively, it might try to use legal action to intimidate antiwar protesters and to smear them as allies of terrorists and others it defines as evildoers. The result would be a contest for public support for two different conceptions of law and morality.

Draft for Discussion:

A Call For Affirmative Measures To Prevent The Commission Of War Crimes By The Bush Administration


The U.S. government has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of the Geneva conventions--and is planning more. All Americans have an obligation under U.S. and international law to bring these crimes to a halt. Until these crimes are halted, we intend to support and engage in acts to resist these crimes. We assert that such acts are a moral and legal responsibility, even if U.S. officials may deem our action a crime.

The Crimes

The U.S. attack on Iraq was a violation of the UN Charter. Article 1, Section 4 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.” United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated shortly before the attack that the Charter is “very clear on the circumstances under which force can be used. If the U.S. and others were to go outside the Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter.”20 After the U.S. attack he stated that the invasion of Iraq “was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.”21

The U.S. occupation of Iraq constitutes an illegal continuation of the illegal U.S. attack on Iraq in violation of the UN Charter. U.S. operations in Iraq constitute a continuation of this illegal occupation, even if conducted under the cover of a puppet regime. So does the plan to create permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. Current U.S. policy is to continue this illegal occupation.

The United States and its supporters in Iraq have killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The Bush administration currently plans to continue the policies that have led to this slaughter of the innocent.

Authorized agents of the U.S. government have tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere around the globe. Those responsible for this torture have gone largely unpunished and the policies and doctrines that justified it remain in place.

The U.S. government is defying the Geneva conventions as a matter of policy. It holds captives in secrecy without disclosing their existence to the International Red Cross; spirits them across borders; denies them due process of law; and engages is cruel, brutal, and humiliating treatment of prisoners.

In support of their illegal international polices, U.S. officials are engaged in violations of human rights against both citizens and non-citizens abroad and at home. They seize and lock up those they deem a threat without due process of law, hold them incommunicado, and treat them with abuse in violation both of international norms and of the U.S. Constitution.

The Bush administration justifies these crimes under the doctrine that the U.S. government may do whatever it chooses in pursuit of its own national interests, regardless of its responsibilities under international law. But that justification cannot legitimate a pattern of lawlessness that violates both U.S. and international law.

Under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and other treaties made under the authority of the United States are the supreme law of the land. The repeated violation of them, and the perpetuation of policies that authorize their continuing violation in the future, establish that U.S. government officials are not acting as the legal embodiment of the U.S. government but rather as illegal, unconstitutional usurpers.

Our Responsibilities

The War Crimes Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo following World War II established binding principles regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include personal responsibility for bringing such crimes to a halt. The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal declared, “Anyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent the commission of the crimes.”

The undersigned commit ourselves to undertake such affirmative measures to prevent the commission of further crimes by the U.S. government in Iraq and in other countries it is currently threatening to attack. Specifically, we agree to support and encourage public, nonviolent acts of conscience intended to impede the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq by encouraging and supporting:

military personnel and government officials who refuse to participate in acts they consider illegal and immoral, including the Iraqi occupation itself.

military personnel and government officials who “blow the whistle” on illegal actions by documenting and publicizing them regardless of official secrecy policies.

young people who refuse to register for Selective Service on grounds of conscience.

government officials who refuse to implement illegitimate orders to suppress the human rights of those attempting to halt the occupation of Iraq.

those who take public nonviolent action intended to impede the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of human rights.

We pledge to organize openly in our communities and in our workplace, educational, religious, and other institutions to support and promote such actions.

We recognize that some may deem our action unlawful. We maintain on the contrary that it represents our responsibility under both U.S. and international law.

We appeal to all Americans to ask themselves what affirmative measures it is their duty to take to halt the criminal acts of their government.


[For updated information regarding this proposal visit:


“Bush’s Victory, Fallujah, and the Global Anti-War Movement,” Focus on Trade, Number 106, December, 2004, Part 1. www.focusweb.org/main/html/Article545.html.

Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1978) p. 351. For further discussion of national sovereignty, see Jeremy Brecher, "The 'National Question' Reconsidered," New Politics Summer, 1987.

The strict limitations on self-defense as a justification for war were well established in international law long before the UN Charter. As Michael Byers, Associate Professor at Duke University Law School has explained, “customary law traditionally recognized a limited right of pre-emptive self-defense according to what are known as the ‘Caroline criteria’. These date back to an incident in 1837, during a rebellion against British rule in Canada, when British troops attacked a ship (the Caroline) that was being used by private citizens in the U.S. to ferry supplies to the rebels. After a long diplomatic correspondence between the U.S. Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, and the British Foreign Office minister Lord Ashburton, a form of words was agreed to govern acts of anticipatory self-defense: there must be “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation” and the action taken must not be “unreasonable or excessive.” “Iraq and the Bush Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self-Defense,” Crimes of War Project, http://www.crimesofwar.org/expert/bush-intro.html.

Article 39.
“The UN’s Relevance,” The Nation, March 31, 2003, p. 3.
Anders Stephanson, “Messianic unilateralism threatens all,” Newsday, March 26, 2003.

Statement by Justice Jackson on War Trials Agreement, August 12, 1945.
The National Security Strategy of the United States, September 20, 2002.
Transcript of Presidential Debate, September 30, 2004, www.npr.org.

“ Iraq war illegal, says Annan,” BBC News, September 16, 2004. For further discussion of the illegality of the U.S. attack on Iraq, see the documents prepared in Belgium for the case against General Tommy Franks at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article3450.htm.

For a detailed presentation of U.S. violations of international law in the occupation of Iraq, see “Beyond Torture: U.S. Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq” Center for Economic and Social Rights at www.cesr.org.

See, for example, www.iraqbodycount.org. According to a study by a team from Johns Hopkins University published by the British medical journal The Lancet, there have been a minimum of 100,000 excess deaths among Iraqi civilians since the U.S. invasion. Most of the excess deaths result from violence and most of the violent deaths result from coalition air strikes. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, Gilbert Burnham, “Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey,” The Lancet, Vol. 364, November 20, 2004, available at www.thelancet.com
For a detailed account of the culpability of U.S. official for torture and prisoner abuse, see the materials prepared by the Center for Constitutional Rights against Rumsfeld, Tenet, and Sanchez for human rights charges in a German court at

Statement by Justice Jackson on War Trials Agreement, August 12, 1945.

Richard Fernandez of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, quoted in Tom Wells, The War Within: America’s Battle over Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994) p. 192.
Tom Wells, p. 579. Thomas Power in The War at Home argues, “The antiwar movement in the United States created the necessary conditions for the shift in official policy from escalation to disengagement. Opponents of the war often argued whether it was better to work ‘within the system’ or in the streets, but in fact success depended on pursuing both strategies simultaneously. Without those few intellectual leaders who first opposed the war on grounds of policy or morality, there would have been no broad movement; without a movement, national division over the war would not have reached a point of crisis in 1967; and without the crisis, there would have been no effective political challenge to Johnson’s power at the one moment when he had to back away from the war, or commit the country to a vastly increased effort.” (New York: Grossman, 1973) p. 318.

“Deserters: We Won’t Go To Iraq,” CBSNEWS.com, December 8, 2004.

“Support Stephen Funk, U.S. Military Resister,” http://info.interactivist.net.

Global Views 2004, www.ccfr.org/globalviews2004.
Patrick E. Tyler and Felicity Barringer, “Annan Says U.S. Will Violate Charter if It Acts Without Approval,” New York Times, March 11, 2003.

“ Iraq war illegal, says Annan,” BBC News, September 16, 2004.

Jeremy Brecher is a historian and the author of 12 books including Strike! and Globalization from Below and a regular contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org).