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The War Criminal in the Living Room



The media is silent, Congress is absent, and Americans are distracted as George W. Bush openly prepares aggression against Iran.

US Navy aircraft carrier strike forces are deployed off Iran.

US Air Force jets and missile systems are deployed in bases in countries bordering or near to Iran.

US B-2 stealth bombers have been refitted to carry 30,000 pound “bunker buster” bombs.

The US government is financing terrorist and separatist groups within Iran.

US Special Forces teams are conducting terrorist operations inside Iran.

US war doctrine has been altered to permit first strike nuclear attack on Iran and other non-nuclear countries.

Bush’s war threats against Iran have intensified during the course of this year. The American people are being fed a repeat of the lies used to justify naked aggression against Iraq.

Bush is too self-righteous to see the dark humor in his denunciations of Iran for threatening “the security of nations everywhere” and of the Iraqi resistance for “a vision that rejects tolerance, crushes all dissent, and justifies the murder of innocent men, women, and children in the pursuit of political power.” Those are precisely the words that most of the world applies to Bush and his Brownshirt administration. The Pew Foundation’s world polls show that despite all the American and Israeli propaganda against Iran, the US and Israel are regarded as no less threats to world stability than demonized Iran.

Bush has discarded habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions, justified torture and secret trials, damned critics as anti-American, and is responsible, according to Information Clearing House, for over one million deaths of Iraqi civilians, which puts Bush high on the list of mass murderers of all time. The vast majority of “kills” by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan are civilians.

Now Bush wants to murder more. We have to kill Iranians “over there,” Bush says, “before they come over here.” There is no possibility that Iranians or any Muslims who have no air force, no navy, no modern military technology are going to “come over here,” and no indication that they plan to do so. The Muslims are disunited and have been for centuries. That is what makes them vulnerable to colonial rule. If Muslims were united, the US would already have lost its army in Iraq. Indeed, it would not have been able to put an army in Iraq.

Meanwhile the US media focuses on whether Republican Senator Larry Craig is a homosexual or has offended gays by denying to be one of them. The run-up for the public’s attention is why a South Carolina beauty queen cannot answer a simple question about why her generation is unable to find the United States on a map.

The war criminal is in the living room, and no official notice is taken of the fact.

Lacking US troops with which to invade Iran, the Bush administration has decided to bomb Iran “back into the stone age.” Punishing air and missile attacks have been designed not merely to destroy Iran’s nuclear energy projects, but also to destroy the public infrastructure, the economy, and the ability of the government to function.

Encouraged by the indifference of both the American media and public to the massive casualties inflicted on Iraqi civilians, the Bush administration will not be deterred by the prospect of its air attacks inflicting massive casualties on Iranian civilians. Last summer the Bush administration demonstrated to the entire world its total disdain for Muslim life when Bush supported Israel’s month-long air attack on Lebanese civilian infrastructure and civilian residences. President Bush blocked the attempt by the rest of the world to halt the gratuitous murder of Lebanese civilians and infrastructure destruction. Clearly, turning the Muslim Middle East into a wasteland is the Bush policy. For Bush, civilian casualties are a non-issue. Hegemony uber alles.

The Bush administration has made its war plans for attacking Iraq and positioned its forces without any prior approval from Congress. The “unitary executive” obviously doesn’t believe that an attack on Iran requires the approval of Congress. By its absence and quietude, Congress seems to agree that it has no role in the decision.

In the improbable event that Congress were to make any fuss about Bush’s decision to attack yet another country, the State Department has devised legalistic cover: simply declare Iran’s military to be a “terrorist organization” and go to war under the cover of the existing resolution.

The “Iran issue” has been created by the Bush administration, not by Iran. Iran, like many other countries, has a nuclear energy program to which it is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have found no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran.

The Bush administration has brushed away this fact, which should be determining, just as the Bush administration brushed away the fact that weapons inspectors reported, prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The Bush administration managed to disrupt the work of the pesky IAEA weapons inspectors in Iran. Iran has been working successfully with the IAEA and has achieved what a senior IAEA official recently described as a milestone agreement. The Bush administration instantly went to work to discredit the agreement and unleashed its new lapdog, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, to threaten “the bombing of Iran.”

The Bush administration’s position is legally untenable and is really nothing but a contrived excuse to start another war. Bush claims that Iran, alone among all the signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, must be denied its right under the pact to develop nuclear energy, because Iran, along among all the other signatories, will be the only country able to deceive the IAEA inspectors and develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, Iran must be denied its rights under the agreement.

Bush’s position on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is as legally untenable as his position on every other issue–the Geneva Conventions, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, habeas corpus, the constitutional separation of powers, and presidential signing statements that he cavalierly attaches to new laws. Bush’s position is that the meaning of laws and treaties varies with his needs of the moment.

Bush has declared himself to be the “decider.” The “decider” decides whether Americans have any rights under the Constitution and whether Iran has any rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the “decider” has decided that Iran has no such rights, the “decider” decides whether to attack Iran. No one else has any say about it. The people’s representatives are just so much chaff in the wind.

Whatever form of government Bush is operating under, it is far outside an accountable constitutional democratic government. Bush has transitioned America to caesarism, and even if Bush leaves office in January 2009, the powers he has accumulated in the executive will remain. Unless Bush and Cheney are impeached and convicted, there is no prospect of the US Congress and federal judiciary ever again being co-equal branches of government.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:


Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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