FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mutually Assured Pre-Emption

 

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.

 

More articles by:

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).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 23, 2019
Kshama Sawant
Amazon vs. the Socialists in Seattle
Jason Hirthler
American Iago: On Washington’s Character Assassins
Craig Collins
Naomi Klein, Autism and Climate Activism
Michael Welton
The Serpent of Their Agonies
Binoy Kampmark
Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary
Amitai Ben-Abba
And in Those Days There was No King in Israhell
Phil Rockstroh
A Careless Bully at the KFC at the End of Empire
Emiliana Cruz
Commemorating Tomás Cruz
Julian Vigo
Legacy College Admissions Are a Testament to What is Legacy Culture
Manuel García, Jr.
See “Official Secrets”
Dave Lindorff
Faux ‘Working Man’s’ Candidate Biden Looking Like a Loser after Philly AFL-CIO Presidential Summit
Tracey Aikman
President Trump, I’m One of the Workers You Lied To
B. R. Gowani
How news media should handle Trump’s lies
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail