Between Iraq and a Hard Place, Again

Ben Price

The Bush Administration, backed obediently by Todd Platts and other members of a go-along Congress, wants to invade Iraq. It is a stark and shocking reality. We have come to a point in American history when a war of aggression is openly proposed and defended by legislative appeasers of a regime without shame or conscience. The rationalizations offered for an invasion defy intellectual honesty. The arguments offered for aggression are naked assaults on public fear, not appeals to reason.

In the office where I work, a fellow employee has posted a clever quote from General Norman Schwartzkof. Next to a photo of the helmeted firefighters raising the American flag at the site of the destroyed World Trade Center, the General is quoted as saying: "I believe that forgiving them is God's function. Our job is simply to arrange the meeting."

It's glib, vacuous and amoral, but able to amuse us because in one quick quip it relieves us of moral responsibility, and more effectively than any of the administration's arguments it brushes aside the petty details of who is responsible for a monstrous disregard for human life. Instead, it invites us to blamelessly participate in carnage that God will make right in the end. What struck me was that the quote could just as easily have come from any one of the terrorists. Believing in murder as a tool of justice and a God who is served by it, both the General and the terrorists are able to rationalize their inhumanity.

The wonder is that in so moral a nation the administration's plans for a preemptive war on Iraq, along with Representative Platts' uncritical support for this kind of naked aggression have not yet been howled off the stage of public debate.

Apart from General Schwartzkof's dismissal of "forgiveness" for the murder of thousands of civilians on American soil, the administration and the congressman have just as glibly dismissed the idea of Justice. The invasion of Afghanistan was rationalized with the argument that those responsible for attacking American civilians were hiding in the Afghan countryside. Never mind that the ringleaders were not found or that American soldiers killed thousands of innocent civilians attempting to rout them. Not even a convincing placebo for relief from skepticism about an invasion of Iraq has been offered by the Bush administration. Military aggression against a hypothetical threat is the best they can muster.

It is an argument that Mr. Platts has no trouble swallowing. Obviously, he has an under-active gag reflex.

But the joke will be on us and the Iraqi people and the whole world if the Bush plan for military dominance is not reined-in by the American people. Finally, it is up to us to insist on democracy here at home before we pretend to impose it abroad. It is time for the American people to refuse to be represented to the world by leaders who intend to dishonor our constitution and our national reputation with ad hoc jurisprudence and preemptive warfare. Although the administration's arguments for invasion amount to nothing, George Bush is clearly motivated by some strong desire to strike Iraq, depose Saddam Hussein, and not take "no" for an answer. The American people deserve to know the facts that motivate this obsession. Is it America's dependence on oil, or rather the administration's grafting of oil industrialists onto the policy making function of the federal executive that propels us into the fray? Is it a personal grudge match, a generational bridge between Bush presidencies?

We know that it is not "weapons of mass destruction" or the flaunting of UN resolutions that prompt aggression. If it were, then the list of targets would be a long one, and our own country would be on it! Pakistan and India have been threatening a nuclear holocaust over Kashmir. But U.S. troops have not invaded the subcontinent and Mr. Bush remains curiously amenable to both sides in the conflict. So what is the motivation for war on Iraq? We know it is not justice that motivates the call to war. Terror suspects have seen justice revoked, legal representation denied, appeals refused, public knowledge of their detention forbidden here in our constitutional democracy. The Bush administration mocks the International Criminal Court. Congress, with the help of Todd Platts, passed legislation making it American policy to launch military strikes against any nation holding accused war criminals if they are American nationals. The world has been put on notice. The American president will decide what justice is, and there will be no American war criminals except those brought to trial by the administration's personally overseen tribunals.

It is easier to resist becoming a world tyrant when the military might is lacking or when a powerful adversary is threatening retaliation for aggression. It is a measure of character and commitment to justice for a nation that has overcome these obstacles to avoid the forbidden fruit of hubris and the lethargy of conscience that permits unreasoned and unjustified wars of aggression.

The people of the 19th district have been abandoned by their representative and betrayed by an administration dazzled by its moment of power as it attempts to steer the course of history without a moral compass. The only power on earth able to turn us from disaster resides in the will of the American people to command their government back to the path of peace and the course of justice. There is no time to waste.

Ben Price 
Green Party Candidate
US House of Representatives19th PA DistrictP.O. Box 615
New Kingstown, PA 17072-0615E-mail:
Website:  www.benpriceforcongress.orgPhone: 717-385-0764

   "Peace, justice, and freedom require a willingness to honor human rights,
respect community needs, and be accountable for what you do, whether you are
an individual, a corporation, or a super power. "  -- Ben Price