FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mutually Assured Pre-Emption

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

For those wondering about the veracity of Vladimir Putin’s sudden peculiar claim that Russian intelligence, sometime after the 9-11 attacks, had passed along to the Bush administration a vague warning that Iraq might be planning “terror” attacks against the U.S., there is another explanation besides the one put forth in the June 21 issue of CounterPunch by Gary Leupp, who suggests Putin is just currying favor with Bush by trying to help him out of a domestic political jam.

And this alternate explanation should cause Bush, John Kerry, and indeed every American, to think long and hard about the much ballyhooed Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war.

The Bush Doctrine, recall, is that America (and by extension every country on the globe) has the absolute right to attack a foreign foe if the government believes the U.S. is in danger of imminent attack.

Now, put aside the important question of whether Iraq really was planning some “imminent” attack on the U.S. back in the fall of 2001-something for which there is absolutely no evidence.

Who was, in the fall of 2001, without a doubt planning an imminent attack?

Bingo! It was the U.S., which almost before the smoke cleared at the World Trade Center ruins, was hard at work plotting a full-scale war against Iraq.

The point to remember is that according to the logic of the new Bush Doctrine, and indeed under established international law, whatever we may think about Saddam Hussein, Iraq had every right to take pre-emptive measures to counter the imminent U.S. threat posed by Bush’s war preparations.

As to the legality of those presumptive measures, it would all depend upon what it might have been that Iraq was allegedly planning.

As I wrote in an earlier CounterPunch column (April 2, 2003, “Legitimizing Terrorism? Making America Safer… for Iraq Fighters”), international law experts say that if Iraqi agents in the U.S. had attacked military, or even certain strategic civilian targets (for example, CIA headquarters, the Pentagon, a military base, an oil storage facility, a communications center, or a government building of any kind), and if the perpetrators of the attack wore military uniforms during any action, it could be properly considered not an act of terror, but an act of war.

What’s sauce for the goose, as the saying goes, is sauce for the gander.

Odds are that this talk of an Iraq attack in 2002 is all nonsense-just a case of one leader helping another in trouble. But the American public nonetheless should take note.

All this anti-terrorism stuff, and particularly the doctrine of pre-emptive war, to which John Kerry has added his endorsement, carries with it some nasty baggage.

If other countries (North Korea, for example, or Iran, come to mind) were to learn that the U.S. was planning an attack, they would be within their rights to act pre-emptively.

For that matter, as long as the U.S. continues to battle insurgents in Iraq, the doctrine of reciprocity means that embattled Iraqi insurgents are entitled to respond in kind-both within Iraq and also against American interests abroad and in the U.S. itself. If they were to do this, their actions would have to be defined as acts of war, not of terror, which could limit America’s punishment options.

The American public, and certainly Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry, need to think this all through very carefully, instead of just talking tough about terror. The expansive and unending so-called “War on Terror” begun with such bluster by the Bush administration in the wake of 9-11, far from making America safer, is inviting those nations which we threaten to take not just retaliatory, but even pre-emptive action themselves against us.

Putin’s claim concerning Saddam Hussein’s alleged terror plans may well be bogus, but the logic behind his having been planning something to counter America’s war plans could well lead other threatened leaders to think along similar lines.

Is this what we want happening?

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of Counterpunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” to be published this fall by Common Courage Press.

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail