"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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Cheney's Boundless Iraq Profiteering

Things are going well in Iraq for the invaders. Well, at least for some people, such as US Vice-President Richard Cheney. He is receiving more than $US1 million ($A1.3 million) a year from Halliburton, the company of which he was CEO from 1995 to 2000, in "deferred remuneration" while he is VP. He is worth every penny.

Last week, two Democrat senators and a house member wrote to Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld asking if he knew about Halliburton's latest money-making dodge in Iraq. Keep in mind that Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, have a nice little earner going in supplying support for the US Army and for, ostensibly, putting out oil well fires. The Centre for Public Integrity in Washington counts Halliburton's windfall at more than $US10 billion - a little bit coming from the US Treasury but most coming from Iraqi oil revenue that is supposed to be used to reconstruct the country for the benefit of the people. The centre counts another 30 members of the Defence Policy Board with ties to American companies with $US76 billion (as of 2002) in largely uncontested and un-auditable military contracts.

The Democrats reckon that Halliburton may have overstepped even its sloppy moral line by making life impossible for another American company that has committed the crime of undercutting the Vice-President's company.

In their letter to Rumsfeld, the Democrats say that US company Lloyd-Owen International is being prevented from delivering fuel to Iraq from Kuwait (Who says the liberation hasn't been a success? What next? Ice to the Inuit?) by forcing LOI trucks to use a civilian crossing where the checks are so slow that the company can't get its 140 trucks a day through. The speedy, wave-'em-through military crossing is controlled by who? The Iraqi military? The US military? Nope, by the Vice-President's firm, which is also in the fuel delivery business.

The Democrats say that the LOI crime is delivering fuel to Iraq for 18 US cents a gallon while Halliburton provides the same service at $US1.30 a gallon. The LOI spokesman says he could understand if Halliburton simply doubled the price, to 36 US cents a gallon. But at $US1.30 a gallon even a Texas carpetbagger should blush.

Halliburton has a $US2.5 billion contract for managing the fuel distribution system in Iraq. The man from LOI says that "we have not, to date, seen a functioning KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) piece of equipment to where we deliver". He also says that his chaps have only come across one KBR employee at these sites.

LOI needed Defence Department ID cards to make its deliveries and, in order to get them from - you guessed it - Halliburton, they had to make a delivery for Mr Cheney of construction material to Fallujah last month. The convoy was attacked and three men were killed and seven injured. KBR staff were ordered not to provide any assistance to the injured. "Many people volunteered to help, but were told not to by our management," according to a Halliburton employee. Presumably the convoy crew were a bunch of mercenaries, in Iraq to make a buck.

As George the Smaller told an audience at the West Point and Virginia Military Institute, America is "the single surviving model of human progress".

Copyright © 2005. The Age Company Ltd

Terror Attacks Are Response To Military Actions

In the official, mainstream view of terrorism — the view trumpeted by western governments, think tanks and media commentators — terrorists are freedom-loathing zealots with an irrational hatred of our western lifestyle and culture.

But another view, polls suggest, is gaining ground with the public: Terrorism is actually a response to military interventions perpetrated by western governments.

These sharply diverging views are central to the question of how to deal with terrorism. Under the "irrational hatred" view, there's not much we can do other than ratchet up our security and hunker down for a long fight with a bunch of lunatics.

But under the second theory, some solutions may be possible. At least, it suggests we should carefully scrutinize what actions our governments are up to in the Middle East, to assess whether these actions are justified and, if not, to stop them. After all, if the actions aren't justified, we should stop them anyway. Right? Or should we continue to act unjustly — if that's what we're doing — simply so we can look firm in our opposition to terrorism?

The U.S. and British governments fear such public scrutiny of their actions in the Middle East. This isn't surprising, since any serious analysis would reveal a history of Anglo-American interventions that could best be described as imperialistic.

All this has implications for Canada. Under the "irrational hatred" theory, terrorists are just as likely to strike Toronto as New York or London, since we also enjoy an indulgent western lifestyle here in Toronto.

But under the second — and more plausible — theory, terrorists are less likely to strike in Canada, given our more limited role in interventions in the Middle East. We're supporting the U.S. in Afghanistan, but we've stayed out of the more provocative U.S. occupation of Iraq.

One of the few systematic studies of terrorism provides evidence that refutes the "irrational hatred" theory.

Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, has put together a comprehensive data bank of every suicide terrorist attack (315) in the world since 1980.

"(W)hat nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common," notes Pape in his book, Dying to Win, "is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland." Pape also observes that once a military occupation ends, the suicide terrorism tends to stop.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair went to great lengths last week to suggest that the recent London bombings weren't connected to Britain's role in the occupation of Iraq, but rather to irrational hatred of western culture.


If you attack your neighbour, kill several of his family members, ransack his house and steal his car, is it logical to conclude that your neighbour is in a rage against you because he doesn't like how you dress and what movies you enjoy watching?

Linda McQuaig is a Toronto-based author and commentator. lmcquaig@sympatico.ca.

Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.

The Lessons of History: "All The Shah's Men"


"All the Shah's Men" is a detailed and incredibly well done telling of precisely how the CIA overthrew Iran's first democratically elected government in order to restore the Shah, and get U.S. oil companies to obtain the exclusive oil concession the Brits had had up until that point. It's written by a talented and longtime NY Times writer who drew it from interviews and extensive CIA and Truman/Eisenhower records made public a couple years ago. It's a great read -- and should be a movie -- and really puts into perspective so much of what has gone down and is currently going down in the Middle East.

It details how the Brits installed and then bribed a Shah (king) and in 1931 got him to sign a deal basically giving away Iran's oil to the Anglo Persian Oil Company (which today is called British Petroleum). When the first democratically elected parliament and prime minister in Iran got control in the early 50's, they took away nearly all powers the Shah had, in a peaceful revolution, and gave it to the parliament.

BP then refused to negotiate or renegotiate with Iran when it demanded decent working conditions for their people working in the refineries, and the Brits refused to offer the same terms as Saudi Arabia was getting from the US at the time (50/50, where the Saudis had the right to audit the books). The Iranians were getting about 3% of net profits from the Brits and had no right to audit. The Brits refused *any* change in the terms or working conditions, taking an Imperialist stance that they had basically bought and sold the Shah in 1931 to sign the document, and nothing else mattered.

So Iran ended up nationalizing their oil biz in response. The Brits were furious, went to court in the Belgium world court -- and lost. The Brits tried to undermine and make a coup in Iran, were unsuccessful and all Brits were kicked out of Iran. The Brits then established a military blockade to prevent Iran from selling any of "their" oil to any other country. When an Iranian shipment bound for Italy was intercepted by the Brits and seized by the Brits, no other country would do business with Iran for the oil, thus the Brits had laid siege to try to force Iran to let them back in.

While Truman refused Brits' repeated requests to help overthrow the elected government in Iran -- which was moderate and based on Jeffersonian principles -- the Dulles brothers were soon itching to do so, reasoning that with Iran cut off from trading with the West, they would eventually become friendly with Russia and the communist block, even though Russia was traditionally Iran's enemy. Truman refused to overthrow a democratically elected moderate government in favor of reinstalling the Shah as absolute ruler. He said the Middle East and much of the world who loves the US would hate us if we went around overthrowing democratically elected governments simply for the economic interests of our oil companies. He said the US should be on the side of nationalism, since it was the basis that we came into being, by throwing off the British Empire.

The book details exactly how the US ended up getting involved and overthrowing the government in Iran, and it's an absolutely fascinating read. They hired mobs to pretend they were supporters of the prime minister who then went through and ransacked Teheran, in an effort to make him less popular and create unrest. They bribed, bought all the newspapers they could and put out fake stories and propaganda and did everything possible to destabilize the country. Once they did that, they went to Eisenhower who was now President and convinced him Iraq was coming apart and presented a danger (they didn't mention to Eisenhower that it was coming apart because our own CIA was orchestrating it), and they got Eisenhower to agree to the coup, and agree to install a bunch of Iranians paid by the CIA into the Iranian parliament to replace those who were actually elected. (They played with the ballot boxes to rig the elections.)

So the CIA folks (run by Kermit Roosevelt -- grandson of Teddy) bought off generals and everyone they could with millions they lavished on the situation. They tried, failed, then tried again and succeeded in the coup, and brought the Shah in from Rome to take over. Then the US got 40% of Iran's oil, Iran got 40% and some other countries shared the remaining 20% (and Iran still didn't have any right to audit). BP was paid $1 billion by the other countries to "buy out" its contract that was to run until the 1960's.

The book is also chock full of quotes and insights from several well respected historians discussing the unintended consequences of our actions in 1953. One was that we sent a message around the world that the US endorsed and supported ruthless dictatorial regimes, with secret police like Savak, who suppressed, tortured and killed their own people -- so long as the rulers were friendly with our oil companies or other US businesses. The 1979 revolution that put Khomeini in place is directly a result of our policies (most historians say Iran would today be a mature democracy if the US hadn't overthrown them), and it shows convincingly why the US was and is viewed as "the great Satan" in Iran -- because we definitely were, by installing a Hitler over there and putting a stop to their democratic experiment. Prior to that happening, Iran worshiped the US and saw us as the model they wished to emulate to form a secular government based on the rule of law.

The US hostages taken at our embassy in Teheran in 1979 were also a direct result of our coup to install the Shah in 1953 -- the hostages were taken in a response to Jimmy Carter's allowing the Shah to stay in the US for 6 weeks while he underwent cancer therapy. Iran was convinced that the US was once again planning a coup to put the Shah back in power so we could get access to the oil -- since this is exactly what we did in the 50's. The 1950's coup by the US was also the reason Reagan/Bush ended up investing so heavily in Saddam in the 1980's and encouraging and supporting his attack on Iran, where we provided weapons, intelligence, and WMD to Iraq to help defeat Iran. (Saddam is, of course, another monster the US put into power, but that's another book...)

Anyhow, it's a real page turner, exciting, engaging -- and all true, with great jacket quotes from people like Senator Richard Lugar and others. It's based on reports of meetings and blow by blow accounts from the participants which were made in reports at the time, but not released until 50 years later.

It's a very instructive tale for what's happening today with another secretive US administration looking to use our military and intelligence to fight for US business interests in the middle east, this time using " terror" rather than "communism" as the pretext for the adventure. It's certain from reading this book -- and from watching the news we're already seeing daily -- that the US will be suffering a lot more unintended consequences for quite some time to come, from our current self-interested adventures in Iraq.

This book should be required reading for every American. People would feel very differently about our Middle East policy, and when there is more understanding, there's more chance for peace.


* * *

Get your copy of "All the Shah's Men" from BuzzFlash.com.

In Praise of Kevin Benderman

Conscience is not in the chain of command.

"Before being sentenced to 15 months for refusing to return to Iraq with his Army unit, Sgt. Kevin Benderman told a military judge that he acted with his conscience, not out of a disregard for duty," the Associated Press reports. Benderman, a 40-year-old Army mechanic, "refused to go on a second combat tour in January, saying the destruction and misery he witnessed during the 2003 Iraq invasion had turned him against war."

Three weeks ago, his wife Monica Benderman wrote: "He returned knowing that war is wrong, the most dehumanizing creation of humanity that exists. He saw war destroy civilians, innocent men, women, and children. He saw war destroy homes, relationships, and a country. He saw this not only in the country that was invaded, but he saw this happening to the invading country as well – and he knew that the only way to save those soldiers was for people to no longer participate in war. Sgt. Kevin Benderman is a conscientious objector to war, and the Army is mad."

On Thursday, at his court-martial, Kevin Benderman spoke. "Though some might take my actions as being against soldiers, I want everyone to be home and safe and raising their families," he said. "I don't want anyone to be hurt in a combat zone."

But the Pentagon is imposing its power to enforce the unconscionable. And words that were written by Monica Benderman in early July are now even more true: "The Army has removed itself so completely from its moral responsibility, that its representatives are willing to openly demand, in a court of law, that they be allowed to regain 'positive control over this soldier' by finding him guilty of crimes he did not commit, and put him in jail – a prisoner of conscience, for daring to obey a moral law."

And, she added: "It is 'hard work' to face the truth, and it is scary when people who are not afraid to face it begin to speak out. Someone once said that my husband's case is a question of morality over legality. I pray that this country has not gone so far over the edge that the two are so distinctly different that we can tell them apart."

Monica Benderman is correct. Facing truths about the priorities of our country's government can be very difficult. During the Vietnam War – also based on lies, also methodically murderous – an extraordinary U.S. senator made the same basic point. "We're going to become guilty, in my judgment, of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world," Wayne Morse said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It's an ugly reality, and we Americans don't like to face up to it."

Moments before the Senate hearing adjourned, on Feb. 27, 1968, Morse said that he did not "intend to put the blood of this war on my hands." In the summer of 2005, while the horrors of the Iraq war continue, not a single United States senator is willing to speak with such moral clarity.

As an astute cliché says, truth is the first casualty of war. But another early casualty is conscience, routinely smothered in the national media echo chamber.

On the TV networks, the voices are usually smooth, and people often seem to be speaking loudly. In contrast, the human conscience is close to a whisper. Easily unheard.

Rarely explored in news media, the capacity for conscience makes us human. Out of all the differences between people and other animals, Darwin wrote, "the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important."

And that's why Kevin Benderman, now in prison, is providing greater moral leadership than any member of the United States Senate.

Norman Solomon

The Exploitation of Soldiers

Grow like savages – as soldiers will,
That nothing do but meditate on blood.

~ William Shakespeare, King Henry V

Those who defend warfare tend to see it only as an abstraction, a game pitting strategists from opposing collectives against one another in furtherance of contrived objectives. The ugly details of orchestrated butchery and torture are to be suppressed, lest persons of humane sensitivities become upset and demand a cessation of the game. But facts have ways of insinuating themselves into the most carefully devised schemes, causing the sordid nature of warfare to move from the abstract to the concrete. When this occurs – as it did in the My Lai massacre or, more recently, at Abu Ghraib – the political establishment is quick to look for scapegoats or explanations that do not implicate war itself. To the state, the professed ends of any given war are both irrelevant and fungible: it is the war system that requires protection.

One thing I found annoying during the Vietnam War years was the hostility directed by some anti-war activists to individual soldiers. I was opposed to that war – as I am to all wars – but I thought there was something cowardly about those who focused their anger on the soldiers rather than upon the politicians and the political establishment that manipulated the atrocities of warfare. Clearly, many war critics did direct their attentions to the system itself, but too many chose to concentrate their animosities upon the veterans rather than the architects of such villainy.

One sees this same moral cowardice in those Republican politicians who are calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld over his flippant remarks to a soldier in Iraq, who complained about a lack of adequate equipment for their protection. In the face of increasing hostility to the war from both American civilians and soldiers, three Republicans – Trent Lott, Susan Collins, and Chuck Hagel – decided it was time to offer up Rumsfeld as a token sacrifice, rather than proposing the impeachment of President Bush for his pattern of lies, forgeries, and other deceptions that fomented the war. That Lott and Hagel – who voted "guilty" in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial for lying about his relations with Monica Lewinsky – could don moral blinders for the more sinister lies of George Bush, reflects the cravenness of people who take a stand on "principle" only when it is safe to do so. Such people are akin to the "animal rights" advocates who berate Beverly Hills matrons for wearing fur coats, instead of confronting "Hells Angels" motorcyclists for wearing leather jackets.

The "pecking order" of an institution works in both an "up" and "down" direction. A sergeant will be sacrificed for the good of a general, a general for the benefit of a secretary of defense, and the latter for the sake of a president. If the initial level of scapegoating is not sufficient to end the criticism, one proceeds upward to successive levels in the hierarchy until it is perceived that the wrong has been rectified.

My words should not be misinterpreted as a suggestion that the soldiers of any war are not responsible for their acts. Neither am I ignoring the fact that many American soldiers have engaged in unpardonable atrocities against unarmed civilians, whether in Vietnam or Iraq.Each of us is responsible for the consequences of our actions for one simple reason: we are individually in control of our energies. A soldier who participates in the systematic killing of others is accountable for what his behavior has produced because he is the one who acted.

That said, however, I am far less interested in browbeating teenagers who, whether as conscripts or volunteers, decide to partake in the excitement of war. For millennia, politically-structured societies have conditioned their young men to look upon war as a glorious and noble undertaking; an _expression of heroic sentiments; a source of meaning to life that allows you to "be all you can be."

Such attitudes are so deeply engrained in the culture that relatively few parents have seen fit to question their sons’ expected role in the war system. I recall fathers, during the Vietnam War years, expressing shame that their sons chose to depart for Canada rather than accept their "obligation" to be conscripted into the war machine. In the feminist-inspired insistence that women not be deprived of their "equal" right to be blown to pieces in some foreign land, daughters will also become incorporated into this state-serving mindset. That parents can accept such twisted thinking, and can love the state more than they do their own children, must rank near the top of the list for moral degeneracy!

Politically-structured societies wallow in lies and, in so doing, tear apart the fabric of decent social behavior. War, by its very nature, is sociopathic, as are those who plan for and execute the systematic slaughter of millions of persons. The idea of a "just" or "moral" war is so palpably absurd as to make even its suggestion a basis for questioning the sanity of its advocates. War makes "heroic" and "honorable" that which, if done privately, would render one a despicable criminal. We rightly condemn the serial killer who murders ten or twelve victims, while rewarding those who plot the political murders of hundreds of thousands with high political office or the Nobel Peace Prize!

War dehumanizes people – soldiers and civilians alike – and, for this reason, I have never understood the willingness of parents to allow their children to become part of such a dispirited, hostile, life-destroying system. I can understand how a teenager – whose limited life experiences are not sufficient to see what is implicit in warfare – might fall for the heroic imagery that gets reinforced in computer games. I do not understand this child’s parents – with many more years of awareness – not protecting him or her from this force that devastates the lives even of its survivors.

Why are so many war veterans – particularly those who saw deadly combat – unwilling to relate, even to their families, what they went through in wartime? Why do they not openly brag of their exploits, as do older men in recalling the athletic accomplishments of their youth? And why, knowing of the brutalizing nature of the war system, do parents who would not allow their sons to join an urban street-gang, take pride in their children being given over to the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and neocon schemers, to be exploited and disposed of as best suits their arrogant temperaments?

It has been encouraging to observe, in recent months, the emergence of an apparent awareness among many American soldiers of the insanity of the war system, particularly as it has been playing out in Iraq. Soldiers have refused to obey orders that would send them on life-threatening missions; others have spoken out about the lack of adequate armor and protective equipment; still others have questioned the national purpose and/or morality of their participation in the killing of innocent people, particularly children. A number of soldiers have brought a lawsuit challenging the continuation of their service beyond the original commitment. Not surprising, National Guard officials announced that enlistments have fallen well below anticipated levels.

The issue of ineffective armament has become a focal point for the disaffection of so many soldiers, who complain of having to scour dumpsites in search of old armor plate with which to refurbish their combat vehicles. It is open to question whether the government’s indifference to the plight of these soldiers was best reflected in Rumsfeld’s aforementioned disdainful response to questioning, or in the Army’s court-martialing – and imprisonment – of six reservists for removing scrap metal and bullet-resistant glass from abandoned vehicles in order to augment their own. Rush Limbaugh – who has fashioned a lucrative career out of missing the point on just about every issue – saw fit to criticize the soldier’s inquiry of Rumsfeld not on the merits of the question, but on the ground that a member of the media had given him the question to ask! In such an atmosphere of rampant disregard for the well-being of the troops, I half-expected Rumsfeld to drag out the old "duck-and-cover" strategy by which American school-children – in the early Cold War – were advised to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear attack!

Perhaps the most interesting news story involves a Pentagon report that more than 5,500 Army or Marine Corps servicemen have chosen to desert rather than go to Iraq. Like their Vietnam War counterparts who avoided the draft, a number have gone to Canada. I suspect that Limbaugh and the FoxNews war-whoopers will attribute these mass-desertions to "cowardice" on the part of the soldiers involved. But if they took the time to read or listen to these men – instead of dismissing their interests – they would discover otherwise.

One young man, Pfc. Dan Felushko, began his military training shortly after 9/11, and was prepared to fight in Afghanistan. But when he discovered there was no connection between the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein, he questioned his participation in a war he believed to be wrong. He then fled to Canada. "[N]obody should make me sign away my ability to choose between right and wrong," he said, declaring the contract he had signed with the Marines to be "a devil’s contract."

A recent high school graduate, Brandon Hughey, joined the Army believing that the war against Iraq "was necessary if they did have these weapons, and they could end up in our cities and threaten our safety." He was prepared to die, he said, "to make America safe." But when the truth about Iraq’s alleged "threat" became known, "[i]t made me angry, because I felt our lives were being thrown away as soldiers." Echoing the sentiments of the Nuremburg principles, Hughey stated: "[p]eople should have a right to say ‘I’m not fighting in that war. That’s an illegal war. . . . I’m not going.’" He, too, left for Canada, adding "I have to say that my image of my country always being the good guy, and always fighting for just causes, has been shattered."

Patriotic types – who see no further than beyond the fringes of their flags – have always been quick to condemn those who adhere to their deepest principles. Like the members of a crazed lynch mob, they fail to see dissenters as the protectors of the values that make a society decent and productive. It has been America’s loss, and Canada’s gain, that men who insist upon the inviolability of their principles have been driven from the country. There is no more important time in the life of an individual or a nation than wartime for men and women to follow the bumper-sticker advice to "question authority."

The life-sustaining value to insubordination is most clearly revealed in the face of death. As Samuel Johnson stated, "when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." It is unfortunate that most of us wait until our lives are threatened to energize our consciousness, rather than seeing the dangers implicit in the prior behavior of our revered systems.

An example of how the questioning of authority saved a person’s life was reported to me a few weeks ago. I was speaking with a woman whose friend was working in a WTC tower when one of the planes hit. She immediately headed for the doors and stairways to get out, but was told by her supervisors and colleagues to "stay where you are," that everything was going to be all right. This woman responded: "are you crazy? Can’t you see what is happening, here?" Disobeying her bosses, she fled the building to safety. Her coworkers who stayed behind all died when the building collapsed.

I would like to meet this woman, as well as the many young men who, over the years, have chosen expatriation as the price for living a principled life. Perhaps in their eyes I will see the reflection of the values that led my ancestors to leave their European homelands for the opportunity to live as free and responsible human beings owing their lives to no earthly powers.

The American political establishment – whose interests transcend Republican and Democratic party lines – seems as intent on pursuing its violent ambitions for world domination as did ancient Rome, prior to its collapse. The consequences of such an undertaking will be rendered all the more troublesome by the unwillingness of most Americans to "just say no!" to the narcotic of state power. Still, there is some hope for the future when a remnant of humanity realizes that their physical and spiritual survival are to be found in being masters of their own lives.

Perhaps, in the example of the woman at the WTC, the rest of us may discover that our lives depend not on fighting authority, but on walking away from the crumbling structures in which we are expected to remain.

Butler Shaffer
Butlerhttp://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer94.html Shaffer
December 21, 2004

Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law.

Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com

Give 'Em Hell, Jimmy!

Carter Blasts Guantanamo Detention Camp

Former President Jimmy Carter on Saturday said the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.

Speaking at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference in Birmingham, central England, Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq and said it was ``unnecessary and unjust.''

``I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.,'' he told a news conference. ``I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts.''

Carter said, however, that terrorist acts could not be justified, and that while Guantanamo ``may be an aggravating factor ... it's not the basis of terrorism.''

Critics of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration have long accused the U.S. government of unjustly detaining terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the southeastern tip of Cuba. Hundreds of men detained in the war on terror have been held indefinitely at the prison, without charge or access to lawyers.

``What has happened at Guantanamo Bay ... does not represent the will of the American people,'' Carter said. ``I'm embarrassed about it, I think it's wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people.''

Carter, who won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his years of peace efforts, has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war.

``I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false,'' he said Saturday.

The Baptist World Alliance, which comprises more than 200 Baptist unions around the world, was formed in London in 1905. The headquarters of the alliance, which meets in a different location every five years, moved to the United States in 1947.

An estimated 12,700 delegates gathered in Birmingham, Britain's second largest city, for the conference. Carter, a Sunday school teacher in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, was due to lead a Bible study lesson during the conference.

He praised British police and intelligence services for the swift arrests in connection with the July 21 bombing attempts on London's transit system.

``I'm very proud to be in a nation that stands so stalwart against terrorism with us,'' he said. ``The people of my country have united our hearts and sympathy for the tragedy that you have suffered from terrorism.''

Carter, who was noted for his devotion to the Baptist faith during his time in the White House, called on people of all faiths who believed in freedom, peace, justice, hospitality and alleviation of suffering to work together to defeat terrorism.

``We should try and identify the things that divide us and set them aside ... and build a common commitment,'' he said.

Associated Press Writer

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