When the United States of America declares war on the sovereign nation of Iraq–and bombs Baghdad, Basra and babies–millions of angry people and a few rusted Scud missiles will target Americans throughout the world. The resulting body counts will certainly favor the United States, and the deaths of innocents will number in the tens of thousands when George Bush unleashes the overwhelming power of the dogs of war. Scenting blood, the curs will not discriminate between combatants and non-combatants and the killing fields will be littered with the bodies of women, children and war-weary grandparents.
All but a few of the dead will be deemed enemies of America and, according to the rules of war employed by the United States, unfortunate collateral damage acceptable to the majority of its citizens. Many Americans, though, do not agree with the actions of George Bush and the elite ‘special forces’ kenneled in the White House and Pentagon. Millions of Americans prefer peace talks instead of war hawks, and they do not want their fellow citizens to suffer the same fate that will soon be visited upon Iraq.
Americans who want to give peace a chance do not want to kill Iraqis, and they have voiced their dissent in newspapers, on the Internet, and on the streets of America during demonstrations against the War on Iraq. Bush and his desk-bound warriors have ignored their objections and, except for a few brave editors and publishers, the media in the United States have denigrated and dismissed opposing views. Pleading for a peaceful solution is a lost cause in the United States of America. The targeting of Iraqis (Operation Just Because) is–in a language understood by the majority of Americans–a done deal.
However, with the assistance of the international media, the targeting of Americans can be limited, legal and restrained. Publicizing the following ‘rules of war’ could, if complied with by Saddam Hussein, free Iraq from the taint of war crimes and keep hope (and peace-loving Americans) alive. If Saddam honors a code of conduct that precludes the killing of innocents, the dissenting minority in America might become the ruling majority and peace with justice will prevail throughout the civilized world.
Please, for the sake of humanity…
Do not kill Americans living, working or traveling through nations where they are the aliens. Exceptions to this rule are allowable if the Americans are armed, aggressive and intent on killing the innocent.
Do not use weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations, whether as a pre-emptive action or in retaliation to American nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attacks.
Do not allow the killing or torture of prisoners of war.
Do not incarcerate alien American civilians without access to competent legal representation and, if charged with a crime, allow fair, impartial, and public trials. Do not execute the guilty.
Do not target the civilian infrastructure of the United States of America. Food supplies, water sources and electric power plants sustain the lives of Americans who are attempting to stop war, and the destruction of these life-supporting necessities would be counter-productive.
Do not threaten or bribe other nations for their allegiance. If support is offered, be certain that the allied forces will abide by the ‘rules of war’.
Do not hesitate to negotiate any possible peaceful solution offered by an enemy; once upon a time they were your friends.
The war against Iraq will soon enter a new phase, escalating in intensity from strikes by American and the British warplanes to an all-out assault by various nations united in a cause that isn’t just. The aptly named War Party–the civilians who man battle stations in war rooms, boardrooms, and newsrooms in the United States, panting for war like dogs in heat–does not have much to worry about during the coming conflict. Saddam has a limited arsenal of weapons, no history of attacking American soil and, if he is able to read this commentary, an opportunity to conform to a code of conduct opposite to the one observed by the President of the United States: War Rules.
JAMES T. PHILLIPS can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org