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War Is Not Inevitable

by FAREED MARJAEE

“Violence is, was, and always will be bankrupt, anti-human, criminal–always.” Philip Berrigan, 1923–2002

With support for war waning down internationally and domestically, war does not seem so inevitable, despite troop assemblies. The European countries which insist the UN inspection process take hold, such as France and Germany, seem to reflect the public opinion of their respected societies. Countries such as Italy and the United Kingdom that stand behind the Bush Administration’s preemptive/unilateral approach don’t seem to mirror the consensus of their citizens. Last Wednesday, the bishops of the Church of England expressed their strongest criticism yet of Blair’s policy on Iraq. On this issue, Blair does not seem to have the full support of everyone even in his own party. That leaves Poland and Saint Lucia.

Turkey, Iran and other governments in the region have not uttered any support for this war, although they have expressed support for the UN objective to disarm Saddam. Where as they see Saddam as a destabilizing element in the region, war at their borders seem to be more of a de-stabilizer. The new Turkish government /parliament has a difficult task to balance a 4 billion dollars loan incentive against a population constituency that has just voted them into office.

The Non-proliferation Project at the “Carnegie Endowment for International Peace” has just released a 42-page report titled “Iraq: what is next?” assessing the weapons inspection regime. On the strategy of Iraq disarmament, the document is critical of Bush’s approach to the Iraq situation. Presentation of this document and its recommendations on disarmament de-legitimizes the Administration’s needed support for war preparation. Senior Senators Lugar and Biden of the Foreign Relations Committee, have expressed their doubts on this question, and while committed to disarming Iraq–if, in fact, there are any WMD — are not convinced and to date have not fully endorsed President Bush’s war plans. On a recent Public Broadcasting Television interview, Senator Biden was asked if the Administration had any evidence of WMD and if so, had it been presented him? He smiled, looked at Senator Lugar and said ! “I hope so.”

Retired General Wesley K. Clark, a former NATO commander, has joined other top military professional men such as Gen. Brent Scowcroft (National Security Advisor to Pres. Bush senior), General Norman Schwarzkopf, (the Desert Storm commander), Anthony Zinni (former commander of the armed forces in the Persian Gulf) and John Shalikashvili (former chief of staff) in expressing his opposition and doubts about the war. Uneasiness about the war is not limited to the retirees (officers who are free to speak); journalists maintain that there is a schism between the professional military and the Pentagon civilian leadership–the political appointees. Many of the present senior generals, were field lieutenants during the Vietnam War, and are very wary of a military campaign that does not have full support back home. In an interview with National Public Radio, Ken Adelman, a member of the Defense Policy Board, explicitly acknowledge this rift. His response to that was, that is why we have civilian leadership of the military.

Analysts have observed that the recent Bush Administration’s opposition to the International Criminal Court [ICC] would tend to protect any future American unilateral campaign and pre-emptive military operations.

There are voices that advance a human rights perspective and caution the world and American public opinion against a military invasion and long-term military occupation. A noticeable segment of the public does not seem to be embracing the nexus of the WTC tragedy, and the invasion of Iraq. More significantly, this uneasiness is also about the loss of innocent lives. Best-selling spy novelist John Le Carre is one of the many voices concerned about the possibility of war. In an opinion piece for the Times of London (January 16, 2003), he adamantly opposes the war on Iraq and believes that potentially it is more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

On Thursday January 30th, an article, in The New York Times featured two cadets who have not been deployed yet, but had participated in an anti-war protest. If war is not perceived as inevitable, then, is there a place for resignation?

In loving memory of Father Philip Berrigan, anti-war activist for over 35 years.

FAREED MARJAEE can be reached at: Meezan_2@yahoo.ca.

 

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